Tuesday 24 October 2017

This Muslim girl found a brilliant way of challenging misconceptions about her hijab

By Georgia Humphreys

“I didn’t consider taking off my scarf, I just wanted to have a response from my dad to prove that what he said is false.”

When a 17-year-old Muslim was told by a friend of a friend that her dad would beat her if she took her headscarf off, she wanted to prove him wrong.

After Lamyaa, who was born in Saudi Arabia but moved to the United States when she was seven, received the abuse in a group chat, she messaged her father telling him she wanted to take off her hijab.

And when he responded in a loving and supporting way, Lamyaa decided to share his reaction on Twitter to show that oppression isn’t what the hijab symbolises to her – and it’s had thousands of retweets.

“The message I had received was in a group chat that someone had made,” said Lamyaa, when explaining the abuse directed at her. “One of my friends added a bunch of people and I was one of them. We were having a discussion about several things, then the conversation was shifted to shed light on the presidency and the current tension.

“I, personally, had very strong views considering the presidency did impact me because I am an Arab, Muslim woman.

“I brought up the fact that I was Muslim and that guy didn’t feel comfortable so he said what he said.”

Lamyaa, who lives in Pennsylvania, said over the years she has experienced a lot of backlash for wearing a headscarf, which she said only made her “grow as a person, and more importantly as a Muslim woman, Arab woman”.

“However, I did feel the need to prove him wrong,” she explained. “And that’s where messaging my dad came in. I didn’t consider taking off my scarf, I just wanted to have a response from my dad to prove that what he said is false.”

She added: “I did not expect my dad to respond in such a loving way. I expected him to be supportive but not concerned. It felt great to know that I had him and his love and support.”

The tweet has since gained a lot of attention, and Lamyaa has found herself having to explain that she wasn’t saying that “no women are forced to wear the hijab”.

“Yes, a lot of women are forced to wear the hijab,” she wrote in a note shared in a separate tweet. “That oppression however isn’t what the hijab symbolises, it’s not why women wear it.

“I personally chose to wear the hijab, for myself and for god.”

And Lamyaa says when it comes to people who have misconceptions about Islam, she wants them to speak to a Muslim and have a conversation with them.

She said: “Many of us are willing to answer any questions and clear up any misconceptions.

“Muslims are not some separate group, we are a part of America. We are people. Your doctors, lawyers, teachers, bus drivers, neighbours, etc. This country has freedom, and that doesn’t stop at religion.

“Just because someone believes in a different religion or dresses differently it does not mean that they are deserving of hate. At the end of the day, we are all people and all we want to do is live in peace.”

One of Donald Trump’s most controversial moves since becoming president was his so-called travel ban, which has also been described by some as a Muslim ban.

The executive orders put a temporary ban on people from a number of Muslim-majority entering the US but have been repeatedly challenged by judges.

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