Hijab day exceeds all expectations

Shahad Alismaily puts a hijab on fellow student Maggie Wilson (19) at the University of Otago....
Shahad Alismaily puts a hijab on fellow student Maggie Wilson (19) at the University of Otago. PHOTO: PETER MCINTOSH
More than 100 women donned hijabs yesterday at the University of Otago, in a sign of solidarity with the Muslim community before yesterday's march.

Muslim University Students' Association president Hamzeh Obeidat (20) said by 11am, the association had to go out and buy more hijabs.

First-year health science student Shahad Alisamily (19) said she had given seven scarves to the event and she knew of other Muslim women who had also given several scarves.

She was amazed by the level of support, she said.

"I was actually shocked, because I thought not a lot of people would show up. A lot of them were very happy to wear them."

She spent several hours putting hijabs on people, which was difficult, as she had only ever put a scarf on herself before.

A vigil open to university staff and students was held yesterday afternoon, and was well-attended, Mr Obeidat said.

"Today was the busiest day," he said.

New Zealand women across the country have been encouraged to wear headscarves today, by Scarves in Solidarity.

The association was also embarking on a fundraiser putting together shopping lists for Dunedin families who had a connection to last Friday's mosque shootings in Christchurch.

Many Dunedin people had friends or family who were affected, and one Dunedin student was still in Christchurch supporting his loved ones.

Mr Obeidat said he also went up to Christchurch on Saturday to help out, but he had since returned to Dunedin and his association was to lead the march from the university to Forsyth Barr Stadium for last night's vigil.

"We are making sure we take care of each other," he said.

Dental school graduate Marwa Aman-Nayle, who is working at Lumino the Dentist in Pitt St, said she was pleased there had been such a show of support but "not surprised".

"I was a proud New Zealander and I am and will be proud after this incident," she said.

"New Zealand is love, respect, peace, kindness and diversity."

She had received "enormous support" from people at work including hugs and gifts for her and her family.

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