Saturday 15 December 2018
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Newly elected Muslim congresswoman fights for right to wear hijab in Congress

Omar announced the decision on Saturday, voicing support for a Democrat proposal to end the ban that was publicized last week. The rule change was proposed by former House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, ranking member of the House Committee on Rules Jim McGovern and the Muslim representative-elect. Democrats say the ban will be lifted to allow others to wear headgear on the floor based on religious or medical considerations. The current laws of the House of Representatives prevent Ilhan from wearing hijab as they oblige all members to be uncovered in order to enter the building and address the floor. The ban was instituted in 1837 as to push back against the British custom of wearing hats in parliament. The new rule would clarify that religious head coverings, including Muslim head scarves (hijab), are not included in this ban. The law was called into question after Omar and Rashida Tlaib succeeded in becoming the first two Muslim women to be elected for the US congress after the recent midterm elections. A number of politicians from both sides of the aisle as well as numerous organizations have backed the move. We support the effort to update this anachronistic policy and to bring the House of Representatives into conformity with the Constitution and its existing protection of religious freedom, said the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation #39;s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization. Islamic head coverings, Sikh turbans, Jewish yarmulkes, and Mennonite bonnets are all expressions of religious belief and are therefore already protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution, which states that #39;Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, #39; added CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad. Support for Palestine The new hijab-wearing representative of Minnesota has, however, come under much scrutiny for her position on Palestine and her recently announced support for the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement, prompting many reactions on social media. A hashtag campaign using #IStandWithIlhan was launched in her support last week. Omar is, nonetheless, not the first recent representative-elect to make headlines about Palestine. The newly elected New York City representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez drew much attention in May for harshly criticizing Israel for the high number of Palestinians killed during the weekly Great March of Return demonstrations. Two months later and after facing much criticism, Cortez slightly backed down from her past remarks, saying that I am not the expert on geo-politics on this issue. Cortez #39;s backtracking has, however, led some observers to doubt whether the Democratic Party can truly tolerate members promoting pro-Palestinian views.

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