In commemoration of World Emoji Day which was on Monday, a 16 year old Saudi Arabian teenager created an emoji to represent hijab wearing women. Rayou
In commemoration of World Emoji Day which was on Monday, a 16 year old Saudi Arabian teenager created an emoji to represent hijab wearing women. Rayouf Alhumedhi, a resident of Vienna had proposed the idea last year to The Unicode Consortium, a non-profit corporation that reviews and develops new emojis.
Apple accepted it and it was subsequently unveiled on World Emoji Day as one of a collection of new emoji characters that will be available on Apple devices later this year.
“I’m really happy with what it looks like,” the Saudi Arabian teenager old CNN. “I saw so many ideas, different colors and styles but I didn’t know what it would finally look like. I’m just so excited because it’s finally came out after all the work, all the writing.”
Alhumedhi said she saw the new emoji for the first time on Monday night when a friend sent her a message linking to a BuzzFeed article. “I got the news just like everybody else!” she said.
Alhumedhi said she first had the idea in her bedroom in Berlin, where she lived with her family for five years after moving to the German capital from Saudi Arabia.
“My friends and I were creating a group chat on WhatsApp and I obviously had no emoji to represent me. The fact that there wasn’t an emoji to represent me and the millions of other hijabi women across the world was baffling to me. I really had no initial idea in my mind of what it was supposed to look like, I just wanted it to be available in different skin tones after all millions of women from different races do wear it.”
The Saudi Arabian teenager drafted a proposal and sent it to Unicode. And she quickly gathered support. Jennifer 8. Lee, a member of the Unicode emoji subcommittee, put Alhumedhi in touch with Aphee Messer, who worked with the teenager to design the emoji. Although many people were supportive, some described the emoji as unnecessary and a part of patriarchal constructs that oppress women.
Also reaction on social media has been mixed. While some see it as a symbol of oppression others see it as a symbol of faith in humanity. Alhumedhi isn’t unaware that the emoji is contentious.
“It will cause controversy, some people will try and pervert it, use the emoji in a hurtful way to perpetuate stereotypes. But overall, I think the Muslim community will benefit from it. Even if only in terms of representation. It’s only an emoji. It’s not a game changer. But it will make people happy. I hope so.”
She also hopes it will promote tolerance too. “Once women wearing headscarves begin to show up on our phones, that will establish that notion that we are normal people carrying out daily routines just like you,” she concluded.
The Unicode Consortium has dramatically increased the number of official emoji in recent years. It has approved 2,666 emoji as of June, up from 722 just two years ago. It’s also made a greater effort to include diverse skin tones, flags and occupations.