The trend of developing new emojis is not new, but the idea behind this particular emoji has much more implications that the ones created for just fun.
A 15-year-old teenager from Saudi Arabia, living in Germany, has proposed designing a “headscarf emoji”. The teen identified as Rayouf Alhumedhi has sent her proposal to The Unicode Consortium, a non-profit corporation that reviews and develops new emojis, BBC reported. In her proposal she also suggested a emoji for men, wearing a keffiyah.
According to the BBC report, Alhumedhi said it was during a group chat with her friends on social media that she unexpectedly realised there was no emoji to represent her, a headscarf-wearing woman.
The debate over the veil worn by Muslim women across the world has been gaining momentum for a long time now. Be it the outrageous Burkini ban by the government of France, or when orthodox Islamic State decided to ban burkhas at their security centres as a security measure, despite brutally enforcing a law requiring them to be worn.
“In the age of digitalization, pictures prove to be a crucial element in communication,” Alhumedhi wrote in her seven-pages-long proposal. “Emojis are more impactful and utilized than ever before. Millions use them to convey feelings, appearances and stories.”
Alhumedhi strongly argues, “Roughly 550 million Muslim women on this earth pride themselves on wearing the hijab. With this enormous number of people, not a single space on the keyboard is reserved for them.” She explains that headscarves are also common among women in Eastern Orthodox Christian communities in Russia and Romania, as well as some conservative Jewish communities.
She also supported her proposal with other fact and figures and all led to one thing that there has been an underlying desire among people for a long time. Alhumedhi also believes that the emoji will prove to be a step forward in tolerance and diversity. She claims the new emoji will “ultimately showcase great appreciation from the Muslim community.”
Intrigued by her proposal a member of a Unicode subcommittee replied, offering to help her draft a formal proposal, the report added.
Her proposal also drew attention from Reddit co-founder, Alexis Ohanian who shared it on his blog and organised a Reddit session for her, where she answered questions of users. While many thinks, hijab does not give liberty to woman, Alhumeddhi said, “the headscarf gives me power”in the Reddit question session. “Might seem baffling, but when I wear the headscarf I actually feel liberated because I’m in control of what I want to cover. The headscarf allows for people to see past a women’s beauty and see her for her knowledge. Now I know, that some women are forced to wear it, but that is micro in comparison to those who see the beauty in it,” she said in response to another user.
The teenager brought back the basic axiom, what one should wear, is their individual choice and should never be enforced. “I enjoy having the power to control what I choose to show to the world. People, undoubtedly, look at me differently. And they usually are curious. I enjoy answering their questions and teaching them about it.”
Whether or not the world gets emojis to represent Muslim men and women, this young girl is certainly creating a wave and arguing about individual freedom in the right direction.