If you’re part of the Sudanese Facebook world, then you probably already know what this is going to be about. For those of you who aren’t, or are fortunate enough to not have come across it, allow me to shed some light.
This Facebook ‘community’ claims to be a space for Sudanese women who do not believe in hijab to share their photos and testimonials. Many of the posts on the page have lengthy captions denouncing hijab as a backward and oppressive practice, that it has little to do with Islam, that it came to us from Saudi Arabia, and so on and so forth. It is worth noting that the tone of posts is, at times, inflammatory and even blasphemous.
But folks have a right to their opinions and to a safe space in which to express them. So no harm done, right? Weeeell~
The main flaw of this Facebook ‘community’ is that many of the photos of hijabless women are not, in fact, willingly sent in, but rather stolen from the women’s Facebook pages, and the testimonials that are attached to these photos are complete fabrications on the part of the page administrators.
So it’s not just a question of a difference of opinion, but clear and blatant identity theft. Begging the question: why?
Why is that necessary? If you created a community that caters to folks who hold this opinion, then at some level it means there was a need for it – right? You or someone you know must have discussed this opinion that prompted you to create this space – no? So why do you need to steal folks’ photos to fill up your wall? Shouldn’t your community feel secure enough in itself to share the photos of those who truly feel this way? Doesn’t it undermine your cause when you use false testimonials to support your argument?
Also, if the point of sharing these testimonials is to show women that they shouldn’t be forced and have the choice “to be free of hijab”, then is it productive to demean those who wear it in the process? To equate hijab with ignorance and primitive behavior (bruh) – how are these not the same shaming tactics used by those forcing women to wear hijab? Shouldn’t we be discussing how hijab is being used as a tool of oppression rather than attack the people who are likely victims of that system?
As a Sudanese woman who does not wear hijab, I agree with the broader gist of the page – that hijab should not be forced upon people as some sort of uniform. The oppression in hijab comes from ordering people to wear it without any deeper understanding of its purpose. To make a practice that is meant for the divine for human gratification and appeasement is to cheapen it, and to boil the spiritual commitment and struggle of true hijab (that extends beyond just the way you dress, FYI) down to “If you wear a scarf and long sleeves you’re a good person, and if you don’t you aren’t and you’re going to prison and then straight to hell” is to render it absolutely meaningless.
Also, let’s not forget where we live. Let’s not forget that anything can be construed as ‘disrupting the peace’ in this country. Let’s not forget that you can be imprisoned, tortured, killed for your opinion in this country. Let’s not forget what being accused of blasphemy or apostasy can do to you in this country. So what you won’t do is put words in my mouth and put me at risk with an opinion I don’t even hold.
But perhaps what amuses me the most about this page were posts like this (of which I have seen quite a few, including one that forced the true owner of the photo to speak out like, “Y’all, I never even said that. I don’t know how they got my photo. What is this.”):
أنا سودانية عايشة في أمريكا البلد المتحضر الذي لايفرض المجتمع فيه على النسء لباس وزي معين خصوصا الحجاب.
Translation: I am a Sudanese woman living in America, a developed/enlightened nation that doesn’t force anyone to dress in a specific way, especially hijab.
Aside from the fact that we don’t even know if this testimonial is true or not – sis, what? Yes, you can dress however you like in America; meanwhile, Muslims across the country are in fear of their lives, and especially Muslim women, for exercising that same right. Lest we forget that a US military report cited by the FBI declared wearing hijab a form of “passive terrorism”. So I repeat: sis, whattt?
As an American and a double minority in America, I ask you to please stop romanticizing the US as land of the free. I mean, it can be – if you’re not Black or Muslim or any other minority, or a combination of any of those together.
But that’s beside the point.
The point is, don’t steal people’s identity to further whatever agenda you have. Speak for yourself, keep our names out your mouth and our photos off your wall.
You can sign the petition here.
(P.S: I use ‘we’ and ‘our’ in the general sense; to my knowledge, my picture was not shared on that page.)