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Last Updated: Wednesday, 17 September, 2003, 11:03 GMT 12:03 UK
Viewpoint: Why I decided to wear the veil

By Shaista Aziz

Before leaving my house every morning for work I tie my hair up and wrap a piece of material around my hair, covering every part of me from my hairline, to my neck.

The piece of cloth is much more than material to me- it's my identity.

I am a British Muslim woman, and two years ago I decided to start wearing the hijab (headscarf).

Like thousands of Muslim women across the world - the hijab has become part of me, and I wear it with confidence and pride.

I made the decision to wear the hijab after going on my own personal journey to learn more about my religion, Islam.

The journey started a year before the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centre in New York, but my quest for knowledge accelerated after September 11th when the Muslim community around the world and in the UK were under intense scrutiny by the politicians and the media.


It was then that I decided that I wanted to be a visible Muslim.

I wanted people who walked past me in the street to know that I am a Muslim and that I am proud of my religion, heritage and culture.

In many ways I saw the hijab as an act of solidarity with Muslim women all around the world.

Here I am an educated Muslim woman in the West, and even though I have no idea what it's like to be an Iraqi, Bosnian, Somalian or Palestinian woman, I know that we share an identity through Islam and through the hijab.

I have found a great deal of strength through wearing the hijab

Since September 11th there has been a huge increase in the number of women, particularly young women who started wearing the hijab. And from what the women tell me, most do so by choice.

Walking down most high streets in the UK on a Saturday morning, you are bound to come across a young Muslim woman wearing the hijab, usually in a colour to match her outfit.

On my way to work every morning I can spot a handful of sisters, with their hijabs worn in different styles and in a rainbow of colours.

I have found a great deal of strength through wearing the hijab, and now every hair day is a good hair day as far as I am concerned!

When I see another Muslim woman on the street we always smile, sometime we nod at each other and other times we exchange greetings: Asalaam e-lekum Walikum Asalaam.


I find the strongest reaction to my hijab comes when I am outside of the UK.

Recently I was in Cairo where I had arranged to meet a friend of a friend in a coffee shop.

I called her on her mobile and we arranged to meet in the lobby of the hotel where I was staying.

When I arrived to greet her, her mouth opened and her jaws dropped.

I am not in denial; I know that there are massive problems in the Muslim world
Later in the café she plucked up the courage to ask me why I was wearing the hijab.

I thought this was quite funny; here was an Egyptian Muslim woman living in the Arab world asking a Muslim woman born in the West why she was wearing the hijab.

When I explained my reasons, she seemed to relax and then pulled out her cigarettes from her bag and started telling me about how she viewed the hijab as being restrictive, and that as a trainee TV newsreader the hijab wasn't for her.


I do think that in the West there is a pre-occupation with the hijab, the burkha and the chador.

I am not in denial; I know that there are massive problems in the Muslim world with equality and rights of women.

But women face problems relating to their gender across the world, be it on different levels.

Within Islam there is a wealth of diversity, the way Muslim women dress differs from country to country, the way a Muslim women wears hijab may also differ.

Islam goes beyond the boundaries of continents, cultures, languages and creed.

Through Islam I feel empowered and have been moved by the beauty and simplicity of wearing the hijab and the direction that it has given me in my life.

If you have a similar story to tell, we'd like to hear it. You can send your experiences or make a comment using the form below.

The following comments reflect the balance of views received:

Shaista's story is interesting. But honestly, it's just a piece of cloth on the head. If that's what she needs to feel like a 'real' Muslim, that's her business. However, some people claim Muslims in the UK are discriminated against because of hijab. But it's no different than schools telling students to take off crosses or change other clothing not appropriate as a school uniform. It's also wrong to say non Muslims are not discriminated against in Muslim countries. I've seen enough of that when non Muslim friends came to visit in Pakistan and I've seen how non Muslims are treated in Saudi Arabia. So there's no difference really is there?
Fatimah Begum, UK

