What is it that we feel or think when we see women wearing a hijab? We may view all Muslims, and those who are extremists. This creates fear, and agitation, and also misconceptions.
After 911 some people felt resentment to those wearing the hijab, even though these are good people, and good Americans. For example, in college just after the 911 tragedy a Muslim was wearing her head scarf. Immediately she took it off when we approved, maybe it was the look we gave her. Definitely, it was clearly our youthful ignorance as she was a wonderful student.
The Hijab is important to the Islamic faith. It is meant to be an example of modesty and humility, but many feel conflicted about this head covering worn in public-- that is governed by a religious code.
It can represent oppression, fear, oppression, and the degradation of women. Having a code of dress like this in the West goes against the grain, so as a liberated society, it is seen as off-beat, and creates fear, even for religious purposes.
In 2006, Fox News covered the correlation of fear and hijab. Professor of religion at Ankara University’s said "There is powerful symbolism associated with the veil in the West,” Dogu ErgilIt shared. [It] feeds into the insecurities of our globalized world- the threats to the way we look, the way we live and the fears about the stranger in our midst who may be hostile to our way of life."
Besides feeling threatened, is male chauvinism in many Muslim communities that make people upset and fear for women, and young girls under tyranny for the sake of religion. In countries like Saudi Arabia men can have many wives. A woman can have only one. If a woman is rapped, she needs to prove under Islamic law, which states it must be witnessed by four men. There are real concerns for these women, who are victims of great crimes.
If she is accused of adultery, she can be flogged. There is not one single Islamic state that allows gays, equal rights, and freedom of religion. There are American Muslim women who defend wearing the head scarf, and said is not an act of oppression. Laila Alawa wrote in her Huffington Post blog that she doesn’t need to be liberated like so many suggest to her as an American.
“I am greeted on a daily basis with passersby who tell me that I no longer need to wear the headscarf because I am in America. In this exact statement supposedly freeing Muslim women from the clothes they seem 'forced' to don, there is a level of oppression being expressed, as though there is only one way to be 'free.' The same beliefs are employed in FEMEN's offensive and ultimately pointless protests.”
We know many are oppressed overseas and within Muslim communities. In America, we believe in freedom of expression, speech, and religion. The hijab doesn’t threaten our freedoms, extremists, terrorists who hide behind a religion do. One thing we can control is our choice not to fear ISIS, or those who want to see our way of life destroyed. America is a great nation, and was not built on fear, but courage.