'I’m Still Wearing My Hijab:' Syrian-American Rapper Fights anti-Muslim Attitudes With Dope Rhymes

Mona Haydar's hip-hop blends Arabic motifs with social commentary for Trump on Muslim women covering their hair.

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Screen grab from Mona Haydar's first video - 'Hijabi'
Screen grab from Mona Haydar's first video - 'Hijabi'Credit: YouTube

Syrian-American poet and artist Mona Haydar released her first video on Monday, called “Hijabi.” The clip was filmed when she was eight months pregnant. Haydar, like all the other women in the video, has her head covered with a hijab, the head covering worn by religious Muslim women over their head and neck.

Haydar’s rap blends Arabic musical motifs in this debut video and opens with a comment aimed at women who cover their hair:

“What that hair look like

Bet that hair look nice

Don’t that make you sweat?

Don’t that feel too tight?”

Haydar answers:

“You need to get yo life.”

That’s followed later by:

“So even if you hate it,

I still wrap my hijab.”

Mona Haydar's "Hjabi" video

“Given our current administration’s insistence on demonizing and maligning the bodies of women and Muslims, among others, I wanted to get this song out as soon as possible,” Haydar told The Huffington Post, referring to the administration of President Donald Trump. “I hoped that a pregnant woman who is obviously Muslim [and] creating art and speaking truth would inspire people and offer some levity, joy and hope.”

Haydar, 28, lives in New York now. Her parents came to the United States from Syria, and she grew up in Flint, Michigan.

>> Hijabistas, Mipsterz and designer brands - Muslim women are rocking a new look <<

Her video is part of a new trend from leading religious Muslim fashionistas all over the world who have turned their hijabs into a fashion statement — and a feminist statement. And it’s part of a wider trend: The London Modest Fashion Week was held for the first time in February; Nike has developed a sports hijab for athletes; and a new website, The Modist, helps provide modest clothes and fashion services for the more traditional fashionista.

More popular labels are joining the trend too, starting with Dolce & Gabbana in 2016, and offering hijabs and abayas — loose Muslim women’s robes — with modern styling. Such household names as Oscar de la Renta and DKNY have entered the market too, as have more mid-priced brands such as Uniqlo and Mango.