Emily Goodin, Daily Mail, January 3, 2019
One of the first female Muslim members of Congress took her seat wearing the hijab on Thursday.
Democrat Ilhan Omar made history as she become one of the first two Muslim women to enter Congress — and did so with her head covered.
The Somali-born 37-year-old who came to the U.S. as a refugee represents the fifth district of Minnesota, which includes all of Minneapolis and some of its suburbs.
Democrats were to formally end the ban on religious head coverings on the House floor on Thursday afternoon as part of a package of rules to govern the House. That package changes the ban on head coverings to exclude ‘non-religious headdress.’
That means Omar will be allowed to don her hijab when she’s on the House floor to vote and give speeches during normal sessions.
While regular hats — such as baseball caps and cowboy hats — will continue to be banned, religious gear will be permitted in the 116th Congress.
Omar had been vocal about her desire to wear her head scarf when she is sworn into office on Thursday.
‘No one puts a scarf on my head but me. It’s my choice — one protected by the first amendment. And this is not the last ban I’m going to work to lift,’ she tweeted in November after she was elected.
Incoming Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Incoming House Rules Committee Chairman Jim McGovern backed Omar in her request and included it in the rules package they released late Tuesday night.
Many Muslim women wear a hijab – a scarf around their head – for religious reasons.
Omar is joined by Rep.-elect Rashida Tlaib of Michigan as the first two Muslim women in Congress, although Tlaib, a Palestinian-American, does not wear a head covering.
Hats of any kind were banned from the House floor in 1837.
With virtually no debate, the rules were modified to read: ‘Every member shall remain uncovered during the sessions of the House,’ according to the House Historian’s office.
In the House’s early years, lawmakers and guests routinely donned their hats while the chamber was in session — a custom that harked back to the British Parliament.
Omar, 36, was born in Somalia but she and her family fled the war-torn nation. They came to the United States in 1995, when she was 12, and they ended up in Minneapolis in 1997.
Her election to Congress brought many firsts: the first Somali American and first Muslim refugee elected. Omar was born in Somalia but fled the war-torn country with her family when she was ten, then spent years in a refugee camp in Kenya before being granted asylum in the U.S. and settling first in Arlington, Virginia, then in Minneapolis.
She also became the first woman of color to represent Minnesota on Capitol Hill.
Omar won the House seat formerly occupied by Democrat Keith Ellison, who was the first Muslim congressman to be elected to Congress.
Another lawmaker famous for her head gear, Democratic Rep. Fredrica Wilson of Florida, tried to change the hat ban in 2010 – when she was first elected to Congress — to no avail.
”It’s sexist,’ Wilson told the Miami Herald at the time. ‘It dates back to when men wore hats and we know that men don’t wear hats indoors, but women wear hats indoors. Hats are what I wear. People get excited when they see the hats. Once you get accustomed to it, it’s just me. Some people wear wigs, or high heel shoes or big earrings or pins. This is just me.”