By Czarina Nicole Ong Ki
To see a woman wear a hijab is a sign of modesty and dignity, and should not be mistaken as an act of oppression, terrorism or lack of freedom.
This is what CHR Spokesperson, Atty. Jacqueline Ann de Guia, said in light of the recent celebration of World Hijab Day on February 1, which carried the theme: “Unity In Diversity, Aiming For Empowerment In Hijab.”
De Guia said that the celebration gave people all over the world the opportunity to stand in unity with Muslim women, and forge a deeper understanding about the value of wearing hijab.
Even in today’s time, de Guia lamented that there is a negative stigma of discrimination attached to the exercise of freedom of expression and religion.
“It is with great alarm that even in this period, Muslim women are made to remove their hijabs and are discriminated upon in the practice of their religion,” she said.
“To forcefully ask individuals, who present no clear and present danger to Philippine society, to remove his [or] her headscarf or veil to conform to uniformity is discriminatory and goes against constitutionally protected rights to freedom of belief and expression,” she added.
De Guia said that the CHR is encouraging all individuals to take the time to understand the significance of the hijab, defy the negative stigma pervading in today’s society, and to stand in solidarity with women facing discrimination all around the Philippines.