Last week, designer Nancy Hoque visited Ithaca College to talk about her work empowering women while staying true to her cultural roots as a Muslim.
Hoque rejects the belief that women must choose between self-empowerment and the traditions of their culture. Through SixteenR.com, a company she founded, she encourages Muslim women to wear their headscarves as a sign of beauty and strength and to combat the idea that the scarves are oppressive.
Hoque’s mission represents the next step for religious tolerance in America. Hoque is bravely working to encourage progress within her faith without losing the traditions that matter to her and many like her.
All Americans must look past sensationalized political and media attempts to paint Islam as a dangerous and oppressive faith and see its followers as they truly are — people. The people of the Islamic faith deserve the right to practice cultural traditions without pressure from their neighbors or the media to change.
We do not need to reject cultural practices to make progress; we simply need to reject the stereotypes and stigmas surrounding those practices.