Vernon Hills students join their Muslim peers in wearing hijabs
Vernon Hills High School senior Yasmeen Abdallah, who is a Muslim, carefully wrapped the traditional hijab around the head of junior Charli Mosley while she explained its purpose.
"You can't really understand or judge a person and their beliefs until you understand why they do it and what it's like for them to do what they're doing," explained Abdallah, who is the president of the school's Muslim Student Association.
The "Walk a Mile in Her Hijab" event Wednesday, hosted by the 10-member organization, was designed to allow non-Muslim female students the opportunity to wear the head covering and gain a better understanding of the Muslim faith. "This event is to hopefully denounce negative stereotypes," Abdallah said.
Abdallah said the event was a good experience, one she hopes will become an annual event. A lot of the girls got positive feedback from other students and benefited from the experience, she said, despite one unknown male student who told a non-Muslim girl to take off the hijab as he passed in the hall.
Six members of the group spent the morning placing hijabs on 17 non-Muslim girls who wanted to participate in the project. They also talked about the meaning of the hijab and facets of the Muslim religion to students who approached them.
The hijab is a head covering worn by Muslim girls and women as a form of modesty with the belief it is commanded by God in the Quran, Islam's holy text.
Teachers and students at the school were encouraged to ask questions about the hijab when they came across a student wearing one.
"I wanted to learn more about the religion, considering my uncle is also Muslim," Mosley said while wearing a red hijab. "With more people wearing a hijab around school, it could bring more acceptance to the religion and have more people become more aware."
The event was planned last May and was not in response to recent terrorists attacks in Paris or California, organizers said.
Principal Jon Guillaume said Muslim Student Association members have told him they have been treated with respect at the school.
Guillaume expressed his admiration for the Muslim students, who he said have long searched for a way to communicate who they are and their experiences.
"I think it is a difficult time to be a Muslim student in our high school, in our community, and in America," he said. "I think this is an opportunity for our kids to embrace the Muslim community within the school. For other kids outside of this organization, to understanding what it's like for these girls to walk through our halls in this garment in a way that stands out from other kids. So, I'm proud of them."