As the Women World Cup in Australia and New Zealand enters into the knockout stage, Morocco defender Nouhaila Benzina is still making headlines as the first hijabi player at the tournament.
In an opinion article by journalist and editor Stefano Hatfield, published by INews, he recalls how Muslim pupils have shown him that they are empowered by wearing a hijab.
There are images so arresting, provocative and profound that they change the world.
This weekend, we witnessed one such moment in time during the wonderful Women’s World Cup in Australia: Morocco’s Nouhaila Benzina took the field against South Korea as the first player to wear a hijab at a World Cup.
The 25-year-old defender’s white kit was complemented by white leggings, a white underlayer and a pristine white hijab in what immediately became an iconic representation of female empowerment.
Empowerment. I chose the word deliberately and carefully. A decade ago, I could not possibly imagine having written it.
Like many in the West, I once saw the Islamic headscarf only as an instrument of repression; a signifier of a lack of freedom emblematic of women in the Islamic world.
But, a decade ago, having grown up in south London and spent a media career in London and New York, I scarcely knew any Muslims personally. Then, I became a state school teacher.
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