ELON – The American Truitt Center for Religious Studies and Elon University in North Carolina celebrated on April 25 the annual Hijab Day by encouraging the university students to wear hijab to combat religious stereotypes.
“My Muslim friends in high school asked me whether I wanted to participate while I was in high school,” Senior Kristina Meyer talked to Elon News Network about her old plan which brought the first Hijab Day at Elon’s campus in 2016.
“So, my first year here, I asked the Muslim Life Coordinator whether the event was something that she thought would be appropriate or welcome here,” she added.
According to the official World Hijab Day website, the idea stems from the initial event which officially began on February 1, 2013.
Islam designates hijab as a mandatory aspect for females after reaching the age of puberty.
According to the American Religious Identification Survey in 2001, Muslims made less than 1% of the population of North Carolina.
“Hijab Day is another one of these instances where different communities reach out to each other and try to just explain part of what we do,” said Shereen Elgamal, a lecturer at the university.
The event isn’t only about hijab as Elon University also provided opportunities for every student to learn about Islam in general.
Meyer said the goal of the event is “starting conversations and showing solidarity against Islamophobia.”
In regards to the stereotypes surrounding the hijab, Elgamal emphasized the importance of respectful discussion.
“I believe that any kind of discussion … that is founded in respect would actually deal with stereotypes in one way or another,” Elgamal said.
“I always say knowledge breeds understanding and understanding breeds … rise to respect, and this is what we want.”
Through this discussion, non-Muslims can learn the symbolism and reasons behind the choice to wear hijab.