While some nations seek to ban the burkini, a Somali-American teen has made history after she wore one while participating in the semifinal of the Miss Minnesota USA pageant.
Like many pageants, Miss Minnesota has a swimsuit section. Keeping her beliefs while working within the system, when Halima Aden stepped out, she was wearing a burkini. The crowd applauded.
The pageant’s announcer said Aden, 19 was “making history” .
The college student was born in a refugee camp in Kenya, and moved Minnesota as a young child.
Through the competition she also wore her hijab.
On Facebook, she posted an image of herself on stage at the pageant with the caption: '"Be You" was what my aunt always told me. And tonight I finally realized what she meant. This has been such a fun experience ! Thank you so much to everyone who came out and cheered."
While she didn't win, she told ABC news that was not the point in her taking part. She saw the show as a way to spread a message. While the USA is awash with Islamaphobia, Aden said "The people that are doing bad things, they don’t represent an entire group...I feel like I’m here to bust those misconceptions and stereotypes of Muslim women.”
After the shock US election results, there has been a spike in hate crimes against people of colour in the USA, and Muslims. Social media was full of reports of Muslim women expressing their fears of going out in their hijab.
Before the event she told Minnesota Public Radio (MPR) the pageant was about "being confidently beautiful, so I didn't think that I should allow my hijab to get into the way of me participating."
She was one of 45 women competing for the title, over the weekend. While she made it to the semifinal round consisting of 15 contestants, she did not advance to the final five.
What is the burkini?
The burkini and burka have been under attack across the western world. The burkini is a full-body wetsuit that covers the torso, limbs and head and is worn by some Muslim women. This year it sparked international debate as in France officials in up to 30 towns on the Mediterranean coast banned women from wearing it on beaches. However in August a high court of France said the ban should be suspended.
But according to the BBC at least three mayors have already said they will keep the bans in their towns.