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Like Mormon Pants Day, Muslim women plan World Hijab Day

First Published      Last Updated Jan 08 2014 12:42 pm

Hundreds of Mormon women wore trousers to their LDS services Dec. 15, in part, to show solidarity with members of the faith who feel they don't fit in with the traditional dress- or skirt-wearer — or for any other reason.

Now Muslim women have named Feb. 1 as World Hijab Day, inviting all women — in the faith or not — to join with them by wearing head covering for a day.

Many Muslim women wear a hijab — headscarf — as a religious obligation, a sign of commitment to the faith, or an essential part of their identity.

New Yorker Nazma Khan came up with the idea for a Hijab Day, the website says, "as a means to foster religious tolerance and understanding by inviting women (non-Hijabi Muslims/non-Muslims) to experience the hijab for one day."

Outsiders see the hijab as "a symbol of oppression and segregation," organizers say. "By opening up new pathways to understanding, she hopes to counteract some of the controversies surrounding why Muslim women choose to wear the hijab."

Khan came to the U.S. from Bangladesh at age 11 and was the only hijabi in her middle school.

"Growing up in the Bronx ... I experienced a great deal of discrimination due to my hijab," she says on the site. "In middle school, I was 'Batman' or 'ninja'. When I entered the university after 9/11, I was called Osama bin Laden or a terrorist. It was awful. I figured the only way to end discrimination is if we ask our fellow sisters to experience hijab themselves."

Like the personal stories featured on the Mormon Pants Day website, the Muslim Hijab Day site carries accounts from various women — and theirs often involve much more severe mistreatment, shunning and job discrimination.

Khan's goal is to have 1 million participants worldwide.

Will Mormon women don headscarves Feb. 1 — as a sign of solidarity with their Muslim sisters?

Peggy Fletcher Stack