Egypt's Court of Cassation upholds death penalty to 3 Muslim Brotherhood leaders    Sudan to complain to Security Council of Ethiopian unilateral measures on GERD    Terror charges laid against accused in Canada Muslim attack    Egypt's Planning Minister reviews parliamentary report on economic, social development draft plan    17th Egyptian-Saudi Joint Committee agrees to develop trade cooperation    Preview: France and Germany in rare early meeting at Euro 2020    Endeavour Mining announces admission to London bourse listing    APO Group, Getty Images make African press releases, images available globally    Luxor's comprehensive health insurance scheme gearing for 1 July launch    Pakistan military: Bomb kills 4 soldiers guarding coal mine    Egypt's parliament approves the country's new 2021/22 budget and socio-economic development plan    7th International Day of Yoga to be celebrated in Cairo    Swiss director Julia Bünter's Fiancées will open 22nd Ismailia Int'l Film Festival    Egypt's stocks finished in mixed notes as benchmark EGX 30 adds 0.47%    Egypt's Qalaa Holdings chairman banned from flying – Reuters    America is back? Experts warn multiple issues threaten to divide NATO    Group-IB uncovers ongoing large-scale scam targeting Middle East, Africa    Italian film 'Mi chiamo Francesco Totti' wins BankGiro Loterij Audience Award at IFFR    24th Shanghai Film Festival marks Communist Party of China centenary    Macron wants to 'move forward' with Turkey ties    With surge in virus, Oman faces shortage of hospital beds: AP report    Global financial institutions commit $80 bln to support Africa's sustainable recovery    Safwa Holding launches S-One in New Capital with EGP 750m in investments    Shoukry heads to Doha for talks on GERD issue    Cairo Court announces 3 decisions in Zamalek apartment case    Egypt development projects in South Sudan serve as role model in Africa: Irrigation minister    Novavax: Large study finds COVID-19 shot about 90% effective    A potential Ahly CAF Champions League final game causes dilemma for Olympic team    Some US allies near Russia are wary of Biden-Putin summit: AP report    The Nile for Peace Initiative calls for reaching a legally-binding agreement over GERD issue    Shoukry accuses Ethiopia of obstructing efforts to reach GERD agreement    Egypt, UNFPA to discuss further support to achieve 2030 agenda    Palestinian-Jordanian The Synaptik and Egyptian Felukah rappers team up in 'Nefsi' single    APO Group enters new exclusive agreement with Getty Images on African press releases and images    Iconic Iraqi poet Saadi Youssef dies at 87 in London    Chile's Sanchez out of Copa America group stage with injury    Defending champions Brazil hosts Copa America    Saudi Arabia limits 2021 Hajj pilgrimage to citizens, residents    France's Benzema eyes national team return    Egypt is on short list of partner countries for U.S. COVID-19 vaccines: embassy    Russia to resume charter flights to Egypt resorts in the coming days    Biden administration to send surplus U.S. COVID-19 vaccines to Egypt, several countries    Russia expects to resume charter flights to Egypt resorts in near future    Egypt's Sisi announces allocation of $500 million for reconstruction in war-wrecked Gaza    On International Museum Day, Egypt opens two new museums at Cairo Airport    Egypt's Ahly is establishing a new stadium, expected to be 'sports complex'    Old Cairo's Al-Fustat will be revamped on Egyptian President's directives    Veteran Egyptian journalist Makram Mohamed Ahmed passes away at 86    

Thank you for reporting!
This image will be automatically disabled when it gets reported by several people.

The hijab: from the university to the workplace
Published in Daily News Egypt on 23 - 03 - 2008

On Feb. 9 2008, 411 out of 550 members of parliament voted in support of the reform for a constitutional reform that would relax the ban on wearing headscarves - or hijab - in Turkish universities, and to amend the constitution. The amendment states that the state will treat everyone equally when it provides services such as university courses and that no one can be barred from education for reasons not clearly laid down by law .
This recent event created controversy over whether wearing the headscarf should be a state decision or a personal one. Yet, what is rarely debated in the media, but is perhaps equally important to young Muslim women, is the effect the hijab has on ambitious university graduates who are eager to find their place in the working world.
Muslim women across the Middle East face two struggles: reserving the right to choose whether to wear hijab or not, and whatever their choice, facing the judgment of others.
When I entered one of my classes last Tuesday at the American University of Beirut (AUB) in Lebanon, I looked around for my friend, Nadine. I didn t spot her pink headscarf, so I thought that she hadn t arrived yet and took my seat. A minute later, I was surprised to hear her calling my name. I was stunned to see that she had removed her headscarf.
Hey, you removed it, I said, gesturing towards my hair. She chuckled nervously and said, Yes, I m trying to become a social scientist and wearing the hijab carries too many implications.
It is true that nowadays the headscarf has become a symbol charged with religious, political and social connotations. Yet, the reasons women choose to wear it, or not to wear it, are often diverse.
The image of a woman wearing a headscarf as oppressed and dominated by the patriarchal Arab society in which she lives is no longer assumed, for in Lebanon at least, most young women are actively involved in deciding whether to wear a headscarf.
People usually perceive AUB as a place where extremes meet: some young women dress conservatively while others show a lot of skin. Consequently, some young women wear the headscarf as a way to socially distance themselves from a very liberal extreme.
Anthropologists like Robert Murphy have analyzed the veil s role in social interactions. In Social Distance and the Veil, he writes, Interaction is threatening by definition, and reserve, here seen as an aspect of distance, serves to provide partial and temporary protection to the self.
So, in a society where physical appearance is given so much attention, and where sexual identities are somewhat in an ambiguous transitional phase, the headscarf is often referred to as a means of protection - and even affirmation - of one s own identity.
Some young women choose not to wear the headscarf because they could be categorised in ways that may limit their job opportunities. One student ironically asked me, Have you ever seen sales representatives who are not tall and beautiful with perfect hair? With my marketing skills I could sell just as much as those other girls she said shrugging, but if I wear a hijab, my skills will just vanish into thin air.
This, I think, is the most unfair aspect. The real motivation leading Nadine to remove her headscarf had been pressure and fear of being rejected or perceived differently, not as a religious person, but as a professional.
Imagine if one day I have to conduct a survey on the causes of divorce rates and conduct in-depth interviews with modern women she said. Somehow I doubt that they would not have a pre-conceived notion about me when they see that I wear a headscarf.
Nadine thinks interviewees would assume that she was too much of a traditionalist to accept something different. As a social scientist she will be exposed to many situations in which she will want to be evaluated on the basis of her competence; and somehow feels that her headscarf would interfere with that judgment.
Although there is no law in Lebanon that prohibits wearing the headscarf, some women recognise that the headscarf may hinder them from pursuing certain job opportunities or prevent them from progressing in certain professions.
When a woman feels that her skills and competencies are judged according to the value that a headscarf conveys, then that becomes a form of discrimination in the workplace, just like any other.
Some women wear the headscarf as a visible sign of their Muslim identity or because they believe it to be a religious obligation, and some women wear it because they feel it gives them an air of respectability. Nevertheless, it has nothing to do with their professional abilities and to assume otherwise would indeed be unjust.
Nathalie Nahasis a graduate student at the American University of Beirut (AUB) majoring in anthropology. This article was written for the Common Ground News Service (CGNews) and can be accessed at

Clic here to read the story from its source.