19-year-old Aida Diouf Mbengue has over 330,000 followers on Tiktok. In her videos she tells in an entertaining way about her life as a hijab wearer in Italy – and makes the discrimination against Muslims in the country visible.
Aida Diouf Mbengue went viral in Italy.
As a hijab wearer, she dedicates herself to the everyday discrimination she experiences in her videos.
Mbengue is already followed by over 330,000 people on the video platform.
“I’m a Muslim, I wear a veil, and I’m black,” says 19-year-old Aida Diouf Mbengue, who records a video for her followers on the Tiktok social media platform in a shopping center in Milan. There are now more than 330,000.
Mbengue’s mission: to make women who wear veils more visible. The 19-year-old, who wears a hijab every day, belongs to a group of young people who position themselves as “Afro influencers” – people with an African background who want to strengthen their influence on social media in Italy.
She wants to destroy stereotypes with Tiktok videos
It’s not just about clicks and followers, says Mbengue. With her posts she wants to destroy stereotypes, as she tells the AP news agency. She has a lot of Italian followers, “and that makes me happy because most Italians have nothing in common with me.”
About three decades ago, immigration in Italy was basically a new phenomenon – although the Catholic country can look back on a long history of emigration. Today, around nine percent of Italians have a foreign nationality, according to the statistics office.
Almost a fifth of these people come from African countries. This also applies to Mbengue, who comes from Senegal and came to Italy with her family when she was three.
Discrimination didn’t start in school but on the internet
As a schoolgirl, she did not feel the experience of discrimination, but that changed when she became active on the Internet, she says. When she began to post videos of herself wearing a headscarf on the Internet, the racist messages began to pour in.
The «N-word», insults as «monkey» and the request «Go back to your country» are examples of messages that the young woman received. “But then you realize that these are just ordinary people who want you to feel bad, so you laugh at it or just take it, and it is,” she says.
A look at the comment columns under Mbengue’s entries on Instagram and Tiktok shows that it is also receiving approval, including hundreds of red hearts and heart emojis every day.
When she began to publish content on Tiktok, the comments quickly revealed what ignorant views there are about women with veils: Many would have assumed that a woman with a headscarf could not be funny, carefree or personable. It was then that she realized that she could use Tiktok to change that.
Allegations of other hijab wearers
What bothers the 19-year-old, who has been wearing a headscarf since she was seven, are comments from other Muslims with hijab who accuse her of using the veil to attract attention.
Stella Jean, fashion designer and Black Lives Matter activist, says Mbengue represents Italy’s irreversible path towards multiculturalism. Seeing someone operating with Tiktok can give a superficial impression. But for the 19-year-old it meant self-empowerment and struggles, Jean said in an interview in Rome. Fortunately, this is the new face of Italy, “and we will not go back”.
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(DPA / or)