A 22-year-old Indian-American Muslim woman has won a key primary election in the US state of Maryland, upsetting a veteran in the process. Raheela Ahmed, received 9,624 votes as against incumbent Jeana Jacob in the Board of Education District primary elections held on Tuesday.

 

She will now advance to the November general elections. Her win is considered to be significant given the anti-Muslim rhetoric's coming from top Republican candidates, in particular, its presidential front-runner Donald Trump.

 

"If Mr Trump's views were a true reflection of Americans beliefs, I would not have won this election decisively. My district has around 56,000 voters and Muslims are less than one percent of that.

 

"Mr Trump can make outrageous and offensive statements for political reasons, but I am a strong believer that America's diversity is our strength," Raheela said, who attributed her win to America's diversity.

 

"The plan of action is to win the general election, which I lost by 3 per cent in 2012. I will be engaging all sorts of stakeholders over the next several months. I love grassroots campaigning...it's the core of my candidacy," she told PTI. 

 

Raheela's father, a technology entrepreneur migrated from Hyderabad at the age 25.

 

She said she believes that no religion condones violence, extremism, or terrorism. Islam is no exception.

 

"The majority of Muslims are peaceful people. The word 'Islam' itself means peace. Terrorists that act under the name of Islam are twisted in their understanding of the faith," she said.

 

"I won because more people connected with my shared values and aspirations than those turned off by my differences," said Raheela.