DOHA – Women of various faiths are wearing hijab during the month of Ramadan as part of a unique challenge to draw attention to the discrimination faced by Muslim women who wear the religious outfit.
“They are making a huge difference by bringing awareness of hijab which is very much misunderstood especially in the western world. Through their participation, we are hoping to break the negative stereotypes hijab-wearing women face worldwide on a daily basis.”
Ellie Lloyd, and her 11-year-old daughter Grace, are two non-Muslim women participating in the 30-day World Hijab Day (WHD) organization’s month-long challenge.
Residing in Qatar, their challenge involves wearing the hijab to raise awareness around the bigotry aimed at hijab-wearing Muslims.
Young Grace Lloyd, a British Christian, was the youngest participant to take on the challenge.
“I was very self-conscious that morning because I didn’t know how people would react. But when I was about to walk in [to school] I heard ‘wooo’ and when I went in everyone was clapping in my class and it was really nice,” Grace said in a YouTube video.
“There was a lot of questions during the day, it kind of started to be overwhelming, but I think I did well.”
On her GoFundMe page, Grace said she is wearing the hijab to “fight the prejudice, religious hatred and Islamophobia that surrounds it”.
“I feel very strongly about this,” she told Al Jazeera.
“I usually wear the black one, I feel more comfortable with it because all the people in my class wear it too.”
“Day 1 of #Hijab30: So my experience made me feel really bad! I felt everyone looking bad at me, some people were making jokes; our classes are in groups and no one wanted to stay with me until the professor divided the groups.”-Pamela Zafred 18, non-Muslim, Brazil #hijab pic.twitter.com/L8lInPvwEG
— World HijabDay (@WorldHijabDay) May 19, 2018
Supporting Muslim Women
Grace’s mother, Ellie, is the executive director and ambassador for WHD in Qatar. She said that the challenge gave Muslims a glimpse into the lives of Muslim women who choose to wear the hijab.
“What we are doing by doing this 30-day challenge is we are getting only a small glimpse of what hijab-wearing women face every single day,” she said in a Facebook post on day two of the challenge.
“That level of prejudice, when they’re standing at the bus stop and the person next to them takes a few steps away from them…or when they have abuse shouted at them.
“It’s exactly for that reason we are raising awareness, we want to stop this prejudice, we want to stop this bigotry, we want to stop this hatred, we want to stop this level of Islamaphobia. We have two generations here that are taking part in the challenge.”
Pamela Zafred, an 18-year-old Brazilian student, who was raised as a Catholic, was also taking part in the challenge.
“I went to the gym [wearing the Hijab], and I could hear incessant jokes about me,” she told Al Jazeera.
“Our classes were conducted in groups, but no one chose to stay with me until the instructor divided the groups himself.”