On the one week anniversary of the Christchurch mosque shootings that killed 50 people, non-Muslim New Zealand women wore headscarves on Friday as a show of support for the Muslim community.
A doctor in Auckland, Thaya Ashman, came up with the Headscarf for Harmony idea after hearing that a woman had been too scared to go out in public in hijab, the religious headscarf worn by Muslim women.
“I wanted to say: ‘We are with you, we want you to feel at home on your own streets, we love, support and respect you’,” she told Reuters.
Ashman spoke with the Islamic Women’s Council of New Zealand and the Muslim Association of New Zealand to get their support before going public with the plan. She told NZ Herald that the movement was calling it a headscarf rather than a hijab to acknowledge the cultural difference for non-Muslims.
New Zealanders posted selfies of themselves wearing headscarves on Twitter under #HeadscarfforHarmony and #scarvesforsolidarity.
“Wearing a headscarf to uni as a show of support and solidarity with the many Muslim women who are routinely harassed for the act of following their faith,” posted one woman.
A non-Muslim woman noted she was “nervous” to wear a headscarf in public but was doing it out of “arohanui”, a Maori word meaning deep love and affection.
Another said she was wearing hers out of “tautoko” to the Muslim community, a Maori word meaning support.
Children attending the vigil also wore headscarves in support.
Reporters on New Zealand television also wore headscarves.
One man posted a photo of women he’d stopped and thanked for their support.
The president of the New Zealand Muslim Association Ikhlaq Kashkari told Newsweek the movement was a “wonderful idea.”
“Mere words cannot express how grateful and thankful we are for all of the outpourings of love, compassion and support we have had since the atrocities suffered in Christchurch last week,” said Kashkari.