Chan­nelling anger from hi­jab has­sles

Southern Gazette (Belmont) - - NEWS - Ben Smith

WHEN Habiba Asim was bul­lied at school for wear­ing a hi­jab, it fu­elled a fired in her to fight prej­u­dice at ev­ery op­por­tu­nity.

She re­cently won the Pos­i­tive Achieve­ment Award at the WA Youth Awards af­ter ded­i­cat­ing her young life to men­tor­ing youths and bat­tling in­equal­ity.

Ms Asim has worked with or­gan­i­sa­tions such as Save the Chil­dren (with whom she was a na­tional youth am­bas­sador), Gos­nells Youth Ad­vi­sory Coun­cil, the Youth Af­fairs Coun­cil of WA and the Cities of Bel­mont and Stir­ling.

The for­mer Can­ning Vale Col­lege head girl, who is a Mus­lim, said she wanted to tackle prej­u­dice af­ter she wore a hi­jab to school and was met with vit­riol.

“That was a point in my life when I was very young and was try­ing dif­fer­ent things. I put it on to go to school and it wasn’t a good ex­pe­ri­ence,” she said.

“That was a point where this rage and anger started build­ing up in­side me and me help­ing other young peo­ple and the com­mu­nity is a way of chan­nelling that anger in a pos­i­tive way.

“I think it’s an ex­pe­ri­ence that has made me stronger, but some­thing I’m still try­ing to cope with.”

Ms Asim said other in­ci­dents in­volv­ing friends who wears hi­jabs have also made her de­ter­mined to fight prej­u­dice.

“I can no­tice a dif­fer­ence be­tween staff in a re­tail store and they won’t say hello or won’t ap­proach them,” she said. “At first I thought it was just me be­ing para­noid, but af­ter a while, ev­ery sin­gle shop we went to, no one was com­ing up to us.”

How­ever, such ex­pe­ri­ences give her com­mon ground.

“I was men­tor­ing a high school kid with Aus­tralian In­dige­nous Men­tor­ing Ex­pe­ri­ence and we were talk­ing about the is­sues he faces in his daily life and we swapped rap songs and a lot of our is­sues were the same,” she said.

Pic­ture: Bruce Hunt­mu­ni­ d476038

Habiba Asim wants to help other youth deal­ing with prej­u­dice.

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