Hijabs and High Heels

In the 1980s and 1990s, when I lived in Marrakech, the headscarf was a simple affair. In Gueliz, the New … Continued

In the 1980s and 1990s, when I lived in Marrakech, the headscarf was a simple affair. In Gueliz, the New Town, few women wore either a headscarf or a djellaba—an ankle-length hooded robe. In the Medina, or the old town, where a more traditional lifestyle was practiced, most women still wore a djellaba and a loosely-tied headscarf; only a few wore the hijab. In the countryside, the Berber women wore colorful skirts and headscarves while weeding the fields.

I returned to the States in 1997, but I continue to pop back to Morocco for my yearly nostalgic pilgrimage. I’ve just been on one of those trips and was surprised, alarmed even, to see how many more women are now wearing headscarves, most noticeably in the modern cities of Casablanca and Rabat. Not older women, but young ones; the same age group as the young women who had so exuberantly discarded them a decade before. And instead of scarves tied under the chin, they have now adopted the hijab, which is swathed closely around the head in the stricter Middle Eastern way.

Although they are made of colorful fabrics with pretty clips at the back, what most struck me was the blatant dichotomy between the hijab and their other clothes. While a few women wear it with a subdued djellaba, and others with their everyday modern suits, skirts and coats, a startling number of young Moroccan women combine the hijab with figure-revealing blue or black jeans, elaborate glittering belts, modern sexy tops and designer sunglasses. Equally striking is the glossy-magazine-style make-up, heavy on the lipstick and black kohl eye-liner.

I was reminded of how, at fourteen, after a short-lived religious phase during which I sat in church alone pondering if I should become a nun, my friends and I all began to focus desperately on our looks, much to the alarm of our parents. Taking movie stars as our role models, we began to wear make-up and high heels, and when American actresses Grace Kelly and Audrey Hepburn copied our British Queen Elizabeth and wore silk headscarves tied under the chin, we copied them.

Soon after, French actresses Brigitte Bardot and Catherine Deneuve tied the ends of their headscarves at the back of their neck, and we copied that too. Not one of us knew anything about the Muslim headscarf. In imitating movie stars we were searching for our identity, and trying to be noticed as the stars were. Fashion for all women is one of the keys to their identity, bound to their desire to be independent and sexual human beings. It’s not surprising then that at the same time as they express their adherence to Islam, young Moroccan women want to hold on to the freedoms they have so recently acquired. After all, the desire to be attractive is natural to young women the world over.

Today, in a global world of mixed cultures, identity is shifting, ever harder to come by. Where do we belong? Who are we? What do we believe? Whether it’s the Muslim woman’s hijab, or the African woman’s tribal headscarf, or the Jewish woman’s wig or hat, or even the Catholic’s lacy black veil, they all represent the desire to be seen to belong as much as to be religious. For Muslim women, the hijab, worn for centuries by their forbears, is an essential part of their identity. Given that it is a symbol of modesty and sexual purity, and body-revealing clothes the hijab’s opposite, the alarm I had at first felt was quickly followed by empathy.

With the Western and Islamic worlds looking on, criticizing in turn the wearing and non-wearing of the hijab, I realized that their discordant display of faith and fashion echoed my own less intense struggle of good girl versus bad girl, and made me understand how split in two these young women must feel in defending both their religion and identity.

A native of Brighton, England, author Pamela Windo lived in Tunisia from 1960-1963. She came to the United States in 1979. In 1989, she went to live in Morocco, where she spent seven years traveling, working and writing. A collection of her stories, “Zohra’s Ladder & Other Moroccan Tales,” was published in 2005.

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  • VICTORIA

    thanks for the link nasamat- i particularly loved your learn arabic page- what a brilliant idea (the colors) an interesting thing about hijab, beyond morocco- i think the north african wrap around style is actually quite chic myself.

  • A. Kafir

    Young Muslim women are at a disadvantage … seeking identity, wanting to stand by their “men”, wanting to be good, etc. but unfortunately they are not told the truth about what that identity has meant for women in the past. The poem by a Man speaks on behalf of the girls. He addresses the Kafir men with the assumption that the kafir men want to see the body of the young muslim woman. The Man is unable to break beyond the Muslim emphasis of reducing the woman to the thing that has to be covered up in a shroud, a burqha, a niqab, etc. The pretty scarfs, the fashionable head covering, is the cry of the young muslim women that they will not be reduced to the thing that their Islam reduces them to invariably. The young muslim women need to learn that Allah does allow the young girls (even before they have reached puberty) to be married. They do need to learn that they are “worth” about half as much as their brothers when it comes to finance or law, inheritance or testimony. The young women need to know that the laws are arrayed against them when it comes to divorce or independence. But there are very few honest voices that are telling them that but they are being seduced to going back to the good old days of the full blown purdah system. Let us hope they find out before it is too late.

  • VICTORIA

    whats with this weird picture of mannequins? theres plenty of real women in hijab to depict- it is strangely dehumanizing

  • A. Kafir

    PaganPlace,Good analysis. Some historical perspective as well. The modern “hijab” did not exist in the Islamic world. It is a compromise between what the Quran demands, which is a full body shroud with only one eye showing, and the refusal of modern women to wear that type of shroud. The modern Hijab did not exist in any muslim society in the past. It is fairly new invention, a fashion statement, if you like between the traditional Jijab and a head scarf. Not showing of the hair is merely a fetish and nothing more. The political statement of the Hijab is more menacing, and it is in that context that the islamist use it to demean the kafir women.

