NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Ayat Abu will never forget the time a complete stranger called her a "terrorist" in front of her children.
The mother of four, a Muslim who covers her hair with vibrant scarves and wears modest fashions as part of her religious practice, was walking out of a Walmart in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, in February with two of her boys when a man lobbed the insult at her.
"My son was extremely aggravated," said Abu. "I said, 'Do not do anything because the best thing for these people is to ignore them.' Because I don't know them and they might have a gun."
It was not the first time someone had harassed Abu for her religious beliefs. She chooses to wear the hijab, and that visibility can make her a target for hate.
Indeed, many Muslim women across the nation have their own stories about the subtle and not-so-subtle hostility they face as they try to go about their daily lives. But the historic election in November of the first two Muslim women to Congress gives them hope for a better future – one that is filled with great possibilities and less discrimination.
First Muslim women elected to Congress give hope to others
Michigan Democrat Rashida Tlaib and Minnesota Democrat Ilhan Omar, who wears a headscarf for religious reasons, are Muslim, and both won seats to the U.S. House of Representatives in the midterm election.
When they take office in January, their jobs will be to represent their respective congressional districts, but their victories are felt far beyond those geographical boundaries.
In Nashville, Sabina Mohyuddin, program manager for the American Muslim Advisory Council, thinks the examples set by the congresswomen-elect show young Muslims, especially girls, that they can "be proud of their identity and to know that their love for their community, their country will take them places."