Walk-a-Mile

Vernon Hills Students Participate in “Walk a Mile in Her Hijab”

 

On Dec. 9, students at Vernon Hills High School participated in “Walk a Mile in Her Hijab,” sponsored by the Muslim Student Association (MSA). The event allowed for non-Muslim students to wear a hijab for the day to create a better sense of understanding at the school.

The event was inspired by Loyola University who held a similar event earlier this year. The purpose, according to member sophomore Hiba Ahmed, “is to establish a safe and welcoming environment in which both Muslim and non-Muslim students can come together to learn more about the religion of Islam, and engage in activities that will allow them to understand the religion better.”

The event was created to allow girls at the school, who were interested, to wear the hijab for the day and see how it felt. “Girls were to see what different reactions they would get through the day,” stated sophomore Vernon Hills student and MSA member Zahra Nadeem in an email interview. “It was a simple gesture that allowed the students at VHHS to understand how their Muslim peers represent their faith daily.”

The hijab is a headscarf or veil worn by Muslim women typically as a way of showing modesty stemming from the belief it is commanded by God in the Quran, which is Islam’s holy text.

On the day of the event, 21 non-Muslim students who elected to participate had their heads wrapped in hijabs by members of the association and completed the rest of the school day in the hijabs. Teachers and students were encouraged to ask questions about the hijabs.

According to various members of the group, the outcome of the event was mostly positive and gained an amplitude of attention. “We were blown away with how widespread our story became,” revealed senior Yasmeen Abdallah, the president of the MSA at Vernon Hills High School. “It was international news; we were featured in newspapers in India, Dubai, and Jordan.”

Although there was some negative feedback on sites like Facebook, Abdallah also expressed a large amount of support the event received from teachers, friends, family, and the community as a whole and hopes this becomes an annual event.

Girls-Wear-Hijab

Chicago’s non-Muslim school girls wear hijab to promote acceptance of Islamic beliefs

Chicago: Vernon Hills High School is objecting to Islamophobia and racism with an initiative called “Walk a Mile in Her Hijab.”

Over a dozen non-Muslim girls agreed to wear a traditional Islamic headscarf to better understand the Muslim faith and life as a Muslim woman.

School senior Yasmeen Abdallah, the president of the MSA, who coordinated the event said, “This event is to hopefully denounce negative stereotypes.”

“You can’t really understand or judge a person and their beliefs until you understand why they do it and what it’s like for them to do what they’re doing,” she said.

“I think it is a difficult time to be a Muslim student in our high school, in our community, and in America,” School principal Jon Guillaume told the Daily Herald by praising the Muslim student’s initiative.

“I think this is an opportunity for our kids to embrace the Muslim community within the school. For other kids outside of this organization, to understand what it’s like for these girls to walk through our halls in this garment in a way that stands out from other kids. So, I’m proud of them.”

Charlie Mosley, who participated in the event told the Herald that she wanted to wear the Hijab because her uncle is a Muslim and she hoped to “bring more acceptance” to Islamic beliefs.

Charli Mosley Hijab Charil Mosley Hijab

 

Illinois has the highest population of Muslims in the United States, but hate crimes and violence directed at Muslims is on the rise.

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Sidrah-Ahmad

Islamophobia in Canada: Muslim students share their personal experiences

When Sidrah Ahmad describes the climate in Canada for Muslims, she uses the boiling frog analogy. If you put a frog in boiling water suddenly, it jumps out. But if the temperature increases gradually, it doesn’t notice the change and will be boiled alive.

Some people don’t realize Islamophobia exists and is getting worse, she says, especially since the election of U.S. President Donald Trump, with his anti-immigration rhetoric and policies like the Muslim travel ban.

Islamophobia “is slowly and gradually getting more accepted, more intense, more rampant,” says Ahmad, a master’s student in adult education and community development. “I feel like Muslims are like, ‘It’s really hot in here,’ but many other people are like, ‘Well, what do you mean?’”

A painful reminder of the hostility toward Muslims in Canada will occur next week: the one-year anniversary of the shooting at Quebec City’s Centre Culturel Islamique de Québec. Six Muslim men were killed and many others were injured after a gunman opened fire in the mosque on Jan. 29. Alexandre Bissonnette, charged with six counts of first-degree murder and six counts of attempted murder, is expected to go on trial this spring.

