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November 02, 2010

First Bangladeshi-American Elected to US Congress

Voters in the Midwestern state of Michigan have elected the first Bangladeshi-American ever to serve in the U.S. Congress.

Democrat Hansen Clarke defeated Republican John Hauler in Tuesday's election to represent Michigan's 13th Congressional District.

The congressman-elect was born to a Bangladeshi immigrant father and an African-American mother.  Clarke's father passed away when he was 8 years old, but he says his father greatly influenced him and that he strongly identifies with his father's culture.

Listen to VOA's Interview with Congressman-elect Clarke:

Clarke, a state senator, told VOA he plans to work on expanding commerce and trade with Bangladesh, an issue he discussed with Bangladeshi officials during a 2007 visit to the country.

Clarke, who was raised a Muslim and converted to Catholicism, says he also plans to work with local officials to end religious and racial profiling in Michigan.  The city of Dearborn and other areas across Michigan are home to large Muslim populations.

Bangladeshi-Americans in Michigan told VOA they were excited about Clarke's election and call it a new beginning for their community.

Clarke has served three terms in Michigan's House of Representatives and two four-year terms in the State Senate.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.