Annie Kelly says she is a devout Christian, but today she joins Islamic and non-Islamic women across campus in donning a hijab to support the Muslim community.
At a teach-in last night at the Law School, the Muslim Student Association and students in the School of Social Work encouraged women on campus to wear headscarves today as a show of solidarity against reports of harassment towards Muslim students after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Men and women not comfortable wearing a hijab were encouraged to wear white wristbands.
“I hope that the kids in my class ask me why I”m wearing a hijab,” Kelly said. “That”s one way I can spread the importance of supporting Muslims.”
Washtenaw County resident Dawn Wolfe said she wore a hijab last Sunday and that she plans to wear it again today. She said she is donning the traditional Muslim garb as a symbol of America”s religious freedom, and said that because she encourages religious equality, she should support Muslims herself.
Second-year Social Work student Lisa Leven helped organize the event.
“My concern was that America would backlash against anybody that might be considered Muslim after what happened on Tuesday the 11th,” Leven said. “If many, many women got together and put on the hijab, it would help diffuse the misplaced anger that”s being forced on anybody that might be considered Muslim.”
LSA junior Hiba Ghalib said people can”t accuse Islam of preaching terrorism just because of the acts of a few extremists.
“Islam and terrorism are like East and West Islam condemns any terrorist attacks and the killing of innocent lives is one of the most hated crimes in the Islamic religion,” she said.
“There are people who claim to be Muslims and do evil things, just as there are evil people who happen to be Christian or Jewish or Buddhist. We can”t say that Islam preaches terrorism.”
Ghaliv said she has been wearing a hijab since she was 14-years-old. She said donning the scarves has become more meaningful to her since the terrorist attack because she can dispel the misconceptions about Muslims.
“When I wear hijab it becomes a source of strength for me,” she said. “At the same time, it”s been a lot more difficult because it”s a symbol of our religion, and unfortunately right now the consensus is that the people who perpetrated that attack were of that faith.”
Leven said she isn”t concerned about possible verbal assaults because she feels so strongly about the message she is trying to send.
Conversely, Kelly said she is very nervous because she has heard of backlash against Muslims, but said she plans to try and wear the scarf for the entire day.
Wolfe said she hopes people treat each other as human beings first.
“I hope we make our decisions on individuals based on how individuals act, not on how we affiliate them with a group,” she said.