An Illinois high school held a “Walk a Mile in Her Hijab” event last week in an attempt to help students better understand the Islamic religion.
According to the Daily Herald, six members of Vernon Hills High School’s Muslim Student Association spent Wednesday morning “placing hijabs on 17 non-Muslim girls.”
“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,” said Yasmeen Abdallah, the group’s president.
Hoping to make the event a yearly occurrence, Abdallah said the reaction among students was mostly positive, with only one student reportedly telling a non-Muslim girl to remove her hijab.
“This event is to hopefully denounce negative stereotypes.”
The school’s principal, Jon Guillaume, praised the affair as a great opportunity for students to better understand the school’s Muslim community.
“I think it is a difficult time to be a Muslim student in our high school, in our community, and in America,” Guillaume 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.”
As noted by education watchdog EAG News, word of the incident stirred controversy online by those who felt the group received preferential treatment.
“I have a serious problem with this,” one person wrote on Facebook. “We take Christianity and prayers out of school, but this is allowed! We are not allowed to put up Christmas or Easter decorations at schools but this is allowed. Why is this acceptable?”
“In support of diversity, maybe the Muslim students should go a day without their headdresses?” another said.