Seattle city: Zion Lourdes Perez, an american high-school Catholic student wore a hijab to better understand the everyday challenges faced by Muslim women in Seattle, United States.
As part of a “modesty week” programme at school, Perez on her way back home wore hijab but feeling targeted, tore off the hijab half way through her journey, The Express Tribune online news reported.
“It was overwhelming,” she said. “I felt like people were staring at me, whipping around to look — really negative vibes, like I was some kind of threat or foreigner. When I tore it off, I was relieved. All I wanted was to blend in.”
15-year-old Perez is a co-founder and president of the Muslim Students Association (MSA) at Franklin High.
Perez had intended to wear the hijab not just for a few hours but for a full week; therefore, the next day she put it on again.
“I have a whole new respect now. They really have to be strong. It takes tremendous courage to walk around wearing a hijab,” Perez said, referring to Muslim women.
During a workshop to honour the legacy of Dr Martin Luther King Jr, Perez and 40 other guests spoke about Islamophobia.
Samuel Aronwald, senior at the school and the only one white student was present to listen shared his views saying:
“I feel like this is a really large issue,” he said, noting the evolution in his own views. “Six months ago, I didn’t understand Muslim people and I thought Islam was not the greatest thing.”
Samuel interest in psychology made him think about the effect of being part of a stigmatized group. He described Islam in one word as “misunderstood”.
“There wasn’t any place where they could connect with each other,” she said, adding, “I didn’t know much about Islam except what I saw in media. To accept other groups and cultures you have to understand them.”
This article originally appeared on The Seattle Times.