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Republican Muslim Hopes for US Congress Seat

WASHINGTON – Running for midterm elections in California’s 52nd congressional district, Omar Qudrat, a native Southern Californian and a former US Department of Defense official, could become the first Republican Muslim Congress member.

Qudrat, currently a Captain in the US Army Reserve, has been a counter-terrorism Prosecutor at the US Department of Defense since 2010.

Qudrat spent 18 months in his homeland Afghanistan as a civilian official in the role of the International Security Assistance Force’s Deputy Chief of Rule of Law and Political Advisor to the NATO Ambassador. He was awarded the Department of Defense Superior Civilian Service Award.

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Born and raised in Los Angeles to Afghani Muslim parents who emigrated in the early 70’s, Qudrat’s parents instilled in him and his two elder sisters a belief in self-determination, the value of hard work, and the importance of education.

After earning a BA from UCLA with Latin honors and college honors, Qudrat went on to earn a JD from Syracuse Law School, MA in International Relations from The Maxwell School of Public Affairs at Syracuse, and MS in Public Relations from the SI Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse.

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Qudrat denies any contradiction in his being both a Muslim and a Republican in the era of US President Donald Trump.

In fact, he’s so convinced that his party is still one of diversity, despite the president’s rhetoric, that he’s running for US Congress in California’s 52nd District on a Republican ticket.

The ideological labels barely matter for Qudrat, he says: “My run for Congress has to do with reality. And real issues. I dismiss ‘identity politics.’ I don’t think that ethnicity is a qualification.”

However, Qudrat didn’t denounce Trump’s ban on people from a number of Muslim countries from entering the US, instead, he argued that as former Defense Department worker, he was aware of national security issues.

Talking about his party membership, Qudrat said: “I’ll tell you why I am Republican. I don’t believe in government, I believe in people. The Democrats always make false promises to people.”

The Muslim candidate — who is “pro-life and favors tax cuts for the middle classes” — said: “Trump could do more to unite Americans, but at the same time I defended his economic record.”

He agrees with the president on “the need to improve border security,” and he perhaps supports Trump’s Wall on the Mexico border.

He also supports a legislative solution for the so-called “dreamers,” children of migrants who entered the US without documentation and who now face deportation, despite having lived in the US their whole lives.

According to Emgage, a Muslim civil rights group, up to 100 Muslims filed to run for statewide or national office this year.

Ilhan Omar, a congressional candidate in Minnesota, and Rashida Tlaib, a congressional candidate in Michigan, are set to be the first two Muslim women in the US Congress.

Omar, who entered a race against a pack of five other candidates to fill current Rep. Keith Ellison’s seat, won 48 percent of August’s primary vote.

She became the nation’s first Somali-American lawmaker after being elected last November 2016 as a state representative from Minneapolis.

With no Republican candidate, Tlaib will become the US’s first ever Muslim woman elected to Congress after winning the Democratic nomination to represent Michigan’s 13th district last August.