Dalhousie students create emergency hijab kits for Muslim students facing violence
A group of Dalhousie University students have created emergency hijab kits to ensure Muslim women on campus will have a replacement headscarf if theirs is stolen, vandalized, or ripped off.
Amina Abawajy, the president of the Dalhousie Student Union, says she has heard from friends and community members about incidents in which someone has targeted their hijab, but says they are reluctant to report it.
“I don’t believe those have been reported to security and, as you may be aware, there’s a number of reasons why people may not report these incidents,” says Abawajy. “It’s traumatic. It’s violent.”
She says she’s also concerned for her own safety after someone left a voicemail on a phone line in the Dalhousie Student Union office, saying “We belong in Guantanamo,” a reference to the U.S. detention camp established in Cuba in 2002, in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the U.S.
“I’ve two other sisters who are on this campus. I’m worried for their safety. I’m worried for the safety of all marginalized people on this campus. I wouldn’t be surprised for anyone who’s worried for their safety,” says Abawajy.
“It’s a very real threat.”
The incidents prompted the DSU to team up the Nova Scotia Public Interest Research Group, and together they created the emergency hijab kits – a proactive measure to ensure students have access to a hijab should they need it.
Neither Halifax Regional Police nor Dalhousie University has received reports of a Muslim woman’s hijab being targeted, but the university is aware of the kits, which are located across campus.
“Dalhousie Security has agreed to have the hijab kits on hand should they ever be needed,” says Janet Bryson, the university’s senior communications manager.
“Our expectation is that they won’t have to be used.”
However, Abawajy says several kits have already been used, and now some other Halifax organizations are asking for the kits as well.
“For a lot of Muslims, it is more than just the fabric that covers our head or our bodies.”
With files from CTV Atlantic's Laura Brown