  • Paganplace

    “They don’t assimilate, they bring their wretched culture and establish it in our nation.” They were saying the same thing about the Irish, not too long ago, Tim. While I definitely tend to look with alarm at the treatment of women in Muslim nations, here in America, I think it’s really pretty counterproductive for Western Christian men to be effectively telling Muslim-American women to expose themselves. (even if it’s about xenophobia, not sexualization.)I know what *I’d* say to that.

  • Concerned The Christian Now Liberated

    The hijab: simply a minor flaw in a severely flawed religion.

  • Tim

    Pattonplace, was there a Western Christian man forcing Amina and Sarah Said to expose themselves? Were they being forced in anyway to make their Eastern Islamic Daddy so mad that he felt his honor had been betrayed and his daughters had to be killed? Did you read the article or do you know something that is not in the article? What the article says is that the mother had a lot of influence and was even trying to divorce the father. You know here in America, women have probably more power in the family and in the courts than men do. In an Islamic culture Daddy controls. Amina and Sarah and their mother were American women expressing their freedom and this resulted in an Islamic style honor killing on American soil. There were no Western Christian men forcing anyone to do anything. What we had was was Western Christian freedom and respect for women being objected to by an Eastern Muslim man that ended up in the murder of two beautiful intelligent young women. What a waste … wake up Pattonplace.

  • A. Kafir

    Why are my posts not being allowed? No links, No external text, and still they are being held for approval? Why?

  • Paganplace

    Let’s put it this way, Tim: Do you really think the Muslim-American woman in your nightmare scenario is going to dare leave an abusive situation that in America she is *not supposed to have to put up with*It really doesn’t take Islam for this to happen, …I believe the statistics on domestic abuse run to the every thirty seconds in this ‘Christian nation.’ And I’ll tell you this, I’ve met plenty of Christian (And Mormon) women who felt they had to ‘defy God’ to get out of bad situations. Torture may not give reliable intel, but it *does* mess with the head. Guaranteed. If you want people to deny their ethnic traditions just to have succor (and their human rights) in this America, …then you miss the point entirely, Tim. As Muslim people come to America, they are just going to have to accept that the state will not enforce any abridgement of womens’ human rights… they have the right to be Muslim, and I welcome this. But being Muslim does not make them above the law, any more than being Christian makes Bush above the law. In America, they have the right to walk away from the hijab. They also have the right to *wear* the hijab. Anyone who says different has to go through this queer Pagan chick. But, true, Muslim as well as Christian men who feel they have a religious right to abuse women like they are above American law also got another thing coming. Funny thing is, most American Muslims I know can cope. Who knew. How bout you?Or am I a ‘degenerate and pernicious Papist’ for being Irish? Or maybe a ‘baby-eating-devil-worshipping-tree-hugging Commie Pagan subverting the Christian observance of Pagan customs in the name of consumerism?’It’s hard to keep track. Could be that the ‘melting pot’ isn’t about homogeneity. Or at least, no place for those who can’t stand the heat of being what goes in. Capiche?

  • Paganplace

    Anyway, let’s put it this way, Tim, …if you wanna be a big man about religious-based abuse of women, there’s really no need to go looking for Muslims. There’s probably some very Christian abuse going on right on your block, right now. Big guy.

  • Concerned The Christian Now Liberated

    And some very Pagan abuse too!!!!! But then again Pagan May poles don’t represent a religion whose founder demanded and whose followers continue to demand death to all Pagans, Jews, Christians and atheists.

  • Concerned The Christian Now Liberated

    And some very Pagan abuse too!!!!! But then again Pagan May poles don’t represent a religion whose founder demanded and whose followers continue to demand death to all Pagans, Jews, Christians and atheists.

  • Paganplace

    Ummm… What? Do you have an allegation to make, sir?

  • Paganplace

    Given that you have a well-known history here of making *completely* ignorant blanket accusations about Pagan people about which you have proved utterly unable to produce a *shred* of corroboration , Concerned, And, given that a) No one cares what you think, and b) the above refers to trying to bridge a cultural perceptual divide in a spirit of mutual respect rather than merely address Christians freaking out whenever a Muslim or Pagan opens their mouth…Well, kindly stifle your imaginings. Tim raised the proposition amid the rather nuanced conversation regarding the implications of cultural attitudes toward and about female attire, that: ‘Muslims are bad cause I accuse them of doing all the things I won’t admit Christians do.’Much like yourself, Concerned. If you want to imply Pagans abuse and repress women, though, you’re going to have to do better than when I last called you on some random crap you said about us and couldn’t back up. For starters, admit you have *no Mother-loving idea* who or what you’ve been trying to defame for some eight months, now.*

  • Moody

    Your PERSONALITY as an individual and as a nation is defined by “your daily day in and day out ACTIONS reflecting what you ACTUALLY believe in.”-and NOT by the knowledge YOU have OR what you believe in your mind ONLY?OR any odd events happening in the world due to political reasons.As Allah The God says in EVERY KNOWN religious scripture that you pay (rewarded) for every decision and every action you take, every word you speak!!!!!!So you pay here and here after for your FREE will choosing IRRESPONSIBLE actions like showing clievage KNOWING THE VERY NATURE OF LIFE.ORChoosing the rational sensible modest guided way of life, leaving NO ROOM FOR It DOESN’T PROHOBIT any kind of NATURAL feelings or practices of life, in life. Only defines the LAWS of each other RIGHTS, upon each other and towards our Creator.WE HUMANS ARE GIVEN THE FREE WILL TO CHOOSE BETWEEN RIGHT AND WRONG.But we mostly forget or refuse to believe that,WE ARE ALSO MADE TO PAY (REWARDED) FOR IT **AGAINST OUR ACTIONS** & NOT AGAINST ONLY WHAT WE BELIEVE or understands IN OUR MINDS ONLY!

