A Muslim mum is challenging women across the UK to try on the traditional ‘hijab’ headscarf - so they can see what it is like to be excluded from society or even abused.
Nilufa Dahlia, 28, set the appeal after she was attacked in her local supermarket in Brighton but wants to spread her message across the country.
The mum of-two was shouted at by a shopper who told her ‘you make my skin twitch’ after seeing her wearing the cloth headdress.
She has also struggled to make friends as she says people are reluctant to approach women wearing the hijab.
Nilufa, a vlogger for ChannelMum.com, said: “Plenty of people wear things on their heads - from baseball caps to elegant hats.
“From Dot Cotton in EastEnders to The Queen’s scarf, covering your hair really isn’t a big deal. I want people to see past the scarf and see the person.”
New statistics released by ChannelMum.com show over half of Muslim women say they are lonely as other people are wary of approaching them.
And 35 per cent of non-Muslims say they are cautious about approaching a woman who wears the hijab.
But Nilufa, of Brighton, wants to use her new video to bust the myths about the hijab headdress.
She explains: “Many people think Muslim women are forced to wear the hijab, but we’re not. It’s a purely personal choice.
“Taking up the hijab is supposed to make people concentrate on you as a person rather than what you look like, which should lead to more understanding.
“It’s also supposed to deflect unwanted attention, but sadly right now it can often mean you get more unwanted attention of the wrong sort.”
In the new video, Nilufa explains how the scarf can be ‘brilliant for bad hair days’ and ‘styled to cover up if you’re feeling fat’.
And she reveals hijabi women love to stay ‘on peak’ - Muslim slang for keeping a trendy high point at the front of the scarf to look fashionable.
She also says fear of Islam following negative media coverage and the lack of understand about the hijab means she’s rarely approached by other mothers at children’s events.
So now she’s challenging British mums to try tying a scarf or shawl and spending 15 minutes in public to see if they are treated any differently.
She adds: “See what it feels like to be stared at, pointed at, whispered about or even abused.
“It really shouldn’t be this way and none of us want our children growing up in such an intolerant world.
“This isn’t about pretending to be a Muslim - it’s simply to show what women like me have to go through.”
Nilufa, who works as a Muslim lifestyle vlogger for ChannelMum.com, says: “The irony is everyone is happy to talk if I have a hat or even a towel on my head, so why not a hijab? I’m the same person underneath.
“My aim is for people to realise it’s just a bit of cloth. Some people wear hijab, accept it and move on. See past the scarf and see the person.”
A number of ChannelMum users have taken up the challenge and relished the chance to experience the hijab first-hand.
Jess Ashe: “I absolutely loved this challenge and didn’t get any negativity all.”
Holly Matthews added: “I asked my Muslim neighbours before doing the challenge and she loved the idea and said go for it - we won’t be offended at all.
“This is about breaking down barriers and removing fear of the unknown.”
Lucy Carter: “Aren’t hijabs beautiful? I have always thought they look stunning and so elegant on. I absolutely loved wearing it and am so up for spreading the word on this challenge. It’s fantastic to work with the Muslim community and have their blessing and backing.”
The challenge comes as a new survey reveals two thirds of all mums want more Muslim families in adverts to properly reflect UK society, while over half think this would improve race relations and cultural understanding.
The research also revealed eight in 10 mums are happy to buy a product advertised by a woman in a hijab while 59 per cent of non-Muslim mums also regularly buy halal products.
In America, the #We’veGotItCovered campaign is also attempting to dispel myths around the hijab with tens of thousands of viewers and comments.