Inside World Hijab Day: Learning to look beyond Islamophobia
By Kayla Popuchet
With the ever-growing Islamophobia spewing from the mouths of everyone from right-wing politicians down to citizens, World Hijab Day is much more than a celebration of a symbol of a Muslim woman’s devotion to Allah. It is a reminder to other Hijabis that they should never be ashamed of who they are and what they believe. It is a reminder to non-Muslims that the hijab isn’t a symbol of hate and violence, but rather of love and peace.
The backlash against this festive day seems to be coming from the non-intersectional feminist community who believe the hijab oppresses the liberties of a women to be themselves and enforces misogynistic views that modest women are superior and more Godly than other women.
While everybody is entitled to their opinions, it is detrimental to the feminist movement when feminists argue against Muslim women making a personal choice to wear a hijab. There are plenty of women who choose to show their devotion to Allah in another form and reject wearing a hijab, and then there are women who believe that that is what has been asked of them so they will willingly do it out of their love.
Fashion designer Nabaallah Chi writes for World Hijab Day: “I realized that Hijab made me focus on my inner self more. Some people think that veiled women are oppressed, but I feel more empowered than ever, even though I did struggle to come to terms with it at first.”
There does not seem to be anything easy about covering your head everyday for the rest of your life and then facing others out in the open, so while it is still not my faith, I find it admirable and even inspiring to see how many women sacrifice a part of themselves that does not affect anyone else.
Beyond the exclusion and bigoted nature of non-intersectional feminism comes the blatant bigotry of non-Muslims.
Islam is the second largest religion in the world, according to a 2012 Pew Research Center report, even though it’s the youngest. According to both the International Security’s dataset and Scott Shane, journalist for The New York Times, the threat of a terrorist attack by far right-winged extremists is greater than the threat of jihadist extremists. Yet we are an increasingly anti-Muslim society, fearing that Islam is somehow more dangerous than Christianity or Judaism, even as mosques are burned and Hijabis are targeted.
World Hijab Day helps the underrepresented and hated community that happens to be one of the largest religion in the world, all the while pointing out the racist and sexist power structure of the Western world and how most of the power lies in the hands of the few who do not represent the masses.
We are constantly told when it comes to police brutality to not judge all cops by the actions of some, even though cops are not fixing the issues in their own community and apathy is just as evil as the oppressor. However when it comes to minority groups, the vast majority look for excuses to justify their own bigotry and no longer utter their tireless mantras.
Days that appreciate individual groups are some of the only times these groups get proper representation, so I give my regards to all Hijabis and hope for the safety of all Muslims on this day.