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Hijabless on Hijab Day

| Monday, April 18, 2016

Hello, my name is Syazana Yazid, and I am a Muslim. If you met me, you would find out these facts in reverse order. This is because I wear the hijab: the symbol of expression of a faith and also a supposed oppression.

Coming from a country where wearing hijab is perfectly normal, I have never had to defend my choice of wearing one. I have never had to explain to someone why I wear it, why I started to wear it or why I “continue to wear it in the USA.” It seems that a lot of people are quite concerned for me and need these questions answered. I on the other hand, did not realize I had to be concerned. I did not realize that a piece of material on my head would trouble anyone but myself. It seems that a lot of the concerns people have with my hijab is that it links itself with oppression. The thought is that I was forced to wear this, or that I was brainwashed into thinking that I needed to wear this. Here is where I want to try and point out that this is not the case. No man, or woman for that matter, has ever forced me to put this on. As Hend Amry has put it nicely in her article on the hijab: “It implies that every single Muslim woman who wears hijab is lacking the necessary intelligence to choose how she wants to live her life. For those who critique hijab in the name of feminism, I find this underlying, selective misogyny very ironic, not to mention damaging.”

I do of course acknowledge there are certain countries in which the unethical and un-Islamic forced wearing of the hijab is an oppression of human rights. However, to extend that opinion of oppression to include when women actually choose to wear it in countries where it is not enforced is perplexing.

Notre Dame Hijab Day on April 20 invites people who usually do not wear the hijab, Muslim or non-Muslim, to experience wearing the hijab for a day. It serves to promote the choice of a woman to wear her hijab. You may choose to do so in solidarity, for experience, or for whatever reason you might come up with. It is a celebration of the choice a woman makes to wear hijab. I invite anyone who is interested to come by DeBartolo from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and to also stop by our Ask a Muslim booth.

I hope that it is clear that the conversation I want to start on this day is not on why I wear the hijab. The conversation I want to start is that wearing hijab is a choice. I am also fully aware that the alternative of not wearing the hijab is another choice I can make — one that I plan to make on the Notre Dame Hijab Day.

Syazana Yazid
April 18

The views expressed in this Letter to the Editor are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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