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Iconic Palestinian robe fashions a new political symbol

JERUSALEM (AP) — 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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