There is a very different war going on in the world at the moment and that is the culture war in Trump’s America. Muslim women that previously felt comfortable and safe are now being labelled ‘outsiders’ and informed in an unfriendly way that they need to do more to fit in.
Attacking the hijab
Attitudes that may have remained behind closed doors before the Islamophobic President came to power are now stampeding into the open, screaming and shouting. And the current situation does not look like it is going to calm down anytime soon. Just recently, a Muslim woman was the victim of a bias crime that took place on the subway; three men attempted to remove her hijab whilst bystanders stood around and watched, doing nothing to help.
In what has become an all too common occurrence since the election of Donald Trump, a Muslim woman was verbally assaulted as a “terrorist” by three men on a New York City subway as one of them tried to snatch her hijab off her head. 18-year-old Yasmin Seweid guessed that when she reported the incident to the police, it would hit the press.
It was just so dehumanizing I can’t speak about it without getting emotional. Three white racists ripped the straps off my bag & attempted to yank my hijab off my head. They yelled such disgusting slurs at me, I was so helpless and felt defenceless. ‘Look it’s a fucking terrorist’, ‘go back to your country’, “take that rag off your head’ and so many more. Trump’s name was repeatedly said & it finally clicked in my head. No matter how ‘cultured’ or ‘Americanized’ I am, these people don’t see me as an American.
An American by birth, Seweid has Egyptian parents. What shocked her most of all was that bystanders did nothing to help.
White supremacy reigns
But why are we surprised? The man who openly stated that he would bar all Muslims from entering the States is now in charge and so are the white supremacists. According to a recent exit poll, 58% of all white voters sided with Trump when he proposed “extreme vetting” of Muslims. A quick glance at social media shows that Muslims are worried for their safety and that of their families. Do Muslim girls deserve to be bullied at school because they have a Muslim name or wear headscarves? How are their families supposed to react when they are labelled criminals, extremists and terrorists?
What does this mean for the West?
Muslim fashion can be beautiful, graceful, and elegant, so why should women feel uncomfortable when wearing an abaya, hijab or headscarf? Prior to Trump’s election, fashion designers all over the world were taking note of the many attributes of Muslim clothing and were building elements of it into their design portfolios and catwalk shows. America tends to lead the way when it comes to many things in the West so does this now mean that Muslim women will have to forego their religion and culture and have to turn to adapting their clothing to reflect a more Western theme?
This indeed seems like an incredibly harmful and backward step, not just for the USA but for the whole of the West. What has happened to the culture of acceptance, tolerance and happily living together in a multicultural and mixed religious environment?
Maybe now is the time for Muslim women in the States to make a stand, empower each other and make a bid for their freedom of expression and right to be proud of their religion. Many Muslims may have already left the USA when Trump’s triumph was announced; now is the time to band together and prevent this exodus with its origins rooted in panic from continuing.
Photo: zharif hussein/Creative Commons