The High Cost Of The Hijab

Fadwa is a 16-year-old girl in a private Christian school in the Beit Hanina neighborhood of Jerusalem. At this school, it is forbidden for a girl to wear a hijab and she has to remove it to enter school. However, many Muslim girls don’t do this, except in front of family members.

In the Arabic societies in Palestine and Jerusalem, some organizations and schools prevent Muslims from wearing a hijab if they're admitted to a specific school, since they represent it.

"I'm obliged to take my hijab off every time I enter my school," Fadwa says. “If there was another school that offered the same level of education and allowed wearing a hijab, I would definitely be there now.”

Removal of the hijab is also required at the school’s graduation ceremony. Because Fadwa wears the hijab, she can't graduate from the school she's been attending from the age of 5. Because she has decided to follow Islamic rules, she will sit in the audience while she watches her classmates graduate.

When Amal, a nun at the school, was asked about the reason the school obliges girls to take the hijab off, she said, "it's a Christian school and these are the rules here. If you're not OK with it, you may attend another school with different rules and conditions."

Girls who wear the hijab have a difficult choice to make in this situation. They can deny themselves the pleasure of graduating with their peers, or graduate with the guilt they feel when they show their hair in front of teachers and parents.

Because of this, many girls decide to leave school and attend other schools and handle the loss of friends and the years the spent in this school. Many other girls choose to stay in school because they don't have any other option with the same level of education. 

Recently, a new rule was added that obligates the girls to wear a cotton nylons under their knee-length skirts instead of pants, which shows their the legs and is contrary to the Islamic religious laws.

"I really hope they will find a solution for this issue since it’s a big deal to Muslims," says Fadwa, “and I will be able to graduate, just like any other girl here."

Muslim women have the same goals and the ambitions: to stand together during graduation and to be able to represent the school and religion at the same time, without having any difference between students, whether they are Jewish, Muslims or Christians.