Multiple shades, multiple significance, of the hijab

When a US-based television network introduced Ro’ya Zanaty, a veiled Egyptian woman, as part of its “21 and the World is Yours” programme, it portrayed her as a “combination of contradictions”.
A Western audience may find it an interesting – if not novel – story that a veiled Muslim woman listens to pop music and is willing to approach a man and ask him out.

But for many in Egypt and the Middle East, a veiled woman mixing eastern and western traditions is nothing new.

In the past two decades, young veiled women have been increasingly active in society – they can be seen in universities, cafes, sports clubs, and mixed social gatherings, hosting talk shows and commenting on everything from contemporary politics to sex education and the latest fashion sense.

And though they appear to share a common adherence to the hijab, they have been expressing themselves in different ways even to the point where the veil itself has now become a symbol of distinct religious and social meanings.

Mona Abaza, a sociology professor at the American University in Cairo, believes the hijab has transformed itself from a symbol of piety into a cultural mechanism, a political statement, and finally, a fashion trend.

Interesting read. Some, confirming the frequent experience of scholars facing a cultural phenomenon which religious folk think is eternal – a pillar of society for only a few decades.

I’ve noted these changes in a couple of ways, recently, here and here.

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