Monday, 1 February 2016

Treated like a criminal while wearing the Hijab feat. Janet

Demi Kwant
 Janet Kozak writes and designs for people who need to promote themselves but just don't know how. Through her eye for aesthetics, creative copy writing, targeted text, and punctual posts, she’s here to help you pull it all together and present a professional, polished, image once and for all. Meet Janet and get ready to grow your business at JKGallery

1. What does the hijab mean to you? 
My hijab is an outward reflection of my inner convictions as a Muslim woman. 

2. How do you feel when you wear the Hijab? 

3. When did you start wearing the hijab and what lead you to making that decision?
 I've worn hijab off and on at times. I converted in 2000 and didn't wear it full time at first - I wore it only at university mostly and not at work. In around 2007 I started wearing it full time when I'm around non-mahrams. 

4. Were your family and friends supportive? What did they say? 
My friends and family were ambivalent. At worst they may have asked a few questions about what it was called and such. However it was interesting that after my divorce from my Egyptian ex-husband in 2010 my mother did ask me if I was going to then take it off. 

5. What reactions did you get when first starting to wear the hijab? 
No one made a big deal out of it. 

6. Have you ever had any negative attention while wearing the hijab?
Quite a few. The worst and most traumatic and humiliating was probably when a police officer took it off me after handcuffing me while I was about 4 months pregnant and told me it (and the small safety pin that was holding it on, was a "weapon" - even though my hands were handcuffed behind my back. By that logic a pants zipper or a shoelace are weapons too, but they don't remove those in public. Since it was technically my clothing he removed and he basically took my clothing OFF in public before booking I reported it to CAIR and also filed a complaint with the police Sargent. Unfortunately, nothing really happened there though since it was only one of a few reported cases so far with that particular police department - CAIR said it would need more reports before they could so anything. 
Another time a veteran (I assumed) with one leg on crutches started screaming that I was the devil at a gas station with my kids. I tried to ignore him but he was obviously very disturbed so it was pretty scary, thankfully it was daylight and a pretty public place with cameras so I was glad it didn't get physical. I know that the VA doesn't really support returning veterans who have murdered and/or been injured abroad, so I mostly just felt sorry that he was so mentally messed up over the experience. I hope he makes peace with himself, his life choices, and his life experiences. I also had other public servants treat me worse while I was wearing hijab because I was not "assimilated" into "American" culture. Now I live in Pakistan where I wear hijab freely and it is a total non-issue. I get treated differently for other reasons here though - but not because of hijab. Mostly I just get 10x overcharged for things because people think that because I am white and American I must be rich. 

7. Have you have any positive attention while wearing the hijab?
I've done a lot of things I'm proud of while wearing hijab, I've taught, lectured, and even participated in an international conference of women's empowerment. Pretty much everything positive that has happened to me in the last 16 years has happened while I was wearing hijab. I actually find these kinds of questions a bit silly because to me, my hijab is just part of my clothes. Whatever good I do (like help a homeless person), or whatever hardship befalls me (like getting an unfavourable divorce verdict), happens while I'm just wearing my clothes. 

8. Do you feel like the events in the media have given you more attention?
Not really, because I live in Pakistan, but I can see that a lot of my "Western" friends feel that way. 

9. Have you had any funny comments or moments while wearing the hijab? 
I've had people ask me what colour my hair is, wonder if I shower with it on, you know, the usual odd and funny questions. 

10. If you could say what you wanted to non-Muslims regarding the hijab what would you say? 
Millions of women wear head-coverings every day. My hijab is just a piece or head-covering. I'm a smart, successful, ethical, and conscientious person and my head-covering serves as a reminder to be a better person than I was the day before. I'm not sure many other women can say that about their hats. 

11. Lastly, how do you feel about the hijab being recognised as ‘oppressive’? 
Completely silly. If anything, it helps level the playing field because we're all forced to interact with each other based on knowledge and wits, not by how nice our chest, legs, breasts, or hair looks. Not everyone is blessed with a body that's a visual asset they can use to "get ahead." Hijab helps equalize us and give an opportunity for our, skills and smarts, passions and personalities, to shine. 


Janet is an amazing person inside and out. I just want to quickly thank Janet once again for being a part of this. Make sure you go show your love and support by finding Janet on her links below.

Janet's Blog      Janet's Facebook     Janet's Twitter


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