OAKBROOK TERRACE – With billboards that draw a similarity between Islamic hijab and the veiled Virgin Mary, a Muslim group from Chicago launched a billboard campaign on Monday to inform people about hijab in Illinois.
“Wearing the hijab is 100% my choice. As contrary to the popular belief, hijab in no way oppresses us. In fact, it indicates the opposite as hijab symbolizes the power to women, and not inferiority,” Sara Ahmed, GainPeace volunteer, told WGNTV on Monday.
Islam sees hijab as an obligatory code of dress, not just a religious symbol displaying one’s affiliations.
The billboards are the first of their kind in the country, designed by a group called GainPeace, which encourages non-Muslim Americans to contact the organization for a better understanding of why Muslim women wear the hijab.
“Hijab is a simple yet powerful reminder of strength. I stand here today so that generations tomorrow don’t feel deprived or threatened by their choice of dress,” Kiran Malik, GainPeace volunteer, said.
“So that they may have the courage to stand by their beliefs, and so that this piece of cloth doesn’t label them or categorize them with an unwanted label.”
Speaking during the news conference, the female organizers of GainPeace spoke about hatred they have encountered while wearing a hijab.
GainPeace hopes this campaign will help different religious groups in the US have a better understanding of Islam.
They say they’ve already gotten many phone calls, most of which have been positive.