July 23, 2019 6:12 PM   Subscribe

On Friday July 5, Tunisian Prime Minister Youssef Chadad banned “access to administrations and public institutions to anyone with their face covered." The law affects Muslim women who choose to wear a face covering for religious reasons. What are some of the different types of head and facial coverings some Muslim women choose to wear? More at the BBC.
posted by Mrs Potato (25 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
I believe wigs are also permitted in some practices, although not ones made of human hair. I used to know a woman who wore a headscarf for everyday activities and wore a prominent wig to parties (think like a clown wig or mohawk wig).
posted by muddgirl at 6:41 PM on July 23, 2019

This is skimpy on the main concept. Tunisia banned access to those with their faces covered. So now women wearing burqas cannot enter? Those with niqabs can because it's only partial? Other than several definitions (and great Scrabble words) what is the post trying to say?
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 6:48 PM on July 23, 2019 [5 favorites]

Bad pullquote. Just helping you tell all that cloth covering apart is what the post was trying to say.
posted by Mrs Potato at 7:28 PM on July 23, 2019 [2 favorites]

I appreciated that. While I have spent time in Arabic countries, I was not 100% on some of the distinctions.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 7:57 PM on July 23, 2019 [3 favorites]

Arab countries; Arabic is the language.
posted by Ahmad Khani at 8:05 PM on July 23, 2019 [3 favorites]

True, yes. I can only plead that I had $38,000 worth of medicine* pumped into my veins today and I am a little foggy from the sudden chemical imbalance.

*Cost to me today: $0. God bless this socialist dystopia.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 8:33 PM on July 23, 2019 [12 favorites]

Arab countries; Arabic is the language.

Arabian countries. "Arab" is a noun not an adjective. Get well soon, richochet biscuit.
posted by w0mbat at 8:55 PM on July 23, 2019 [1 favorite]

"Arabic" countries is anachronistic and incorrect. It marks a difference of category.

Arabian? Of course, sure. Yet having published widely in MENA studies, I can say with absolute certainty that Arab countries is common parlance.

And indeed, be well, richochet biscuit.
posted by Ahmad Khani at 9:07 PM on July 23, 2019 [4 favorites]

fwiw i know that here in Malaysia, the only requirement to remove the face veil comes into play at court during witness identification, but only to the judge and another court officer.

anyway, i still feel like i am myself a noob because honestly, before western Muslims took it on in a big way, I just call all hijabs 'tudungs' the way we all do here, and in fact there's a bit of a resistance to adopting the word in English use (and even native language use) because it's part of a bigger unease with what's called 'arabicization'* (ah the irony), which can be found in many of the British commonwealth non-Arab Muslim societies, like Pakistan as well.

*i very much disagree with this description. It'd be more accurate to say the unease felt by Anglophonic elites is due to their space (which is very much west-facing) is being introduced with more Arabic terms as used by Western Muslims, because it's not like Arabic terms haven't made a home in our native languages where Islam has been a feature for centuries. There's a classist and racist notion within all this as well.
posted by cendawanita at 9:13 PM on July 23, 2019 [10 favorites]

The BBC article mentions the Danish law made by the former government last year. I hope the new government remembers to shut it down, but they might not, because nearly no one covers their face here*. And in practice, the police doesn't bother to stop the few women who do.
That said, as it says in both articles, the face veils are mainly from the Arabian Peninsula, and wearing them often is a statement that signifies that you are choosing a more radical version of Islam than that of your family of origin. Here many among the very few wearers are converts and most Muslims don't like the veils. I can see why a secular country with a majority Muslim population like Tunesia could have more legitimate worries about veil-wearing.
In Denmark, one of the arguments for the law was that the women were forced to wear them by their oppressive husbands. This turned out to be false. I could have told them that. I live in one of the few areas where you can actually see and meet these women in the streets or at school, and they are all young women, students or young mothers, most of them pretty out-spoken, and many choosing the veil against their husband's wishes.

