All eyes were on Halima Aden Sunday when the Miss Minnesota USA contestant broke barriers and made history by being the first Muslim woman to wear both a hijab and burkini during the competition.
According to Time, the 19-year-old was the first fully-covered Muslim woman to ever compete after she sported a navy blue and white embroidered burkini during Sunday’s semi-final swimsuit portion of the pageant.
READ MORE: Quebecers chime in on burkini debate
“’Be You’ was what my aunt always told me,” Aden wrote on her Facebook page. “And tonight I finally realized what she meant. This has been such a fun experience!”
The Somali-American didn’t win the title of Miss Minnesota USA 2016 (that honour went to 22-year-old Meridith Gould of Minneapolis), but Aden did make it to the top 15.
“I just wanted to go on as myself,” Aden told the Star Tribune. “When you have a lot of women in our state that do wear the hijab, we should be able to see that everywhere.”
The St. Cloud State University freshman hopes that her decision to wear the hijab and burkini during the competition breaks barriers for Muslim women and tackles misconceptions about Islam.
“For a really long time I thought being different was a negative thing,” she said to CBS. “But as I grew older, I started to realize we are all born to stand out, nobody is born to blend in. How boring would this world be if everyone was the same?”
“I support my daughter,” Rukia Aden, Aden’s mother, told the Star Tribune. “This was something new to me. I’m very happy to live in the United States where people are free and can wear what they want.”
Aden was born in a refugee camp in Kenya before moving to the U.S. at six years old, Time reports.
The ban was supported by France’s prime minister Manuel Valls who called them a “provocation” and an “archaic vision” that women are “immodest, impure and that they should therefore be totally covered.”
However, France’s top court overturned the ban on burkinis in the town of Villeneuve-Loubet. The ban is expected to impact all 30 (or so) of the French resort municipalities that have issued similar laws.
According to FBI numbers, hate crimes and attacks against Muslim-Americans jumped 67 per cent between 2014 and 2015 (out of 257 total reports), making it the highest total since 2010, when 480 attacks took place following Sept. 11, the New York Times reports.
The Guardian reports a doubling of hate crimes and attacks against Muslims in California, spiking 58 per cent between 2014 and 2015. The Council on American-Islamic Relations in California recorded a total of 1,150 of hate crime incidents in that state alone. The complaints included employment and housing discrimination, school bullying and interactions with law enforcement.
During his election campaign, President-elect Donald Trump promised a mass ban and deportation of Muslims and illegal immigrants living in the U.S.. Trump has since discussed a possible registry of Muslims within the country as well.
With files from the Associated Press