Hijab controversy: the freedom and fear of covering

It’s a piece of clothing that can inspire both faith and fear - the hijab. The headscarf is worn by some Muslim women to cover their hair or face.

FOX46 looked at how this garment has become a flashpoint between two cultures in Charlotte. There are over 25,000 Muslims in North Carolina.

We interviewed four Muslim women who chose to cover on different levels – some fully wrapped and others who chose not to cover their hair.

They say it’s a controversial expression that comes with stares and misunderstandings, something that they’ve gotten used to since the 9/11 terror attacks.

Reem Saed chose to cover although her family encouraged her to do otherwise. She says while it may not be the most important aspect of the faith, it is the most visible. And with that comes great attention.

“We're all indivudal women who interpret our religion differently, who connect to God differently,” she said.

Imam Atif Chaudhry of the Islamic Center of Greater Charlotte says while covering is part of the faith, many cultures interpret it differently.

"We don't judge people based on whether they're covering their head or not. There's a lot of good women out there that have very pure and good hearts and don't cover their heads,” he said.

Huma Saleem decided to stop wearing the headscarf after the 9/11 attacks. Her family encouraged her to blend in for safety reasons. She was living alone at the time in a different state.

“It was uncomfortable taking it off at first. I would be very self-conscience that my hair is open or up or how much does it showing?” she said.

Others like Saed say keeping it on comes with challenges.

“People staring. People watching my move. People getting uncomfortable,” Saed said.

Other women we interviewed believe Muslim women often times get criticized within their own community for taking off the scarf.

“I don't necessarily believe that I have to have my scarf on a certain way to be Muslim enough. But I believe sometimes that society wants to put me in this box and even other muslims,” Hannah Hasan said.

Whether they chose to cover or not... these women have a common goal: not to be judged.

Muslim leaders in Charlotte plan on hosting events through out the city to dispel some of the stereotypes that comes with the hijab.