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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 13 November 2018

Influencer Dina Torkia says online hijabi community is becoming like a toxic cult

She shared these thoughts on an Insta story last week, but has since added context: 'I'm referring to the onslaught of slander and insults I've received'

Dina Torkia has started to experiment with covering her hair less, and says she has received an "onslaught of insults" online after doing so. Courtesy Dina Torkia
Dina Torkia has started to experiment with covering her hair less, and says she has received an "onslaught of insults" online after doing so. Courtesy Dina Torkia

Dina Torkia began blogging almost 10 years ago, and was one of the first women in the UK to share tips on modest fashion, posting videos about fresh ways to wear a hijab, her modest charity shop finds and YouTube 'haul' videos showing things she found on a trip home to Egypt.

So, for just under a decade, she's built a brand by posting videos such as 'How to wear a stylish turban hijab tutorial' or '5 ways to wear your abaya'. Here's a snapshot of her first batch of YouTube videos:

Dina Torkia's first YouTube videos - her videos, which often feature her husband, now get up to 5 million views. 
Dina Torkia's first YouTube videos - her videos, which often feature her husband, now get up to 5 million views.

However, last week she posted an Insta story saying that the hijabi community, of which she herself is such a key player, is starting to become a "very toxic cult":

The Insta story in question 
The Insta story in question

She has since explained her thoughts further via a tweet, saying her comment was in reference to the online hate she gets: "To address my 'hijabi community starting to become like a toxic cult' comment. I'm referring to the onslaught of slander and insults I've received from a community that I was very much a part of and helped build... all because of my personal decision to basically wear it when I want to."

"I also find it odd that people are ostracising me for criticising a community that I'm a part of... I'm allowed to do that.

"Let's get one thing straight, I still believe in my headcovering as part of my modesty and as a part of my life and it will always be part of me.... NO ONE can take that away from me. I have just decided that the best thing for me personally is not to commit to it daily like I have done for the past 20 years. That is all.

"I've heard people assume I've used the headscarf for 'fame and money'," she went on to write. "I started blogging when I was already wearing a scarf. I just wanted to enjoy fashion I could relate to... I'm a whole different person to who I was when I started. People change, and that's a great thing... it's called progression."

"Just for context," she wrote, "this is all very new for me too. I've only recently started showing my hair over the past few months, every now and then whenever I have felt comfortable to do so. Some days I'm more comfortable covering my hair and other days I'm more comfortable showing it. That's just it."

"If you feel you can no longer support me because I now show my hair, that's fine," she wrote to her detractors. "Honesty is modesty," she added.

Here is the tweet, with her words in full:

Reaction on Twitter has been mixed - from the neutral:

To the negative:

And the supportive:

Born to an Egyptian father and ­British mother, Torkia and her twin sister were born in Cairo and lived there until her family moved to London when she was 6.

She spoke to The National in September, and told us then that her attitude to wearing the hijab was altering. She said she was becoming less judgemental in her attitude towards Muslim women who dress less modestly than her, and has become increasingly experimental, sometimes wearing a turban instead of a headscarf tied under her chin, and letting a strand of dyed hair slip free. Her dark hair is currently coloured blonde, before that it was coloured grey, and previously it was pink. “I dye my hair all the time. I love crazy colours.”

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Read more:

Halima Aden launches Max Mara's Middle East capsule in Dubai — in pictures

The term modestwear fails to acknowledge a wider movement

Modestwear gets first dedicated exhibition in the United States

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