In Wake Of Trump Ban, Interfaith Leaders Hold 'Hijab' Rally To Support Area Muslims
While many participants in Wednesday's 'World Hijab Day' Rally in uptown Charlotte were Muslim, many were not.
Rabbi Judy Schindler, for one, had never worn a hijab prior to a few days ago, when she penned a blog post urging fellow citizens to don a head scarf on 'World Hijab Day' and attached a photo of herself doing just that.
Several members of the Piedmont Unitarian Universalist Church, too, attended Wednesday's rally. Their pastor, the Rev. Justin Martin, had planned to attend as well but was kept home by 100 degree fever. Nevertheless, parishioners lent their voices to chants of "No hate, no fear, immigrants are welcome here," and applauded the Muslim women leading them.
While 'World Hijab Day' happens every year on February 1st, this year took on a new sense of urgency, coming just days after President Donald Trump temporarily banned citizens of seven Muslim-majority nations from entering the U.S., heightening the fears of some in the Muslim community that their faith is being made a scapegoat.
"We want people to become more familiar with seeing us so they're not so afraid," said Kelli Fletcher, a Muslim women and Charlotte native wearing a pink hijab, "People tend to fear what they don't understand, and Islam is really not something to fear. It's not."
She says her mother has grown increasingly concerned over the last year as Trump clinched the Republican presidential nomination and ultimately the presidency.
"She doesn't like for me to wear my hijab out because she's concerned about the ignorant people," Fletcher said, "I tell her, 'Have faith. I'm going to be okay.'"
Others shared similar concern. "You feel fear," said Bouchra Idlibi, a Muslim mother pushing her toddler along in a stroller, "But that fear drives you to speak up. This is my home. America is my home. And I want to be happy here. I want my kids to grow up and be proud Muslim-Syrian-Americans."
Altogether, roughly 90 people attended Wednesday's rally. Victoria Abdelfattah, who previously worked as a CMS elementary school teacher, organized the event, a first for Charlotte.
Abdelfattah says the event was co-sponsored by the Coalition for Cultural Compassion and the American-Islamic Outreach Foundation.