Hijabis at SCHS speak out against India’s hijab bans


Amelia Tai

Despite stereotypes about the hijab, many hijabis at SCHS feel empowered by it.

Globally, many Muslims wear the hijab for various reasons. From empowering oneself to being visibly Muslim, many at SCHS also choose to wear the hijab.

Sophomore Nabiha Jawad started wearing the hijab in middle school to affirm her connection with Islam and gain a sense of self-confidence.

“I started wearing the hijab because during middle school, I was kind of insecure about my faith and I was scared to tell people that I was Muslim,” Jawad said. “In eighth grade, I switched schools and I thought, ‘Now is the time to do it,’ so I did it, and it makes me much closer to my faith. It makes me who I am.”

For freshman Aisha Shafik, the hijab is a symbol of empowerment. Contrary to stereotypes regarding the hijab, Shafik does not feel limited by it, but instead, allows her to feel more authentic to her values.

“Although I wear the hijab, I can still play sports and do what other people are doing. It is not something that limits people,” Shafik said. “Why does my hair need to be shown in order for people to accept me in society? At school, people tend to judge others based on what they wear, so I feel accepted not upon what I wear but for my actions and who I am as a person.”

On Feb. 15, 2022, Muslim students wearing the hijab were banned from attending schools and colleges in Karnataka, a state in south India. According to the Washington Post, numerous student protests took place following the decision.

Shafik believes that the decision is not only a violation of people’s religious freedom but their right to education as well.

“Specifically in India, they are banning hijab in schools. Education is something we all deserve to get, despite your clothing or religious status,” Shafik said. “Making someone choose between their access to education and their religious duties is really messed up.”

India, however, is not the first to establish a decision like this. Within the past decade, both France and Quebec imposed bans on all religious symbols, including the hijab. Jawad believes that recent bans dehumanize women wearing the hijab.

“I am not even mad, but I am disappointed. It sucks because they boil down the value of all these women to just this piece of clothing,” Jawad said. “If you can’t see past that, it really is disappointing. It is infuriating.”

According to Jawad, along with being hijabi comes the pressure of being visibly Muslim. She struggles with high expectations set for Muslim women due to stereotypes present in the media.

“With all these hijab bans, the biggest struggle for me is keeping my image. Everytime I do something and I get reprimanded for it, I am like, ‘What if this gives a bad image of hijabi girls?’” Jawad said. “We have to keep up an image so that other hijabi girls don’t get discriminated against because people think, ‘She wears a hijab just like the other girl, so she must be just as bad’ because I do not want to portray Islam as a bad religion because there are already bad views in the media.”

Senior Shahum Khalid views limitations on clothing as a detriment to progress in society.

“I feel like it is really unfair that people are trying to limit what a woman can or can’t wear,” Khalid said. “I feel like if it is a person’s body, it is their choice about what they want to wear or how they want to present themselves in society.”

Following hijab bans, numerous Muslim women, including Jawad, call for feminists to be more intersectional to combat rising Islamophobia.

“We talk about wearing whatever we want, whether it be to wear less or more, so us hijabis should be included in feminist movements,” Jawad said.

Khalid agrees as the hijab represents empowerment. She believes that progress can be made possible through achieving intersectional feminism in order to aid Muslim women globally.

“Most of the time people see Muslim women as anti-feminist, but that is not true at all,” Khalid said. “Wearing a hijab when people don’t want you to, that is feminism in itself. It is a woman bringing power to themself and following what they want to follow.”