As a hijab-wearing, Somali-American refugee, Rep.-elect Ilhan Omar of Minnesota knows just how historic her congressional win is for the country.
“In a time where there is a lot of religious bigotry, it’s almost perfect to have this counterbalance. My sister Rashida and I are from the heartland of America,” Omar told Roll Call in an interview published Tuesday. “To be elected to Congress is a real rejection of that message.”
Omar’s win in Minnesota’s 5th Congressional District earlier this month makes her one of the first two Muslim women to ever be elected to Congress. Although she doesn’t take office until January, the representative-elect has already hit the ground running.
Last week, Omar announced that she is ready to challenge a 181-year-old ban on headwear on the floor of the House. The rule prohibits members from wearing hats on the chamber floor, which could technically ban Omar from wearing a hijab.
“No one puts a scarf on my head but me,” Omar wrote on Instagram. “It’s my choice ― one protected by the First Amendment.”
Omar began her victory speech earlier this month with the universal Islamic greeting “As-salaam aleikum” and later offered her gratitude to God, telling the crowd three times: “Alhamdulillah.”
“The fact that we have diverse backgrounds; some of us are mothers, some of us are queer,” she said. “Whatever the case might be, those things are a bonus that helps have a unique lens into creating policy that is more impactful.”