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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 13 December 2018

Democrats move to lift outdated Congress headwear ban

Female Muslim member of Congress is at forefront of campaign to lift 181-year-old ban

Incoming congresswoman Ilhan Omar of Minnesota is fronting the rule change. EPA
Incoming congresswoman Ilhan Omar of Minnesota is fronting the rule change. EPA

One of the first female Muslim members of the US Congress is at the forefront of a Democrat campaign to lift a 181-year-old ban on head wear in the historic chamber.

Congresswoman-elect Ilhan Omar is working with Democrat house leader Nancy Pelosi to refresh the house rule as elected institutions begin to more accurately reflect the country’s population.

In the November midterm elections, more women were elected to the US Congress than ever before, including Minnesotan Ms Omar and fellow first female Muslim congresswoman elect Rashida Tlaib. A number of states also sent their first African American, Hispanic and other ethnic minority representatives to Congress.

The 1837 rule stipulates that “every member shall remain uncovered during the sessions of the House,” and with Congress beginning to look more like the population it serves, Ms Omar and other Democrats are looking to reverse it.

Lifting the ban would see people from a variety of religions able to wear their religious head coverings to the House of Representatives, including Sikhs, Muslims and Jews.

“No one puts a scarf on my head but me. It’s my choice—one protected by the first amendment,” Ms Omar wrote on Twitter.

“And this is not the last ban I’m going to work to lift.”

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Donald Trump’s daughter and adviser Ivanka backed the efforts, tweeting it was and “important rule change for Congress to make…”.

The proposed change forms part of a package of rules to be introduced by the Democrats, who won back control of the House in November. They are expected to be approved in January