PRESS RELEASE: Wheaton College Students to Wear Hijabs on Flights Home in Solidarity with Muslims
A group of female students from Wheaton College plans to wear hijabs in solidarity with Muslims as they fly home for the holidays this weekend. (WHEATON, IL., 12/17/15) Dr. Larycia Hawkins, a professor at the Evangelical Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois, was recently put on administrative leave after wearing a hijab to show solidarity towards Muslims in a time when anti-Muslim rhetoric is at an all-time high. Dr. Hawkins decided to wear the hijab after being at least partially inspired to do so by a student who planned to wear a hijab on her flight home for the holidays. The administrative leave, according to Wheaton College, was not because of her decision to wear the hijab but instead her explanation of why she did it.
The administrative leave drew a lot of media attention surrounding the theology and semantics behind Dr. Hawkins’s reasoning, and a group of students at Wheaton College, including Karly, the young woman that inspired Dr. Hawkins, feel that the dialog has strayed from what the act was originally supposed to represent: solidarity with American-Muslims.
To re-focus attention on the movement’s spirit of solidarity Karly and a group of female students have all pledged to follow through with their original plan to express solidarity by wearing hijabs during their flights home for the holidays.
“We hope that by following through with our intended plan we can draw some attention back to the spirit of what Dr. Hawkins had intended,” said Karly who is organizing the action among her fellow students. “Wearing a hijab was never intended to spark controversy surrounding our school’s theology, but to show solidarity towards our Muslim neighbors in this difficult time. That conversation still needs to be had.”
Prior to her decision, Hawkins sought the advice of the Chicago office of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR-Chicago), to ensure it wasn’t offensive for a non-Muslim to wear the hijab. CAIR-Chicago has been fully supportive of both Dr. Hawkins, Karly, and others wishing to express solidarity.
Ahmed Rehab, Executive Director of CAIR-Chicago said, “It is an act of human solidarity meant to be rooted in the Christian ideal of compassion – to stand with American-Muslims who are the victims of this current backlash of Islamophobia and anti-Muslim bigotry. We are grateful to Karly and her classmates for standing in solidarity with Muslims and admire the courage and compassion that act takes in the current climate.”
CAIR is America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.