Muslim Women Are Poplocking in Hijabs to Help Eradicate Stereotypes (Video)

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Muslim communities around the world today are facing persecution and worse, and rhetoric in the media often contributes to the spread of stereotypes. In the United States, presumptive Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has made waves for his views on banning Muslims from entering the country, while across the pond London’s new mayor – Sadiq Khan – is making history as the first Muslim mayor of a major Western capital. These two examples show the complexity of how members of the Islamic faith are regarded in various parts of the world, albeit from a purely Western standpoint. In other places such as the Middle East and parts of Asia, the realities for many Muslims are plagued by war and political exile, while stereotypes involving terrorism seem to follow Muslims in all corners of the world.

One aspect of the daily lives of many practicing Muslims which is often criticized are the hijabs and niqabs, veils and cloths worn primarily by women which often cover their heads, shoulders, and much of their faces. For those who practice orthodox Islam, these items of clothing are signs of respect, worn by women in the presence of men outside of their immediate families or those who are non-Muslim. A symbol of traditionalism, some styles of hijab leave only a woman’s eyes visible, a level of modesty not often adhered to in much of the world. Many critics of the hijab and niqab argue that they contribute to the harmful stereotype that women should be subservient to men, and that it is a vestige of outdated, misogynistic thought. But individual pursuits of religious expression mean those who choose to adorn themselves should be allowed to do so, but often such a decision brings with it the sneers, fears, and derogatory stereotyping at the hands of the uninformed and miseducated.

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That hasn’t stopped a group of women from forming the Hip-Hop dance group We’re Muslim, Don’t Panic. Recently profiled by the Huffington Post, this trio was formed in part in reaction to France’s banning of the hijab for students, meaning many Islamic practitioners were forcibly prevented from wearing their headscarves to school. Founding member Amirah Sackett joined forces with two like-minded women to work together to show the world that women in hijabs are not only to be respected but also recognized as being fully capable of participating in contemporary cultural expression. Watching WMDP poplock and embrace other styles of Hip-Hop choreography is entrancing, not just because they’re doing it fully covered in their niqabs (and shell-toe Adidas), but also because they’re dope.

We’re Muslim Don’t Panic are performing to music by Brother Ali, who converted to Islam at age 15.