Some erroneously think it's a sign of oppression; others have taken it up a notch by calling it offensive. It seems the world isn't going to give the hijab (or hijabis) a break anytime soon — especially not among Conservative parties in the UK.
Just ahead of the United Kingdom's general election this week, the chairwoman of Barnet Conservatives, Fiona Bulmer, was forced to resign after she told a Muslim woman her hijab was "offensive." Offensive how, exactly? That's a question we will never have an answer to.
Bulmer approached Sidrah Mohammed, who posted about the incident on Facebook, while the latter was passing near Bulmer and her group (aka Tory supporters) with her two kids.
"I talked to them about the racist and Islamophobic comments made by their leader [Boris Johnson]. Instead of engaging with me, the lady in the picture below stated that Boris has her support and she finds the way I dress offensive," Mohammed wrote in her Facebook post.
What she was referring to were the many Islamophobic comments Prime Minister Boris Johnson has made in the past, including the time he compared niqabis to "letterboxes." He also confidently claimed that "Islam inherently inhibits the path to progress and freedom," forgetting all the inventions Muslims actually brought into this world.
The UK has seen a wide range of Islamophobic attacks and remarks in recent years. For Mohammed, this was her first encounter with such hate.
"My first Islamophobic attack in my life was from [an] active Tory Member. I'm part of no party. I'm just a British Mum getting on with being an active and positive member of society," she wrote. But apparently her trousers, a raincoat, and a tiny pink hijab offended someone for just existing.
In the aftermath of the incident, the Barnet Conservatives Party apologized in a post on Facebook.
"We apologize for what was said and for the offense caused. We recognize that those holding office in a political party must take the greatest care to avoid anything which might be viewed as derogatory to any faith or minority community. That is why we asked Fiona to stand down as chairman of our local party, with immediate effect, and she will take no further part in the general election," the statement read.
Johnson's rhetoric has stuck in the mind of the Tory party. Back in July, a poll of party members found that 56 percent believe Islam is a "threat" to the "British way of life."
So it's no surprise that the chairwoman thought it would be a good idea to express her offensive comments towards a Muslim woman. But she is not the only Conservative to do so.
The chairman of the Conservatives, James Cleverly, recently apologized for the series of accusations of Islamophobia and racism among the party's parliamentary candidates. The Guardian revealed that at least four ministers had "gone on election campaigning trips to endorse Tory candidates who had, among other things, argued that Muslims had divided loyalties and blamed immigrants for bringing HIV to Britain."
The Islamophobia is not just among political party members; it's among citizens, too. In the 12 months leading to March 2019, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) - the principal public agency for conducting criminal prosecutions in England and Wales - reported 10,817 hate crime convictions in the country. The most recent case is the physical assault of a Muslim teen on a parked bus.