  • Soja John Thaikattil, Sydney, Australia

    Dear Ms WindoSince I am a Catholic who wore the veil as a child I can offer a minor correction in your portrayal of the veil. 1. It was worn ONLY during Mass.2. It was a small triangular or rectangular piece of lace that merely covered the head and was knotted like a scarf below the chin. The veils worn by nuns are a different story. It is worn at all times in public and is a sign of their calling and the celibacy and chastity that goes with it. The Hijab worn by Muslim women I understand serves the same purpose of the veils worn by Catholic nuns and not the veils worn during Mass by lay Catholics.Nuns of course are not expected to make their veils and modest clothing a fashion statement or it would defeat the purpose of wearing it. A hijab that is no more than a fashionable scarf and serves as accessory to sexy clothes seems somewhat of a contradiction and serves no purpose whatsoever.Soja John Thaikattil

  • Paganplace

    Also, just cause I feel it’s necessary: Before you hit the paste button *again* …Try reading the damn topic. This is really getting old. Enough.

  • Paganplace

    By the way, it’s very possible to get over that. If you can’t, maybe your God can, who knows. Can we play nice, now?

  • Moody

    Paganplace,I don’t meant any personal comment. I was only trying to explain the muslim mind set, believe and practical way of living in this temporary life. I respect you as a brave and couragious women. Brave enough to share your tromatic life experience. Which we muslims wish never happen to any women on the face of this earth as what we believe.Hijab and modesty apply for both Muslim men and women.Muslim Women Hijab is indeed different in concept and every way from Christian Nuns or other veils.It is not compulsory in front of her familiy members, father, brother, sister , husband and most of the first cousins, house maids, keepers etc.

  • VICTORIA

    asalaamu alikum moody- moody borught up an excellent point which goes completely unnoticed in these kinds of discussions- modesty is a criterion for women AND men- men have their own modest dress codes in islam and behavior it is not a situation where the women have the load of responsibility while the men can do whatever they want! not at all! its a mutually shared and experienced respect for each other

  • VICTORIA

    i believe moody speaks and writes in english as a second or third language, yes? my keyboard sticks, im an exceelent speller- and sometimes have to go back and rewrite- ive left the errors in here as they occurred, ususallt i have to go back and fix them- i think its kind of funny defending someone elses spelling when my own sticky keys causes so many mistakes- im monolingual- so i admire any who are multilingual as its a skill i dont possess i think its also equally amusing that it is the word cleavage that he misspelled- it kind of points to his inexperience with it

  • Moody

    Victoria,Yes English is my second language.And since I’m at the moment in electronic communication job, where I’m allowed to utilize my on job spare time, which is continuously not enough to make all corrections.

  • Concerned The Christian Now Liberated

    Hmmm, the pagan Vikings old and not so old made rape into a sport.

  • Paganplace

    If I can celebrate with the modern Nordic types, Concerned, I have a notion you could not worry about that. Go figure.

  • Moody

    What you believe, that becomes your destiny!One should choose wisely!!

  • sami

    Is this Americanised Islam? Make it up and hope no one questions it?”muslims dont believe that we are born in original sin, (as in christianity)that woman is the cause of the fall, and believe in the naturalness and fullness of sexual expression as our right as human beings.we actually have the right to sexual gratifcation!Three letters- FGMIf you don’t know a woman who was mutilated as a child- you don’t know many Muslim women.The importance given to virginity and an intact hymen in Muslim societies is the reason why female genital mutilation still remains a very widespread practice. Behind FGM lies the belief that, by removing a girls’ clitoris, sexual desire is minimized. This insures a female who has reached the dangerous age of puberty and adolescence will maintain her virginity, and therefore her “honor”. Chastity was imposed on male attendants to female concubines by castration turning them into inoffensive eunuchs. Similarly female genital mutilation is meant to force the chastity of young girls by reducing their desire for sexual intercourse.

  • Demeaning

    Isn’t hijab/veil forced upon women in many Islamic nations? It is one thing to wear it for fashion but absolutely despicable if it is a law only for women.How do women chose men if they can not even look up at smile at a potential partner? Makes them a piece of meat, in my opinion.

  • Demeaning

    Btw, Not that Western/American women take any advantage of being hijab/veil free as far as chosing their partner.Even in this society, it is the men approaching/pursuing women and unfortunately women have chosen to act like a piece of meat.

  • William M

    Eliminate the fashion nonsense and the choice is very basic: Do islamic women choose to live in the modern era or the medieval one? Of course, they ultimately have little choice since they are the intimate victims of the violent, racist, indefensible men’s club called islam.

  • chisolm

    If they arent murdered by their families like the two in dallas for showing”western decedance

  • bnewberry

    This is an amazing image. I am an artist and would love to see the images… Where are the pictures?

  • bnewberry

    This is an amazing image. I am an artist and would love to see the images… Where are the pictures?

  • UmmSultan

    why are no many non muslim concerned with Islam be concerned about your own religion. not ours. Step aside Islam is here to stay. And please educate yourself before you talk about what you do not know.. Honor killings are not Islam. they are culutural people of other religions do these as well. Also the Quran did not say what you say about the Hijab. Reread this verse. And lastly Islam is not a flawed religion everything in the Quran and Hadith are perfect. People are not. Can you say the same about your books?

