This article may be unbalanced towards certain viewpoints. (June 2020)
|World Hijab Day|
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|Islamic female dress|
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World Hijab Day is an annual event founded by Nazma Khan in 2013, taking place on 1 February each year in 140 countries worldwide. Its stated purpose is to encourage women of all religions and backgrounds to wear and experience the hijab for a day and to educate and spread awareness on why hijab is worn. Nazma Khan said her goal was also to normalize hijab wearing.
Nazma Khan, a Bangladeshi-American, launched World Hijab Day (WHD) in 2013. She said that her aim was "to raise awareness and normalize the wearing of a hijab." Khan added that she launched the day due hoping for "foster[ing] religious tolerance" given experiences of facing "discrimination and bullying in school and university by being spat on, chased, kicked and called a “terrorist”." This way, other women would not have the same experiences as "she had to endure."
In 2017 New York State recognized World Hijab Day, and an event marking the day was hosted at the House of Commons, which was attended by Theresa May (former UK Prime Minister). The House of Representatives of the Philippines approved 1 February as "annual national hijab day" to promote an understanding of the Muslim tradition in 2021.
A. J. Caschetta criticizes the event's date of 1 February as ironic and distasteful since it coincides with the return of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini to Iran from his French exile, which subsequently lead to the enforcement of mandatory wearing of hijabs. Caschetta argues that while the hijab is being promoted in the Western world as part of the right to choose clothing, the same right to choice is not being fought for persecuted women who refuse to wear the hijab.
In February 2013, Maryam Namazie, a vocal ex-Muslim and campaigner, criticized World Hijab Day in a blog post that compared World Hijab Day with a World Female Genital Mutilation Day or a World Child Marriage Day. Asra Nomani wrote an opinion piece in The Washington Post saying the World Hijab Day event spreads the "misleading interpretation" that the head covering is always worn voluntarily, and that "hijab" purely means headscarf. In his own opinion piece published in 2017, Maajid Nawaz references the earlier Nomani & Arafa article and describes the event as "worse than passé", suggesting that the name be changed to "Hijab is a Choice Day".
In 2018, Canadian human-rights campaigner Yasmine Mohammed started a #NoHijabDay campaign in response, to celebrate the women who have defied social censure and the state to remove the hijab. She said that No Hijab Day is a global day of support for bold women who reject the hijab, those who wish to choose what to wear on their heads.
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