When Iman Meskini was offered the role of Sana in the hit Norwegian TV show “Skam”, she feared how it would be received. Being the first TV character with a hijab in Norway could create reactions on both sides.
“On the one hand, you have those who strongly oppose the use of a hijab. You also have the Muslim side who might believe that a Muslim should have nothing to do with such a TV program,” says Iman.
To be the face of this was scary for the young actress, who today is very happy that she took the chance.
“For me, the Wear You campaign is important in promoting that it doesn't matter what you wear, whether religious or cultural. As long as you do not hurt or offend others, you should be able to look the way you want,” says Iman.
People still shout "Sana" after her on the street, but the 22-year-old has gone new ways since the popular series made her famous. She has now completed her first service in the military and is studying Arabic and Middle East studies at UiO.
“I felt very included when I was in the military. There was never a focus on whether you were a woman or a man, where you came from or what religion you belonged to. When you wore a uniform, you were part of the squad and what counted was your effort. I hope we get to the point where we can see all people for who they are on the inside and not focus so much on the exterior.”
Iman says that she’s constantly meeting prejudices. Not necessarily directly aimed at herself, but at being a woman, and especially a Muslim woman with genes from another country that dresses in a hijab.
“It wasn't until I started wearing a hijab in the fifth grade that I began to reflect more on who I was. Until then, it was basketball that had largely defined me. That was what took up most of my time and got me involved. When I started as a basketball referee, I stood out as the only referee at the time to wear a hijab. This started a lot of thoughts within me. I began to question myself and wondered why things were as they were,” explains the 22-year-old.
Family and good supporters have given Iman the confidence to fully be who she is. Now, she uses prejudice as motivation.
“They make me want to prove that they are not true! And maybe it's partly this, which has gotten me to where I am today.”