Women from 190 countries are expected to be participating in World Hijab Day (WHD), the annual event that recognises the millions of Muslim females who choose to wear the hijab and live a life of modesty. Many scholars, politicians, and celebrities from all over the globe have supported the event, which was first marked on February 1, 2013. Here are some interesting facts to know about WHD as many volunteers and ambassadors from all walks of life are conducting events worldwide in order to fight discrimination against Muslim women via awareness and education.
1. New York City resident Nazma Khan was the brainchild of the movement.
She came up with the idea as a means to promote religious tolerance and cancel out some of the controversies surrounding why Muslim women choose to wear the hijab. The social activist, who is now a US citizen, moved from Bangladesh when she was 11 and was constantly bullied in middle school and high school due to her hijab.
As the bigotry ramped up after 9/11, she started talking to other Muslim women who had been through similar experiences and decided to launch the first WHD.
2. As well as backing Muslim women, WHD, which became a non-profit organisation (NGO) in 2018, also invites non-Muslims and women from all backgrounds to experience life as a hijabi.
Clearing some common misconceptions about hijab:— World HijabDay (@WorldHijabDay) 30 janvier 2019
94% women didn’t feel oppressed in hijab
93% women said hijab wasn’t forced on them
94% women felt empowered by hijab
93% women felt confident in hijab
98% women felt #FreeInHijab#WorldHijabDay https://t.co/8BNFTFZiMv
Women of other faiths are urged to don a headscarf for the day to gain insight and understanding for women who wear the hijab. "By walking in my shoes for one day on February 1, women would see that I am no different from them,” Khan has said. Another form of support is to post selfies with a hijab on and join online conversations using the relevant hashtags like #WorldHijabDay.
3. According to statement from the NGO, the motto for this year’s WHD is ‘Breaking Stereotypes. Shattering Boundaries,’ with the hashtag #FreeInHijab.
"My hijab is not only my freedom and my right, but also protection from germs!" Natalya Alkuzi, military doctor, maxillofacial surgeon, Moscow, Russia#FreeInHijab #WorldHijabDay pic.twitter.com/Eje1FWP4kj— World HijabDay (@WorldHijabDay) 29 janvier 2019
“#FreeInHijab is the much needed hashtag for our current global situation where women in hijabs are labelled by media as oppressed and symbolically imprisoned,” Khan, said told Anadolu Agency. She added the hashtag encourages women to say why they opt to wear the hijab, helping to dispel common erroneous beliefs.
The NGO’s January 20 statement also reiterated the mission to create a more peaceful world where global citizens respect each other. "Particularly, WHD focuses on fighting bigotry, discrimination and prejudice against Muslim women.
"This is most crucial in these times where the hijab is being banned in some countries while in other countries, Muslim women are being targeted and harassed verbally and physically.”