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WEST VALLEY CITY — Members of several faiths are asking Utahns to show their support of religious freedom and the Muslim community.
In parts of the country, imams are telling Muslim women not to wear their headscarves to hopefully keep them from being harassed.
The hijab — or headscarf — is a symbol of modesty and dignity. When Muslim women wear headscarves, they are readily identified as followers of Islam.
Noor Ul-Hasan, Salt Lake Interfaith Roundtable representative for the Islamic Society of Greater Salt Lake, considered taking off her headscarf.
"But because of the great support that I have in the interfaith and friends — who actually wanted to wear a headscarf to support me, which I deterred because I thought I didn't want them to have to deal with all kinds of bigotry or worry about their safety — I decided that what would be good is for us to show initiative of having the freedom of religion in this country and ask my interfaith roundtable members and my friends and just everybody to declare (Friday) as being the day that everybody shows support for that right that we have in this country."
Thursday, members of other faiths pledged their support to wear a headscarf, a hijab, a yarmulke, a turban or a green ribbon in support of religious freedom.
"You can be who you are, be a Muslim, be a Jew, be a Hindu, be a Sikh wear a turban and not feel that you have any persecution because that's what our founding members wanted here," Ul-Hasan said.
Imam Muhammed Shoayb Mehtar heads the Khadeeja Mosque as well as the Islamic Society of Greater Salt Lake. He said, "I think events like this are very important and critical for one reason: It allows people to learn about other faiths and also helps us in, not just learning about other faiths, but also, hopefully, through this process defending others when they go through moments of challenge."
He added that that several youth have been harassed because of they were wearing a scarf, a hat or just because they look different.
"When we have events like this, what we are saying is, 'Yes I know you are different. I understand that you are different, but I can still work with you and create bridges where it's necessary."
Contributing: Paul Nelson