Fresno City (California): The Muslim Student Association at Fresno State in California hosted a Hijab Challenge event on Wednesday to offer non-Muslim students a taste of what it’s like to wear a headscarf during a time of nationwide anti-Islam sentiment.
Muslim women handed out free scarves and wrapped them for non-Muslim students. They also offered caps, called kufis, for men. There are several forms of covering, ranging from the full-body burka to the standard hijab, which only covers the hair, The Olympian Newspaper reported.
The challenge included taking a photo and posting it on social media with the hashtag #FSHijabChallenge, wearing the headscarf for the rest of the day and reporting back about the experience. It continues on Thursday. The day will culminate in a lecture titled “Anti-Muslim, Anti-Arab Discrimination, and Civil Rights” from 6 to 8 p.m. in the Alice Peters Auditorium.
Students said the goal is to educate people about why people wear the hijab and kufi and to show that head coverings are worn in many different faiths, including Catholicism and Sikhism.
They also hope to initiate dialogue with non-Muslims about the discrimination that they or people perceived to be Muslim have faced in the wake of terrorist attacks, such as in San Bernardino, California during the past year.
Discrimination has taken place in California’s Central Valley, including in December, when a Sikh man named Amrik Singh Bal was beaten and run over in what police called a hate crime based on his traditional dress and turban.
Also, a North Carolina man pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor in May for grabbing a Muslim woman’s hijab on a plane and telling her to take it off because “this is America.”
Thalia Arenas, a public relations officer for the Muslim Student Association, said some people think women are forced to cover their hair. In some cultures, it is imposed as part of a dress code. But she said most women here wear it because that’s their interpretation of the Qur’an (the Muslim holy book) on modesty.
She hopes to show people that Muslim women shouldn’t be looked down upon for wearing the hijab or seen as terrorists.
“It’s sad that we can’t just be seen as human beings,” she said.
The Hijab Challenge has been done in colleges nationwide. Some Fresno State professors offered extra credit for students who participate.