Toss up the words ‘hijab’, ‘veil’ or ‘burkini’ and you’ve got a starting point from which tabloids, politicians and much of the British public will run with hot takes and intense tweets about women and Islam.
More than any other symbol of the faith, the hijab is viewed as the physical representation of Islam. It has been discussed at length; attacked, defended, politicised, weaponised; and yet, the women who choose to wear it are almost never given a platform from which to express their own views or what their experience is as a British hijabi.
Cut From the Same Cloth is hoping to change this.
The project is an essay collection that will feature the writing of 15 hijabis of different ages and races. Edited by blogger, researcher and writer Sabeena Akhtar, Cut From the Same Cloth will give a voice to hijabis who are constantly the subject of discussions led by everyone except, well, hijabis. The collection is being crowdfunded on the website Unbound, where it’s described in these terms:
In books and in the media we are spoken on behalf of often by men, non-hijabis, and non-Muslims. Whether it is radical commentators sensationalising our existence or stereotypical norms being perpetuated by the same old faces, hijabis are tired. Too often we are seen to exist only in statistics, whilst others gain a platform off the back of the hostilities we face…Cut from the Same Cloth seeks to tip the balance back in our favour.
The description raises an important point. The hijabi ‘debate’ is not solely the realm of far-right, ‘ban the burka’ nonsense. It’s also been adopted by ostensibly liberal, painfully woke commentators who feel their expansive world view gives them agency to opine on a subject that bears no relevance to their own existence. As one hijabi describes them in the promotional video for the essay collection: ‘Bouji radical commentators detached from our everyday realities.’
We’re excited to read Cut From the Same Cloth. Sabeena Akhtar, who’s editing the project, has a track record of promoting writers of colour, having worked with advocacy organisation Media Diversified. With Akhtar at the helm, the essays are sure to be intelligent, moving and steeped in sharp wit.
To find out more information about Cut From the Same Cloth, and to watch the promotional video, head on over to the Unbound page.