Ilhan Omar Is The First Hijab-Wearing Politician In The U.S. Congress And Here's Why That's HUGE

By Haddiqua Siddiqui | 31 Mar, 2019

Ilhan Omar is a 36-year-old Democrat Congresswoman from Minnesota, who became the first hijab-wearing Muslim by overcoming the 181-year head cover ban in the House on January 3, 2019. Ilhan is of Somalian origin and only became an American citizen twenty years ago.

In 1991, her family managed to survive the Somali civil war, after which they stayed in refugee camps in Kenya for four years, before finally settling in the U.S.

Via Getty Images

Ilhan graced the cover of Vogue Arabia this month, crushing all stereotypes.

“To me, the hijab means power, liberation, beauty, and resistance”, she told Vogue Arabia. She fought against the odds, as a head-covering woman from the Muslim community is not often seen running for office because it is considered a man’s job, and also because, well, Islamophobia is VERY real.

Ilhan is a woman of substance. She is changing one rule at a time. Not only was she allowed to wear her hijab in the chambers but was also sworn in on the Qur’an.

She tweeted last November saying that there was no one other than herself to put a scarf on her head. It was solely her choice – rightfully so, protected by the first amendment as per the American constitution.

Throughout her campaign, she dealt with the Republicans with great resilience who brought in her being a migrant Muslim woman wearing the hijab.

She tweeted in December, responding to a conservative pastor who taunted her, saying that Congress will look like “an Islamic republic”, telling him that the Congress floor will look like America and he will have to deal with it.

As a Muslim-American woman living in times of Islamophobia – surrounded by hate speech and bigoted political rhetoric – Ilhan is a breath of fresh air in the Congress; the one where Donald Trump is the President. She often pokes fun at Islamophobes on Twitter by saying: “love trumps hate”.  Ilhan called living in Trump’s America “challenging” because her status and heritage is constantly criticized.

In Ilhan, women all across the Muslim globe are seeing a face that is here to challenge the orthodox image which is often associated with them.

Ilhan told Vogue Arabia that she grew up in a religious society and her father and grandfather taught her how to differentiate between right and wrong. “For me, that is how I raise my kids. I work to remove obstacles so they can live at their best,” she said. “If that translates into adopting the hijab, that is fine. If not, that is their choice.”

Via Getty Images

After incidents such as a teacher pulling a student’s hijab in the State of Virginia, policemen forcefully asking a woman to remove her headscarf in New York City, a woman whose hijab was pulled off by a bully during her flight, a woman being threatened on a public bus, and many such events, Ilhan’s appointment as a hijab-wearing public figure might help in eliminating the prejudice linked with the Muslim community in America.

What do you guys think of this historical event that took place in the Congress?


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Cover Image via Getty Images

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