Islamophobia's most vulnerable targets are those who are most visibly Muslim: hijab-wearing women.
Hijabis in the West are attacked on many fronts, with lawmakers policing where they can go – the beach is off-limits, for instance – and citizens handling their own “concerns” in some of the most degrading ways.
So when a Syrian girl living in Germany told Indian educator Deepak Ramola about the time a stranger called her a terrorist and asked her to remove her hijab, Ramola needed no further proof of the situation's urgency. He set out to change people's perspectives about hijabis through an online artistic collective.
"Art in its very core has the power of mass revolution and changing mindsets,” he said .
It all started with this
Ramola shared his artwork with the caption: "#UnderTheHijab is an incredible identity". In his post, he asked people to illustrate a faceless hijab, share their work and tag two artists to do the same.
His initiative encourages people to disregard the prejudice surrounding women who wear the hijab, accept and sympathize with them.
Inspired by his approach, people followed through and created beautiful artwork. Their caption speaks of what, to them, is #UnderTheHijab.
"The universe of diversity"
Hijabis, like any other portion of the human race, are " as diverse as the stars in the sky ". A veiled woman shouldn't be viewed as part of a larger entity, but as a unique being in and of herself.
"A free spirit"
Though it is often depicted as oppressive, many see the essence of the hijab as liberating us from society's expectations of what a woman should look like. There are real feminist arguments for the hijab.
It empowers us to defy the objectification of women.
Because this is really what it's all about: the faith in God and in His wisdom. How can something so essentially spiritual become the subject of charged political debate?
"Different people with different colors"
"Us... it could be one of us"
So who's the Syrian girl who inspired it all?
When she spoke about her Islamophobic encounter, Sarah provided beautiful insight on ignorance behind the hate. "There are people, even if they have high education, they don't know your culture. And if you don't know something, you see (it as something) strange. And something strange makes you fear.
"You don't know what this is, so you don't want to know what this is, so you just scream and just hate."