Rebeka Islam, APIA Vote-MI executive director, with resolution supporters | APIA Vote-MI photo
Rebeka Islam believes that wearing a hijab is a choice, a symbol of freedom and a “blessing.”
“It is a message that leaders in the American Muslim community have tirelessly worked to convey,” said Islam, APIA Vote-MI executive director, about the traditional veil that covers a woman’s hair and chest, signifying the sacredness of and respect for women’s bodies, as well as respect for religious faith. Her nonpartisan organization serves the Asian Pacific Islander American community through various civic participation and advocacy efforts.
In bipartisan fashion, the GOP-led Michigan Senate on Thursday adopted a resolution introduced by state Sen. Stephanie Chang (D-Detroit) that recognizes Tuesday as World Hijab Day in Michigan. Islam, a Sterling Heights resident who grew up in Hamtramck where a significant number of Muslim-Americans reside, approached Chang with the idea.
“This is a day to recognize the millions of Muslim women around the world who choose to wear the hijab and live a life of modesty. It’s also an open invitation to women of all walks of life to wear a Hijab and stand in solidarity with Muslim women,” said Chang. “Culture and faith are meant to be shared, to educate each other and understand one another. World Hijab Day calls for a universal understanding of Islamic faith and practices, and to develop a stronger communal bond within our society.”
New York City has recognized the day for 10 years.
The day of unity is designed to encourage non-Muslim women to embrace the hijab and promote religious tolerance, cultural competency and solidarity on an international level.
“[It] is a day for women of different cultures, who do not normally wear the hijab, to experience wearing one for the day. Its purpose is to encourage religious tolerance, cultural understanding, and international solidarity,” a portion of the resolution reads.
“It was an honor to recognize APIA Vote-MI Director Rebeka Islam, her family and a group of visitors who accompanied her to Lansing for the World Hijab Day resolution introduced by my co-chair of the [Asian Pacific American Legislative Caucus,] Senator Chang, and even nicer to visit with them in the House gallery,” said state Rep. Padma Kuppa (D-Troy).
Islam said one of America’s greatest strengths to “embrace different cultures and faiths, allowing citizens to freely express themselves.”
“It is our hope that our community comes together on Feb. 1 and embraces the Hijab as this symbol of unity and strength,” said Islam.
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