The Walking Dead episode “Bury Me Here” featured a woman in a headscarf who might be the first Muslim woman we have seen on the show.
The Walking Dead may be about zombies but it’s a surprisingly spiritual show. It’s not just that Father Gabriel is walking around in priestly garb, it’s more that when there are dead people brought back to life with unrelenting hunger for more death, you start to appreciate life in a whole new way.
In the March 12 episode of The Walking Dead, “Bury Me Here,” we might have seen the first Muslim woman in The Walking Dead universe. (Author’s Note: I say “might” because I don’t want to assume that a woman wearing a headscarf is Muslim, but I’m going to work on that assumption for the purposes of this article)
Nabila (played by Nadine Marissa), the woman who confessed to Ezekiel that Shiva terrified her, was wearing a headscarf in “Bury Me Here.” This is incredibly important for so many reasons.
It makes sense that someone living in the Kingdom (or any other community aside from the Sanctuary and the junkyard, at this point) would be comfortable enough to wear a headscarf, and it has nothing to do with fear of religious intolerance. It’s a matter of practicality. When you are running through the woods fleeing Walkers, you can’t “hang on to them hats and glasses” as they say on Thunder Mountain at Disneyland. You have to run. This would render a headscarf a non-essential item, even if it has major religious symbolism.
Historically, when nomadic tribes set up roots and build communities, that’s when you really start to see the birth of culture, including religion. Nabila, feeling safe and secure at the Kingdom, doesn’t have to worry about running for her life, so the headscarf can be worn as usual. She represents a turning point for the survivors as they can return to some of the religious traditions enjoyed pre-apocalypse.
I would imagine that religions–any religions–are freely practiced not only in the Kingdom but in the Hilltop and Alexandria as well. I don’t think that the Saviors are particularly interested in religion (Remember Negan’s expression upon meeting Father Gabriel for the first time?) nor do I think it’s a priority among the Scavengers.
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Religious intolerance is not something that seems very likely in the world of The Walking Dead in light of the whole zombie apocalypse thing going on. Major social issues like race and religion take a back seat to survival. Religious intolerance, then, should be a thing of the past. Nabila’s presence is not only symbolic of the relative safety found in these communities, but she also represents hope for a future free of religious intolerance for all of us.