Hijab, the scarf traditionally worn by Muslim women over hair, has become increasingly viewed in a negative light by the American culture.
Buzzfeed recently produced a video where four white, American women were asked their opinion on Hijab, and the results were nothing less than offensive.
In the video’s opening scene one of the American women declares, “It’s an American thing that if you see a woman with a Hijab, it’s a symbol of oppression”.
Other quotes from the video included statements such as “I feel like [Hijab] takes away you as a female being able to express [yourself],” and “A man tells you [that] you have to do this – and you do it.”
While a handful of Americans see Hijab as another way a woman is able to express herself how she chooses, there is still a large population of Americans who view Hijab as a means of oppression.
But the retaliation is just this: the Muslim faith does not force women into wearing Hijab. Women are given the choice of wearing Hijab or not, and for most of them it is a difficult decision that they have to make for themselves in regard for how they would like to please Allah. Hijab is a way for women to please Allah – not a way to please men or separate women from men, according to Quran 24:30-31.
Those calling it oppression typically belong to a different culture and religion and have little knowledge on Islam and the Middle East. Thus, they are fighting an uninformed fight on a subject they do not understand.
Latifah Alsenidy, a Muslim freshman English major at Appalachian State University, has proudly worn Hijab since she was 15-years-old and spoke about her feelings toward the idea of oppression concerning the traditional piece.
“It is totally dependent on me if I am to wear my Hijab or not. It is all up to me.” Alsenidy said. “This is my way, my own way, to show that I am respectful and according to my beliefs, this is the right way to protect myself.”
Alsenidy went on to explain how she doesn’t judge other women for not wearing hijab and that she does not think any less of them. Nonetheless, she said she can see judgment from others regarding her choice in wearing Hijab.
Alsenidy also said Hijab goes beyond religion and into the past of many Middle Eastern countries.
“It’s hard to separate religion from tradition with Hijab,” Alsenidy said.
In her native country of Saudi Arabia, Alsenidy said it is important to cover oneself because everyone respects the tradition and “it is all about how you want to be perceived.”
For Alsenidy and many other Muslim and Middle Eastern women around the world, the Hijab is embedded in tradition, and allows the embrace of culture and faith.
The Hijab does not oppress – for many, it frees.
Burrows, a freshman journalism major from Mint Hill, is an opinion writer.
STORY: Lauren Burrows, Opinion Writer