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Last Updated: Sunday, 13 June, 2004, 21:51 GMT 22:51 UK
Wearing the veil: Ameena's story
Ameena is an 18-year-old Muslim from Blackburn who has chosen to completely cover her face with the veil. She spoke to the BBC's Panorama programme to explain why she has chosen to cover up.

I think the way Muslims are portrayed now is that they are all oppressed and women are shunted inside the house, not allowed to have an education.

I'm not oppressed. I don't feel oppressed in any way.

I think that every single person has a way of dressing or a way of looking at the world that's different from the next person.

I speak English, and I understand it as well. I'm just another person, I don't think because I'm dressed like this, that I don't know the difference between trainers and heels. I do, I just don't want to dress the same way that everyone else dresses but I understand everything that they understand.

Being judged

We don't want to condemn you all to hell or anything, we just want to be ourselves

My mum was very worried about me when I first put it (the veil) on. She wouldn't let me put it on until she'd questioned me a million times about it. Whether I was comfortable wearing it, or whether I wasn't. She made sure I was absolutely sure about my decision.

(In the west) we're always judged on how big your bum looks or how little it looks or the colour you're wearing or something like that.

People are going to be calling you fat or skinny or your hair looks horrible and the way I'm dressed people can say what they want. They've only got one thing to say, 'well she's wearing black'.

Can't say anything else about me can they?

When I started college I got a lot of respect from a lot of Asian people, but I found that a lot of white people were different. I just walked in a lesson and this girl came up to me and said 'why do you wear that, is there a reason, is it like you're forced or something?'

I just had to put her straight straight away.

Freedom of choice

I was quite amazed actually that a lot of white people that live in Blackburn, actually don't know why Muslims wear this, considering that it is a very Muslim populated place.

People have to learn to understand the religion, to understand why people are dressed like this, and what it means.

It doesn't mean we want to be separate, we want to be a part of British society as much as anybody else it just that we want to dress the way we are and hope that freedom of choice is still available in the UK.

At the end of the day we want the same things, we want security, we want safety, we want a nice home, we want money, we want a nice car and family.

There's going to be a lot more anti-Muslim prejudice if Muslims don't stand up and say 'this is who we are, this is what we represent, and this is what we stand for.'

We don't want to condemn you all to hell or anything, we just want to be ourselves.

Panorama: Covering up was broadcast on BBC One on Sunday, 13 June 2004 at 22:15 BST

Covering up
07 Jun 04 |  Panorama
Wearing the hijab: Syeda's story
13 Jun 04 |  Panorama
Your comments
11 Jun 04 |  Panorama


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