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Halima Aden: First Muslim to compete in hijab, burkini in USA pageant

Minnesota: Halima Aden, 19, of St. Cloud, made history by being the first Muslim contestant to compete in the Miss Minnesota USA pageant by wearing a hijab and burkini.

The 19-year-old was the first fully covered Muslim to compete and made it to the semifinal round of 15 but didn’t win the competition.

Halima modeled a series of outfits without compromising her religious beliefs.

Somali-American Halima entered the Miss Minnesota USA competition to change misconceptions about the religion that Muslim women are oppressed in Islam.

“The hijab is a symbol that we wear on our heads, but I want people to know that it is my choice. I’m doing it because I want to do it,” said Aden, a freshman at St. Cloud State University. “I wanted people to see that you could still be really cute and modest at the same time.”

While competing during Sunday’s semi-final swimsuit round, Halima wore a full-body outfit burkini.

“This is a big win for us,” she told NBC affiliate KARE. “I’m the first to do this, and I’m hoping to see more Muslim women wearing burkinis, being celebrated.”

“Be who you are,” she said. “It’s easy to feel like you have to blend in, but it takes courage to live your life with conviction and embrace the person that you are.”