Muslim congresswoman seeks to lift ban on head coverings

Newly elected congresswoman Ilhan Omar spearheading effort to repeal rule barring head coverings from being worn on Capitol Hill.

Elad Benari ,

Ilhan Omar
Ilhan Omar

Newly elected US Democratic congresswoman Ilhan Omar is spearheading an effort to repeal a rule barring head coverings from being worn by legislators on Capitol Hill, i24news reported Sunday.

Omar, from Minnesota, is one of the first two Muslim women who were elected to Congress in the midterm elections earlier this month.

“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,” the Somali-born Omar, who wears a headscarf, wrote on Twitter Saturday.

The proposal, which has the backing of both top Democrat Nancy Pelosi and incoming rules chairman Jim McGovern (D-MA), is being pushed as part of a larger package of reforms and would create an exception to an 1837 ban on hats in Congress for religious headwear, noted i24news.

If the proposal is approved, hijabs and kippas would both be permitted on Capitol Hill.

Omar has sparked controversy for saying after being elected that she supported the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement targeting Israel, after saying during her campaign that it was “counteractive” and prevents dialogue.

Omar’s comment came in response to a website called Muslim Girl, which pressed her on her appearance during the campaign at a Minneapolis area synagogue, in which she had said that BDS “stops the dialogue” and is “counteractive” to achieving a two-state outcome.

“Ilhan believes in and supports the BDS movement, and has fought to make sure people’s right to support it isn’t criminalized,” her campaign told Muslim Girl after the election. “She does, however, have reservations on the effectiveness of the movement in accomplishing a lasting solution.”

Omar had previously called Israel an “apartheid regime”. In 2012, she said that Israel had “hypnotized the world” to ignore its “evil doings.”

Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, the other Muslim woman elected to Congress earlier this month, does not wear a headscarf.