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15 Sep, 2016 18:05

Campaign for hijab emoji launched by Saudi teen seeking ‘tolerance & diversity’ (PHOTO)

Campaign for hijab emoji launched by Saudi teen seeking ‘tolerance & diversity’ (PHOTO)

A 15-year-old Saudi girl has launched a campaign to have a traditional headscarf worn by Muslims entered into the global emoji lexicon.

Unable to find an emoji that chimed with her appearance, teenager Rayouf Alhumedhi has sent a proposal to the Unicode Consortium, the nonprofit corporation which oversees the creation of the digital characters.

The emoji first came into being back in 1999 thanks to Japanese designer Shigetaka Kurita.

Since then more than 1,600 official emojis have been approved by Unicode, which aims to “enable people around the world to use computers in any language.”

However, the hijab has yet to find its place within the global phenomenon, which in 2015 saw different skin tones added to the characters’ design.

Alhumedhi, who now lives in Germany, is seeking to change that with a new emoji blueprint submitted to the Unicode Technical Committee depicting a “woman in a headscarf.”

It states that while Unicode has enabled the “diversification of emojis” in recent years, Muslim women still do not have a digital image which represents them.

“In the age of digitalization, pictures prove to be a crucial element in communication. Millions use them to convey feelings, appearances and stories,” the proposal reads.

“Roughly 550 million Muslim women on this earth pride themselves on wearing the hijab. With this enormous number of people, not a single space on the keyboard is reserved for them.”

READ MORE: Sad face: The marathon journey to getting your new emoji approved (PHOTOS)

Released this week, the teenager’s draft proposal has gained the support of Alex Ohanian, co founder of Reddit.

Alhumedhi and the co-authors of the proposal expect use of a headscarf emoji to reach into the many millions, since veils are perceived as a “demonstration of piousness” across Islam, Judaism, and Catholicism.

Unicode has a number of factors which must be satisfied before it will approve an emoji, including image distinctiveness and usage.

Pleading the case for the headscarf image, the proposal concludes: “The addition of the hijab emoji will prove to be a step forward in tolerance and diversity. It is distinctive and holds a lot of spiritual meaning to millions of women across the globe, recognizing its importance will ultimately showcase great appreciation from the Muslim community.”

Alhumedhi has been answering queries about the submission on Reddit. Responding to a user questioning whether the hijab could be seen as a symbol of oppression, the 15 year old said she felt liberated by it.

READ MORE: Photo of French police enforcing burkini ban goes viral, politician threatens legal action

“[It] might seem baffling, but when I wear the headscarf I actually feel liberated because I’m in control of what I want to cover. The headscarf allows for people to see past a woman's beauty and see her for her knowledge. Now I know that some women are forced to wear it, but this is micro in comparison to those who see the beauty in it,” she wrote.

The idea comes amid controversial reaction to Islamic dress in Europe, including an incident in France, where a woman wearing a birkini was forced to remove the item of clothing by police on a beach in Nice.

READ MORE: Austrian official ‘recommends’ Muslim kids don't wear headscarves to kindergarten