Why don't you wear the hijab

My life with a headscarf in Syria and Germany

My name is Lilas and I am eighteen years old. I was born in Damascus and have lived there all my life. Until a year and seven months ago I had to flee to Germany with my family.

Almost all women I knew in Syria wore a headscarf

I have been wearing a headscarf since I was 13 years old, although at the beginning I didn't exactly know why.

In Syria there are women who do not cover their hair, Muslim women and women who believe in another religion. For example, my best friend doesn't wear a headscarf and that wasn't a problem for me or my family.

But I never really had a choice. Because almost all women I knew wore a headscarf. My mother, all the women in my family, as well as my friends and classmates.

When a girl in Syria starts wearing a headscarf, people congratulate her and so it was with me and I felt that I was a young woman. I didn't ask myself any more questions, it was just normal for me.

Then my parents decided that my family had to flee to Germany. We had to leave Syria so suddenly that we didn't have time to find out more about Germany. We didn't know what to expect there.

I also asked myself whether you can even wear a headscarf in Germany.

When I got here, I felt very strange and worried. I have heard of many bad experiences of women with headscarves being looked at in Germany.

Can I achieve my goals with a headscarf?

I didn't know how Muslims live here and wondered if I could achieve my goals in Germany if I wore a headscarf.

Fortunately, even then, I haven't had bad experiences. Sometimes people look at me strangely on the street or on the bus. I've also asked people for directions and they didn't answer me. But that doesn't happen that often.

My headscarf is not an issue at school. The teachers treat me like any other student. In the refugee accommodation I met a German girl, and sometimes she comes to visit me and my family at home.

I also got to know many Christians in Germany

I met Christian women for the first time during my first few months in Germany. Every now and then I go to a women's meeting in the church here in Leverkusen. Muslim and Christian women get to know each other there. We drink coffee and tea together and talk.

That's how I started to ask myself more questions about my religion. I wanted to know, am I only Muslim because my parents want me to? I wanted to find out everything about my religion and I also read a lot more in the Koran and talked to my parents.

It was nice to learn so much that was new.

In the end, I knew that my religion was Islam. I just felt that. That's why I also wear a headscarf, because for me it belongs to Islam. It gives me confidence and is part of me.

Many people ask me: Why do you wear a headscarf?

In Germany I am often asked why I wear a headscarf. I don't think a lot of people here can understand that. For them, religion is a matter of the heart and has nothing to do with what clothes you wear or what you eat.

I think everyone should decide for themselves. I also don't think that people who don't wear a headscarf are bad. I know women without a headscarf who are more friendly or helpful than some other women with a headscarf.

I don't understand why some people here feel bothered by the Muslim headscarf or are afraid of us. There are also Jewish and Christian women who wear a headscarf. For example nuns or the Virgin Mary.

I think a lot of people just don't know anything about Islam. They only know what they have heard from others or seen on television. Some may think that women who wear headscarves like me are part of IS.

I want to tell these people that they have the right to misunderstand Islam because what some Muslims do is really very terrible.

But if I were them I would try to understand the others and find my own truth.

I am a person like any other. I have the same desires, for a good life, for living in respect with other people. I hope that I will also achieve my goals in Germany with my headscarf. I would like to become a journalist. Soon I will start an internship with the church newspaper. I am looking forward to it.