“Being a Hijabi, and a Muslim, in general, puts you under a microscope. Every move you make is being watched and judged.”
Though Jumana El-Hamdoon and Khadija Meziane are not even teenagers yet, both Muslim girls have experienced the weight of being a Muslim in Britain, My London reported.
As they both wear hijab, a choice they made themselves, the girls have been shouted at in the public by strangers.
“This story is just a simple example of some of the things that Muslims endure on a daily basis,” Jumana said.
The 11-year-old girl was telling her story during Visit My Mosque Day in the Feltham HIRA center on Hounslow Road.
The national initiative sees Muslims open the doors of their mosques and encourage visitors to come and look inside and learn about Islam.
“We need to remove barriers. We need to build bridges, not walls. We need to get to know each other, and we need to appreciate diversity,” she said.
“An event like today goes a long way in achieving this, and we hope that we continue to educate each other.”
Though harassed because of wearing the hijab, both girls believe it’s empowering them.
“I think [wearing the hijab] is inspiring because it shows that you care about religion, that you care about what God said and the words that came down to earth,” Khadija said.
Jumana agreed: “It is about modesty and religion, but I do also feel, and I’m pretty sure lots of other hijabis out there, feel like it’s part of your identity.
“I don’t really know if I took it off now where I would be, I would just feel so uncomfortable all the time if I didn’t wear it.
“I feel like it’s part of my identity. It’s me.”
With henna artists, children face painting, mountains of traditional food, cake, and tea, the open mosque event in Feltham was like a wedding party.
Fouzi Saffar, one of the trustees at Feltham, said she had been decked out with information boards and displays for visitors to read about Islam.
“That’s the purpose today,” he explained. “To open the mosque for people to come in and have a look, see what it looks like inside, how we pray.
“It’s for people to look and learn and ask questions. We find that there are many ambiguities and misunderstandings.
“The only way that you can clarify these is to open the doors and break the barriers so people feel at ease here.”
Starting with about 20 mosques on its first event four years ago, the ‘Visit My Mosque’ day grew to over 80 mosques in 2016 and has been reported widely in the British and international press. Last year, this number exceeded 200 mosques.
This year, over 250 Mosques across the UK opened their doors to visitors on March 3rd as part of the Muslim Council of Britain’s Visit My Mosque open day.
The MCB, which was initiated this day in 2015, is the largest Muslim umbrella organization in the UK with over 500 affiliated British organizations, mosques, charities, and schools.
The event was deemed very important to connect people together after a YouGov poll carried out last year found that 70% of Britons have never visited a place of worship other than their own.
As part of this year’s Visit My Mosque Day, under the auspices of Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), volunteers from over 250 mosques in England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland supported street clean-up initiatives on Sunday, February 24.
On Tuesday 26 February, Muslim faith leaders from England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland visited churches, synagogues, mandirs, and gurdwaras across the country in the lead up to Visit My Mosque Day.