Scarves wrap up UT students' solidarity
By Jeannine F. Hunter, News-Sentinel staff writer
She's white, Roman Catholic and before this week, Ashley Maynor's patriotism was never questioned.
For the University of Tennessee sophomore, the half-day she spent wearing a head covering worn traditionally by Muslim women was an eye-opening experience.
In one of her classes Friday, she was asked if she was an Afghan sympathizer or a true American.
Maynor was a participant in Friday's Scarves for Solidarity Day. Female students and faculty displayed sisterliness toward Muslim women by wearing either imported scarves ordered from Detroit suppliers or white ribbons pinned to their shirts.
Maynor said after viewing a film about Islamic women Thursday night - part of a series of Muslim Student Association-sponsored events - she refashioned her view of the hijab, the head covering many Muslim women wear.
"Mary wore a head covering," Maynor said. "The hijab is an external expression for their internal faith. It is not a mark of subjugation."
Student members of the Progressive Student Alliance, Catalysts for Change and the Muslim Student Association manned two tables set up at the humanities building and the University Center plaza.
One hundred scarves were ordered and passed out by 11 a.m. Friday. Muslim students resorted to asking fellow Muslims to loan theirs and visiting local Middle Eastern stores for extras.
Around the country, South Asian women - Hindus, Sikhs and Christians - and Muslim women have been targets for harassment and insults. On UT's campus, a few students said either they or fellow students have received threatening phone calls.
Elisabeth Stedman, a UT freshman from Madison, Wis., wore a pin to show that she refrains from scapegoating individuals for the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks.
"We have worked together, and the MSA has been very supportive of our Living Wage campaign," said Katie Haworth, chairwoman of the Progressive Student Alliance, which supports economic and social justice. "It's not enough to say you support them. You have to show it."
Throughout September and October, non-Muslim women nationwide have adopted a scarf or hat covering to show they oppose prejudice and violence against Muslim women, and a national Scarves for Solidarity Day was organized for Oct. 8. In one Washington Post article an organizer said it wasn't a political symbol but a symbol of love, tolerance and American ideals.
Jeannine F. Hunter may be reached at 865-342-6324 or firstname.lastname@example.org
This article has been reprinted with permission.