Congresswoman Elect Ilhan Omar Goes to Work, Fighting a 181-Year-Old Headscarf Ban

By Yelena Mandenberg Yelena Mandenberg has been verified by Muck Rack's editorial team
Published on November 20, 2018

This new round of midterm elections made it possible to introduce some new faces in Congress, including democrat Ilhan Omar, from Minnesota. And the new faces are heading straight to work – Omar is already working with Nancy Pelosi to overturn a 181-year-old ban that would prevent her from wearing her religious headwear.

Omar is making history as the first two Muslim women to be officially elected to the house. Last week, Democrats announced the plan to fight the ban, and this weekend Ilhan Omar went public with her support for the plan.

This Saturday, the Minnesota rep tweeted: “No one puts a scarf on my head but me. It’s my choice—one protected by the first amendment.” She added that the hat ban is “not the last ban I’m going to work to lift.”

Technically, the rule that exists is a 200-year-old hat ban, which was made without considering that future elected members might actually belong to a *gasp* different faith. Many across Twitter are voicing their distaste for the rule by pointing out that so many of the government’s actions are antiquated. Ilhan Omar, who is 36, not only brings a fresh perspective because of her background, but also because the average age for members of Congress (according to Google) is 57.

Last week, Omar told the New York Post that, “There are those kinds of policies that oftentimes get created because people who have blind spots are in positions of influence and positions of power.”

The hat ban makes it impossible for Omar to even enter the chambers with her headscarf, and says that anyone in a hat or head garment cannot address Congress. Omar co-wrote the proposal to end this rule along with Nancy Pelosi, and Rep. Jim McGovern.

Omar was born in Somalia and came to the United States as an immigrant at age 12. She’s worked tirelessly in politics over the last 10 years, working across communities in Minnesota on state issues.

The new proposal would allow for all religious headwear – you know, in case more Muslim, Sikh, or Jewish women ever seek to get elected. A variety of religions require women to cover their heads, and it’s time those rules are accounted for in Congress.

Until the ban is lifted, Omar is prevented from doing the job that voters selected her for.

The proposal also calls for a Diversity office that would work towards banning religious and gender discrimination towards elected officials.

Voters are excited for Omar’s dedication towards public service. The night she won, she told her base, “Here in Minnesota, we don’t only welcome immigrants; we send them to Washington,” according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

“I stand here before you tonight, as your congresswoman-elect, with many firsts behind my name,” she continued, The Post reports. “The first woman of color to represent our state in Congress … The first refugee ever elected to Congress, and one of the first Muslim women elected to Congress.”

There’s no word on when Congress will look at this proposal.

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By Yelena Mandenberg Yelena Mandenberg has been verified by Muck Rack's editorial team

Journalist verified by Muck Rack verified

Yelena Mandenberg is the Ideas Editor at Grit Daily with a passion for news of all sorts. Finishing Brooklyn College with a degree in Print Media Journalism as the industry died out, she began working as a freelancer.After spending some time working in the retail industry, Yelena started BK Riot Writing, a marketing company that caters to small and local businesses, creating content that helps them compete. From her South Brooklyn apartment where she lives with her cat & tortoise, Yelena is always seeking something new and interesting to cover.

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