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Looking #UnderTheHijab To Break Stereotypes About Muslim Women

The project, begun by Mumbai-based educator Deepak Ramola, involves crowd-sourced artworks. 

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3 min read
#UnderTheHijab is an incredible identity by Deepak Ramola. (Photo: Facebook <a href="https://www.facebook.com/poornima.sukumar/media_set?set=a.10154338390420380&amp;type=3&amp;__mref=message">Poornima Sukumar</a>)

As the hijab comes under fire for being a symbol of patriarchy and women’s oppression, a new movement has begun to make people realise what really lies beneath the hijab and, in the process, shatter stereotypes related to Muslim women.

Deepak Ramola, a Mumbai-based educator, started a crowd-sourced art project called #UnderTheHijab, narrating life and experiences from behind the veil.

The Quint got in touch with Ramola to talk to him about how the project came about.

#UnderTheHijab is a free spirit by Sahdhyashri Venugopal. (Photo:  Facebook/<a href="https://www.facebook.com/poornima.sukumar/media_set?set=a.10154338390420380&amp;type=3&amp;__mref=message">Poornima Sukumar</a>)
#UnderTheHijab is a free spirit by Sahdhyashri Venugopal. (Photo: Facebook/Poornima Sukumar)
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Ramola said he was provoked to start the series after a Syrian girl shared her experience of being called a terrorist by a German man just because she was wearing a hijab.

After the interaction, I read an article about how young people were being brainwashed into forming strong negative opinions about hijab-wearing girls and women. That is how the series was born.
#UnderTheHijab is power by Sadhna Prasad. (Photo: Facebook/<a href="https://www.facebook.com/poornima.sukumar/media_set?set=a.10154338390420380&amp;type=3&amp;__mref=message">Poornima Sukumar</a>)
#UnderTheHijab is power by Sadhna Prasad. (Photo: Facebook/Poornima Sukumar)
<i>I am a thousand splendid suns #UnderTheHijab</i> by Apoorva Bakshi. (Photo: Facebook/<a href="https://www.facebook.com/poornima.sukumar/media_set?set=a.10154338390420380&amp;type=3&amp;__mref=message">Poornima Sukumar</a>)
I am a thousand splendid suns #UnderTheHijab by Apoorva Bakshi. (Photo: Facebook/Poornima Sukumar)
<i>#UnderTheHijab is you and me</i>. (Photo: Facebook/<a href="https://www.facebook.com/poornima.sukumar/media_set?set=a.10154338390420380&amp;type=3&amp;__mref=message">Poornima Sukumar</a>)
#UnderTheHijab is you and me. (Photo: Facebook/Poornima Sukumar)

The submissions started coming in as Ramola tagged two artists he is close to and their submissions started the project.

