Nancy Allen, a librarian, published author, and a member of a church choir from Conway, US state of Arkansas, has been wearing hijab for almost two years to support Muslim women and counter hateful rhetoric targeting the religious minority.
“Everything hit me all at once,” Allen told Northwest Arkansas on Tuesday, recalling the then-presidential candidate Donald Trump’s promise to ban Muslims from entering the US in December 2015.
“I started channeling the [Lutheran minister and Hitler foe] Martin Niemoller quote about how the Nazis first arrested socialists, then trade union members, then Jews. Each time, Niemoller said, “I did not speak out” because he was not a socialist, a trade unionist, or a Jew.
“Then they came for me — and there was no one left to speak for me,” said Niemoller, who spent seven years in Nazi concentration camps.
“I had that thought, and I was thinking of the poem on the Statue of Liberty,” Allen said. “It was about that time we were seeing these horrible images of [Syrian refugee children] being washed up” ashore in Europe.
Using hijab as a spiritual way to support Muslim women, Allen was afraid that the US might repeat its history of forcing minorities like Muslims to live in internment camps, like they did with Japanese-Americans during World War II.