Instead of standing together, we reduce Muslim women to symbols in our society: of otherness and danger and hate. Today we’re sharing a testimony from Anna, who chooses to wear the niqab, about how it feels to bear that burden of representation.
In the wake of the Westminster terror attack, on March 22nd, an image of a woman wearing a hijab became an Islamophobic meme. Circulated thousands of times as supposed evidence of her lack of concern, the picture shows the woman – who has chosen to remain anonymous – looking at her phone next to a group gathered round the injured. She’s spoken out about her devastation after witnessing the attack, and the shock of finding her “picture plastered all over social media by those who could not look beyond my attire, who draw conclusions based on hate and xenophobia”. Unfortunately this targeting of Muslims – and particularly Muslim women in traditional Islamic dress – has become an inevitable aftermath of terrorist incidents around the world. After the 2015 Paris attacks, there was a 300 per cent rise in the number of crimes perpetrated against Muslims in the UK, and a similar surge in violence is predicted to follow the Westminster attack. Read the interview with Anna about her experience of wearing the niqab on the following page.