(AhlulBayt News Agency) - Philippine lawmakers approved a bill declaring the first day of February as an annual National Hijab Day.
The House Committee on Muslim Affairs has approved the proposal put forward by House Representative Sitti Djalia A Turabin-Hataman.
She urged the final approval of the bill, saying ‘Hijabis’ across the world continued to face discrimination and maltreatment.
"Wearing hijab is every Muslim woman’s right. It is not just a piece of cloth but it is said to be their way of life."
"In the Muslim holy book the Quran, it is obligatory upon every Muslim woman to guard their chastity and modesty,” she said.
"There are those who think that these women are being forced, oppressed and worst, they are being labeled as terrorists.”
World Hijab Day was first marked in 2013 after it was founded by Nazma Khan to counter the stigmas attached to wearing hijab.
Rep. Turabin-Hataman said that the day had become an annual event encouraging both Muslim and non-Muslim women to wear the hijab.
"Hijab women have been facing several challenges across the globe. There are reports that our Muslim Hijabis experienced cruelty and oppression. For example, in the United States after the 9/11 attack, there were Muslim women who were victims of ill-treatment and robbery,” she said.
She also claimed there were some universities in the country that had banned Muslim students from wearing hijab.
"Some of these students are forced to remove their hijab to comply with the schools’ rules and regulations. Some students are forced to drop out and transfer to other institutions. These are clear violations of the students’ freedom of religion,” she said.
She also said the National Hijab Day aimed to remove the misconception that wearing hijab was a symbol of oppression, terrorism and lack of freedom. It also aims to stop discrimination against Muslim women "hijabi” as well as to protect the Muslim women’s freedom of religion and the right to practice their religion.
"It is our aim to raise awareness and to put a stop to all sorts of discrimination, including discrimination against Muslim women. We hope to foster deeper respect for and understanding among and between Filipinos of varying cultures and faith toward national unity and peace,” she said.