"Poor thing, she's so oppressed."
This is the sentiment that Najia Kurdi says she often feels from Americans when they see her walking down the street.
Kurdi was the first speaker of the night at the Muslim Student Association's conference on Thursday, March 20, titled "Unveiling the Veiled."
The event, co-hosted by Diversity Fellowship, was intended to educate students, according to MSA President Dania Al-deen.
"The reality that the media portrays about Muslim women is not correct. The presentation is trying to clarify that misconception," she said.
Kurdi, a graduate of USF with a double major in sign language and biology, and Pilar Saad, a teacher at the Universal Academy of Florida, were the night's two speakers.
Together, Kurdi and Saad attempted to accurately portray the status of the Muslim woman. MSA feels that the media often misconstrues Muslim women and portrays them as being oppressed.
According to Kurdi and Saad, the reality of women in Islam is quite different.
They said that it is recommended, not forced, that women wear the hijab (headscarf) for the sole purpose of modesty.
The Muslim faith prides itself in the level of modesty and dignity that no other religious group has and feels that it is important to keep this way of life sacred. . .
Kurdi called the hijab "a badge of honor and respect," while Saad, a convert from Catholicism, explained that "I found my liberation as a woman in Islam."