I read with interest the recent story about non-Muslim female students and faculty in Leonardo da Vinci High School who chose to wear a hijab for one day.
As an immigrant to the U.S. myself, and as a person who has lived in five different countries, I am the first one who desires to promote respect and tolerance among people with different religious backgrounds. But I do not think that for non-Muslim women to wear a hijab is the best way to accomplish it.
Why not? Because wearing it means following a specific command from a specific religion that most people in the U.S. do not practice.
The article stated that Muslim students who wear a hijab “choose” to do so. “Choose.” Would those students be willing to not wear it for one day to experience what it’s like?
I am not a Catholic. Should I choose to stop eating meat on Fridays during Lent to experience what it is like? I am not a Hindu. Should I choose not to eat beef for a while to see what it feels like?
I have removed my shoes visiting mosques in certain countries. I have covered my shoulders in the hot summertime visiting churches in Italy. I am friends with people from different religious backgrounds and have always been respectful to them, but without giving up who I am.
The best way to promote respect and tolerance is by teaching it and by practicing it – in a natural way.