Vol. 5 Num 295 Sat. March 26, 2005  
Letters to Editor

"Veil or no veil"

Recently I have read two articles in your newspaper on women wearing hijab.

Now-a-days western educational institutions accommodate in their dress codes the needs and beliefs of people from different religious backgrounds. School-going girls wearing a hijab is a common sight in western schools. According to Mona Eltahawy the writer of the first letter, Shabina Begum's school authority was okay with her wearing salwar kameez and a headscarf at school. It is when Shabina tried to push it a little further by asking to wear a 'jilbab' which is a head to ankle covering on top of the salwar kameez and the hijab; the school authorities refused to grant her the permission to do so. To me, this decision is agreeable since as much as the school authorities have to be sensitive to different ethnic backgrounds, cultural values and religious beliefs, there has to be certain standard or uniformity every student has to conform to as a part of that institution as well. Be that in education, discipline, moral values or even what they are allowed to wear or not at school.

I think letter writer Shamim Rezwan wrongfully attacked Mona's point of view. In her defence, I would like to ask Shamim since when has a 16-year old girl in an average Muslim family had the right to think on her own? Perhaps this sounds a little harsh. Let me tone it down by adding that in our culture, we regard a 16-year old girl or even a boy of that age as nothing but a mere child and instead of letting them decide and be responsible for their own action, we, parents, think for them and decide what is best for them.

I grew up in a traditional, educated Muslim family with my mom, sisters and aunts and none of them ever wore a 'burkha' and I don't think they ever felt 'less dignified' or 'less secured' (in Shamim's words) just because they didn't have an extra piece of cloth to cover them from evil eyes of their male counterparts or for whatever the reason may be. To end I would also like to say "it is all in your head, not what is on it."