Muslim Teen Campaigning for Hijab Emojis

The Hijab emoji has been proposed by a 15-year-old Saudi girl hoping for characters that represent her and her friends.

The sudden boom in social media and virtual communication platforms like WhatsApp have given a rise to a new way of communicating using emojis.

Emojis are more than just pictorial representations of emotions to the youth and young-adults today. They can carry a complete message in themselves, and in fact, a lot of communication happens primarily through the use of emojis. Emojis are representatives of people, cultures and backgrounds. As such, it was only a matter of time before Muslim women felt the need for emojis that represented them as well. Rayouf Alhumedhi, a 15-year-old-Saudi girl studying in Berlin is the latest to voice this need for Muslim women.

Alhumedhi has submitted a proposal to Unicode Consortium, a nonprofit organization that handles the creation of emojis. Until now, Unicode has created a very diverse set of emojis that represent a different types of people. Newer emojis have various skin shades to represent different racial groups. Emojis that represent gay couples, people of various countries and other such diversities have been developed. However, Alhumedhi realized that there is no emoji to represent her culture. She says that while having a conversation with her non-hijab wearing friends, who use different emojis to represent themselves, she herself could find none. As such, she had to settle for an emoji with head uncovered.

Unicode had recently announced its decision to develop emojis that represent men and women from different professional backgrounds. Alhumedhi has expressed praise for the diversification of emojis that Unicode has undertaken, but insists that the diversification cannot just stop at that. She believes that in a world that is so diverse, emojis that represent her culture too should be included.

Even as she was toying with the idea in her mind, Alhumedhi came across a Mashable story on Snapchat that gave her an idea as to how she can go about it. She penned her ideas into two paragraphs which she submitted to Unicode. However, proposals for new emojis are supposed to be lengthy due to the exhaustive amount of details and information that go into them. To help her with this, a subcommittee of the Unicode Consortium came forward to guide her about the proposal.

If her proposal, which also has the backing of Reddit’s co-founder, Alexis Ohanian, gets through, there will be a new emoji with a hijab. Alhumedhi also believes that this new emoji could represent women of Christianity and Judaism who cover their heads, women under treatment who use headscarves and also those women who use headscarves because they want to.

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