By: Bayynat editor
“A lot fail to grasp the concept of Hijab. It is not a mere cloth that we use in order to cover our hair. Hijab is rather a choice. It is part of my identity” believes Esraa Haydar.
The 24 year old Lebanese young lady was asked to change the way she dressed so that she would get the job she had earlier applied for. Esraa was simply inadequate for the position in a marketing company; her Hijab made her “un-presentable.” Ironically, the employer’s wife herself wore Hijab, Esraa learned as she met her by chance after some time.
While some did not tolerate her Hijab, others attempted to investigate about it. While attending a multi-national conference in London in 2010, Esraa was approached by three men who immediately greeted her by extended their arms to shake hands with her. To their surprise, Esraa placed her hand on her chest, as a sign of respect, and explained that she does not shake hands with men. Her answer provoked their curiosity and they wanted to know more. Soon, Esraa was engaged in a conversation with more than fifteen men. At the end of the conference, when it was time to say goodbye, “they all stood in one line and put their hands on their chest as if they were in the army and [she] was being saluted, they all looked at [her] and said “sorry, we do not shake hands with women.” Feelings of honor filled her heart.
On several occasions, Esraa felt she was being discriminated against because of her Hijab; the fact that motivated her to start a blog and share her story with the world, instead of feeling discouraged and dismayed. She mentions in her blog: “I am writing this blog because I want people to know the difficulties I go through in my daily life , the stereotypes I have to change and most importantly I want to share my story. This blog is a platform for every veiled and non veiled woman who has ever been discriminated.” The blog is also an attempt to change what people think of girls wearing Hijab; they are rather intelligent, hardworking, independent, and self-fulfilled.
Esraa explains on her blog that Hijab is not a means of repression and does not restrain the woman’s movement. It rather preserves the woman and presents her as a human being rather than a sexual being. It sure means that veiled women have to work even harder to attain positions and get jobs, because they cannot flaunt their hair and bat their eyelashes. In fact, they choose not to do so by wearing Hijab which happens to be part of their identity.
The courageous young lady has managed to start her own marketing company. In addition, she plans to start documenting samples of girls who have gone through similar experiences, and arranging meetings and discussions to further clarify the meaning of Hijab and straighten any misconceptions about it.