  • UmmSultan

    why are no many non muslim concerned with Islam be concerned about your own religion. not ours. Step aside Islam is here to stay. And please educate yourself before you talk about what you do not know.. Honor killings are not Islam. they are culutural people of other religions do these as well. Also the Quran did not say what you say about the Hijab. Reread this verse. And lastly Islam is not a flawed religion everything in the Quran and Hadith are perfect. People are not. Can you say the same about your books?

  • Concerned The Christian Now Liberated

    Ahh, PaganPlace aka the Pagan Infallible “Pope” who knows all the Christians who abuse women but has no knowledge of any Pagan guilty of said abuse. The wonder of it all!!!!!!!!Maybe the “Pope” knows if there are dress restrictions for the followers of Hoodoo and/or Voodoo???

  • Bangalee Babu

    The real downhill trend started when the Roman Catholic Church allowed women to go to Sunday Mass with their heads uncovered, then with shorter and shorter dresses and now as we all know “anything goes”.Being morally and ethically upright is not an exclusively Muslim thing. And just because some women in Morocco dress to kill whule wearing the hijab does not mean squat when you consider there are millions of Muslim girls and women who dress modestly the world over.

  • dyliepie

    Good girl/bad girl paradigm shows how stuck this woman is. These women would like to turn your daughters into the slave of their sons. Reject the traitors to our sex.

  • artist too

    “This is an amazing image.”bnewberry- i agree. it more compelling than the comments. i keep coming back to it.”it is strangely dehumanizing”victoria- its not the image that deprives human spirit. its not the hijab. its the symbol of oppression leaving them faceless, voiceless..it resonates.

  • dissent

    It’s important in America to provide safe havens for those daughters and wives who disobey the strictures of Islam.Muslims who immigrate must accept that if the women in their families wish to take a path away from the traditional restrictions, the community (shelters), legal system and govt will protect them. Many Muslims assert that Muslim women choose these traditional restrictions. Okay – but let’s protect those that resist. Let the dissenters thrive. That is the true price of immigration.

  • Ibrahim Mahfouz

    Political statement?

  • Asim MA, San Antonio

    In its various styles,Hijab is no more than a statement of modesty:there is absloutely no conflict whatsoever between a Muslim women being stylish,elegant,beautiful and modest at once.Dress is only part of Modesty-modest beahvior is the point.

  • jhbyer

    This insightful, honest essay stunned me by not indulging the invidious conceit of Abrahamic religions and their demands to be credited for guarding women, because they deny them expression in the temple, the pulpit, and the street. Nonreligious people everywhere appreciate and endorse the genuine value and need for modest dress according to culture and occasion while allowing women equal visibility. Why would God/Allah as an intelligent designer make women only to regret their powerful appearance?

  • Jerry Scroggin

    Women. Such sad sorry slaves to fashion and they

  • Epicurus

    I have seen too many people use their understanding of their particular religion as a weapon to be used against others. Christians, Muslims, Jews, various old-world religions….all have and continue to use the threat of “the other” as justification for their ill-tempered and prejudicial behavior. Is it the WOMAN’S understanding of her faith to wear her covering? then leave her to it. If she is forced to wear it out of fear of punishment by her religious or cultural kin-folk, then at least here in the West, she should be strongly defended. Wear it or not…her choice. The majority of modern religions seem to have a genuine and loving desire to give their followers guidelines and assistance for this life and beyond. Too many of these “true believers” take that a step further and proclaim that anyone who doesn’t think or act like them are the direct opposite of their beliefs, making them evil and deserving of death, shunning, punishment, or conversion (take your pick). Xenophobia is a strong motivator for the basis of a lot of religious guidelines and actions; these then drive secular actions against the perceived “other” and their own people, to “protect them” or force them to be “protected.” From Abraham, to Mohammed, to Torquemada, to Marx, to modern fundamentalism in all religions…we are just being told what to do because it’s “for our own good.” For my own good? Bite me. From one man to all other men (who dominate religious hierarchy)…back off and let the women make up their own minds. Their choice should be honored. If I excuse myself to pass by a woman wearing a hijab in the stores of Tampa, I smile and nod a “pardon me” greeting as I walk past. I am being respectful and treat her as I would any other woman I pass by. Whether she is covered or not, that is her choice and she deserves respect. I am not religious in any way, but I respect those who cleave to their faith when they are being honest and respect those who don’t agree with them. Various interpretations, studies and practiced arguments give meaning and nuance to the words of your holy books and writings. If you want to believe in these words…fine. But don’t try to ram them down my throat or tell others who have a different belief system how to act. A Former Jesuit School Student

  • A. Kafir

    Epicurus,What you say is correct. Your analogies are a little off, however. A person is free to flip their middle finger, or give any other obscene gesture as well. Make no mistake about it that a lot of the time the hijab is being used as a political symbol and the kafirs are being told off. The discussion is alive because the symbol is ambiguous. A muslim girl does not have to physically forced into it, but open discussion about it is prohibited. And no one is saying to the muslim girls that they have to take the hijab off. Of course it is their choice to wear it, just it is my choice to be offended by it as a kafir because I recognize it for the offensive and insulting meaning for the non-muslims it represents. People are free to say F**k off just as others are free to understand what that means and interpret what that communication represents for you and yours. Hijab as a symbol does say something about what the muslims think of the non-muslims … always has from day one.

  • promaster

    Why are the muslims the biggest hypocrites of all mankind. They preach all this hijab stuff and then they are the first ones who oggle at any women who passes in front of them. They can actually undress a women with their eyes. I think they are born perverts and for that the women have to be covered.

