The headscarf: Conservative, rebellious, culture-defining

The headscarf has been chosen for political, religious and practical purposes for centuries. It can be either conservative or rebellious. Beyond its utilitarian origins as a source of protection from the elements, the headscarf remains at the center of contentious debate about women’s rights, identity, power and class.

Recently, conversations about the headscarf have centered on its use in Islam and the prejudice Muslim women have faced.

In 2013, Nazma Khan founded World Hijab Day — a day for all women to experience wearing a headscarf. Celebrated on February 1, the initiative began in response to the bullying Khan, originally from Bangladesh, experienced growing up in the Bronx, New York.

She shared, “In middle school, I was ‘Batman’ or ‘ninja.’ When I entered university after 9/11, I was called Osama bin laden or terrorist. It was awful. I figured the only way to end discrimination is if we ask our fellow sisters to experience hijab themselves.”


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