A Muslim vlogger is challenging other women to try on the traditional hijab headscarf for 15 minutes, so they can see what it is like to be excluded from society or even abused.
Nilufa Dahlia decided to set up the appeal after she was attacked in her local supermarket.
The vlogger was shouted at by a shopper who told her “you make my skin twitch” after seeing her wearing the cloth scarf.
Dahlia also says she has also struggled to make friends as people are reluctant to approach women wearing the hijab.
In her campaign video, Dahlia, from Brighton, explains: “Plenty of people wear things on their heads – from baseball caps to elegant hats. From Dot Cotton in ‘EastEnders’ to The Queen’s scarf, covering your hair really isn’t a big deal. I want people to see past the scarf and see the person.”
A Channel Mum survey of more than 2,000 women found that over half of Muslim women say they are lonely and believe other people are wary of approaching them
It also found that 35% of non-Muslims say they are cautious about approaching a woman who wears the hijab.
But Dahlia, 28, wants to use her new video to bust the myths about the hijab.
“Many people think Muslim women are forced to wear the hijab, but we’re not,” she explains.
“It’s a purely personal choice. Taking up the hijab is supposed to make people concentrate on you as a person rather than what you look like, which should lead to more understanding.
“It’s also supposed to deflect unwanted attention, but sadly right now it can often mean you get more unwanted attention of the wrong sort.”
Dahlia goes on to joke how the scarf can be “brilliant for bad hair days” and “styled to cover up if you’re feeling fat”.
She also reveals hijabi women love to to stay “on peak” – slang for keeping a trendy high point at the front of the scarf to look fashionable.
The mum-of-two says fear of Islam following negative media coverage and the lack of understanding about the hijab means she’s rarely approached by other mothers at children’s events.
So now she’s challenging non-Muslim women to try to experience what it’s like wearing a hijab – by wearing any scarf or shawl over their hair – and spending 15 minutes in public to see if they are treated any differently.
“See what it feels like to be stared at, pointed at, whispered about or even abused,” she adds.
“It really shouldn’t be this way and none of us want our children growing up in such an intolerant world. This isn’t about pretending to be a Muslim – it’s simply to show what women like me have to go through.”
Dahlia, who works as a lifestyle vlogger for ChannelMum.com, adds that she shouldn’t be treated any differently just because she chooses to wear a hijab.
“The irony is everyone is happy to talk if I have a hat or even a towel on my head, so why not a hijab? I’m the same person underneath,” she says.
“My aim is for people to realise it’s just a bit of cloth. Some people wear hijab, accept it and move on. See past the scarf and see the person.”
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