  • A. Kafir

    It is not their DNA. Their DNA is no different than anyone else’s. We are all from the same “tribe” whether we like it or not. They oggle for the same reason that men had ankle fetish when women had to wear long dresses. Have any teenage male live in a sexually segregated society and you will have two consequences: 1) a dominance/submission form of homosexual sex, and 2) pathological oggling at women. The non-muslim women are treated with utter disdain and considered, called and treated as women of loose morals and easy “lays”. And unfortunately it is not a generalization.

  • Ibrahim Mahfouz

    Asim said:

  • Secular Humanist

    Posted on January 6, 2008 18:51 A. Kafir & Ibrahim Mahfouz: You and others have said that the wearing of the hijab in the West is a direct political statement, rejecting Western ways and thoughts. If they don’t like the West so much, why don’t they move to a place where their morals and cultural thoughts are the same? Through their words and deedsw, the only conclusion I can come to is that they are part of the “Islamization” movement against the West. Most Muslims in the West claim they don’t want to impose their religious beliefs on the established government and culture of the countries they move to, yet there are others within their insular communities who have bluntly stated they would do whatever they could to establish sharia law and an Islamic way of life in their adopted countries. I ask any Muslim living in the West, especially in Britain, France, Germany, the U.S., what should we think when we see the looks our women are given? What should we believe when we hear these threats and insults directed at our countries, culture, and especially our women and children? What should we do in the face of a religion and cultural identity that makes it very clear they would rather see us put to the sword than allow respect between peoples? In the wake of everything that has been directed specifically at the Western world thru blood, fire and death…what should we do?Stop violence in the name of all religions!

  • Ann C

    Religion is the most dangerous thing in this world.

  • mbawmba

    Affirmative.

  • iskndar

    I find it shocking that you’ve lived in North Africa for 10 years and have written a book about Morocco yet you do not know what a hijab is. The ‘headscarf’ you mention as being a somewhat more liberal alternative to the hijab is a hijab — the different styles of wearing it may reflect differences in levels of religious observance or geographic or ethnic origin, buy they are one and the same thing. Both are called ‘hijab’ in casual conversation, while the proper Islamic name for both garments is ‘khimar’.

  • Anonymous

    Secular Humanist: “what should we do?”You may do what ever you like to. It is obvious that with declining birth rates, no consensus on what the problem is, and utterly beset with useful idiots that are incapable of seeing Islam as anything other than like any other “reformable” religion, “You” are incapable of doing anything.You can see from the responses here that the Kafirs in the west are incapable of recognizing that they are being flipped with the hijab, and that the young muslim women are being misled and brain washed. No one wants to stand up for the right to tell those young girls born and being raised in the west the plain and simple truth about the misogynous ideology of Islam. Tell the truth, and the dialog is to ended by cries of Islam phobia instead any real answers.Of course the women should be free to wear the hijab, but then the Kafirs should be free to react the way would when someone calls their mothers, sisters and daughters who*es.

  • iskndar

    I find it shocking that you’ve lived in North Africa for 10 years and have written a book about Morocco yet you do not know what a hijab is. The ‘headscarf’ you mention as being a somewhat more liberal alternative to the hijab is a hijab — the different styles of wearing it may reflect differences in levels of religious observance or geographic or ethnic origin, buy they are one and the same thing. Both are called ‘hijab’ in casual conversation, while the proper Islamic name for both garments is ‘khimar’.

  • iskndar

    I find it shocking that you’ve lived in North Africa for 10 years and have written a book about Morocco yet you do not know what a hijab is. The ‘headscarf’ you mention as being a somewhat more liberal alternative to the hijab is a hijab — the different styles of wearing it may reflect differences in levels of religious observance or geographic or ethnic origin, buy they are one and the same thing. Both are called ‘hijab’ in casual conversation, while the proper Islamic name for both garments is ‘khimar’.

  • Ibrahim Mahfouz

    Below is the historical root for the “veil” in Islam:

  • Johhny Ringo

    The first honor killing in the Bible was done by Jacob’s (aka Israel) sons because Shechem had sex with their sister (Genesis chapter 34). They wanted to get married by her brothers kiled Sechem, his father Hamor, kidnapped their sister, plundered the city, and kidnapped the children and women.The Israelites/Hebrews/Jewish women wore veils. Even Moses wore one. It was a Semite custom. It probably started out as a simple way to keep women from getting sun-burned in the desert and to keep sand off of their faces. Later on the religious nuts made it part of their primitive religions and now the women who wear it should start evolving it as part of their skins. Speaking of religions, who knows why people believe what they believe? Everything is a jumble of countless myths and superstitions. It’s been my observation that most people are ignorant about their religion and think that they know what it’s about when in fact they don’t have a clue.

  • A Burgher

    There is nothing to be torn between. Just read “Mental Bondage in the Name of God” by Aidid Safar.Only sex-starved Muslims lurch at women with uncovered hair. Is the hair that erotic? Some human civilizations go around naked but you don’t hear of rape in that community. Tsk! Tsk!Aidid Safar’s work is a must read. More at my website, “My No Brainer”, where you can read his work plus where to get the full copy.

  • Concerned The Christian Now Liberated

    J. Ringo,Reference supporting your claim that OT Jewish men were veils????

  • Arlene

    The veil is an excuse for not washing the hair. People who have fleas should not be allowed to cover an itchy head with a covering. In Libya during the 1969 Revolution such filthy people were “ripped off” of their veils and forced to wear a state-issued uniform. Flea powder and anti-tick shampoo was given out as their “benefits.”However the Libyans follow other Islamic dicates.

