Why does DeviantArt ask for your gender

Comics against prejudice

Osnabrück - A young Muslim woman with a headscarf looks suspiciously at a young woman without a headscarf. "She looks at me. I'm sure: she hates Muslims," ​​reads a speech bubble over her headscarf. "She looks at me: I'm sure: she hates unbelievers," thinks the other. This scene can be seen in a comic strip. Drawn by the 24-year-old German student Soufeina Hamed.

The devout Muslim woman advertises with her comics for more tolerance towards headscarves. Since she published a drawing on the internet platform deviantart.com showing a young woman wearing a headscarf being stared at by an old lady in the subway, Soufeina Hamed has been in the focus of the media. She was surprised by the echo. "There are so many great artists. Why me?", She asks, but immediately adds the explanation for the attention: "That is probably because of the headscarf."

"Injured like an animal in the zoo"

Soufeina Hamed was born in Tunisia, her father comes from there and her mother is German. She moved to Berlin with her parents at the age of seven, and she has been wearing a headscarf since she was twelve. "It was natural for me to wear a headscarf at some point." She saw from her own experience in Berlin that people look funny. "You feel hurt like an animal in a zoo."

After elementary school Soufeina Hamed started drawing. That helped her express her anger. The student reports that there are many blogs within the Islamic community in which women vent their frustration. The resentment cannot be seen in her drawings. On the contrary - the young women portrayed by Soufeina Hamed often look smart or meet prejudices with equanimous humor.

Comics as a means of dialogue

"Humor is a door to sensitive issues," says Soufeina Hamed. She also saw the Mohammed cartoons in the Danish newspaper "Jyllands-Posten" calmly, although she was personally injured. "Mohammed was a very important person to me." However, she did not share the excitement about the topic. Religion, says Soufeina Hamed, is a private matter for her, whereas comics are a medium for entering into dialogue. She herself has never had the idea to take off her scarf because of hostility. "It's not an alternative. The headscarf is part of my identity."

Make prejudices visible

Martina Blasberg-Kuhnke, who is a professor at the Institute for Catholic Theology at the University of Osnabrück, is also thinking about how prejudices can be broken down. "Comics and humor are an effective means of making prejudices visible first of all. Sometimes also to show them what they are often enough: to laugh at," she says. However, additional arguments and a differentiated approach are needed to break down prejudices.

The professor calls for more tolerance towards people who openly show their religion. "Of course, if the Muslim math teacher wears a headscarf, she also wears her headscarf in maths because she always wears it," she says. As long as it is ensured that this is not a political but a purely religious creed, the teacher should, in her opinion, do the same.

Soufeina Hamed wants to finish her studies at the University of Osnabrück with a master's in intercultural psychology in the summer. Then she wants to work as a business psychologist. However, she keeps a back door to another area open. Should a publisher inquire about a graphic novel, she would not be averse. (APA, January 31, 2014)