World Hijab Day chant: ‘No hate, no fear, Everyone is welcome here’


Supporters cheer at Romare Bearden Park as they participate in World Hijab Day on Wednesday, February 1, 2017. Local Muslim and non -Muslim women gathered in the park wearing head scarves and supporting those who wear the traditional head scarves. David T. Foster III
At a noon rally in uptown Charlotte, scores of non-Muslim women wearing hijabs, or head scarves, gathered with an equal number of Muslim women to show their solidarity at a time when many Americans Muslims feel under siege by President Donald Trump’s administration.

The crowd of more than 75 women held up signs trumpeting diversity, immigration, and the Golden Rule and chanted “No hate, no fear, Everyone is welcome here.”

Laura Hankins, a mother of four who attends Charlotte’s Holy Covenant United Church of Christ, said she donned a head scarf to show support for Muslim women like Jenna Nichols, a retired government worker. Waiting for the rally to start, the two introduced themselves and struck up a conversation.

“I was raised in a strong social justice tradition and it’s important to show up,” Hankins said to explain why she came to the rally. “I wanted to show my support and hopefully build some relationships so I can do more.”

Nichols, who became a Muslim in 2001, called it “wonderful” to be surrounded by so many supportive non-Muslim women.

“There needs to be more coming together of all faiths so we can work as one human race,” she said. “Sisters, brothers – we’re all humans.”

Like other Muslim women at the rally, Nichols said she wears the hijab because she believes God wants her to, as a form of modesty.

Wednesday is World Hijab Day. And the shows of support from non-Muslims at Romare Bearden Park came in the wake of protests against Trump’s executive order banning U.S. entry for Syrian refugees and restrictions on refugees from six other Muslim-majority countries. The new president said the order is designed to protect Americans from terrorists. The protesters, including many American Muslims, say the order is an un-American attack on a single religion, Islam.

Some Charlotte women – Muslim and non-Muslim – plan to gather at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday night at Muslim American Society of Charlotte, a mosque at 4301 Shamrock Drive, for a “debriefing” of what World Hijab Day was like for them.

The rally’s organizer, Victoria Abdelfattah, a former Charlotte-Mecklenburg teacher who’s now a nanny, said she wants to help bridge the gap between Muslims and non-Muslims.

“I don’t have children myself yet, but part of the reason I’m so vocal … is for the kids that I nanny and my friends’ kids and for my future children,” said Abdelfattah, 25, who became a Muslim nearly three years ago. “I want them to grow up in a much different and more accepting environment than a lot of my friends did.”

Rabbi Judy Schindler, who now directs the Stan Greenspon Center for Peace and Social Justice at Queens University of Charlotte, and others encouraged women to “stand with your Muslim sisters.” She attended the rally along with four students from her class on the Holocaust.

One of them, Brooke Edwards, a freshman at Queens who attends New Home Baptist Church back home in Anson County, held up a sign that read “I Am My Sister’s Keeper.”

“I’m a Christian and when I see the oppression of another religion, I want to show my support,” said Edwards. who also wore a head scarf. “I have an obligation to love my neighbor.”

Earlier this week Schindler said she wanted to do something as a sign of her support for Muslims in Charlotte and for Muslim refugees banned from entering the United States because of President Trump’s order.

“As a Jew, I feel it is my obligation to speak out in support of other minorities,” she said. “My father was a refugee (from Germany), fleeing the Holocaust. Jews were clearly turned away (from the United States) in the 1940s. They heard much of the same rhetoric then that we are hearing now.”

Source: Tim Funk/