  • kevin mogeni

    will really like 2 contribute to the debete.i happen to belong to the protestant faith bt with due respect we dont need giorgio armani hijabs to knopw they should be relegated to the gallows.just last week a muslim taxi driver killed her daughter becoz she had decided to do away with it.dont we respect the sanctity of life?we live in the 21st century and proff women should be allowed to look modern.it wont compromise their morals abit.in modern religions women are allowed to wear headscarfs only in church.they should follow this.dont they have a choice?parting shot;if u find 2 women drowning one with hijab n ano with no hijab who will u save?al save the one with hijab and tell her 2 remove it to set a precedent.it aint fair to shout abt affirmative action and women are not taking the lead.take a cue from fatuma hirsi ali

  • Tim

    “…Moroccan women combine the hijab with figure-revealing blue or black jeans, elaborate glittering belts, modern sexy tops and designer sunglasses. Equally striking is the glossy-magazine-style make-up, heavy on the lipstick and black kohl eye-liner.”Modesty? What a crock.Modest hijab = just another Islamic oxymoron designed to obscure and deflect form the real propose. The real purpose of the hijab is to be a religious and political symbol. We all know this except those who are asleep. If these symbols were not important, then why not let a Christian woman with a gold cross on walk around the streets of Mecca. Let the Christian woman say it is just an expression of her modesty while sporting a tight pair of jeans and sexy makeup and let’s see what happens. Islamic authorities would not be fooled by the rhetoric.A modest person does not cause controversy or push their religion in the face of others. That is arrogance and that is what an Islamic woman demonstrates when she conspicuously wears the hijab in a predominately Western, Christian society. It is arrogance on display, not modesty.Islam has over the years developed all these clever terms and side discussions to cover up the true purpose. In Morocco, the hijab is probably worn with sexy jeans because Daddy might kill you or some guy seeing you walk by may feel obligated to otherwise stand up for the honor of Islam. That hijab with sexy jeans is there as a protective shield. It says, “I still respect Daddy and the males who dominate our society and I want to live another day. I have not crossed the line.”It seems that the hijab has become the last line of defense for Islam in an increasingly Westernized world. It is a symbol that sums up everything. You know, a symbol like the star of David that Hitler forced the Jews to wear. BTW – Honor killing = Islamic oxymoron designed to obscure the act of child sacrifice to an idol called Allah. Just another stone age practice.

  • Ibrahim Mahfouz

    Correction:

  • Spare Me

    I am “surprised, alarmed even” to read that you have lived in both Tunisia and Morocco and have the audacity, to write this. I’m american and I find this offensive. You were shocked by hijab in a muslim country? And why, if these girls are wearing it as you say with clothes of their choosing does hijab automatically equal some kind of oppression? This is what you’re implying, that it’s impossible to carry any muslim cache without it being something from the dark ages. I’d suspect if the girls were bible toting christians nothing would warrant comment. For the women I know who have chosen hijab (and yes, you can still CHOOSE hijab) it was a decision they made after thought, not in some kind of weird Tiger Beat, oh I love Audrey Hepburn phase like you are comparing it to. Nor is it at all similar to catholic girls scarves. Two words : ugly american.

  • Ibrahim Mahfouz

    Islam institutionalized Female Genital Mutilation as explained below:

  • Anonymous

    Spare Me: “Two words : ugly american”Response: Two words: truculent foreigner. Ever notice how when an American writer has a different opinion than another nationality, they are being the “ugly american?” Guess that doesn’t apply to other nationalities when they speak about things they know nothing about. You know, kind of like their opinions about how Americans think or the attitudes of Americans towards other peoples. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion based on their own experiences. If you disagree on the facts, fine. But don’t presume to use a phrase like “ugly american” as a catch-all for your disagreement….”truculent foreigner.”

  • VICTORIA

    well, im an american, and also wear hijab. and the author apparently, even though she traveled in morocco- didnt wear hijab, and never experienced it- still for some odd reason feels complelled to give her projected ideas on something she observed without understanding. she didnt understand even the defintion of what hijab is- confused it with scarves- made judgements based on her own biases- of more than 70 posts here, most of the loudest posters also are completely clueless about it. if she spoke intelligently on the subject, or added any info- it would be relevant. but how is her obvious misconception about the subject even relevant, or an opinion sought? only to be further joined in by a choir of others who have no idea! but only bizarre projections of what they imagine. if only she, and the commentators here would listen for once before they talk without knowledge. why a wouldnt they be asked about this , instead of this strange biased article?

  • Anonymous

    islam is a cult that demands death or submission to it. why does anyone care if you wear a scarf.

  • Mike

    Victoria,

  • VICTORIA

    google this author mike- she writes she lived in marrakech in the 80s and 90s- SHE decided on her own,in 1997 when she went for a visit that the girls were havng an identity crisis- she had all those years before to investigate the meaning of hijab for moroocan women- actually, all we have here is a woman who lived in marakech- Not all of morroco- but many years alter feels qualified to write about a subject she never understood to begin with- moroccan women have been wearing hijab for centuries- their liberation movement,much like in america- started in the 1970s. and women dont wear a jheelaba anywhere i just googled jheelaba and jheelbab- i know, i have some of them in my bookmark- most of the article centers around her own confusion on being a good/girl bad/girl in the catholic church why is she writing about a subject with no research, just opinions? (and culturally inaccurate ones at that) when there are better qualified women on the staff here- who actually know? its more misleading than anything- and makes people have misinformation (like you think moroccan women wore scarves before and just now adopted hijab)

  • Anonymous

    It’s fun to see all the different comments by Muslims about other Muslims. Kind of shows there isn’t a monolithic Muslim movement, only branches, sects and splinter groups…like Christians! When I hear a Muslim call another Muslim out for their “wrong” interpretation of the holy writings and told they are worse than the nonbelievers because they distort Islam…makes me happy to know they are going through the same schisms and arguments the Christian churches have gone through on their way to being a part of modern civilization. Unfortunately, it’s the 21st Century and Muslims are STILL killing each other over religious differences. Disagree with each other, but put away the bombs, swords and guns. If Islam is supposed to be so peaceful, how about a month long period of peace by Islamic extremists to show that it can be done? Like Ramadan, but without using it as an excuse to kill your enemies when they let down their guard for the holy period.

