Guardian: ‘The niqab makes me feel liberated, and no law will stop me from wearing it’

When we meet, I choose what you see. You deal with my mind and personality. I wasn’t forced to wear the niqab, and forcing me to take it off would be oppression

…Would wearing the niqab disconnect me from the world? I hadn’t seen that in other women who wear the niqab or burqa, but considered the worst-case scenario. As it turned out, my fears were misplaced. It’s so much easier than I had thought, and didn’t change my life at all.

Respect and honour don’t come from being like others, or following what others follow – that’s why I put the niqab on. It’s my way of expressing obedience to my lord; it’s a command that I adhere to, through which I find my honour. It is not a garment of oppression, it is a garment that represents a timeless modesty that does not conform to society.

I was not forced to wear the niqab. In fact, my parents aren’t the biggest fans of my decision. In the months before making my decision I spent a lot of time with women who inspired me; they never asked me or pushed me towards putting it on, they were simply the most enjoyable company to have.

Nor is it oppressive. I feel liberated by the fact that I choose what you see. We pass judgement on how a person looks before we know them. When you deal with me, you deal with my mind, my personality, my emotions and what I have to offer as a person – and that’s it…

Semaa Abdulwali is a 20-year-old medical science student at Macquarie University, New South Wale, Australia