A ‘Hijabi’ or a woman who chooses to cover her head at all times is not represented too well in the media. A hijabi character is mostly shown in the outskirts of the show; either to give it more cultural variety or to insert a Muslim family in the story-setting. Though it seems like those times are long past gone as the media has finally started lending a sense of empowerment to Hijabi characters. They are no more the archetypes of misunderstood Islam or stereo-typically endowed with submissive qualities.
Meet the ‘real’ Hijabi women who are not under the veil forcefully. It’s their choice and it’s got nothing to do with submission.
Raina Amin- Quantico
In Quantico you get to meet Raina Amin, an FBI agent who is a Hijabi. Yes, a Hijabi FBI agent in America’s leading investigative unit is not only empowering but is a big step in the portrayal of a Hijabi as a person instead of just judging their personality on their attire. The character is played by Lebanese born Yasmine Al Massri where she plays Raina and her twin Nimah who does not wear a Hijab. Their story has been a hit among-st the viewers where one chooses to wear the Hijab and follow her set of rules while the other doesn’t and chooses her own lifestyle.
The actress received thousands of messages from Hijabi women from across the world thanking her for playing such a strong Hijabi character who shows the reality instead of choking with stereotypes.
Amira- Amira & Sam
I don’t understand why films like these are not hyped as much as the mainstream ones are; even when they have a story-line that would interest the entire world for sure.
Amira & Sam is a rom-com set in New York and shows the love between Sam an American soldier and Amira an illegal Iraqi immigrant. They meet through her uncle who had been Sam’s Iraqi translator during war times. Amira’s character is called a ‘non conformist’ of Islam as she wears a Hijab along with low cut tops and skirts, but that is intentionally done in the movie to show the cultural shock Amira experiences after coming to America. It shows the shocking choices thrown at her disposal when she illegally shifts to America and is a highly relatable one.
Even though Homeland has been called an Islamophobic show by many people, it succeeds in bringing an extremely important Hijabi character into the limelight. Good or bad is to do with the character’s personality and is totally unrelated to her wearing a Hijab or not. Fara’s character is shown through the eyes of a Muslim and the judgmental looks they face whenever they step into a room, it shows an entire snapshot of the everyday prejudices Muslims face no matter which designation they reach.
The only thing that fails to interest the viewers in her character is that she is shown as a normal character, neither too good nor too bad and that is completely alright for any character’s portrayal and is a push to showing Hijabis as normal people working like we all do.
Dust- Marvel Comics
Are you as shocked and excited as me? Yes, there is a Hijabi super heroine by the name of Dust! Her real name is Sooraya Qadir and she is mostly seen in the X Men universe. She has the power to transform her body into a malleable cloud of dust and flay people alive with it. Wolverine and Fantomex saved her in the comics from the slavers in Afghanistan.
Currently Dust is a member of the Young X-Men and was seen first in the 2002 comic New X-Men #133 although the full development of her character took place in New X-Men: Academy X.
Shabnam Masood- East Enders
Shabnam’s character in East Enders is probably the most sassiest representation of Hijabis on television. Played by two actors during its duration, the character is shown dealing with issues she faces in her personal life related to family, love and relationships. It doesn’t only revolve around her attire but focuses on her character leading the story through the life choices she makes, just like any other show portrays a non-Hijabi.
A definite watch.
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