For the first time in Delaware, a woman elected to the House of Representatives, following the election of Democrat Joe Biden as president, is sworn in, veiled, on the Koran.
The scene has a surreal side. We are at the State House in Dover, Delaware, at the end of the morning of February 4, 2021: the head covered with a loose beige hijab, and wearing a long green silk abaya, Democrat Madinah Wilson-Anton takes an oath to be faithful to the American Constitution, on a copy of the Koran belonging to her father.
This gesture is heavy with meaning when we remember that the Koran conveys as a vision of society the umma, or community of believers obeying exclusively the laws of Islam: they are the opposite of the American Constitution.
The young woman, 27 and a practicing Muslim, was elected with 71% of the vote in November 2020 to the Delaware House—where the new President of the United States was a U.S. senator from 1973 to 2009—to represent the 26th district of this state.
On this occasion, the new representative intervened to defend her vision of an open Islam, regretting the “stereotype,” according to which “veiled Muslim women are victims since they are not free to be themselves.”
The Delaware elected official also took to social media. Ironically, in response to a tweet in the French language: “While in France deputies want to ban the veil at the university, in the United States Madinah Wilson-Anton has just been elected to the Delaware House of Representatives,” the representative declared herself “proud to represent the beauty of Islam and to serve (its) community,” specifying that “religious freedom should be a right for everyone.”
The question is whether the “community” evoked is indeed that of the 26th district.
While the swearing in of a veiled woman was unprecedented in the Delaware House of Representatives, swearing on the Koran is no longer a first in the United States: on February 4, 2020, the chief of police of New Jersey also took an oath on the Koran. Likewise in 2015, a New York judge, who did not go so far as to wear the veil.
In 2006, Democrat Keith Ellison took an oath on a Koran that belonged to Thomas Jefferson, one of the founding fathers of the United States, creating controversy.
The Delaware representative’s swearing-in seems to have stirred up some controversy in France. To another tweet in French praising American “pluralism,” and regretting “not being able to see this in France,” Madinah Wilson-Anton assures us: “we will see it one day.”