- Associated Press - Wednesday, February 1, 2017

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - Muslim students at the University of New Mexico and college campuses across the country honored “World Hijab Day” amid protests over President Donald Trump’s travel ban on seven Muslim-majority countries.

Students at New Mexico’s largest university and others in Iowa and Virginia on Wednesday set up booths and asked non-Muslim students to take photos of themselves in hijabs and post them on social media.

The day, founded in 2013 by New Yorker Nazma Khan, started in reaction to Muslim women being harassed for wearing the head covering used by some women who practice Islam. Organizers ask non-Muslim women to wear the hijab for a day in solidarity with Muslim women worldwide.

“I love it,” said Sarah Rivali, 33, a non-Muslim student who lives in Albuquerque. “I feel so beautiful. This is such a great idea.”

Students at Bluefield College in Virginia and Simpson College in Iowa also participated in World Hijab Day.

At the University of New Mexico, Muslim students showed non-Muslim women how to wear a hijab. Afterward, students took selfies.

Some Muslim women said they were mixed on the purpose of “World Hijab Day” amid Islamophobia and Trump’s travel ban.

Mouna Mana, director of Arabic Language & Culture at Qatar Foundation International in Washington, D.C., said Wednesday she finds the event is “sweet, but uninspired.”

“I feel like this is kind of hyped-up symbolism. It’s probably well-intentioned, but sort of misses the point,” said Mana, who wears a hijab. “I think some of us are also just sort of bored of this idea of, well, let’s just put on a scarf and call it a day. Muslims are dealing with very severe issues right now. I’m sorry, putting on a piece of clothing doesn’t really do it for me.”

Samia Assed, 51, of Albuquerque, said at first she was skeptical of a day celebrating the hijab as a symbol when the event began four years ago. But now she is slowly seeing how the message helps fight Islamophobia. “The question I have is: what are you going to do after Feb. 1?” said Assed, a Palestinian American. “How do you make this into a movement?”


Associated Press writer Noreen Nasir in Washington, D.C. contributed to this report.

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