Story by Rachel Iacovone
The Muslim Student Association at FGCU hosted Hijab Day on Monday, Feb. 15 in an effort to raise awareness about what it truly means to be a hijabi, a woman who wears the Islamic headscarf called a hijab.
“We did this to show non-Muslims that we are not being oppressed to wear this, that it’s our choice; it’s not like we’re forced to wear it,” said Safina Muneer, a member of MSA. “We want to show you guys that you guys can come and ask us about Islam.”
To give a more accurate depiction of what this event sought out to do, I decided to personally participate, along with two other Eagle News editors. Of the group, I was admittedly the most comfortable wearing something someone might consider eye-catching or uncomfortable around campus — be that from my everyday attire to that time I proudly wore a Barack Obama mask to my classes on Halloween. However, I must note that there was something particularly intimidating about participating in this movement when it wasn’t a national event.
“This year, we were unable to do it on the national hijab day because most of our members were busy, and like planning and everything, with classes, we got behind,” said Renu Dimmi, the treasurer of MSA.
World Hijab Day is observed on Feb. 1 each year and began in 2013 as the brainchild of New York resident Nazma Khan, who came up with the event as “a means to foster religious tolerance and understanding by inviting women (non-Hijabi Muslims/non-Muslims) to experience the hijab for one day.”
Though slightly nervous to be participating in a solely FGCU event of such caliber, I marched to class in our trio, hijab firmly pinned into place by one of MSA’s experts (who made my hour of fiddling with a scarf the night before look exceptionally amateur). And when I arrived… nothing.
Sure, journalism students are used to these sorts of things by this point, but I expected more than the couple shrugs and knowing nods we got. It wasn’t until afterward, at the campus Starbucks where I spotted an old friend from Ignite, the college ministry at adjacent Summit Church, that I began to feel a sense of dread.
“Oh, no,” I thought to myself. “Here it comes.”
“Rachel,” she said, smiling and waving. “Hijab day?”
“Uh, yeah,” I stammered.
“Nice,” she said, completely unfazed, as she put her earphones back in.
I breathed a sigh of relief, as I was faced, once again, with the fact that FGCU is quite a receptive campus.
“I think with everything going on in the media, more people actually want to know the truth, and they want to find out more about what the religion Islam is all about and why the women wear hijab and all of that,” Dimmi said. “So, it’s actually more popular this year.”