Leadership Council for Human Rights

~ Feet in the mud, head in the sky ~

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

The political stigma of the Islamic veil.

In a recent edition of Cairo’s Al-Ahram Weekly On-line, Gihan Shahine discusses renewed international interest in veiled Muslim woman and the effects of the Western media playing up the link between growing Islamization and discriminatory regulations on women. According to Shahine, in the West there is a tendency to perceive the veil as a constraint to gender equality and female empowerment

Shahine reports that enforcing changes too rapidly, with respect to the long-standing cultural traditions of wearing the hijab, has only created unintended consequences that illustrate the fact that changes cannot be imposed overnight. In 2004, France introduced jurisdiction banning the hijab in government institutions. In the 1930’s, when the Shah of Iran mandated that women could no longer wear the veil, many women felt uncomfortable going out in public.

Al-Ahram columnist Salama Ahmed comments that that the veil often is a personal choice. Muslim women are often not discussing, nor concerned with, the symbolic or political stigma associated with the hijab. Rather they are mainly concerned with how to negotiate the Quranic principle of modest dress in a way that makes them feel comfortable.

Shahine finds it unfortunate that many Western countries have reduced the issue of Muslim women’s education and liberation in to the question of the hijab.

For full article, click here.


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