On Tuesday, former Democratic Congressman Anthony Weiner announced his intention to run for mayor of New York City. Although he admitted to "making mistakes and letting many people down," most of his mayoral bid focused on fighting for the middle class and restoring New York City back to being a livable place.
However, perhaps more interesting than Weiner's attempted comeback is the rise of Weiner's wife: Huma Abedin.
Huma Abedin — known as Hilary Clinton's "shadow" and "secret weapon" due to her tenure as the Secretary's Deputy Chief of Staff — is American-born, but Saudi Arabia-raised, where she lived until she moved back to the United States to attend George Washington University in Washington, D.C. Her father is Indian and her mother is Pakistani, making her fluent in English, Arabic, and Urdu. She is also a practicing Muslim.
In 1996, Abedin landed a coveted position as a White House intern, which quickly blossomed into a friendship with then-First Lady Hilary Clinton, leading to her eventual position as Deputy Chief of Staff. Interestingly, Abedin was serving alongside Hilary Clinton during the Lewinsky scandal — later, Clinton was one of the first people that Abedin turned to for support when it became public knowledge that he had been caught sending lewd photos to several other women.
However, criticism for standing by Weiner's side during the scandal is the least of Abedin's worries. In 2012, one year after the Weiner scandal, several right wing politicians —including notoriously Islamophobic Representative Peter King (R-Iowa) and Representative Michele Bachman (R-Minn.) — alleged that Abedin had ties to the Muslim Brotherhood and was acting as an infiltrator in the White House. Although these "ties" were vague, and impossible to prove, Abedin still received numerous threats to her life following the accusations.
What could a prominent Muslim first lady mean for New York City?
In light of Weiner's recent bid for mayor, many of these past allegations are already beginning to resurface. After it was reported that Abedin had not disclosed some consulting work that she had done alongside her duties as chief of staff (as she had been told that she didn't have to) rightwing blogs and politicians are alleging that this points towards her secrecy and dishonesty and her terrorist ties should be re-investigated.
Could a poised and admirable Muslim-American woman with a political career of her own challenge false stereotypes of Muslim-Americans? Perhaps, but also equally likely is that the publicity of a political campaign — particularly one following a political scandal that could only fuel the vocal Islamophobic minority.