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On World Hijab Day, women across the globe are polarised

While World Hijab Day calls on women from all faiths to cover their head for a day on 1 February, several women are trending #NoHijabDay on social media.

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New Delhi: A day before the celebration of World Hijab Day, women on Twitter are polarised with respect to the way they choose to mark this initiative. Every year, 1 February marks World Hijab Day and recognises millions of Muslim women who choose to wear the hijab and “live a life of modesty”. Running parallel alongside this initiative is ‘No Hijab Day’.

Even though both initiatives intend to dispel stereotypes faced by hijab wearing women, their approach to it is different. Launched in 2013 by New York-based Nazma Khan, World Hijab Day aims to promote religious tolerance by calling for both non-Hijabi Muslim women and non-Muslim women to wear the hijab for a day.

However, several women on Twitter have urged hijab wearers to “free themselves” from the piece of cloth used by Muslim women to cover their head. This is in light of women in Iran and Saudi Arabia being forced to wear the Hijab and not having the same privileges and rights as an American hijabi woman.

World Hijab Day

This year, the World Hijab Day Organisation has called on women from all faiths across the world to join the discussion using the hashtag #EmpoweredinHijab. It has listed ways for women to be a part of this endeavour, from uploading pictures with hashtags, sending emails to local mosques for support, sending money for donation to marking this day in their local communities.

Largely driven on social media, this motto for this year is ‘Unity in Diversity’ and invites women to “flood your social media with the hashtag (#EmpoweredinHijab)”. Many women have expressed solidarity on Twitter.

Nazma Khan’s story

New York based Nazma Khan, who ideated World Hijab Day, came to the United States from Bangladesh at the age of 11. She was the only hijabi in her middle school and says it was a difficult experience for her.

“Growing up in the Bronx, in NYC, I experienced a great deal of discrimination due to my hijab…In middle school, I was ‘Batman’ or ‘ninja’,” Najma recalls. “When I entered University after 9/11, I was called Osama bin Laden or terrorist. It was awful. I figured the only way to end discrimination is if we ask for our fellow sisters to experience hijab themselves.”

People from over 190 countries are estimated to take part in the World Hijab Day every year. One of the major milestones for the cause was when the New York State recognised World Hijab Day in 2017. In the same year, the House of Commons hosted an event marking the day, which was attended by former UK Prime Minister Theresa May.

Speaking at a press conference commemorating the day, Hajia Mutiat Balogun, executive director of Hijab Right Advocacy Initiative, said, “The promotion of girl child education can only be achieved if the girls in hijab are not harassed or molested by their teachers on the basis of hijab usage.”

‘Bitter irony and mountainous hypocrisy’

An article published by the National Review calls the event a “farce” in light of the “bitter irony and mountainous hypocrisy” surrounding it. It labels the initiative ironic because of the “hyprocrisy” behind an American Muslim woman encouraging others to wear the hijab, when women in Iran and Saudi Arabia are protesting against their male counterparts by taking the hijab off.

It also points out that 1 February coincides with the day (1 February 1979) when Ayatollah Khomeini returned to Iran from his French exile bringing with him the Islamic Revolution. His regime enforced purdah and the covering of women.

Also read: Where’s your hijab — the question I face the most as a Muslim woman online


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  1. This hijab day is liberalism gone off rails. The so called liberals are asking women all over to celebrate a symbol of oppression and medieval male insecurities.

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