Rayouf Alhumedhi, a 15-year-old Saudi girl living in Germany, has launched a campaign for a hijab emoji to represent ‘millions of women across the globe’ on the keyboard. This comes as countries across Europe wrestle with the issue of the Muslim veil.
According to reports, Rayouf sent her emoji proposal to Consortium, a non-profit that reviews and develops standard modern character sets used in computers. If approved, her emoji will be available in 2017.
Rayouf said that, during a group chat with her friends on social media, she had realised there was no emoji to represent her, a headscarf-wearing woman. After reading an article on emoji design, she wrote an email about her idea to Unicode. Intrigued, a member of a Unicode subcommittee replied, offering to help her draft a formal proposal.
“In this day and age, representation is extremely important. People want to be acknowledged... and recognised, especially in the tech world. This is massive. Emojis are everywhere. There are so many Muslim women in this world who wear the headscarf. It might seem trivial... but its different when you see yourself on the keyboard around the world. Once you experience that, its really great,” she said.
Rayouf’s idea gained the backing of the co-founder of online discussion forum Reddit, Alexis Ohanian.
To boost support for the initiative, Ohanian hosted a Reddit live online discussion on Tuesday where Reddit users could ask Rayouf Alhumedhi about the new idea.
Some wanted to see whether they could get involved while others questioned the need for the hijab, saying it was a tool to oppress women. The drafting committee hopes to present a final version of the proposal to Unicode in November.
The proposal comes as countries across Europe wrestle with the issue of the Muslim veil - in all its forms.
The debate takes in religious freedom, female equality, secular traditions and even fears of terrorism.
With PTI Inputs