  • Anonymous

    now america has somehow provoked muslims to kill each other-in truly epidemic proportions- iraq, darfur, pakistan, palestine, even killing their own daughters in honor killings..wtf are you saying?

  • VICTORIA

    anonymous- there have been no disagreements of even the mildest kind here- mr mahfouz is a christian who hates islam with a frothing at the mouth delirium. not all arabs are muslims,

  • Anonymous

    “not all arabs are muslims, muslims try to kill other muslims. victoria- “allahu akbar” has lost control”.another day. more examples.”A quick-thinking boy scout has thwarted an assassination bid against the president of the Maldives.Officials said Mohamed Murshid, 20, tried to plunge a knife into President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s stomach, but Asia’s longest serving president was unhurt thanks to Mahamed Jaisham, 15, who wrestled with the attacker before he was detained. Mr Murshid, who had no previous criminal record – had hidden the knife wrapped in a national flag, the president’s spokesman Mohamed Hussain Shareef said. “He was an idling youth,” he said. Mohamed’s hand was injured, and he was being treated in the island’s health centre. Mr Gayoom said in a nationwide address after the attack that he had survived “thanks to Mohamed Jaisham and Allah.” The attack took place on Hoarafushi in the north of the Maldives, a chain of 1192 coral and white sand islands off the southern tip of India. Assistant Police Commissioner Abdulla Riyaz said investigators were trying to establish a motive for the attack. “It’s still at a very, very early stage. We are questioning him. Investigations are still going on. It is too early to say if he has links to any Islamic militant groups,” he said. The Maldives, a top destination for well-heeled tourists and honeymooners, has been tense since a September bomb attack in the capital Male injured 12 foreign tourists. Authorities blamed the bombing on Islamic extremists seeking to wreck the country’s vital tourism industry, which accounts for a third of the nation’s economy. Three men convicted of carrying out the bombing – the holiday archipelago’s first ever terror attack – were last month each jailed for 15 years. Police are also looking out for foreign militant groups after press reports said some of the suspects had links to a Muslim separatist group fighting Indian rule over part of the Himalayan region of Kashmir. Mr Gayoom, who has ruled the islands since 1978, responded to the bombing by ordering a tough crackdown on what he considers to be Islamic extremism. The measures include bans on women wearing the full veil and foreign preachers, as well as unlicensed Muslim prayer groups. In a recent interview Mr Gayoom said the bomb attack targeting foreign tourists followed by violent clashes with police and security forces had alerted the country to the “very serious threat of extremism”. “

  • VICTORIA

    how old is that story? and what does it have to do with islam? there ispolitical unrest in maldives because the president wont allow the opposing democratic unity party to congregate- is this a story of political oppression? how out of context, old, and irrelevant is this?

  • VICTORIA

    another example of another person with no knowledge whatsoever of the topic, an agenda- maldives?

  • VICTORIA

    you got this from your yahoo frontpage? what dedicated research- so what exactly is your point? a MUSLIM BOY SCOUT stopped a would be MUSLIM assassin against a MUSLIM president in a MUSLIM country! WOW!”The young man who tried to stab President Gayoom believes “the President is against Islam,” a neighbour told Minivan News today.” that the neighbor if the would be assassin says he “believes the president is against islam”? are you mental? or are you so unbelievably arrogant, that you somehow imagined since the rescuer is a boy scout, he must be an american or something? a good muslim stopped a bad muslim from doing something wrong well, that IS conclusive proof of the…what?

  • Anonymous

    muslims are killing muslims in a global pandemic and you are in denial.

  • Ibrahim Mahfouz

    Re: Niqab

  • VICTORIA

    anon- it could be, in a pandemic reaction, pandemic fear- the only time it is used as a noun (as you have) is in reference to an actual epidemic disease worldwide despite your skills as a writer- all youve shown is that you can look at the frontpage of yahoo- and that a muslim boy scout rescued a muslim president in a muslim country from a mulsim would-be politial assassin i think your usage is somewhat overstated, and off topic fyi- that was an UNDERstatement on my part no, im not denying the heroic actions of that boy scout

  • VICTORIA

    mr mahfouz- i am more and more seriously questioning your claim that you were ever outside of texas- let alone a muslim country- you are talking about BURQA