*According to a study made some years ago, it is between 150-200 people in all of Denmark.
posted by mumimor at 12:51 AM on July 24, 2019 [5 favorites]

In Finland, we have more women from the Somali refugree populations, of the early 21st Century than other groups, that are highly visible in Helsinki. And, what I've found intriguing (but could not find the name or an article on the concept) is that while the majority of women going about their daily lives - supermarket, park, bus to the mall etc - wear something that resembles the Malaysian tudung, the Somali women who've chosen politics wear something more like a turban - former presidential candidate Fadumo Dayib who grew up in Finland; and of course, Ilhan Omar. Yet, I don't see this turban style otherwise in daily life, which is what makes me curious to know more about its usage.
posted by Mrs Potato at 2:45 AM on July 24, 2019 [6 favorites]

There are lots of woman who wear the Niqab in my city. I've always wondered: if they had to appear in court or some place where covering the face is a no go, what do they do? Lots of them drive and I'm almost positive their D/L photo isn't one with a face covering. Interesting question that I'll look into one of these days.
posted by james33 at 6:13 AM on July 24, 2019

Quebec has also been passing laws in this vein, and it's very aggravating. You can't receive any provincial services with your face covered, and public employees cannot wear religious symbols at all -- not anything on this list or turbans or kippeh or even, theoretically, crucifix necklaces, but we all know that won't be enforced.
posted by jacquilynne at 6:13 AM on July 24, 2019 [1 favorite]

even, theoretically, crucifix necklaces, but we all know that won't be enforced.

I generally share your skepticism. I would note that the relevant legislation was passed underneath a crucifix in the legislature which for many years the pur laine types argued was not a symbol of religion but one of heritage. It always struck me as the most ridiculously flimsy bit of special pleading (especially as this venerated symbol of heritage went up in the distant past of 1982). However, it was removed two weeks ago.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 8:01 AM on July 24, 2019 [3 favorites]

I confess that I have had a negative emotional reaction (just internal - I keep it to myself) to the few times I have seen a woman in public wearing fundamentalist Islamic face coverings, especially when it is hot outside and she is completely covered while the man with her is wearing shorts, t-shirt, and sandals. Of course, my emotional reaction is my issue, and not something that should inform public policy.

Interestingly, I am not disturbed by men with full beards wearing big sunglasses - so it isn't simply an issue about being able to see a face or not. On the other hand, a full beard and sunglasses does not carry same the connotations to me as do my (admittedly shallow) understanding of fundamentalist subsets of Islam with respect to equal rights for women.
posted by neutralmojo at 8:04 AM on July 24, 2019 [1 favorite]

A couple of weeks ago I was in a Nike store and they had a display of Nike branded athletic Hijabs, I guess Muslim women couldn't jog before?

Anyway, I couldn't decide if it was cynical consumerism or a poignant statement on a changing society, or both.
posted by Keith Talent at 8:11 AM on July 24, 2019

Those wicking materials for hijabs are a god-sent (ehem) though! Like, I wore hijabs in school and the tudung style here is always a tiny cap plus a scarf (kinda like the al-amira in the link but the scarf isn't tubular) and the only choices for those caps are at best polyblends. With scarves meant for other occasions so it's usually double folded cloth. In the tropical heat. *Shudder*
posted by cendawanita at 8:33 AM on July 24, 2019 [7 favorites]

One thing to consider:

A time or two I've been on the same bus with a woman who is wearing either a hijab or an al amira, and seen that she's chatting on her cell with someone - but she has slipped her cell phone into place and has been using the headband or the tightly-wrapped hijab to hold it there, and she is able to talk hands-free.

I don't know why but that always makes me a little happy.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:56 AM on July 24, 2019 [8 favorites]

In a previous thread on hijab, I was asked to perhaps put together some readings on hijab and modernity, Islam and the veil and perceptions of, etc. I've compiled a few books, articles, essays here. I do have most of these in PDF form, if you do not have access and are wanting to read something from the list.

I feel this topic comes up time to time here (this is not a comment or judgment on the thread and the content of the FPP), and perhaps a list of background readings are of interest to some.

Apologies for the formatting as the list was put together somewhat in haste.

If I could recommend only one text, again, it would be Lila Abu-Lughod, Do Muslim Women Need Saving? (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 2013).

So perhaps consider the rest to be recommended.

Asma Barlas and David Raeburn Finn, Believing Women in Islam: A Brief Introduction (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2019).

Jessie Hanna Clark, “Feminist Geopolitics and the Middle East: Refuge, Belief, and Peace,” Geography Compass 11 no. 2 (February 2017).

Leila Ahmed, A Quiet Revolution: The Veil's Resurgence, from the Middle East to America (New Haven, CT: Yale UP, 2011).

Ruth Roded, Women in Islam and the Middle East (London: Tauris Publishing 2008).

Anbara Salam Khalidi, Memoirs of an Early Arab Feminist: The Life and Activism of Anbara Salam Khalidi, trans. Tarif Khalidi (Pluto Press, 2015).

