Hijab emoji proposed by Saudi teenage girl

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A Saudi teenager living in Germany has sent a proposal for a new headscarf-wearing emoji to The Unicode Consortium, which develops the popular characters.

15-year-old Rayouf Alhumedhi from Berlin said she was chatting to friends on WhatsApp when everyone picked an emoji to represent themselves. That’s when she realized there wasn’t one that adequately represented her, as a headscarf-wearing woman.

Seeking more virtual representation for Muslim men and women, Alhumedhi recently sent a seven-page proposal for a hijab emoji to The Unicode Consortium. She also included an emoji of a man wearing a keffiyeh in her proposal.

“In the age of digitalization, pictures prove to be a crucial element in communication,” Alhumedhi wrote in her proposal. “Emojis are more impactful and utilized than ever before. Millions use them to convey feelings, appearances and stories.”

 

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Alhumedhi noted in her proposal that although the hijab is common attire for many Muslim women, it is not just exclusive to Islam. Women in both Orthodox Jewish and Eastern Orthodox Christian communities also wear headscarves, so those women could benefit from the emoji as well, she wrote.

“Emojis can seem like a trivial topic but people use emojis to represent themselves and their lives,” she said.

The teen’s words made a strong case — one that was even powerful enough to catch the eye of Jennifer 8. Lee, a member of Unicode’s emoji subcommittee.

Lee, who was already considering a headscarf emoji, offered to help refine Alhumedhi’s proposal, making sure it met all of the technical qualifications necessary. She even set Alhumedhi up with Alexis Ohanian, the co-founder of Reddit, to help support the proposal.

Lee said she is hopeful her proposed emoji will pass, and if it does, the emoji could be available starting next year.

 

 

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