  • #UnderTheHijab is the modesty of a woman. by Prateeti Verma (Photo: Facebook <a href="https://www.facebook.com/poornima.sukumar/media_set?set=a.10154338390420380&amp;type=3&amp;__mref=message">Poornima Sukumar</a>)
  • #UnderTheHijab is belief by Arjun Paul. (Photo: Facebook <a href="https://www.facebook.com/poornima.sukumar/media_set?set=a.10154338390420380&amp;type=3&amp;__mref=message">Poornima Sukumar</a>)
  • #UnderTheHijab is tenderness by Shilpa Paramesh. (Photo: Facebook <a href="https://www.facebook.com/poornima.sukumar/media_set?set=a.10154338390420380&amp;type=3&amp;__mref=message">Poornima Sukumar</a>)
  • #UnderTheHijab is an innocent soul and The nurturer of mankind by Sneha Nautiyal.(Photo: Facebook <a href="https://www.facebook.com/poornima.sukumar/media_set?set=a.10154338390420380&amp;type=3&amp;__mref=message">Poornima Sukumar</a>)
Women and men from around the world have forwarded their submissions for the project.
<i>#UnderTheHijab is endurance</i> by Poornima Sukumar. (Photo: Facebook/<a href="https://www.facebook.com/poornima.sukumar/media_set?set=a.10154338390420380&amp;type=3&amp;__mref=message">Poornima Sukumar</a>)
#UnderTheHijab is endurance by Poornima Sukumar. (Photo: Facebook/Poornima Sukumar)
<i>#UnderTheHijab is a universe of diversity</i> by Laila Vaziralli. (Photo: Facebook/<a href="https://www.facebook.com/poornima.sukumar/media_set?set=a.10154338390420380&amp;type=3&amp;__mref=message">Poornima Sukumar</a>)
#UnderTheHijab is a universe of diversity by Laila Vaziralli. (Photo: Facebook/Poornima Sukumar)
<i>#UnderTheHijab is dream</i> by Prashant BL. (Photo: Facebook/<a href="https://www.facebook.com/poornima.sukumar/media_set?set=a.10154338390420380&amp;type=3&amp;__mref=message">Poornima Sukumar</a>)
#UnderTheHijab is dream by Prashant BL. (Photo: Facebook/Poornima Sukumar)
The impact and reach has been great as many hijab-wearing women and men whose wives wear them have written in expressing their gratitude.
  • #UnderTheHijab is ambition by Aakansha Kedia. (Photo: Facebook <a href="https://www.facebook.com/poornima.sukumar/media_set?set=a.10154338390420380&amp;type=3&amp;__mref=message">Poornima Sukumar</a>)
  • #UnderTheHijab is colour by Aafrah Aamer. (Photo: Facebook <a href="https://www.facebook.com/poornima.sukumar/media_set?set=a.10154338390420380&amp;type=3&amp;__mref=message">Poornima Sukumar</a>)
  • #UnderTheHijab is a woman unseen by Rakshitha Srinivas. (Photo: Facebook <a href="https://www.facebook.com/poornima.sukumar/media_set?set=a.10154338390420380&amp;type=3&amp;__mref=message">Poornima Sukumar</a>)
  • #UnderTheHijab is contemporary and forever by Mohna Singh. (Photo: Facebook <a href="https://www.facebook.com/poornima.sukumar/media_set?set=a.10154338390420380&amp;type=3&amp;__mref=message">Poornima Sukumar</a>)
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All the illustrations are of faceless women and just their hijabs, showing that it could be anyone with hopes, dreams and aspirations under the hijab.

#UnderTheHijab is dignity by Ajaz Siddiqui. (Photo: Facebook/<a href="https://www.facebook.com/poornima.sukumar/media_set?set=a.10154338390420380&amp;type=3&amp;__mref=message">Poornima Sukumar</a>)
#UnderTheHijab is dignity by Ajaz Siddiqui. (Photo: Facebook/Poornima Sukumar)
Each artwork brings with itself a stronger connect and striking impact as every artist has used a refreshing medium -- either illustration or painting -- to express themselves.
<i>#UnderTheHijab is a personality</i> by Josh Worall. (Photo: Facebook/<a href="https://www.facebook.com/poornima.sukumar/media_set?set=a.10154338390420380&amp;type=3&amp;__mref=message">Poornima Sukumar</a>)
#UnderTheHijab is a personality by Josh Worall. (Photo: Facebook/Poornima Sukumar)

Some of the women contributors have been inspired by their history and works written about them by the likes of Marjane Satrapi, which formed the theme for some of the submissions.

<i>#UnderTheHijab is history</i> by Ardita Das. (Photo: Facebook/<a href="https://www.facebook.com/poornima.sukumar/media_set?set=a.10154338390420380&amp;type=3&amp;__mref=message">Poornima Sukumar</a>)
#UnderTheHijab is history by Ardita Das. (Photo: Facebook/Poornima Sukumar)

You can also contribute to the project by creating your piece and tagging two others after that to help sensitise people to the hijab and also, to help the project grow.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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