Intolerance is an ugly thing

First published in Columnists by

I, as well as many other Muslim girls, wear the hijab (headscarf) as a religious requirement and as an expression of our Muslim identity.

I have been wearing my hijab for almost two years and I have not looked back since. It was a decision I made myself because I had realized that I had no real identification to show that I was a Muslim.

However, I have faced many situations where I have been discriminated by people at my school because of my hijab. The accounts I have experienced have been by people who are of different faiths but also, surprisingly, by people who are, by name, Muslims. Discrimination from non Muslims is ultimately down to ignorance which is a problem in some towns in the North West as a majority of the Asian and white community are segregated.

Some non-Muslims do not know why women wear the hijab and are unaware of the main beliefs of Islam itself. The vast part of information they obtain about Muslims is from the media which is, as we are all aware, not putting us in a positive light.

So if discrimination from non-Muslims is caused by ignorance, where does that leave discrimination between Muslims?

I have been called names and also heard remarks, such as ‘scarfy’s’ and ‘ninja’s’. These comments are pretty immature and plain stupid but to hear these words from a Muslim is shocking as well as upsetting. Fellow Muslims at school assume girls wearing headscarves are oppressed by their ‘14 stone, on benefits, scary-looking fathers’.

Stereotyping runs through the teens in the Muslim community who presume girls are browbeaten by our families and forced to stay at home doing housework.

I recognise why there are people who think this way as this does happen within the Muslim community.

However such cases have no relevance to Islam, they are based primarily on cultural beliefs. These predicaments make it that much more difficult for non-Muslims to understand and respect our right to dress the way we choose when we have some within our community who discriminate and mock.

Intolerance is indeed a very ugly thing.

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