Belgian girl halts social experiment due to headscarf criticism
by Daily Sabah
ISTANBULOct 14, 2015 - 12:00 am GMT+3
by Daily Sabah
Oct 14, 2015 12:00 am
Silke Raats, a Belgian university student, received harsh criticism from her friends after she wore a headscarf as part of a social experiment. Her test demonstrated interesting insight into Europeans' perspectives on Muslims.
After she went to school with a headscarf, her friends thought that she had gone mad and said that they would not be surprised if she is taking part in the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), according to BBC Turkish. Raats, 21, said that one-third of her friends ended their relation with her in only 10 days. Her closest friend, with whom she went on a holiday, ignored her and changed her path when she saw her coming.
Studying pharmacological laboratory techniques, Raats helps Turkish children's homework at a youth center as a volunteer in Wilrijk, where she lives. In her free time, she participates in assistance programs for refugees. Raats also recently took part in a project for refugees in Brussel's Maximilian Park. However, she said that her friends look from a narrow perspective on her efforts and she decided to show that Islam is not just about radical thoughts and Syrian war. For a month, she planned to wear a headscarf and recorded the criticism to show her stance against this biased perspective.
With her mothers support, Raats put a photo of herself wearing a headscarf as her Facebook profile picture. She found it hard to fix the headscarf on the first day of her experiment. When she went out with her headscarf, she heard very negative comments. In a short period of time, everyone around her learned about the change. Both Raats and her family were criticized. Some of her friends said the following: "Why does she not want to look like everyone else? She has gone mad. Surely she is having an affair with a Muslim. She would never be free again if she gets married to a Muslim." Some said Raats is under the influence of her refugee and Muslim friends, adding, "If my child came home like that, I would leave her in the street. She will never get a job. Let's buy her a ticket to Syria for her birthday. It would not be surprising if she joins ISIS." Even further, some of her friends said, "I do not want to get close with her. Who knows, she might bomb us." Raats was not only confronted with criticism, but also lost many friends, as they said nothing would be same again.
There were only a few friends that stood by her. "If you are happy in headscarf, then I will be happy as well. This is your choice and I respect it. Those leaving you for this reason are not your real friends," they said. After she received loads of criticism, Raats took off her headscarf after 10 days. She shared her experiment through a video "10 gesluierde dagen" (10 days in a veil) via YouTube.