Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Veiling or unveiling - that is the question. Or: Egypt?

Al-Ahram reports that Canadian Hadeel Al-Shalchi (blog), who decided to live as a veiled woman ten years ago, gets a culture shock when she arrives in Cairo.
Almost everyone is wearing one there, the choice is fantastic. "Coming from a country lacking in scarves, I spent time in scarf shops like a person at an oasis in a desert. I would stand wide-eyed in a shop and think to myself, "Oh my God - I want them all!'"
As time goes by however she starts to suspect that a herd mentality is the driving-force of much Egyptian hijab-wearing. "Many women seem to wear the veil without thinking. They use phrases like 'I don't want to go to hell', or 'it's something I have to do', 'my parents told me', "it's what everyone does"... Stickers decorate metro stations warning girls to wear the hijab before meeting their God on the Day of Judgement -- do you feel guilty for not wearing it? Do you want to be seen in this immoral state? ... And if a girl chooses not to wear the veil, then she is either ready to be catcalled or harassed by men on the street, or she's a Copt."

She has written an open letter to Egypt as well. It's very interesting.


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