2016 is turning out to be a big year for Somali-American refugees. Despite the Islamophobia and anti-immigrant rhetoric surrounding the presidential campaign, Somalians have accomplished impressive achievements this year. In Minnesota, Ilhan Omar became the first Somali-American legislator in the United States when she was elected to the state’s House of Representatives. Another Minnesotan from Somalia is stepping into the limelight: Halima Aden is competing in the Miss Minnesota USA pageant.
Aden is proud of her Muslim heritage and frustrated by the lack of fair representation of her background in the spotlight. Her community is important to her and to the state of Minnesota, and she wants to represent her faith and culture on a national level. Minnesota is home to a large Muslim refugee population that continues to grow as friends and family from overseas try to reunite in the United States.
Halima has worn a hijab, or traditional head covering, most of her life. She also follows Islam’s commands on modesty, which include covering the arms, legs and torso. For the Miss Minnesota USA pageant, she has received permission to represent these practices during the competition.
She’ll be wearing a burkini, or full-body bathing suit, during the swimsuit competition, and her evening gown will be similarly modest. Throughout all sections of the competition, she’ll be wearing a hijab over her hair and a big smile on her face. She hopes to help others understand her faith and view Islam in a positive light.