University of Arkansas at Little Rock students came out in droves to support the Muslim Student Association’s second annual World Hijab Day event on Thursday, Feb. 1.
“I started this event last year because I felt that a lot of people were being discriminated against during this political climate,” said Nora Bouzihay, first-year doctoral student and former president of the Muslim Student Association. “I wanted people to come together as one to support one another regardless of sexual orientation, race, culture, or religion.”
During the two-hour event, participants were permitted to select a garment from a table of over 400 scarfs donated by Muslim women in the Little Rock community. Once a scarf was chosen, a member of the Muslim Student Associationwould wrap the hijab around a student or faculty member’s head and escort him or her to a mirror. Afterward, the pair would take a photo using props labeled #EndDiscrimination. Each participant who wore the hijab was allowed to keep the scarf.
The nearly 400 students who attended the event were visibly intrigued by the hijabs and were able to engage in thoughtful conversations about Muslim culture with members of the Muslim Student Association. Numerous hugs were exchanged at the conclusion of dialogue, and smiles were plastered across the faces of nearly every person present.
Following the adornment of scarves, the organization conducted a balloon release on behalf of victims of discrimination. Students wrote names of friends and family members on the balloons, as well as events or interactions that personally affected them.
“The balloon release was designed to let go of those memories and to come together as one,” Bouzihay said. “It was so empowering and an emotional time for many people.”
Bouzihay said she hopes to host the event again next year and looks forward to seeing how it grows.