A hijab emoji has finally been approved
Half-a-billion women across the world cover their heads (Mohd Rasfan/AFP)
A hijab emoji is among 56 new symbols approved by the emoji regulation body Unicode Foundation at its consortium last week. This is a victory for 15-year-old Saudi girl Rayouf Alhumedhi, who launched a campaign in September to have an image of a girl wearing a hijab included, as she did not feel represented by the emojis available.
She told Channel 4 News that “It is a step forward in our representation… It means that our voices are being heard, it means that our contribution to social media is being recognized.” For 500 million hijabi women worldwide this will provide greater visibility on messaging and social media keyboards.
Alhumedhi, who lives in Berlin, proposed the hijab emoji at the consortium:
The new emojis approved, which also include a breastfeeding woman and a hipster bearded man, will be released in mid-2017. Individual manufacturers will then be able to add them to their selection.
Although there were some negative responses, including in the tabloid press which saw it as political correctness, many on Facebook and Twitter welcomed the news:
hijab emoji?? sickkk— sam (@sxviiha) November 13, 2016
As yet there has been very little response, however, on social media in the Arab world where a large proportion of hijab-wearing women live, and where Alhumedhi is from. Social media has a massive user-base in the Arab world, with over 81 million Facebook users in 2014 according to the Arab Social Media Report. Surely, then, the new emoji’s success will rely on Middle Eastern women seizing upon it.
Coming during a week in which Islamophobic attacks against hijab-wearing women have seen a dramatic increase following the victory of Donald Trump in the presidential elections, this is at least one positive piece of news for women who cover their heads.
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