SYDNEY – As thousands of Muslim women around the world plan to don hijab, Australian Muslims are holding a celebration in Sydney, encouraging all women to try on a hijab for a day.
“We’re inviting all women to come and experience the life of a day of a hijabi (a female who wears a hijab), and see what all the fuss is about and just try to create bonds and answer questions,” Rebecca Kay, devout Australian Muslim revert and mother of four, told SBS.
“A lot of the time we see men speaking on behalf of women when it comes to our dress attire and the women are coming out and saying that it’s our time to speak and that we wish to represent ourselves.”
Some one million Muslim and non-Muslim women wearing a traditional Islamic head scarf are going to march on the streets of 116 countries to mark the second anniversary of World Hijab Day.
The event, held for the second consecutive year, was first suggested by New York Muslim woman Nazma Khan to encourage non-Muslim women to don the hijab and experience it.
It was designed as part of a bid to foster better understanding and counteract controversies surrounding hijab as a Muslim choice.
Moreover, it was urged to counter anti-hijab campaigns and laws in different countries which were spearheaded by France’s ban on hijab.
Arranging a special celebration to mark the day, Kay announced a celebration in Sydney’s Pitt Street Mall to encourage all women to try on a hijab.
She added that the day’s plan was to promote sisterhood in women around the country and around the world.
Lydia Shelly, a solicitor at Osborne Howell, praised the day for encouraging Australians to walk in the shoes of a Muslim women with the aim of improving religious harmony.
“The biggest assumption about Muslim women who wear the hijab is that we are one big homogenous group,” Ms Shelly wrote on Facebook.
“Muslim women who wear the hijab are from all walks of life, nationalities and have different ways that they express their modesty through their wearing of the hijab. Yay for diversity in the hijabi community!”
Muslims, who have been in Australia for more than 200 years, make up 1.7 percent of its 20-million population.
Islam is the country’s second largest religion after Christianity.
Islam sees hijab as an obligatory code of dress, not a religious symbol displaying one’s affiliations.