Marshall community joins in solidarity for ‘Herd in Hijab’

Regardless of race, religion or gender, members of the Marshall University community joined together for a day of solidarity Wednesday.

The Marshall University Unitarian Universalists coordinated with members of the Muslim Student Association to host Herd in Hijab, an event in which students, staff and faculty were asked to wear hijabs the entire day.

People who chose to participate in the event brought their own scarves, which were then pinned into hijabs by members of MSA in the Memorial Student Center from 8 to 11 a.m.

“The idea is that girls will wear a scarf for a day to stand in solidarity with girls across the United States who have been assaulted because of their head scarf, who have been threatened or who are just fearful of wearing it in wake of the (presidential) election,” said Suzann Al-Qawasmi, president of MSA.

The idea for the event originally came from Marshall psychology professor Pamela Mulder, who Al-Qawasmi said approached MSA to ensure the event would not be offensive to group members before it was organized.

Al-Qawasmi said that because only women wear head coverings in Islam, men who wished to participate in Herd in Hijab were able to tie scarves around their necks. Al-Qawasmi also said many people who didn’t know about the event beforehand and didn’t have a scarf still stopped to express their support.

“The election didn’t turn out the way many Muslims had hoped,” Al-Qawasmi said. “The way we feel is that we can either sit back and let things happen the way they are, or we can take a stand. After the election, we were all pretty upset, but then with our hijab day last Wednesday, seeing the support we got from everybody restored our faith.”

Al-Qawasmi said the election has made them more passionate about taking a stand and that she is thankful the event had so many supporters.

“It gets tiring sometimes having to constantly defend our religion in a way that other people never really have to, but at the same time, for the sake of Muslims all around the world, we feel like it’s our obligation to do that,” Al-Qawasmi said. “Now, more than ever, we need to stand united, we need to make our voices louder.”

Both Al-Qawasmi and Malak Khader, vice president of MSA, said the election has not made them feel hate and that they think people have gone out of their way to make the Muslim community feel welcome.

“Since the election, so many people have reached out to the Muslim community to let us know they have our backs,” Khader said. “Personally, I have felt nothing but love and support from so many different people since Nov. 8. However, we have been hearing about Muslims being attacked simply because of their religious identity, and that’s exactly why we’re having Herd in Hijab as an all-day event. We just want people to know what it’s like to actively proclaim your identity and to see that the hijab is just a piece of cloth and nothing more, it’s not something that should be feared. The girls wearing the hijab today are trying to make a statement: a statement of solidarity.”

Olivia Zarilla can be contacted at [email protected].