Steinway is a bustling and noisy street in the Queens neighborhood of Astoria. The area locally referred to as “Little Egypt” is brimming with people grocery shopping and bicyclists rushing in and out of shawarma shops to deliver their next order. It’s a north African, south-west Asian neighborhood made up of small businesses like halal butcher shops, hookah lounges and Middle Eastern restaurants.
For Rana Abdelhamid, this neighborhood is home. On 14 April, Abdelhamid announced her run against the incumbent Democratic congresswoman Carolyn Maloney to represent New York’s 12th congressional district, a region made up of a significant portion of Manhattan’s East Side, Astoria and north Brooklyn. It ranges from the fantastically wealthy penthouse apartments that line Manhattan’s Central Park to the struggling working-class areas where Abdelhamid grew up.
If elected, Abdelhamid would be one of the youngest members to ever serve in Congress and the third Muslim woman ever elected to the House.She has received the endorsement of Justice Democrats, a powerful progressive activist group that was instrumental in the victories of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Jamaal Bowman in their respective New York primary elections.
Just as AOC and Bowman beat long-established Democrats and then rapidly ascended to prominence on left of the party, so Justice Democrats hope Abdelhamid will continue the trend of a leftwing revolution sweeping across New York City that has already had a major impact on national American politics.
“My history in this district is rooted in my organizing, in my community, in my spirituality, in my education. I feel really connected. It comes from a place of love. This is why I’m doing it,” she told the Guardian in an interview at an outdoor cafe in Astoria.