I grew up wearing a hijab. It wasn’t easy at first, but I had to accept it. If you didn’t wear it, you suffered backlash from one half of the community. If you did choose to don the hijab, you’d face taunting, holier-than-thou nonsense from the other half. I won’t lie; I didn’t want to wear it at first for fear of being bullied.
That brings me to the story of a Syrian refugee who was assaulted by a school mate a few weeks ago. The incident happened in a Chartiers Valley High School bathroom, and a video of the incident quickly went viral.
In the video, a hijab-donning female is seen being confronted by another student, who is white. The attacker in the video can be heard saying, “you’re lucky you’re from another language because I’d crush you!”
Obviously, going to school hasn’t done much for this perp. She can’t tell the difference between race or language (LOL). After the confrontation, the white female attacked the hijabi student, striking her multiple times with vicious blows, eventually causing her to fall. As a result, the victim was taken to the hospital where she was treated for a concussion, and bruises. Would it surprise you to learn that the incident in question is being treated as a case of bullying, instead of a hate crime? I’m certainly not surprised, yet exceedingly disappointed, because the unhinged attacker’s own words indicate a bias.
I am a hijabi myself, and I know how it feels to be bullied because of it. Believe it or not, it was easier to wear the hjiab publicly when I was younger, possibly because it was before 9/11. Things became a lot harder after that horrific day. While we mourned the senseless deaths of thousands of innocent, fellow citizens that day, we were turned upon by a particular group of people who equated our hijabs with those who had perpetrated this act of terror.
Since then, I am continuously having to explain why I wear the hijab. I’m asked, “Do you have to wear that?” or “Isn’t that hot?”
Other times, I get judgmental comments like, “OMG, I don’t know how you can wear that in this weather,” or “what would happen if you took it off?”
“Are you forced to wear that?”
“Will you be killed if you don’t wear that?”
The bullying and the ignorance never end. Some may mean well, but the expectation that I will be an encyclopedia of all things hijab still stings. I have found it harder and harder to wear the hijab due to the continued attention I receive. I also hate the stares I get, and the current political climate hasn’t made it any easier. If I’m an adult going through this, imagine what the children are going through during school! How they might feel left out, pressured to feel like they don’t belong, or fit in? School is already a confusing time, what with navigating your social life, and attempting to figure out who you really are whilst dealing with immense peer pressure that seems to grow with each generation. It damages their self-esteem and confidence. We cannot allow this!
This may be a shocker, but even teachers have bullied children about hijab in school. About a year ago, in Nashville, Tennessee, a teacher ripped off her student’s hijab and put the incident on Snapchat! She said, “Why are you covering this beautiful hair?” and followed it up by violating the girl’s privacy in front of all her classmates. The trauma that poor child suffered from this humiliating act of violence may never heal.
I’m going to say this once: I do not owe anyone an explanation of why I wear my hijab, and neither does anyone else. If you’re curious, pick up an english translation of the the Qur’an, and do your research. I am a human being, flawed, and navigating my faith as best I can, and I DO NOT need to add your ignorance to my list of problems.
Please stop bullying individuals because you don’t understand their diversity, or making people self-conscious by asking invasive questions, or being ignorant about their hijab!
We don’t comment on your life choices, so what on earth gives you the right to judge me about mine?