World Hijab Day was observed here on Monday in a bid to combat against Islamophobia.
The event was started by Nazma Khan in 2013 to bring awareness to the hijab, the head garb worn by Muslim females as a part of practising their faith.
The theme for this year is to #EndHijabophobia – the fear of hijabs. Hijabis (women who wear the hijab) were encouraged to submit photographs of themselves, dressed in whatever manner was most comfortable to them, including the hashtags in the photos.
They were also asked to answer the question: “What does hijab mean to you?”
Hijabi Saamiya Cumberbatch answered by saying:
“I made the decision to wear hijab full time in 2013 – a tough choice because I felt insecure about it. Often persons would tell me I’m so much prettier without it or I was hiding my beauty with that ‘thing’ on my head. After a pep talk from my Aunty Anisa, I felt like I had the self-confidence to actually wear hijab every day. I was super nervous but I actually did it!
“It’s 2021 now and honestly, there have been times when I’ve struggled to wear my hijab consistently. Growing up in a country that is predominantly Christian, having majority non-Muslim family and friends, it can be difficult to feel like you fit in and to have the confidence to stand out (or stick out like a sore thumb).
“Most recently, I’ve experienced my first real instance of Islamophobia and Hijabophobia – an experience that still shakes me but I hope to be able to talk about it in future.
“It’s exactly why I feel it is important to spread awareness – the hijab isn’t anything to be afraid of, it doesn’t make me any less human than you or the guy walking across the street.
“[The] hijab has become a safety net, a way of life and a part of me – I don’t think I should be hated or discriminated against because I choose to wear it. I don’t think I should be afraid to be me, be Muslim in my country. Hijab is a statement – I’m Muslim and I’m proud to follow a way of life that preaches peace, togetherness, charity and love. I only hope that persons can be educated and learn to love me, regardless of what I choose to wear.”
Cumberbatch offered these tips for seeing/interacting with a hijabi:
– Don’t whisper or make snide comments about it
– If you’re curious, politely ask a question
– Don’t refer to the hijab as “a thing”
– Treat them like you would another regular human being – courteous and with kindness