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As salaamu alaykum - Dear Sisters: I'm looking at creating neighborhood or regional hijabi safety groups for sisters to more safely go out in public for shopping and other errands. The past year during campaigning and especially post-elections, there has been a marked increase in intolerance and hate crimes particularly against visible Muslims, which are mostly women who wear hijab (scarf, head-covering, noticeably modest clothing). Depending on one's region or neighborhood, this may include risk of annoyance, shunning, hostility, verbal insults, aggressive behavior, bullying to physical danger. In most verbal or physical incidents, a single hijabi is targeted by a male or a group of males. It has been directed toward anyone wearing hijab regardless of race, national origin, ethnic/cultural heritage, and due to ignorance has also included modest and visibly religious of other faiths. This has caused fear and anxiety and has prevented many hijabi sisters from going about their normal routine in public. I was deeply upset by several incidents directed at me at regional stores, places I'd frequented previously without incident. I now only go out in the company of my husband, mother, or both. Although there is a present Muslim community (Shi'a and Sunni of many backgrounds, origins) of several hundred, in the past month, I have only seen one other hijabi in public while shopping and running errands. This saddens me. I don't believe we should have to live in fear or hide in our homes or work because of what might happen outside. Rather than bring up what upsetting incidents are happening, politics, or seeking more proof of ignorance and intolerance, I'm interested in creating neighborhood or regional hijabi safety groups to safely go out in public. Most incidents involve an individual hijabi traveling, walking, shopping, etc. A group of three or more women in public are a much less attractive target to bullies or haters. I'm the only hijabi in our neighborhood, however, I'm reaching out to others in neighboring counties (and asking them to reach out to those who may live in our region) to create little groups who would be interested in going places together for errands and shopping and to be a support system for each other. If someone needed to go to the library or post office or grocery store, one would contact the others to see who also needs to go or would like to accompany as a sister-buddy system. One would go to pick up the others and go together on their errands. Is anyone else doing this, and if so, how is that working? Any suggestions on creating public support systems and making it successful? Thanks in advance, and may Allah reward you for your intentions!
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