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‘My Choice’: Ilhan Omar Makes History As She Becomes First to Wear Hijab in US Congress

Congresswoman overcomes 181-year headwear ban while Rashida Tlaib takes oath on Qur’an that belonged to Thomas Jefferson

Omar, a Democrat, was part of a historically diverse freshman class in the 116th Congress sworn in amid cheers and jubilation. The House now has a record 102 women and a new generation of Muslims, Latinos, Native Americans and African Americans, more closely resembling the US population and set to take on Donald Trump in a new era of divided government. But on the Republican side, the House still consists mostly ofwhite men.

Omar, 36, from Minnesota, tweeted: “As a kid, I acted as my grandfather’s translator at our caucuses and he was the one who first sparked my interest in politics. I wish he could be here to witness this historic moment, but he was here in spirit as I placed my hand on his Quran for the ceremonial swearing in.”Advertisement

The normally staid chamber also bubbled with the sound of children. Congressman Eric Swalwell rocked his infant daughter, Cricket, on the House floor. Omar stopped by to take a turn holding the baby.

Ilhan Omar embraces her son after she was sworn in by Nancy Pelosi.
 Ilhan Omar embraces her son after she was sworn in by Nancy Pelosi. Photograph: Glen Stubbe/AP

She was one of the first two Muslim women elected to Congress. The other was Rashida Tlaib, who did not wear a hijab. Tlaib took the oath on a Qur’an – a 1734 English translation that belonged to the former president Thomas Jefferson.

Tlaib wore a traditional thobe stitched by her Palestinian-born mother.

When she stood to cast her vote for Nancy Pelosi as speaker, Tlaib’s sons, Adam, 13, and seven-year-old Yousif, were standing by her side.

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“Then Adam shouted Pelosi’s name, too, and both followed that with a ‘dab’ – a move favored by tweens in which the nose is nudged inside one elbow while the opposite hand is raised overhead,” the Associated Press reported. “Bella Kaufman saw it. Pelosi’s granddaughter, nine, jumped up from her seat in the second row and returned the salute. The House’s legions of parents of both parties chuckled.”

Rashida Tlaib as her son dabs.
 Rashida Tlaib as her son dabs. Photograph: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Pelosi was comfortably returned to the post of House speaker, making her once again the most powerful woman in American politics. The 78-year-old invited at least two dozen children to join her on the dais as she was sworn in, calling the House to order “on behalf of all of America’s children”.

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Written by How Africa

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