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Egypt unveiled

February 25, 2010

Read my take on hijabs… in today’s Jerusalem Post (comments welcome)

5 Comments leave one →
  1. February 25, 2010 4:54 am

    By the way… I just want to say a big big thank you to Ethar and Hani who agreed to be interviewed for this article and have their names published in an Israeli newspaper that reaches millions of Jews worldwide…. I know its a big deal and I appreciate it very much

  2. Sasa Milosevic permalink
    February 25, 2010 10:02 am

    Dear Ruth

    Grat story.

    Good lesson for journalists. It should be as an example for student of journalism.

    Differences from my and your story is in heart and mind.
    You wrote this article using the strong facts
    I used emotion.
    In many cases lot of editors would reject to publish my story because the one of the most important journalist rule is: exclude your opinion include the facts.

    But in both cases I am thinking you and me offer new picture about world under hijab and change stereotype about this taboo in non-Arabic world.

    It should continuing work on this.

    Thank you for nice company in Alexandria.

  3. February 25, 2010 11:24 am

    Very nice story, Ruth. I had a couple of thoughts after reading it: First, I wondered how the wearing of the hijab differed from the headcovering worn by orthodox Jewish women. And second I wanted to point out that since the first Intifada, many more women in East Jerusalem and the West Bank have started wearing the hijab. Mostly I believe as a way to assert their identity as Palestinians and Muslims.

  4. February 25, 2010 2:19 pm

    Sasa! Thanks so much for your compliments. Its funny how we came to a similar conclusion about hijabs. We probably sound quite naive to our friends in Muslim countries but for us its an amazing and intriguing culture and religious practice.

    Lucy! According to Judaism all married women are required to cover their hair (I am sure you know this) but in Israel 80% of the country is secular so most do not feel there is a need to follow this practice. Every different religious sect has a different way of covering their hair. Among Haredi sects some women shave off their hair completely and cover it with a turban type hat, others — those who are more affluent — wear wigs, and others just scarves or hats. From what I am told by ultra-Orthodox female friends there is also an element of fashion and the wig thing has always seemed strange to me cos some of the wigs are worth thousands of dollars and made of real hair. In many ways they are more attractive than normal hair!

    As for E. J’lem women and those in the West Bank I am not sure. I have not been to the W. Bank for about 20 years so I have no idea (crazy that, eh?). I always get the feeling here that Arab Israeli women are very secular and the young ones want to do all they can to fit in appearance wise. When I go to the mall by my house (we have three Arab villages around my neighborhood) and the young women there seem as secular and as liberal as young Israeli girls that is why I was so shocked when I got to Egypt….

    Its a fascinating topic….

  5. Elisa Di Benedetto permalink
    February 25, 2010 3:21 pm

    Thank you Ruth for sharing with us your interesting article on the hijab.

    I’ve always been intrigued by the use of scarves and hijabs and I actually have one with me each time I go out.
    I got used to that five years ago, during my first journey to Afghanistan. The wind and the dusty roads required me to wear a scarf to protect my hair and my face. But it also represented a sort of “pass” when meeting the locals, both as a sign of respects towards their culture and religion, and a way to be accepted by them.

    I was introduced to the hijab during my stay in Lebanon, two years ago. A very kind lady gave it to me just before my meeting with one of Hezbollah’s leaders. “You should wear this”, she said, helping me in covering up with an elegant hijab. “It’s gonna be terrible”, I said to myself, thinking about how hot Beirut can be in July.
    It turned out to be the most useful gift I could receive in that situation. It was both protecting me and making me feel confident in a context extremely different from the one I had grown up in.

    I sometimes wear scarves in Italy, too. For example, when visiting some Muslim friends and their families. Or when, since I cover cross-cultural and religious issues, I’m invited to assist to religious events.

    In Italy there’s a big and controversial debate on veils, scarves and hijab. They are perceived as a threat and identified with religious extremism. But some women wear it only to show their own identity and keep alive their culture and traditions. I find them very elegant and beautiful.

    The veil unveils real beauty and make people pay attention to the woman’s face, on her eyes and expression.

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