Monday, 20 March 2017

My hijab is not an accessory.


It wasn't until I was around 17 and spent my first time working in a real City office that I realised: 'I'm the only one in a hijab here.'

Since then, despite growing up in East London and being surrounded by people like me, my friends and family and teachers being people 'like me' - I've had plenty of moments when I thought 'I'm the only one in a hijab here'. But over time, I've grown used to it.

But ever since hearing about the recent ruling in the European Court of Justice last Tuesday, I've somehow managed to feel like more of a stranger in my home country than ever. It's not just that the current climate is one which is tense for Muslims living in the West, but it feels as though the rejection of my beliefs are being validated in the most dangerous way.

My hijab doesn't compromise who I am, or my abilities - so why the hell should it matter if I wear it? The people who are so opposed to it are the ones who refuse to learn anything about it, it is driven by ignorance, fear and the desire to preserve what is 'normal'. Who defines what normal is?

My family have always taught me that there is a strength in my headscarf, and I've managed to see it as my armour in life, it empowers me. Some people see it as a 'piece of cloth' preventing me from 'integrating'. Newsflash: My hijab is not an accessory that can be removed: it's a part of me.

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