'I’m sick of angry, middle-aged white men telling me to take my clothes off.'

Imagine putting on your shirt every morning only to wonder if you’re going to be asked to take it off; or why you wear a shirt if some women’s shirts are chosen by their husbands – do you really want to condone that behaviour by wearing one too?

Imagine wearing a shirt only to be bombarded with messages about how your shirt is un-Australian and oppressive.

It would be ludicrous for a piece of fabric to cause so much outrage – but that’s the reality for hijabi women in Australia.

For some reason, I’m supposed to be okay with being told by mostly angry, middle-aged white men to take some of my clothes off.

Amne Alrifai. Image supplied.

I’ve worn a hijab for most of my life. I was 11 when I first started wearing it and can remember the freeing feeling that came with wearing it for the first time. I felt like I had joined this really cool club.

These days, it gives me even more - control over my identity and the image that I portray. I just don’t know where I’d be if I was forced to take my hijab off.

The controversy surrounding the Australia Day billboard featuring two Muslim girls who happen to be celebrating their Australian identity in a hijab is incredibly frustrating for me to watch. Muslims are told to integrate into society and be ‘more Australian’.

Yet somehow, when we do exactly that, our actions are offensive – our mere presence is offensive.

Susan Carland talks about her muslim conversion. Post continues below.

And why? Are we really offended those little girls celebrated their Australian identity on Australia day? How un-Australian of them!


Most Australian Muslim women are in the same position as me – we’re like any other women who make choices about their bodies and what they want to share with the world.

We make the choice freely while contributing to society through our jobs, friendships, and families. We just happen to have our hair wrapped up underneath thin and colourful veils.

Amne Alrifai. Image supplied.

Amazingly, I regularly receive emails from non-Muslim women who want to know if it’s offensive for them to wear a hijab too.

I’m fascinated by the many reasons women have for wanting to cover up. Overwhelmingly, it’s about personal comfort, and women should be free to choose to wear as much or as little as they want to.

Yes, there are a small number of Muslim women who are forced to cover up, but I don’t know a single woman in this position, nor do I know anyone who knows a woman in this position.

The truth of the matter is this: although it may seem oppressive to you that Muslim women are covered, the threat only comes from those who try to strip of us of our hijabs. In doing so, they strip us of our identities, personalities, culture, and right to make intelligent and informed decisions about who we want to be.

Amne Alrifai is a 20-something year old Muslim woman, born and raised in Western Sydney. She is passionate about facilitating open discussions, with the aim of bridging the divide between young Muslims and wider society.

You can read more by Amne on her blog, unveiledthought.com or learn more about her social cohesion projects via unveiledinstitute.org.au.