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The Inspiration Behind the Cause: Alia Ansari

November 13, 2006

November 13, 2006 is Wear a Hijab/Turban Day inspired by the tragic death of Alia Ansari but its cause is far greater.

“Very quickly, Gadener was struck with the same suspicion as many others in town. They wondered if Ansari was killed simply because of the way she was dressed, in a loose scarf that some Muslim women wear to cover their heads out of modesty.

“I was shocked and saddened, but I was not surprised,” Gadener told me when we met recently. “There is growing racism in Fremont, and a lot of this has come out since 9/11.” Whether or not Ansari’s head scarf had anything to do with why she was killed, it’s significant that so many people have no trouble believing it was the reason.

Support for Afghans

Gadener has been especially sensitive to these tensions since she set up the Foundation for Self-Reliance, a non-profit organization that develops programs to promote economic independence in the Afghan community. Over the past three years, she has had a crash course in Muslim beliefs and traditions.

“I’ve learned not to be afraid to ask questions and be honest about my own ignorance,” Gadener said. “We’ve got to bring the conversation to the table.”

In that spirit, she had an idea about how to memorialize Alia Ansari. What if women of all religions pledged to wear a Muslim head covering, a hijab, for one day? It would not only show support for the Ansari family, but it also would be an intriguing social experiment. How might people treat you differently if, for one day, the only thing different about you was what you were wearing on your head?

Nov. 13 was the date chosen for “Wear a Hijab Day,” and the plan has taken on a life of its own. Gadener has been deluged with messages of support from all over the world. Soon it became clear that men wanted to participate as well, so the event’s title was changed to “Wear a Hijab or Turban Day.”

Alia Ansari may be remembered not only as a devoted mother of six but also as a woman who helped her neighbors to understand each other.

Fight ignorance with education….

November 13, 2006

Fremont, CA
11:30 am – 1:30 pm
Followed by a white dove release, short talks from
community leaders, then an open question/answer session.

Lake Elizabeth at Central Park, Area B
(near the main entrance of the park)

40000 Paseo Padre Parkway, Fremont, CA 94536
Bring umbrellas!

Melanie Gadener: 510.797.4660/ \n This email address is being protected from spam bots, you need Javascript enabled to view it

Reshma Yunus: 510.206.8158/ \n \n \n This email address is being protected from spam bots, you need Javascript enabled to view it This email address is being protected from spam bots, you need Javascript enabled to view it
Samina Faheem: 650.387.1994/ \n This email address is being protected from spam bots, you need Javascript enabled to view it \n

DIRECTIONS: 510.790.5541


Wear a headscarf, turban, hat, yarmulke, or come just as you are
American Muslim Voice will be distributing head scarves


12:00 pm – 12:45 pm

Moderator: Melanie Gadener
Founding Director,Foundation for Self-Reliance

UC Berkeley Ethnic Studies PhD student

Our speakers will begin a dialogue about post-9/11 civil liberties; challenges associated with multiculturalism; why racism is a moral quandary; and suggestions for how we, as a local and global community, can achieve a higher degree of racial, ethnic, religious, and gender equality and harmony.


After the presentations, we will have a 30-minute question and answer session. Attendees will be invited, and encouraged, to share their own reflections, and ask their own questions.


The following article gives information for the trust fund that has been set up in her name:

If anyone has an update in regards to suspects or arrests, please let me know.  I haven’t found anything beyond the person of interest being held on a probation violation.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. November 13, 2006 4:39 pm

    Thank you for posting the reminder, dear Sister 🙂

    Ya Haqq!

  2. November 13, 2006 10:31 pm

    You’re welcome Irving. I forgot what it was like to be out in public with hijab.

    The school children loved the Jilbab that I wore today as well and I was told that i looked so nice, “like one of those arabic teachers, you know those ladies that come and make speeches” (no, i don’t know what they are talking about, but it is okay.)

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