International Scarves In Solidarity: Solidarity, Awareness, Conversation

Two years ago, I remember reading an article regarding new French legislation, which officially banned women from wearing the niqab. At the time, I was profusely upset that a country could make a law, which targeted Muslim women in such a direct manner. France had already banned Muslim women from wear the Hijab in schools and just recently I read an article that suggested France would soon ban the hijab from the private sector. I remember reading quite clearly that the French president, Sarkozy, had said that he could not allow means of oppression to exist in his country.

Unfortunately, the situation with both the legislations of France and the words of the former president are just one example of the rampant misconceptions and Islamophobia that exists in the world today. It is not uncommon to hear people make declarations and assumptions that all Muslim “women” are forced to wear the hijab/niqab. While it is true that there are unfortunately Muslim women in the world who have had to forcefully wear the hijab/niqab—that is NOT the truth for the grand majority of Muslim women.

The problem with these generalizations is that it neglects to acknowledge the grand majority of women who proudly wear the hijab/niqab by their own choice. Furthermore, these generalizations stand as a means to further demonize the religion of Islam and Muslim people worldwide. On top of these dilemmas, Muslim women in the Western world who wear the hijab/niqab are subjected to a multitude of prejudices, stereotypes, discrimination, assault, hate-crimes, and other forms of harassment from society. Truth be told, Muslim women who wear the hijab/niqab are most visibly identified as Muslims.

Born from all the frustrations with misconceptions and injustices, I decided to create a day where Muslims & non-Muslims alike can join together and show their support to Muslim women who choose to wear the hijab/niqab. I was very intentional about voicing my objectives of having this day as a means to show solidarity to Muslim Women, spread awareness, and have a progressive respectful dialogue about the truth of the hijab/niqab coming from Muslims. Above all, this event supports the notion that all women should be free to wear what they want without the fear of harassment. The past two years, International Scarves in Solidarity, was very successful. Alhamdulilah. People all over the world enthusiastically posted pictures on the event’s page/blog wearing the scarf around their necks/heads with messages of support. Many Hijabi/Niqabi women expressed feeling sincerely touched seeing these messages throughout the day.

The third annual International Scarves in Solidarity is coming up and everyone is welcome to participate! All that is necessary is wearing a scarf around your neck or if you’re a willing female –you can wear the hijab on your head. This event does not intend to simulate the experiences of hijabi/niqabi women because you simply cannot understand what the daily experiences of these women are after wearing it for just one day. This event is also not meant to culturally/religiously appropriate in any form. Do not hesitate to take this event to your own community, school, and/or work!

If you feel comfortable, please do post pictures on the Facebook event’s page here and/or submit to the blog here.

I’m hoping for a good turn out this year. Here’s to showing solidarity and spreading awareness!

Yusra is in her second year of University. She majors in psychology and sociology. She hopes to be a psychologist for first-generation and second-generation immigrants, inshA. In the meantime, she is very passionate on behalf of social justice.