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Religious Leaders Call on Utahns to Wear Hijab for a Day

Andrea Smardon
Imam Muhammed Mehtar speaks as part of a group of interfaith leaders at the Khadeeja mosque in West Valley City.

Salt Lake-area interfaith partners are calling on Utahns to wear a hijab or head covering Friday in support of religious freedom.

Imam Muhammed Mehtar of the Khadeeja Islamic Center in West Valley City says he’s disturbed by what he’s seen over the past few days. He says the rhetoric of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump calling for a ban on Muslims has had unfortunate consequences.

“A lot of our youth in the past few days have been harassed because of wearing a scarf, or wearing a hat, or because they look different,” Mehtar says. He’s part of a group of faith leaders calling for a day of solidarity, where Utahns wear a hijab, headscarf, yarmulke, turban, or a green ribbon on Friday, December 18th. “When we have events like this, what we’re saying is yes, I know you are different, but I can still work with you and create bridges where it’s necessary.”

Mehtar was joined by a group of interfaith leaders as well as a representative from the Salt Lake City mayor’s office and from the Utah Attorney General’s office. Judy Wight, a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, wore a headscarf to the press conference.

“I had ancestors who were persecuted, Quakers and Menonites, and Mormons who were run out of their homes for their religious belief,” Wight says, but she says she’s glad they found a home in America. “I hope that our Muslim friends feel that same sense of freedom, and of worth, and of friendship that my ancestors were offered in their flight for freedom.”

The Islamic Society of Greater Salt Lake has extended an open invitation for all to attend congregational prayers at Khadeeja mosque to learn about the religion.

Andrea Smardon is new at KUER, but she has worked in public broadcasting for more than a decade. Most recently, she worked as a reporter and news announcer for WGBH radio. While in Boston, she produced stories for Morning Edition, Marketplace Money, and The World. Her print work was published in The Boston Globe and Prior to that, she worked at Seattleââ
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