House Democrats push to end floor ban on hijab and other religious headwear as first Muslim women enter Congress
Incoming Representative Ilhan Omar and others are looking to change the rules about religious headwear on the US House floor. The newly elected crop of Demcrat US House members are looking make an impact as soon as they arrive - by seeking to change the dress code rules to allow the wearing religious headwear, like hijabs, on the floor of the chamber.The so-called ‘hat ban’ has existed since the 1830s, when it was seen as a “harmless but indecorous” practice according to one member at the time. However, the victory of Congresswomanelect Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, who wears a hijab, has decided that the rue is not fit for practice. Ms Omar wrote on Twitter and Instagram: “No one puts a scarf on my head but me. It’s my choice -- one protected by the first amendment”.She and Congresswomanelect Rashida Tlaib of Michigan are the first Muslim women to be elected to Congress. Rules changes will be submitted in January by the new Congress to make an exception for members on religious grounds, but also for those wanting to wear a head covering if suffering from an illness.Nancy Pelosi, the current House minority leader and likely next Speaker of the House, said in a statement to NBC News: “Democrats know that our strength lies in our diversity, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation or religion. After voters elected the most diverse Congress in history, clarifying the antiquated rule banning headwear will further show the remarkable progress we have made as a nation.While the majority of the US House identifies as Christian, religion has played an interesting role in conduct on the floor. It is up to the Speaker of the House to enforce the rules, but putting the exemption into the rules will make it harder for future Speakers to rescind the provision, whether on political grounds or otherwise.