World Hijab Day

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World Hijab Day

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Feb. 1 was the celebration of World Hijab Day, a day where hijabi women can unite and educate the world about the religious head covering.

World Hijab Day was founded by Nazma Khan after 9/11 to educate people about the Hijab and to eliminate the growing stigma against Muslims. After 9/11 occurred, Khan experienced more cases of discrimination. On February 1, 2013, Khan started World Hijab Day, an event that invited people from all backgrounds to learn about the hijab.

The hijab, a veil or headscarf that is worn by Muslim women, is usually implemented for modesty.

A few years ago, GCC sophomore Noor Al Hasany hosted the event, encouraging other women at her then-high school to wear the hijab for a day, later discussing their experiences.

“Some students, their experiences were amazing… and some liked the experience but they also got negative comments… They were touched.”

Al Hasany had enjoyed the event so much that she decided that she wanted to celebrate World Hijab Day here at GCC.

“It’s an experience where I want people to be aware of what we go through. It’s like she [Nazma Khan] said, ‘you’re just putting yourself in Muslims’ shoes.’”

This year on Feb. 1, Al Hasany set out to educate GCC’s student body. Instead of having students wear the hijab for a day, Al Hasany and some volunteers set up a table outside of the Student Union Building, inviting students to learn about Islam and the traditional covering. They laid out prayer rugs for people to see and headscarves for students to try on for five minutes, all while verses of the Quran played in the background.

Shahad Khader, a Muslim student at GCC that attended the event, felt that the event was very successful. “It brought more awareness to our culture and religion. I think it’s [World Hijab Day] important, especially with what has been going on,” Khader said.

Khader refers to the discrimination that hijabi women experience every day.

According to a poll on the World Hijab Day website, 71 percent of hijabi women in the United States face discrimination for wearing the veil.

Suhailah Mohsin, one of the volunteers at the booth for World Hijab Day, believes that there is a bad connotation with women who wear the hijab because of recent acts of terrorism performed by Muslim extremists. Although Mohsin believes that the hijab is an important part of her religion, she chooses to not wear the hijab in her daily life, not feeling ambitious enough to subject herself to the discrimination that many hijabi women face.

“How people associate hijab with terrorism without really understanding what hijab means… You are a representative of Islam in a sense when you are wearing the hijab so that makes you a target for stereotypes,” Mohsin said.

The hijab has many misconceptions that people have perpetuated. For example, one notion is that women who wear the headscarf are forced to wear it or that they are oppressed. In actuality, many women choose to wear it. It is something that a woman must choose to do; it is not meant to be forced, but rather, a choice.

“[The hijab is] A spiritual and physical separation between man and woman until marriage… Islam tries to protect women and allows men to view them as more than just objects. It doesn’t want them to be objectified. It targets men to not stare at women,” Mohsin said. Maryann Al-Shiteawi, another Muslim volunteer for World Hijab Day, agreed with this statement.

“I do it not only as a sign of modesty but because I want people to like me for who I am and not what I look like. I want them to focus on my personality and who I am as a person and my actions rather than how I look or what I am wearing,” Al-Shiteawi said.

Despite ongoing discrimination against women who wear the hijab, there are signs that this is changing, with lots of people becoming more accepting towards women who wear the head covering, as well as Muslims in general.

“Here at GCC I’ve never seen any negative comments, only questions. People are always asking me ‘why do you wear it?’ and stuff like that… so I decided to bring awareness and answer questions that are asked by many people,” Al Hasany said.