This is a short, brief piece.
This piece was inspired by certain events that have taken place in the last 12 months. Most notably, calls for hijab and burqa bans to be implemented across Australia, America and in certain pockets within Europe.
I am also aware that there are currently protests in Iran surrounding repressive laws and economic conditions – where the hijab (more specifically, the removal of it) has become a symbol and sign of revolution and rebuttal.
This piece of writing is not dealing with the hijab as a political symbol, rather as a symbol of faith and belief. I sought to write this piece and take photos of everyday instances of the hjiab while I was travelling through the UAE because as I’ve just outlined, it is divisive in nature.
However having close Muslim friends, I see how the negative rhetoric surrounding Islam and its practices impacts them in everyday life. The photos below are not exceptional photos by any stretch of the imagination. But they provide simple insight into the life of women behind the piece of cloth, behind the veil, that is so misunderstood outside of the Middle East.
I honestly believe that if something is said and asserted for long enough – the public begins to believe it. And the dominant dialogue surrounding the hijab has become associated with fear, oppression and radicalism.
Our responsibility as human beings who know better is to always challenge falsities, and promote connection through conversation and truth.
My experience with the hjiab and the community that embraces it has been nothing but positive. The cloth that has become much maligned within Western society, represented so much more in the UAE. The hijab in its own way tells the stories of mothers and daughters, wives and grandmothers – celebrating their roles within family life and within the wider community.
And for me, faith and religion is defined by the everyday people that practice it – not by those that seek to manipulate it for personal gain.
Ryan Cheng is the founder of The 88, and is passionate about telling stories surrounding travel, culture and identity.
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