A group called Muslim Sisters of Eire (MSOE) invited Muslim women to participate in an online webinar to mark the World Hijab Day and celebrate the achievements of Muslim women in the Irish society.
“The hijab is a part of me, it’s my identity,” Maria Syed, who is now 16 and lives in Sandyford in Dublin, told The Irish Times following her appearance at the online World Hijab Day (WHD) event.
“I don’t wear it because someone else has asked me to wear it. It’s supposed to be your own choice, it’s between you and God. For me the hijab is a source of pride. I’m covering up because I want to.”
📚 Read Also: World Hijab Day: Towards Ending #Hijabiphobia
Women of all faiths and colors across the world marked the 9th edition of #WorldHijabDay on February 1.
The brainchild of New York-based Nazma Khan aims at fostering religious tolerance and understanding by inviting non-Hijabi Muslims and non-Muslims to experience hijab for one day.
Affected by the COVID-19 pandemic this year, many groups decided to go online to mark the event.
In yesterday’s event, MSOE chairperson Lorraine O’Connor described how her decision to start wearing a hijab in 2005 made her “an immigrant within my own country”.
“I started experiencing racial abuse, people around me accused me of forgetting where I came from. I don’t know how many times I’ve been asked ‘did you marry a Muslim man, is that why you became Muslim?’” O’Connor said.
“I married a Muslim in 1986 but it took me 19 years to become a Muslim myself. I became a Muslim for me, not for any man.”
In its ninth version, the WHD event comes under the motto, “Don’t Let Our Pride Be Your prejudice #EndHijabophobia”.
Dr. James Carr from the University of Limerick’s department of sociology, who has extensively researched the development of Islamophobia in Ireland, warned that Muslim women were more likely to experience hostility than men.
“Islamaphobia is something that is a reality in Ireland. It’s something we need to challenge right across society and implore members of elected office and others to stand up against and be counted against all forms of racism,” he said.
Nevertheless, Syed believes that Irish people are “generally very open and very Islam-friendly”.
“Obviously in any country you’re going to have people who don’t want Muslims to be there, but you need to look past that at the majority of the people. Ireland is a good country to be a Muslim in.”
According to the 2016 Pew Research Centre report, Ireland’s Muslim population stands at approximately 70,000.