The hijab, a piece of cloth that has become synonymous with the covering worn by Muslim women, but in many Western countries has been used as a tool by right-wing politicians to suggest the oppression that Muslim women allegedly face by wearing a head scarf.
This Thursday in Johannesburg an exhibition, titled Unveiling the Hijabi, will open at Constitution Hill in Braamfontein and invites people to explore the identity of women behind the Hijab.
“The title Unveiling the Hijabi has been chosen to explore the women behind the Hijab so it’s not taking off the Hijab, but rather to get to know who the woman is underneath the Hijab, explore her personality, explore her identity and get to know her better,” explains Nadia Cassim, convenor of the exhibition and editor for the online magazine Irtiqa.
Cassim is a financial advisor who at an early age found a passion for art and translated this passion into many different types of artworks that will be showcased at the exhibition.
On why the exhibition will be displayed in April, Cassim says that April is freedom month in South Africa. The exhibition is focused on Muslim women in South Africa, the progress of Muslim women in South Africa through time and through Apartheid so they thought it would be fitting that the exhibition be held throughout this month.
The exhibition launch takes place on 14 April at 18:30 and will run until April 30th, artworks by three emerging artists will be featured including Aziezah Essop as well Gulshan Hoosen. Paintings by Fatima Meer will also be showcased alongside these artworks in commemoration of her life and struggle against the Apartheid regime.
“Fatima Meer was an apartheid activist that was imprisoned at Constitution Hill and she engaged in art work whilst at the jail and we found her history as an activist and a Muslim woman having been jailed fitting with the whole exhibition and the theme of the exhibition,” Cassim went further.
“So it’s a good look at the past and the identities of Muslim women from the past and tying the identity of Fatima Meer with the modern Muslim woman and what the modern Muslim woman’s role is in South Africa.”
There will be three poets, Quraisha Dawood, Adeela Kasoojee Gathoo and Saaleha Idrees Bhamjee who will be reading poetry at the event. Three authors Zayboon Motala, Saffiya Ismail and Rehana Moosajee will read extracts from “Riding the Samoosa Express”.
Entrance is free and the exhibition will be open to the public for two weeks.