Hijab as a reflection of the woman inwardness and a symbol of dignity: World Hijab Day in Vinnytsia

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Since 2013, World Hijab Day, an annual campaign to raise religious tolerance and mutual understanding, has been celebrated in more than a hundred countries of the world (Ukraine is not an exception). Muslim women from Vinnytsia also took part in the management of several events, dedicated to the World Hijab Day. Activists of the women's social organisation at ICC Al-Isra’ (member of the All-Ukrainian Association "Alraid") held a meeting, in which they invited adherents of other religions to tell them about the idea of celebrating this date. In particular, they told that on February 1, non-Muslims and Muslim women, who didn’t cover their heads, were offered to wearing the hijab during this day. In such way they are proposed to express the solidarity with those women who, due to their religious precepts in clothing, have to face incomprehension, lack of tolerance, and hostility against them on the part of other people both at the household level, and at official agencies. At the meeting the participants were explained the hijab was not a sign of belonging to Islam, but it was a reflection of the woman inwardness and a symbol of dignity.

Therefore, one of the main goals of this holiday was to explain the essence of the Muslim traditional clothing, first of all, to non-Muslims. That is why the agenda of the events, dedicated to this date, always includes lectures, round tables and talks, during which the audience learns about the hijab in easy and understandable way. In general, non-Muslims consider the word “hijab” as a synonym for the word “headscarf”. But, as Tetiana Yevloyeva, Alraid journalist, notes, “to prove a headscarf is a “hijab ” means to consider “car gearbox”and“ car” to be the same things. This name is a collective term to several items of clothing. So, hijab (modest wear) will be incomplete without a scarf, but even if you put on 15 scarves on your head and cover your face with a veil, only the presence of items, designed to cover other parts of the body, that cannot be naked, indicates the completeness of the look. ”

Liudmyla Stanislavenko, deputy, chairwoman of the Standing Committee on Education, Culture, Family and Youth, Sports and Tourism, Spirituality and Historical Heritage under the Vinnytsia Regional State Administration, advisor to RSA Head on Ensuring Equal Rights and Opportunities for Women and Men, shared her impressions of the event on her Facebook page, noting that Muslim women's headwear; and traditional for most non-Muslim Ukrainian women headscarves have a lot in common.

“What’s the difference between a Ukrainian headscarf and a hijab?” It turned out that these clothing items had a lot in common! That is what we learned today at an event, dedicated to World Hijab Day, held by the Social Organisation "Al-Isra" together with Mirochka Slobodyanyuk (journalist, volunteer, curator of "S miru po nitke" project, "Woman of Vinnytsia 2018", author of the book "Invisible Sun" - ed. ), and Mousa Salim, the head of the Muslim Cultural Center.  This event gave an opportunity to talk with girls, wearing traditional Islamic headwear. Each of them has her own unique story of how the hijab has appeared in her life. Together, we found out the Ukrainian culture was very similar to Arabic one. And some words in our languages sound the same! <...> Today’s atmosphere was very welcoming and cozy. I am sincerely glad to be invited to join projects of a cultural exchange,” - writes Liudmyla.

Luidmyla Stanislavenko noted the most interesting and most enjoyable parts of the event for her were master classes on tying a headscarf in various ways - from the Muslim traditional ones to those particular for certain regions of Ukraine.

In addition, the meeting participants enjoyed a small concert, tasted sweats, and received gifts.

Reference: World Hijab Day was established by New York resident Nazmi Khan, who faced the discrimination because of wearing hijab after a surge of Islamophobia, appeared as a result of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. Nazmi decided to establish World Hijab Day to overcome the stereotypical perception of Islam and Muslim women.

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