The stories of a headscarf

ideas.ted.com

Muslim women are needed as critical agents of change in this historical transformative moment in Islamic history and the Middle East. Yet it’s tough to be a Muslim woman these days. We’ve become symbols, not individuals. And that’s in no small part thanks to the global fixation on the headscarf.

The west might ostensibly value individual identity over collective identity — but not when it comes to a Muslim woman wearing a headscarf.  Clearly in this case you must be devout, traditional, obedient, oppressed, and conservative, just a few of the adjectives frequently used. Woman plus headscarf is one thing and one thing only; a religious person who follows a very rigid path in Islam.

This isn’t just an assumption made by non-Muslims. In the Middle East, a headscarf allows people to draw instant conclusions of your religious values too. A headscarf means you have no multiplicity in beliefs. A headscarf, it seems, is never just a headscarf.

So let’s take a look at some of the stories behind the scarf, and acknowledge that…

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