In honor of International women’s day we would like to take a moment to shed light on the dreadful assaults of many young women who face acts of violence for wearing symbols of their creed. The following is a powerful piece written by our very own Fizza Jafri, and contains descriptions of violence.
What is it about my hijab that bothers you? Irks you enough to want to release me from it? Does my modesty scare you, or is it the fact that I do not choose to reveal myself that frightens you? What is it about this piece of cloth on my head that is so bothersome, enough to make you angry and rip it off my head?
On February 9th, 2022, Hoda Al-Jamaa aged 17, ended up in the hospital after she had been beaten and had her hijab ripped off in an act of violence. The attackers had first come up to Hoda and her friends and had asked them to teach them swear words in the Arabic language. When Hoda and her friends refused, the attackers responded with violence. Hoda was physically assaulted by three of her female schoolmates from Otago Girls’ High School. She was pinned to the ground and had her hijab ripped off, while the other grils filmed her and later revealed her hijabless head to the entirety of the school’ girls and boys. That video has now been seen by thousands of hundreds of people, if not more. After Hoda had been taken to the hospital, the violence did not end. The attackers moved their attention to Hoda’s friends and spewed hatred towards them, referring to them as “Muslim b*tches” and “Terrorists”. Sadly this is not the first time that the young girls have faced blatant Islamophobia in their school. The school has yet to make a comment.
After reading about this event, I wanted to know more about the situation. However, when I went to read about it online, only a few news articles had covered the story. This minimal coverage on such a horrendous act of hatred made me reflect on my own journey with my hijab. As a muslim woman, I started wearing the hijab at a very young age. I was not forced to do so by anyone, rather I put it on as I understood its importance and value in my faith. My hijab has always been a barrier that has protected me from the outside world, a shield even. With it, I am able to stay away from the ‘beauty standards’ that have been placed by society onto women, and dress in a way that makes me feel both pretty and the l most comfortable. In a way, it forces other people to get to know me for who I am as an intellectual, rather than judging me for what I look like on the outside. It is a sense of security for me that is hard to put into words. There is nothing wrong with dressing per say with ‘revealing clothes’. A woman’s taste in fashion is not an invitation to judge her. Rather, clothes can make women feel beautiful and comfortable with who they are, whereas I am the most comfortable in covering myself. Neither is better than the other, rather dressing how you want to is best. Nonetheless, I was always made to feel that I had been pressured to put on my hijab, as if this was not my own choice but something that was decided for me. This feeling came from peers, teachers at school, and even somehow I had called my ‘friends’.
Considering the torment and stigma women who wear hijabs face, the balaclava trend is quite ironic. Covering your head is deemed okay when it is done in the name of fashion, but why is it deemed oppressive when it is done in the name of religion.. Is it the racism towards the Muslims that is directed towards the piece of clothing that they wear on their head? Maybe the balaclava is trending because it is mostly worn by white women, and it is white femininity that is non threatening. For that same reason, the hijab is deemed as threatening because it is mostly worn by women with melanin in their skin. While women who wear the hijab experience racially motivated hate crimes and acts, women who wear the balaclava do not. Women who wear the hijab have been arguing and fighting for years that they have put on their hijab through free will, Western ideology continues to tell us that we have been placed in it because we are oppressed. The West has made up their mind and declared my hijab as a sign of aggression, oppression, and terrorism. I will never understand why many people think I am oppressed, when I am nothing but happy to wear my hijab. It makes me feel safe, so why does it make everyone else feel unsafe?
Person. (2022, February 16). Otago schoolgirl has hijab ripped off by fellow students. 1 News. Retrieved March 8, 2022, from https://www.1news.co.nz/2022/02/15/otago-schoolgirl-has-hijab-ripped-off-by-fellow-students/