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March 10, 2017

Nike Rolls Out a New Product for Muslim Women Athletes (& Makes a Political Statement).

“In an era where xenophobia seems to ring out as a norm, highlighting the intensity and passion of veiled Muslim athletes speaks volumes.” ~ Shireen Ahmed 

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I felt a thrill of excitement when I first saw the article announcing the new “Nike Pro Hijab.”

Instead of seeing a hijab on the head of a woman being detained in an airport, I saw a hijab on a female athlete standing proud, strong, and graceful.

In my eyes, the hijab with the Nike logo worn by the Muslim female athlete in the feature became a crown of sorts. Nike’s hijab is a sign of pride and power instead of a trigger of xenophobia or a symbol of repression.

While I know that the introduction of new product lines involves lots and lots of market testing, and that Nike, of all market testers probably knows where new markets—and their new revenue streams—lie, into my mind came the thought that such visibility as the Nike logo would bring to hijabi.  

While it could be deemed almost sacrilegious, I wondered if the Nike logo could be just the kind of PR the hijab needs?

“Nike’s entire campaign and product launch serves to give greater visibility to a burgeoning group of Muslim women, who have long been kept off the court and out of the gym…” ~ Kavitha Davidson

I was near a mosque, in the city I lived in recently, at the end of prayer time. A group of people began hissing and booing and yelling at the people exiting the Mosque.

“Go home! We don’t want you here.”

“Go back where you belong.”

In the crowd, I saw a woman holding the hand of a child. I don’t know if she had just come out of the mosque or not. I just know she was wearing a hijab. She leaned down to her child, spoke some words, and quickly and quietly walked away.

“Just take off your hijab,” I whispered to myself. “Nobody will know,” I said silently.

Today, when I saw the ad for the Nike hijab I thought about that mother.

I thought about what I’d said inside myself.

“Just take off the hijab. Nobody will know.”

Another image then came into my mind.

It was a picture of an American Muslim female athlete standing on the medal podium for all the world to see. The National Anthem of the United States was playing behind her.

Around her neck hung a gold medal.

On her head was a hijab.

~

Author: Carmelene Siani

Image: YouTube still

Editor: Caitlin Oriel

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