The World Hijab Day (WHD) non-profit organization launched its 2019 campaign Wednesday, encouraging women and girls of all faiths, backgrounds, and ethnicities to “voice their choice” of wearing the headscarf for 24 hours on February 1, in solidarity with Muslim women across the world.
“#FreeInHijab is the much-needed hashtag for our current global situation where women in hijab are labeled by media as oppressed and symbolically imprisoned,” Nazma Khan told Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency (AA).
“Through this hashtag, women are encouraged to voice their choice of wearing the hijab; thus dispelling common misconceptions,” Khan added.
Each year since its inception in 2013, WHD has invited women to wear a hijab — a headscarf worn by Muslim women — for one day on February 1.
“Perhaps, this one-day experience will make them see the hijab in a different light,” Khan told AA.
“More than 70 global ambassadors from over 45 countries have been involved, and women from around 190 countries participate in the annual event,” Al Jazeera noted last year.
Khan explained that WHD’s 2019 motto is “Breaking Stereotypes, Shattering Boundaries,” noting that the campaign also includes “promoting World Hijab Day both online and offline globally.”
Each year, the non-profit organization prepares for World Hijab Day weeks in advance.
In 2017, WHD became a nonprofit organization focused on fighting discrimination against Muslim women through awareness and education, according to the organization’s official webpage.
Khan has told several news outlets that the hardships she faced growing up in New York City due to her hijab motivated her to establish World Hijab Day.
“I was constantly bullied in middle school and high school. Discrimination took on a different height after 9/11,” she said, referring to the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks in the United States.
She added, “Every day, I would face different challenges just walking on the street; I was chased, spat on, surrounded by goons, called a terrorist, Osama bin Laden, etc.”
Khan described her experience as “devastating,” adding that she did not want anyone else to go through the same thing.
“Therefore, I thought to myself, if I could invite sisters from all faiths and backgrounds to walk in my shoes just for a day, perhaps things would change,” she said.
Khan dismissed accusations that the organization is spreading a political Islam ideology.
“There’s no politics involved in a movement which tries to bring awareness about women who are being unfairly targeted simply because they choose to wear the hijab. It’s simply awareness,” she told AA.