We welcome the voices of the young people we engage with and want to be heard. This page will be updated from time to time with new blogs and opinion pieces which have been generously written for us by the people that we work with. Please note that the views that are expressed in these blogs are not that of those the organisation, but those of the young people themselves.
‘Niqb Amid Covid: To Corona or Not to Corona’
Now that we are embracing masks in public places, I can’t help but notice the shift in people’s attitude towards my presence. Now that I wear a mask accompanied by my hijab, my siblings say I look like a ninja – a title I find amusing but also pretty accurate!
During my frequent visits to the supermarkets (Thank God for Phase 3!) I am increasingly receiving ‘funny’ looks – and by funny, I mean somewhere between curious, and *insert derogatory word here* compelling me to stay more vigilant than before.
As a 20-something year old, this is my first time experiencing a ‘niqab’ (face covering), but I mean we’re all in this together right? WRONG. This is perfectly indicative of the face covering being the least of the problem, rather it is very honestly, a racial and Islamophobic one.
Let me shed some light on this – People WITH masks on are glaring at my mum with her niqab, muttering under their breath. Now these micro-aggressions are a regular occurrence for my mum in her day-to-day life. Generally, when accompanying her I ensure I remain vigilant of people’s presence, in particular around men, reading their facial cues – keeping prepared for a potential distasteful interaction. But what frustrate me, is now that masks are slowly becoming the norm, their racist ideologies and Islamophobic beliefs remain concrete. I’ve had a couple of stare-downs over the years with strangers – until they look away, or upon verbalising their hate, there is usually a loud ‘Excuse me what did you say!?’ or ‘Do you have a problem?’ from my end. Which normally results in them walking away so fast, it’s like something out of Fast and Furious!
With everyone now embracing a face covering, there has been the slightest shift in the time spent looking at Muslim women who choose to cover up, but we are painfully far from the time where respect and empathy is practiced towards Muslim women – a distant dream and perhaps, wishful thinking on my end. Funny how once the ‘Safety threat’ a face covering posed, is now the same face covering that protects and keeps us safe from… wait for it… not other people, but a virus that we can’t even see! *Mind Blown*
We tend to pride ourselves on being ‘much better’ than England but the ground reality indicates otherwise. I remember the time between 2018-2019, where many women feared wearing the hijab out in public due to the number of attacks that took place targeting Muslim women, and ‘Punish a Muslim Day’ was trending. This year we have also witnessed the continued struggle of our Black brothers and sisters amidst the pandemic, and now more than ever, the implementation of systemic change needs to be at the forefront of policy and decision-making across the globe.
The face covering is a new experience for many of us, and a concept which is culturally unfamiliar to the western world. But despite this, I hope the shared experience amid Covid will encourage a deeper understanding and improve perceptions among people.
Which brings us to the question, ‘To Corona or not to Corona?’ And the answer is the latter. Safety first – keeping yourself and others safe from the potential transmission of the virus, is vital as we continue to ease out of lockdown. We are all keen to get back to our lives unafraid and assured, and for that masks are one form of protection that is helping to control the risk of transmission.
Hoping for a Corona-free world soon…
Keep Calm and Keep Safe!
See more of Issmat’s amazing work
Her blog is https://theissmatimpression.wordpress.com/
Instagram handle is https://www.instagram.com/issmat_ii/