In the fall of 2004, Rana Abdelhamid, a 22-year-old New York native and graduate student at the Harvard Kennedy School, started social media project Hijabis of New York. Her aim was to empower hijab-wearing women and educate the general public on what it means to be young, Muslim, and female in post 9-11 America.
Using photos and interviews in the style of the hugely popular street photography project Humans of New York, Hijabis now has than 13,000 fans on Facebook. Abdelhamid says she was inspired when, at the age of 16, she was attacked on her way to a domestic-violence shelter in Jamaica, Queens, by a man who attempted to forcibly remove her headscarf. “I was doing research, and after 9-11, hate crimes against Muslims had increased by 1,600 percent, according to FBI statistics,” Abdelhamid says. “I was like, ‘OK, look, I’m not alone in this.'”
Despite continued debate over the role of headscarves in the West, where many see them as a symbol of oppression, there have been signs that the hijab is assimilating into popular culture. Earlier this week, Dolce and Gabbana announced their first collection of high-fashion hijabs and abayas, and in September Mariah Idrissi became the first hijab-wearing model to be featured in an ad campaign for H&M.
Read the full story at The Village Voice.