Czech student: My hijab is part of my freedom

At the age of 17, Eman Ghaleb targeted by citizens of her hometown, who wanted to have her expelled from the local school for wearing a hijab and speaking out about Islam.

Sofija Kordic
Sofija Kordic NewsMavens, Czechia
Czech student: My hijab is part of my freedom - NewsMavens
Eman Ghaleb. Twitter

Why this story matters:

In 2016, Zdenek Bergman, a high school principal in Teplice, a spa town in the Czech Republic, began to receive dozens of emails from citizens demanding that a student be expelled for “promoting Islam” on social networks and in the media. Parents wrote they didn't want their children “exposed to or threatened by Islam”.

The student in question was Eman Ghaleb, who was born in Yemen, but who spent most of her life in the Czech Republic. The principal and her schoolmates stood by her. Bergman said he had no intention to expel Ghaleb from school, and that she contributes to peaceful coexistence with the Arab community in Teplice.

Her classmates and supporters posted photos of themselves wearing headscarves.

Ghaleb is a model citizen in Teplice. She takes part in community cleanings and friendship days with local Muslims. Hate is a part of her life, she says, but it only makes her more intent on becoming an engaged Czech.

Details from the story:

  • Ghaleb claims that Czech people are not racists or xenophobic, and that their anti-Muslim sentiments derive from fear. “No wonder, when I hear what kind of hatred and fear politicians spread, or what kind of news are out in the media”, says Ghaleb.
  • Ghaleb wears a hijab even though her family doesn’t request it. Her father is a doctor in a local hospital. “I wear a hijab because I can and because it’s a part of my identity and freedom. It’s not easy to wear it in the Czech Republic, I have a lot of girlfriends who are afraid to wear it."
  • “Freedom is not wearing as little as you can to satisfy others, freedom is wearing what you want to wear and what your consider your own style. Wearing a hijab or a miniskirt is a woman’s freedom and nobody has the right to condemn a woman for it. Unfortunately, there are countries where religious freedom, freedom of speech or freedom of choice don’t exist. But the Czech Republic is a free country, and as such it shouldn’t lower itself to that level.”
  • “As a Muslim woman living in Europe, I don’t feel that I'm not free just because I wear a headscarf. I study and I do what I want, just like everybody else, in accordance with my free will and convictions.”
inbox_large_illu Created with Sketch.
Tired of the news media’s prevailing male perspective? We are too.

Get our newsletters composed exclusively by female journalists from all over Europe.


Project #Femfacts co-financed by European Commission Directorate-General for Communications Networks, Content and Technology as part of the Pilot Project – Media Literacy For All

The information and views set out on this website are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official opinion of the European Union. Neither the European Union institutions and bodies nor any person acting on their behalf may be held responsible for the use which may be made of the information contained therein.

NewsMavens is a media start-up within Gazeta Wyborcza, Poland's largest liberal broadsheet published by Agora S.A. NewsMavens is currently financed by Gazeta Wyborcza and Google DNI Fund.
Is something happening in your country that Newsmavens should cover?
Zuzanna Ziomecka
Zuzanna Ziomecka EDITOR IN CHIEF
Lea Berriault-Jauvin
Lea Berriault Managing Editor
Jessica Sirotin
Jessica Sirotin EDITOR
Ada Petriczko
Ada Petriczko EDITOR
Gazeta Wyborcza, Agora SA Czerska 8/10 00-732, Warsaw Poland
The e-mail addresses provided above are not intended for recruitment purposes. Messages concerning recruitment will be deleted immediately. Your personal data provided as part of your correspondence with Zuzanna,Lea, Jessica and Ada will be processed for the purpose of resolving the issue you contacted us about. The data provided in your email is controlled by Agora S.A. with its registered office in Warsaw Czerska 8/10 Street (00-732). You can find more information about the processing and protection of your personal data at