The House of Representatives has unanimously approved on third and final reading a bill declaring Feb. 1 of every year as National Hijab Day.
With 203 affirmative and zero negative votes, the House approved House Bill No. 82459 and is set to send it the Senate for a counterpart action.
Anak Mindanao (AMIN) partylist Rep. Amihilda Sangcopan, principal author and sponsor of HB 8249, urge the Senate to act swiftly for passage of a counterpart measure.
HB 8249 declares Feb. 1 of each year as National Hijab Day and promote national awareness of the Muslim tradition of wearing a hijab.
The bill defines hijab as a veil that 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. A hijabi refers to a Muslim woman wearing the hijab.
“We are thankful to the House Leadership and to our fellow lawmakers for passing the bill to its third and final reading. We are now appealing to our senators to espouse a counterpart Senate bill that will realize this legislation and to further raise awareness and to put a stop all forms of discriminations – particularly against Muslim women,” said Sangcopan.
She said one of the the objectives of the bill is to encourage Muslim and non-Muslim women to wear the hijab “and experience the virtue of wearing it.”
“Hijabi women have been facing several challenges across the globe. In the Philippines 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 school’s rules and regulations while some are forced to drop out and transfer to other institutions. These are clear violations of the student’s freedom of religion,” said Sangcopan.
According to her, HB 8249 also seeks to remove the misconception of wearing the hijab as a symbol of oppression, terrorism, and lack of freedom.
“We are convinced that this measure will contribute greatly in putting a stop to discrimination against Muslim hijabi,” stressed Sangcopan.
She recalled that during the 16th and 17th Congress, then AMIN Rep. now Isabela City, Basilan Mayor Sitti Djalia “Dadah” Turabin-Hataman, initiated the filing of this bill advocating the sentiment, particularly against Muslim women who were banned in some universities for wearing hijab. Dadah spearheaded activities that commemorated the World Hijab Day in the House of Representatives, in educational institutions, and with peace and human rights groups.
Founded by Nazma Khan in 2013, the premise of HB 8249 was to foster social awareness about the significance of wearing hijab and to wipe the stigmas attached to wearing one. It also encourages non-Muslim women to wear the hijab during the National Hijab Day to experience the life of a hijabi woman for a day, explained Sangcopan.
The lady lawmaker added that the wearing of hijab is every Muslim woman’s right. It is not just a piece of cloth being worn to cover a woman’s head and chest, but it is said to be their way of life.
She further stated that it has also been explained in the Muslim holy book the Quran that it is obligatory upon every Muslim woman to guard their chastity and modesty.