Illan Omar the first Somali-American woman elected to congress, made history in more ways than one today when she also became the first woman to wear hijab in congress and one of two Muslim woman sworn into the United States’ House of Representatives.
Ahead of her swearing-in ceremony today, the lawmaker took to Twitter to reflect and celebrate the milestone with a picture of her and her father. “23 years ago, from a refugee camp in Kenya, my father and I arrived at an airport in Washington DC, she wrote. “Today, we return to that same airport on the eve of my swearing in as the first Somali-American in Congress.”
Her father also took to social media to share a heart-warming message about the significance of Omar’s appointment, writing “It’s an honor to have her represent me and our family is so humbled that Ilhan has the opportunity to serve in our democracy. I wish Ilhan’s grandfather could be here to witness this historic moment. He will be here in spirit as Ilhan will place her hand on his Quran for the ceremonial swearing in.
Omar and Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib of Detroit, who is the first Palestinian-American elected to Congress, both made history as the first Muslim women to make it to congress. Tlaib was sworn in with Thomas Jefferson’s Quran, and wore a Palestinian thobe during the ceremony. “I like that,” she told CNN of being sworn-in with Jefferson’s centuries-old Quran. “I like that it’s kind of pushing against the stereotype that somehow we’re new to this country.”
She’s inspired other Palestinian women to share photos of themselves in the traditional attire, using the hashtag #TweetYourThobe
Omar, who recently clapped-back after a Republican pastor complained that “The floor of Congress is going to look like an Islamic Republic,” proudly wore hijab in Congress, where hats and head coverings had been banned since 1837—a law which Omar herself pushed to abolish, reports Vox. The law was officially overturned today, allowing for religious garments to be worn.
The United States House of Representatives is currently the most diverse that it’s ever been in its 230 year history. with 35 new women being sworn in today.