Lamyaa, an Arab Muslim woman living in Pennsylvania, US, had received derogatory comments online about her faith and the fact she wore a hijab. One person even suggested that if she stopped wearing it, her father would “beat her”.
So, Lamyaa sent her dad a message telling him she was considering removing her hijab and later tweeted her father’s response, which countered the stereotype that all Muslim women are oppressed by men.
“Sweetheart that’s not my decision to make,” Lamyaa’s father responded.
“That’s no man’s decision to make. If it’s what you feel like you want to do, go ahead. I’ll support you no matter what.”
Lamyaa later shared screenshots of the messages on Twitter, which were shared 147,000 times and favourited 320,000 times.
“People believe that Islam is misogynistic, hateful, or violent, and I think that stems from their inability to differentiate culture and religion,” Lamyaa later told Upworthy.
“Islam is a religion and, like all religions, it is what you bring to it.”
Since her tweet went viral, she has shared a separate post acknowledging that there are some Muslim women who are forced to wear a hijab - but it’s not like that for her and many other women.
“A lot of people mistook this tweet as me saying no women are forced to wear the hijab,” she wrote. “I just wanted to say that that was not the point of the tweet. The tweet was something that happened and I think the way people perceive it is up to them.
“Yes, a lot of women are forced to wear the hijab. That’s horrible and I have been one to point that out numerous times. That oppression however isn’t what the hijab symbolises, it’s not why women wear it.
“I personally chose to wear the hijab, for myself and for God. I do not speak for other women. I do not represent anyone but myself.
“However I will always stand up for others and it breaks my heart to know that some women do not get to make a choice in what they do with their own bodies.”