“We are all human beings,” declared Professor Shereen Elgamal at Elon University’s World Hijab Day reflection dinner Thursday evening. “Let’s do this together.”
Across the world, people stood in solidarity with Muslim women to honor their religion and cultural choices, in particular their choice to wear hijabs. In Islamic culture, the hijab is a piece of clothing designed to cover the heads and chests of women in an effort to exemplify modesty. As a sign of respect and acceptance to the Islamic culture, Elon students were seen on February 16 wearing hijabs across campus.
“A lot of people are hesitant about this event,” sophomore and co-organizer of Elon’s Hijab Day, Kristina Meyer, said. “They wonder if this could be offensive to Muslims, and the answer is yes. But you have to look at your community in your context.”
With the support and assistance of the Muslim community at Elon, Meyer was able to organize the day in an effort to promote diversity and acceptance at Elon. A reflection dinner was held in Numen Lumen Pavilion to further the conversation.
At the dinner, Elgamal, an lecturer of Arabic at Elon, spoke to her experience as an Islamic woman and her expression of her faith through her dress.
“My daughters and I have it more different than the men in my family,” Elgamal said. “When we breathe, we are noticeable. I embrace this religion every day of my life."
Context, Elgamal argues, is absolutely necessary in understanding culture and religion.
“Islam is a lifestyle, but when we take it apart it becomes restricted activities,” Elgamal said.
Elgamal believes that regular meetings, perhaps the ones hosted by the Truitt Center for Religious and Spiritual Life, will help promote cultural understanding and acceptance in the Elon community.
Freshman Cartara Patterson also believes that more events like this will be beneficial to Elon.
“I am so glad that I got the chance to go and see the community come together and support each other,” Patterson said. “I think we need to be able to listen and learn from other people and let diversity take part.”