A.M McGinty, “Emotional geographies of veiling: The meanings of the hijab for five Palestinian American Muslim women,” Gender, Place and Culture 21 no.6, 2014.

Francois Burgat and John Louis Esposito (eds.), Modernizing Islam: Religion in the Public Sphere in Europe and the Middle East (Rutgers University Press, 2003).

Afsaneh Najmabadi, Women with Mustaches and Men without Beards: Gender and Sexual Anxieties of Iranian Modernity (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2005).

Karima Lachir and Saeed Talajooy, Resistance in Contemporary Middle Eastern Cultures: Literature, Cinema and Music (New York and London: Routledge, 2013).

Amina Wadud, Quran and Woman: Rereading the Sacred Text from a Woman’s Perspective (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999).

Homa Hoodfar, “The Veil in their Minds and on our Heads: The Persistence of Colonial Images of Muslim Women,” Resources for Feminist Research 22 no.3/4 (Fall1992/Winter1993).

Saba Mahmood, Politics of Piety: The Islamic Revival and the Feminist Subject (Princeton, NJ: Princeton UP, 2005).

Shadi Sadr, "Veiled Transcripts: The Private Debate on Public Veiling,” Sexuality in Muslim Contexts: Restrictions and Resistance (New York: Zed, 2012).

Margot Badran, “Between Secular and Islamic Feminism/s: Reflections on the Middle East and Beyond,” Journal of Middle East Women’s Studies 1 no. 1 (2005).

CM Naim, "The Hijab and I"

Romaissaa Benzizoune, "How to Be a Hoejabi"

Maya Mikdashi, "How Not to Study Gender in the Middle East"
posted by Ahmad Khani at 11:34 AM on July 24, 2019 [22 favorites]

Also, recently out (have yet to read it, though) is Rafia Zakaria, Veil (Bloomsbury Academic, 2017). From the synopsis I do think this book would be of interest to many MeFis.
Object Lessons is a series of short, beautifully designed books about the hidden lives of ordinary things.

The veil can be an instrument of feminist empowerment, and veiled anonymity can confer power to women. Starting from her own marriage ceremony at which she first wore a full veil, Rafia Zakaria examines how veils do more than they get credit for.

Part memoir and part philosophical investigation, Veil questions that what is seen is always good and free, and that what is veiled can only signal servility and subterfuge. From personal encounters with the veil in France (where it is banned) to Iran (where it is compulsory), Zakaria shows how the garment's reputation as a pre-modern relic is fraught and up for grabs. The veil is an object in constant transformation, whose myriad meanings challenge the absolute truths of patriarchy.
posted by Ahmad Khani at 12:54 PM on July 24, 2019 [7 favorites]

Now that is a book I would want to read, thank you Ahmad Khani. While my family of origin's customs don't make the veil compulsory for religious reasons, my passport culture's diversity definitely has a wide range of veil wearing norms. There are places where I wear a veil exactly as an instrument of empowerment, and others where its a magical invisibility cloak to blend in rather than stand out in western wear. In some seasons, when the loo blows hot sands, it protects my complection, while in others, a heavier warmer shawl wraps me up completely. I, for one, have never felt the need to be liberated from my dupatta into a spaghetti strap top.
posted by Mrs Potato at 1:10 PM on July 24, 2019 [1 favorite]

Keith Talent Nike branded athletic Hijabs

I'm conflicted; but the bottom line is that there are now hijab-styled clothing in 'performance' materials. That's a plus.

They're not necessarily so much more expensive than traditional fibres, brand adds a lot to that, but quality consumer brands can achieve something similar - but will only do so after seeing obvious profitability.

Stuff like this needs corporate leadership, I guess. Which is too bad.
posted by porpoise at 10:27 PM on July 24, 2019

I should have linked to this picture in my comment above. It's from one of the protests before the law against veils was made, and it shows a police officer hugging a lady in a niqab. Obviously the Right went out of their minds and one member of Parliament complained to the Police about it, but the officer was eventually not charged with anything. She is a so-called dialogue officer, and her very job description is to talk with people who are scared of the police.
And then the racists were voted out of office this year.
posted by mumimor at 1:18 AM on July 25, 2019

Dutch 'burqa ban' rendered largely unworkable on first day
Police and transport companies have signalled unwillingness to enforce face covering ban
posted by mumimor at 9:12 AM on August 1, 2019

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