CAIRO – Taking the decision to wear hijab after developing a sun allergy, Dennis Queen could not imagine the amount of racist attacks Muslim women face in their daily life.
"People immediately assume I'm Muslim. I don't mind that but I find the racist comments just disgusting,” Queen told The Express newspaper.
"I've been called a race traitor and it's really opened my eyes to the kind of daily racism Muslims have to put up with.”
|Hijab: What’s It All About?|
The 40-year-old mum-of-four has developed a condition known as Polymorphic Light Eruption (PMLE), which means just a few minutes in the sun causes her skin to break out in an itchy red rash.
"When I first got PMLE I tried applying sun creams and wearing sun hats but nothing seemed to work,” Queen said.
"The rash was unbearable and it got to the point that I was avoiding going out."
After looking for clothes to cover her whole body, Dennis realized traditional Islamic dress were the ideal solution.
Deciding to wear the traditional Muslim dress, Queens was able to live a normal life again.
"The burka is the only thing that provides any real protection from the sun and I actually really enjoy wearing it now,” she said.
"All my Muslim friends have been so supportive of me wearing this, so it really upsets me.
"I was genuinely shocked by the fear and hatred that people seem to have,” she added.
After donning hijab, she realized the amount of racist attacks Muslim women face in their daily lives.
"The only people that seem to have a real problem with me wearing a burka are racists - and I don't care about offending racists," Queen said.
"I've had some racist comments a few times but to be honest I don't really care what a racist thinks of me."
For Queen, hijab made her a more “understanding person”, adding to her self-confidence.
"I was self-conscious to begin with, but I had a lot of encouragement from friends, and I actually find it quite liberating,” she said.
"I'm really happy with the decision I made.
"Wearing a burka means I can get one with my daily life and I don't have to worry about my skin.
"I don't feel any less attractive or any less feminine because I'm wearing a burka.
"I feel confident and it's made me a more understanding person.”
The British mum hopes her story would inspire others to take a similar decision and cover up.
"I can only hope that people might read this and take the same decision that I have. You don't need to spend lots of money on special clothing or the latest medicines.
"You just need to take practical steps to cover yourself up."
Britain is home to a Muslim community of nearly 2.5 million.
Islam sees hijab as an obligatory code of dress, not a religious symbol displaying one’s affiliations.
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