I Wear the Hijab… So?

Last month, Egyptian journalist Dalia Rabie had an enlightening experience when she was banned from joining her own birthday party at one of Cairo’s fancy restaurants, L’Aubergine.

Rabie relates that the guy standing on the door who stopped her asked her if the fact that she is – unfortunately – wearing hijab was mentioned prior to the reservation.

Her response to those who always use the “It is a place that serves alcohol” excuse:

“Some claim that the mere sight of a veiled girl at the next table may cause customers who drink alcohol to feel uncomfortable. As if by choosing to cover my hair I have proclaimed myself ‘the righteous one’ divinely preordained to cast the first stone.

Here’s an inside scoop: we don’t care!”

According to Gamal Eid – a prominent Egypt human rights lawyer, quoted by Rabie – banning a paying customer because of hijab is against the law.  But they can still find a lot of legal ways out:

“Legally, restaurants have the right to turn away or kick out customers if they refuse to pay the bill, if they are creating a lot of havoc for example, or if, ironically in some cases, they are attempting to enter with their own alcoholic beverages, Eid said.”

Then comes my favorite justification of all: social image!  One day on this planet, some twisted-minded people decided to brand hijab as vulgar or of low-social status.

“Let’s call a spade a spade; these high-end venues’ rule against the hijab is merely aimed at filtering their patrons. Shallow and pretentious as they are, the image they want to boast does not include girls who cover their hair.”

Rabie herself confirms this when she contemplates the irony of some places in Egypt that obligate women to wear the headscarf only in certain styles, and no long dresses or Abayas. Forgot to tell you that this is only on one condition: they only allow one woman with the Hijab in a group of 10!

“One of said venues stipulates that for every group of 10 people, one veiled girl is allowed, on condition that she ties her Hijab to the back, ‘Spanish style.’”

So if I want to have the ultimate joy of the honorable visit to such a venue, I have to ask for the mercy of 10 of friends, females of which do not wear the veil, and I have to dress as they please … may be they will like me enough to let me in!

Do you think I should check if I have to shower with a certain scented shampoo? Maybe they think women in hijab don’t wash their hair?!

Rabie refuses to find that funny:

“It is difficult to find humor in the hypocrisy of a society whose scorn is impossible to escape. A society where 80 percent of women are pigeonholed for covering their hair, and the remaining 20 percent are shunned because they don’t. A society that is too consumed with bikinis and hijabs that it is forgetting to rebuild itself.”

But that is not only Rabie.  A few years ago, my best friend had to change the place where she wanted to celebrate her marriage because the place she wanted did not allow women in hijab (me and two of our friends).  Two years ago, I was hanging out with three of my friends and they wanted to hang out in some coffee house, then they looked at me and told each other, “Oh no, Eman is with us!” I asked one of them what was so wrong with having Eman with them, he told me “How could we go with that thing on your head?!”

My friend did not mean it in a bad way.

Actually I don’t see this as bad.  Yes, it is something on my head. Whether I wear it for religious conviction or for a dare that I decided to follow, this is not of anyone’s business.

So is it only when a woman does because she is following her beliefs that you get so defensive for women’s – hair – rights?

Or may these people are protecting women in hijab?

I’ll quote Rabie again:

“Another argument — a personal favorite — as told to me by the bouncer at the door, is that girls like me are turned away out of ‘respect for the veil.’ L’Aubergine, as the bastion of moral conduct, decided on my behalf that I should not be exposed to the debauched world of dining.”

How considerate of you. But could I please give some news flash; It is OK, we’re normal humans, and we know that people drink and do “bad” stuff. You know what else? Some of us actually even do “bad” stuff. Yeah, like humans, making mistakes and so on.

So now we discuss if the woman who wears the hijab should play sports, sings, runs, play martial arts, etc.  If you think whatever choice contradicts with the hijab, then do not do it if you wear the headscarf, and mind your own business if you do not. You might see it contradictory, but she doesn’t!

Some women find it weird to be a model while wearing the hijab, some don’t. What’s the big deal?

You can worry about your religious beliefs, your good deeds and bad ones, and let us worry about ours.

A woman who wears the hijab is not necessarily extra religious, or a conservative, or committed, or righteous or any other good – or bad – description; a woman who wears the hijab is a person… period.

  • http://www.muslimmouse.blogspot.com BintYounus

    After living in Egypt for a year and a half, I found that it is one country where you are damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

    If you are Egyptian, you’re treated like crap; if you’re a foreigner, you are giving angry, envious glances and ripped off because it’s assumed you’re filthy rich.

    If you wear hijab, you are prejudged for being judgmental, backwards, ignorant, and/or snobbish; if you don’t wear hijab, you’re written off as being a slut.

    If you’re a Western, English-speaking, niqab-wearing, opinionated, outgoing, energetic young woman who likes to go out, see and do things… God help you!

  • http://www.the-hijabs.blogspot.com hijab

    I don’t understand why these people have so much double standards. one side when a non muslim woman wear head scarf they call it trend or fashion while when a muslim woman wear hijab they call it backwardness. My God what a liberal society

  • http://justurhead.blogspot.com/2011/10/friends-in-usa-this-is-amit.html?spref=tw Eman Hashim (@EmanHashim)

    Salam

    Problem with such attitudes is never what a person does or wears
    it is the fact that some people think it is OK to judge!

  • http://twice-immigrant.livejournal.com CaitieCat

    This kind of story is enraging, particularly in so-called leftist France. I wish I could say it never happens here in Canada, but if I (a non-Muslim) have seen events like it a few times, I can only imagine how often that means that women wearing hijab must encounter it.

    And it doesn’t make any sense, except when viewed as evidence of rampant Islamophobia. Which, in Europe, where another religious group was less than eighty years ago “othered” into near-extinction, should be shocking and horriying to the average European, but just isn’t, and that is itself shocking and horrifying to the progressive. Or it should be.

    Feminism is clear on this, or should be: women get to make choices about their bodies, even if we think those choices may be influenced by a patriarchal concept. If we don’t believe this, then I look forward to our coming feminist excoriation of one another for wearing heels, or makeup, or short skirts, et c., et c.. Women should have full bodily autonomy, and that necessarily includes the right to choose how much or little we wish to show of our bodies.


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