Women activists condemn the new US government policy of banning entry of immigrants from seven Muslim countries during the World Hijab Day in Davao on Wednesday, February 1, 2017. (Contributed photo)

DAVAO CITY, Philippines– Muslim and non-Muslim women here gathered to mark the World Hijab Day to demand the right of Muslims to use hijab.

” We should end the discrimination on women wearing hijab, that is why we tackled the rights of women because it is one of the rights of women to wear it,” said former Gabriela Women’s Party Rep. Luzviminda Ilagan, in the gathering that carried the theme, “The Right to Hijab ‘Cover and Protect’ Muslim Women’s Right to Self-Determination”.

The gathering was attended by some 50 Muslim and non-Muslim women held at the Homitori Inn here on Wednesday.

“If Moro and non-Moro women understand the significance of hijab, they will appreciate why Muslim women have to wear it,” she said.

But while Muslims insist on respecting their right to wear the hijab, Ilagan also said that wearing them have also marked them for discrimination.

“Saying that a woman wearing a hijab is Muslim is already a discrimination,” she added.

“If we have these kind of view, like women wearing hijab are already terrorist then we already violated their rights,” she said.

Amirah Lidasan, national president of Suara Bangsamoro said there were already a lot of Muslim women who have to take off their veil to avoid discrimination.

“This kind of discrimination is a misunderstanding of the real problem of our society. They only base their discrimination on the external physique but they cover the real and internal problem,” she said.

She said Muslims elsewhere have to fight towards obtaining their rights to self-determination, pointing at the difficulty posed by US President Donald Trump’s ban on entry of people from Muslim countries such as Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

She said US residents see immigrants as competition in work, “for as long as government fails to address the problem on labor.”

However, companies would continue to hire immigrants who accept cheap labor rather than hiring a local with expensive labor,” she said.

“All they can see now is discrimination that was created also by the government, just like Trump whom they voted but didn’t know that he is the enemy, not the immigrants, because he can manipulate labor for  he owns big companies,” she said.

Bai Ali Indayla, third nominee of Gabriela Women’s Party and a volunteer for Kawagib Moro Human Rights announced that the commemoration of the World Hijab Day was a build-up event for March 6 commemoration of Bud Dajo Massacre and March 18 on the commemoration of the Jabidah Massacre.

The Bud Dajo massacre took place in Sulu during the US occupation of the Philippines when American soldiers killed between 800 and 1,000 Moros.

The Jabidah Massacre happened in the 1970’s when government soldiers massacred a group of Moro recruits for a clandestine mission to Sabah, purportedly to avoid a leak on the mission and spark an international diplomatic debacle between the Philippines and Malaysia. (davaotoday.com)

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