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Last Updated: Sunday, 13 June, 2004, 21:43 GMT 22:43 UK
Wearing the hijab: Syeda's story

Syeda Khatun is a drugs counsellor who works in inner city London. The project is aimed at the Bengali Asian community. She comes from a close knit Bangladeshi family but did not wear the hijab as a teenager.

The Qur'an says that most men and women should dress modesty, but what that means in practice is a matter of interpretation, and choice.

Lots of British women do not wear the hijab, but covering up is a growing phenomemon.

I used to dress in a Western way. I'd wear trousers, skirts, whatever was in. At that moment I'd never even think of wearing a hijab because I'd think 'oh no I'm not ready for this.'

I'd have thought, people are going to think you're too religious. I just wanted to be part of what was out there.

However, most people from my background, I'd say have an identity crisis.

My identity

Those that are starting to wear the head covers want to feel like 'Yes, this is me, this is my identity

Am I British, am I a Western person, am I a Muslim person, am I a Bangladeshi person, and I think to feel like you belong somewhere and you're a part of somewhere is important.

With the young women, this is what they are looking for and they feel like now they belong to something.

Those that are starting to wear the head covers want to feel like 'Yes, this is me, this is my identity. I am a Muslim person, but I am a British person as well, and this is the way I'm going to be.'

I don't wear a veil. If I put my face veil on, then they're (the people she is counselling) only going to see my eyes and they're going to feel they can't see the person that's talking to them, and that might be uncomfortable for the individual that's having counselling, so I want to make it easier for them.

It's not like its compulsory that I have it on so if its not compulsory, if I can do without it, I shall do without it.

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 veil: Ameena's story
13 Jun 04 |  Panorama
Your comments
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