  • Anonymous

    “first- global pandemic is a redundancy”really? google “is pandemic in””second- pandemic is an adjective- not a noun”really? google- “the pandemic is”careful victoria, you have become a serial liar. lets start again-“muslims try to kill other muslims. victoria- “allahu akbar” has lost control”.”another day. more examples.””muslims are killing muslims in a global pandemic and you are in denial.”instead of your weak attempts to defend the indefensible, you should take a moment to weep for the people you have chosen to identify as your own.Another Muslim killed by Muslim extremists-“Ever since her return to Pakistan, Benazir Bhutto had been a target of opportunity for Muslim extremists belonging to Al Qaeda, Taliban and assorted group of Muslim extremists. Being an educated and liberal-minded woman, she was most hated by these Muslim extremists and they declared a war against her even before her arrival. For them, a woman as head of government is totally unacceptable. But the murder of Benazir Bhutto is only symptomatic of larger mass murders carried out by extremists in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and other Muslim countries. In Pakistan, al-Qaeda and its Taliban surrogates have been carrying out regular suicide bombings, killing ordinary Pakistanis in the name of Islam. Only a week before Bhutto’s assassination, they carries out a bloody suicide bombing during Eid-ul-Azha in a mosque, killing and injuring scores of ordinary Pakistanis. Considering that ordinary Muslims are being killed by these terrorist groups, it is surprising that the Taliban and al-Qaeda remain highly popular in many parts of Pakistan. This may be case of a larger what is called Stockholm Syndrome in which the victims feel sympathetic towards their tormentors and believe in a scapegoat provided by their oppressors. The Taliban and al-Qaeda are killing fellow Muslims in Pakistan and Afghanistan (and Iraq) while blaming it on the Americans. As Daily Times columnist Khaled Ahmed wrote: “In Sudan and Somalia, Muslims are killing Muslims. In Afghanistan Muslims killed Muslims in the civil war before the world moved in with daisy-cutters with a UN legal cover. In Pakistan, Muslims kill Muslims then blame it on India … Muslims have learnt to kill [Muslims] in many ways. When convenient, they blame it on America and India.”With such a ready-made scapegoat available, it is not surprising that the Taliban and al- Qaeda can carry out mass murders of fellow Muslims and still retain their popularity. In Iraq, the Sunni extremists have been systematically slaughtering their fellow Shiite Muslims. They have bombed Shia mosques filled with worshippers. They have bombed Shiite schools and hospitals, killing women and children. In 2006, they destroyed the Golden Mosque at Samarra, one of holiest Shiite shrines — all the while blaming the Americans. In Palestine, Hamas, which won the election, has been brutalising its rival Fatah while blaming the Israelis for their misfortune. During recent fighting for Gaza, Hamas was accused by Human Rights Watch of “violations international humanitarian law, in some cases amounting to war crimes.” According to Human Rights Watch: “Hamas military forces captured 28-year-old Muhammad Swairki, a cook for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s presidential guards, and executed him by throwing him to his death, with his hands and legs tied, from a 15-story aparment building in the Gaza City.”The unspeakable brutality of Hamas toward fellow Palestinians stands in stark contrast with the moderation it has shown to kidnapped BBC journalist Allan Johnston by arranging his release. Why Hamas showed no mercy to Muhammad Swairki, a poor Palestinian cook? The answer may be that Hamas has no sympathy with a fellow Palestinian who doesn’t share its vision.In Iran, the ruling Shiite mullahs are regularly slaughtering fellow Iranians who don’t share their vision of Shia Islam. Iranian writer Azar Nafisi tells us about the brutality of Shiite mullahs in her book Reading Lolita in Tehran. Her story of Iran is a struggle for survival in a country where Shia mullahs regularly “hang people in the streets,” — a country where educated women are viewed as enemies of the state. If Benazir were an Iranian leader, she would have met the same fate in the hands on extremist Muslims.This leads us to the question: Can democracy function in a country like Pakistan where extremist Muslims are carrying out mass murder of fellow Muslims who don’t share their vision of a mythical pure Islamic society? The answer may be a qualified no. Unless Pakistanis can find a way to stand up against the Taliban, al-Qaeda and their fanatical acolytes, and not provide them with moral support, democracy will not be able to function. Look at how Hamas, which won the election, is brutalising fellow Palestinians who support the rival Fatah. Democracy cannot function if the people are filled with hatred and extremists can continue to systematically murder those they consider as heretics and deserve to be killed. Benazir Bhutto is only one, albeit the most famous, of many victims of al-Qaeda and the Taliban who have turned Pakistan into a veritable Terroristan. Unless they are contained, election will not bring any change.”

  • Anonymous

    victoria, as the new year begins- weep for your coreligionists who are being killed by their own. and as the muslim against muslim hatred and violence escalates -remember my words..

  • casual observation

    Victoria MUST resort to CAPS and slurs because she cannot address the real issue. Muslim violence against other Muslims. Anon wins because power comes with truth.

  • VICTORIA

    friends, actually the issue here is hijab. there are lots of places on these boards that i speak about issues relevant to muslims, vioence etc. if anon was brave enough to have an identity- i wouldnt make any slur- go to the islam and violence question- to keep repeating off topic- whats already been said would be- redundant.

  • casual observation

    “your muslim-bashing for the sake of getting your yayas out.’Victoria what you call “muslim-bashing” is concern for victims of FGM, oppression of Muslim women, honour killings, and Muslim against Muslim violence. It is support of Muslims who often have no voice. You are dedicated to Islamic propaganda that pretends there is no problem with Islam. You are the one doing the bashing and trying to stifle free speech. I commend the Muslims, ex-Muslims and others here who have found their voices and are speaking against Islamic atrocities.

  • VICTORIA

    our hypocritical “concern” is only a thin veneer to attempt to mask your own islam bashing- its not islamic- fgm- honor killings- islam is a religion that calls for equity and justice. yes, anonymous/casual observer- there is injustice in the world people do strange things- i invite you to learn more about the religion of peace- if youre speaking up against female genital mutilation, speak for ALL the women affected, not just the muslims. but the christians too, as they also indulge in this terrible desecration of women.