Is this culturally respectful?

Is+this+culturally+respectful%3F+

TNS

Discrimination faced by Muslims in the United States prompts social awareness of the stigma associated with hijabs. Photo Credit: MCT Campus

Joyce Melendez, Staff Writer

When it comes to cultural and religious identity, the hijab is a symbol that has negative associations. In the United States, especially after 9/11, the hijab has been linked to terrorism. By stigmatizing a cultural and religious symbol, individuals become closed-minded and do not educate themselves on the importance of that symbol.

People may believe that wearing a hijab will destigmatize and bring positive attention to the Islamic culture but it may be more problematic. According to arabsinamerica.unc.edu, there are various reason why Muslim women choose to wear a hijab. First of all, Muslim women may choose to wear a hijab because they believe that God has instructed them to wear it as a means of fulfilling His commandment for modesty. Since this is based on beliefs in the Quran, it may be seen as disrespectful for non-Muslims to wear a hijab since they are not practicing the religion.

Muslim women may decide to wear a hijab as a means of visibly expressing their Muslim identity. The site mentions that this reason has had negative outcomes. By expressing their Muslim identity, women have been victims of violent assaults. Because women have been targeted because of their decision to wear a hijab, it can be seen as extremely rude for someone to choose to wear a hijab for several hours and then go back to their normal attire. Women have been assaulted because of their desire to express their Muslim identity, surely there is a better way of sharing Islamic culture that does not involve non-Muslims wearing a hijab.

Women might also choose to wear a hijab to communicate their political and social alliance with their country of origin. While non-Muslims may think they are helping with destigmatizing the hijab and possibly supporting religious tolerance, the hijab is significant in many ways. People need to be educated on what cultural and religious practices represent.

By wearing the hijab for only a couple of hours around campus, the hijab could be seen as an accessory rather than an important religious and cultural symbol. Besides possibly offending Muslims, wearing a hijab may not be seen as effectively representing the religion, as well as taking away what the hijab represents for Muslims. By bringing awareness to the Islamic religion, it should be understood that the hijab is not linked to terrorism or other negative associations.

Non-Muslims who decide to wear a hijab aren’t going to be able to change society’s views in several hours. Cultural and religious practices should be respected and properly understood before attempting to change the views of others.