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Iconic Palestinian robe fashions a new political symbol

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    In this Monday, Jan. 28, 2019 photo, Samiha Jeheshat, displays a handmade embroidered Palestinian thobe at her showroom in the West Bank village of Idna, north of Hebron. The thobe is gaining prominence as a softer symbol of Palestinian nationalism, competing with the classic keffiyeh. Rashida Tlaib proudly wore her thobe to her historic swearing-in as the first Palestinian American member of Congress, inspiring women around the world to tweet photos of themselves in their ancestral robes. (AP Photo/Nasser Nasser)

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    FILE – In this Jan. 3, 2019 file photo, Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., center left, wears a Palestinian thobe as Democratic members of the House of Representatives take their oath on the opening day of the 116th Congress, at the Capitol in Washington. Tlaib proudly wore her thobe to her historic swearing-in as the first Palestinian American member of Congress, inspiring women around the world to tweet photos of themselves in their ancestral robes. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

The brightly embroidered dress of Palestinian women known as the “thobe” isn’t the type of garment one would expect to become a pop political symbol.

But it’s gaining prominence as a softer expression of Palestinian nationalism, competing even with the classic keffiyeh — the headscarf donned by young stone-throwing Palestinian men protesting Israel’s occupation.

The robe, adorned with elaborate hand-stitched embroidery, requires months of grueling labor. Some fetch thousands of dollars, the traditional textiles calling to mind a bygone era of Palestinian peasant women sewing on a break from the fields.

Last month, Rashida Tlaib wore her mother’s thobe when she was sworn-in as the first female Palestinian American member of Congress, inspiring omen around the world, especially in the Palestinian territories, to tweet photos of themselves in their thobes.

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