Remembering the Quebec City mosque shooting: An events calendar

U of T’s Muslim Students’ Association, which describes itself as the largest student club at the university, helped organize a vigil the night after the shooting. The group also hosted a healing circle in U of T’s Multi-Faith Centre. About 70 people shared their grief at the event, says Ammara Wasim, vice-president of communications at the MSA.

Crowd at U of T Vigil

Ahmad, the master’s student, learned about the shooting in “in the worst way possible: alone and on Twitter.”  She was in the process of writing her ethics proposal when she got the news. Although still reeling from the tragedy, she felt a greater sense of urgency to produce her planned master’s thesis – research on Islamophobic violence faced by Muslim women in the GTA.

That summer, she made a social media call-out for volunteers to participate in the study and found 21 women within a month. Their ages ranged from 18 to 58. Nine were Black, 18 wore a hijab, niqab and/or abaya, and each had a story to share about being attacked because of their beliefs.

One woman said a stranger in a car called her a “terrorist” and tried to run her over. Another said someone tried to pull off her hijab on the subway. And one participant reported being groped at a party by a man who said, “If I do this to you, will your dad blow up my house?”

Read more about Ahmad’s research in the Toronto Star

U of T News spoke with other Muslim students at U of T about their experiences with Islamophobia.

Sanah Matador, a fourth-year student in psychology and health studies, recalls an incident in her last years of high school. While she was waiting at a bus stop, a stranger drove up to the curb and rolled down his window. She expected him to ask for directions, but instead, he said, “Are you going to kill anyone today?” Matador was so taken aback that she could only muster the words, “Excuse me?” before he said something else and drove away.

Read about how U of T combats Islamophobia

She remembers questioning herself and thinking that if she hadn’t worn a hijab, the man wouldn’t have insulted her. “But no, this is my choice,” she told herself. “I could take it off, but I love wearing it.”

Another student, Ayah Said, in life sciences and humanities, says she is often asked about her hijab and religion when she is in public. She doesn’t mind discussing her beliefs – depending on the tone of the question. On one occasion at work, she was talking to a customer about an Xbox when he suddenly tugged her hjiab saying, “Aren’t you hot in that?”

“I’m not usually sensitive about this, but I’m in the middle of talking about the product – why is this bothering you so much? Would you touch somebody’s shirt like that?” she recalls.

Ayah Said

Ahmad, the master’s student at OISE, now works for the Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants. Her qualitative research, she hopes, will give greater visibility to the violence and other negative experiences lived by Muslim women. The interviews also shed light on how Islamophobia overlaps with other forms of hatred and discrimination, she says, from anti-Black racism to gender-based violence.

Some of the women, especially those with darker skin or those who wore the robe-like abaya or a black hijab, reported being harassed more often.

Instead of seeing the participants in her study as victims, she says she was impressed with their resilience. Many of the women told her they recited passages from the Qur’an to themselves or prayed for their attackers.

Ahmad collected the women’s experiences in an online “toolkit on Islamophobic violence by and for Muslim women,” which includes poetry by the participants and a list of supports like counseling hotlines and the National Council of Canadian Muslims hate crime reporting tool.

Researchers at the university have an important part to play if Canada is to address rising hate activity in the country and make sure that life is safe for everyone who lives here, Ahmad says.

“A vacuum of research and knowledge is dangerous,” she says, “because that’s where you get hate groups and anti-Muslim groups controlling the narrative.”

A year after Quebec City mosque shooting, U of T experts reflect on Islamophobia in Canada

UNITED VOICES 2019 CITY OF TAMPA CANDIDATE FORUM LUNCHEON

United Voices is partnering with CAIR Florida to host the 2019 City of Tampa Candidate Forum Luncheon on Saturday, February 9th. The forum is open to the public and hosted by the Islamic Society of Tampa Bay Area. Most of the candidates running for Mayor and City Council are participating and over 300 guests are expected to attend. Don’t miss this important event. The forum will be held at the Islamic Society of Tampa Bay Area, 7326 E Sligh Ave, Tampa, FL. The event is free and will feature awesome Middle Eastern and South Asian food, but advanced RSVP is required. On-site childcare available for children between the ages of 2 to 10, the cost is $10 per child.

 

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