The House committee on Muslim affairs chaired by Rep. Sitti Djalia Turabin-Hataman (Party-list, AMIN) approved House Bill 968 which seeks to declare the first day of February of every year as “National Hijab Day.”
Turabin-Hataman, also the author of the bill, said the wearing of hijab is every Muslim woman’s right.
“It is not just a piece of cloth but it is said to be their way of life. In the Muslim holy book the Qur-an, it is obligatory upon every Muslim woman to guard their chastity and modesty,” said Turabin-Hataman.
Turabin-Hataman said the first observance of the World Hijab Day (WHD) was on Feb. 1, 2013.
“It was founded by Miss Nazma Khan in 2013 with the idea to foster social awareness about why they wear hijab and wipe the stigmas attached to wearing hijab,” Turabin-Hataman said.
The WHD has become an annual event encouraging Muslim and non-Muslim women to wear the hijab and experience the life of a Hijabis Woman for a day, according to Turabin-Hataman.
The lawmaker said there are several misconceptions of women wearing hijab.
“There are those who think that these women are being forced, oppressed and worst, they are being labeled as “terrorists”, she said.
In various countries like France, Turabin-Hataman said Muslim women were banned from wearing hijab in public places, thus violating their rights to practice their religion.
“Hijab women have been facing several challenges across the globe. There are reports that our Muslim Hijabis experienced cruelty and oppression. For example, in the United States after the 9/11 attack, there were Muslim women who were victims of ill-treatment and robbery,” said Turabin-Hataman.
Turabin-Hataman said discrimination and maltreatment of the Hijabis all around the world continue because people fail to understand the reason for wearing the hijab.
In the Philippines, Turabin-Hataman said there are some universities who banned Muslim students from wearing hijab.
“Some of these students are forced to remove their hijab to comply with the schools’ rules and regulations. Some students are forced to drop out and transfer to other institutions. These are clear violations of the student’s freedom of religion,” said Turabin-Hataman.
House Bill 968 defines “Hijab” as “a veil that covers the head and chest, which is particularly worn by a Muslim female beyond the age of puberty in the presence of adult males outside of their immediate family.”
The hijab can further refer to “any head, face, or body covering worn by Muslim women that conform to a certain standard of modesty.”
Meanwhile, the term “Hijabi” refers to a Muslim woman wearing the hijab.
The bill declares that the State recognizes the role of women in nation-building, and shall ensure the fundamental equality before the law of women and men. The free exercise and enjoyment of religious profession and worship, without discrimination or preference, shall forever be allowed.
Among the objectives of the bill is to remove the misconception of wearing hijab that has been misunderstood as symbol of oppression, terrorism and lack of freedom.
Likewise, the bill aims to stop discrimination against Muslim women “hijabi” as well as to protect the Muslim women’s freedom of religion and the right to practice their religion.
The measure seeks to promote and deepen understanding among non-Muslims about the value of wearing hijab as an act of modesty and dignity to Muslim women and to promote tolerance and acceptance of other lifestyles.
Government institutions, private sectors and schools are encouraged to commemorate this event in a manner that promotes understanding and awareness among its employees and students as to the objective of the campaign.
The bill mandates the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF) to celebrate the event.
As the lead agency in promotion and raising consciousness about Hijabis in the country, the NCMF shall conduct activities that aim to deepen understanding of the hijab as a lifestyle choice among Muslim women.
“It is our aim to raise awareness and to put a stop to all sorts of discrimination, including discrimination against Muslim women. We hope to foster deeper respect and understanding among and between Filipinos of varying cultures and faith toward national unity and peace,” said Turabin-Hataman.