Women across the world celebrate World Hijab Day in an effort to bring about religious tolerance and understanding.
Muslim and non-Muslim women donned hijabs, traditional Islamic head scarves, Sunday Feb. 1 across 116 countries, according to Nottingham Post. In Nottingham, England, dozens of women came together to try on the head scarves in Old Market Square. Sisters in the Community and KQZ organized the event to break down the stereotypes surrounding the reasons why women wear a hijab.
"There are a lot of misconceptions about the hijab," said Malaika Kayani from Sisters in the Community. "The main one is that women are forced to wear it, which could not be further from the truth. For most Muslim women the hijab is a symbol of freedom, not oppression. Wearing a hijab is a very personal and independent decision."
World Hijab Day originated in New York by Nazma Khan, a Muslim woman who grew up in the Bronx, the BBC reported. She said she moved to the Bronx from Bangladesh when she was 11, and she was the only girl to wear a hijab in her new school. She was called "batman" or "ninja" when she was younger, but after 9/11 people began to call her Osama Bin Laden or terrorist.
Khan reached out to her friends through social networking. People in dozens of countries such as the Australia, France, Germany, India, Pakistan and the U.K. reached out and supported Khan's movement. The group's literature was translated into 22 different languages.
However, not all Muslim women approve of the hijab. Maryam Namazie, an ex-Muslim and campaigner agaisnt the hijab, views the hijab as a form of oppression.
"Millions of women have been harassed, fined, intimidated and arrested for 'improper' veiling over the past several decades," she said of Iran's women's football team.
Other Muslim women believe that they are not forced by men to wear the hijab and that they choose to wear it to say that their beauty is for their husbands and family members only.