There is nothing Islamic about the hijab. It is repression
Joseph Canadian, San Jose, California
It is widely believed that the hijab (headscarf) is an ancient Muslim Tradition. It was in fact invented in Lebanon in the 70's by the Shia Sect so that the Shia women can be differentiated from other Islamic women. The design of the scarf itself is based on older European scarves that women used to wear. I think it is wrong to say that the hijab is Islamic tradition when in fact it is a recent thing. Much older Islamic artwork portrays women not wearing it at all. There is nothing Islamic about the hijab. It is repression.
Joseph Canadian, San Jose, California

I am proud to say that I am a newly converted Muslim. I took the hijab before I said my Words of Acceptance and I feel secure and graceful in it.
Ayehsa Whiteman, Canada

The practice has a long history in the Judeo-Christian tradition
Ali, Wisconsin, USA
The veil is not a uniquely Islamic convention; the practice has a long history in the Judeo-Christian tradition. Catholic nuns engage in the practice, of course, and there are several references to the practice in both the Old and New Testaments (King James Version). Ironically, the representations of veiling in the Bible is much more problematic than those in the Qur'an or the Hadith, because the Judeo-Christian sources imply that women should be covered because they were viewed as not being equal to men. I Corinthians 11 (3-10) offers one example " For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man."
Ali, Wisconsin , USA

One argument which is sometimes given for women covering their hair/heads/faces/bodies is to protect them from the lustful advances of men. I find this offensive because it is suggesting that women should modify their behaviour because of men. There is no suggestion that it is men who are at fault and that the modification of behaviour should be theirs, not women's.
Mark Headey, UK

Certainly Muslims have much more pressing problems than dress code both pre and post Sept 11. One would hope that our brothers and sisters could be doing more to help encourage tolerance among their own - rather than focussing upon "visibility" - presumably in an effort to encourage tolerance on the streets of London.
Khalid, Canada

Islam doesn't need to be visible, it needs to reform
Reem, Lebanon
I am a paediatrician and an Arab Muslim and I live in an Arab country. I wear size 8, I like make-up and I am very proud of my long black hair. I don't feel oppressed or ashamed with the way I look and I am not going to cover-up from head to toes. We don't have to look different to be good Muslims. I my opinion, Islam doesn't need to be visible, it needs to reform. In the 21st century, there is no room for Taliban-like regulations.
Reem, Lebanon

I respect anyone who is true to their beliefs that don't hurt anyone else or make someone else feel inferior. I am concerned about the word pride in doing certain things, however. Modesty is not exclusive to Islam and I don't flaunt my religious beliefs (i.e. wearing religious symbols) in front of anyone else.
Tess Williams, Australia

For Muslim women wearing Hijab in the streets of London and feeling proud of her heritage is freedom. However, for Muslim women wearing Hijab in countries like Iran, Pakistan or even Nigeria, the Hijab brings with it a different connotation - a feeling of oppression, restriction and being caged in. What one chooses to wear or which religion to practice is not the issue but the freedom to make that choice is.
Uche Chioke, Nigeria

It is a shame that Muslim women are made to feel so uncomfortable about their bodies
Katherine, Canada
The human body should be considered beautiful and not shameful; humanity always been conscious of physical appearance. Were it not for Western attitudes that view the human body as beautiful, we would not have the entire opus of Western art in which it is a given that both men's and women's bodies are to be viewed by all with pleasure. Muslim art can never produce a Renoir or a Michelangelo. It is a shame that Muslim women are made to feel so uncomfortable about their bodies that they feel compelled to shroud themselves to conform to a patriarchal interpretation of Islam and are not able to share their beauty and individuality with the rest of humanity.
Katherine, Canada

To Katherine, Canada: Where did you get that idea that Muslim woman feel uncomfortable about their body? I think you got it completely wrong! There is no doubt that the human body is beautiful and amazingly complex! It's a wonderful creation of Allah and Islam recognises that! But remember that when something is beautiful, one wants to keep it precious, and that is what we are doing, by wearing Hijaab. There is no feeling of shame, on the contrary!
Sukeina, UK

Why do people think that the Muslim world consists of only Saudi Arabia? People are free to practice their religion in most parts of the Muslim world, which are surprisingly liberal if westerners ever bother to visit them. Not that westerners should be too proud of their so-called tolerance, because Muslims have had to fight for their rights. Muslim women in Britain have been attacked. There have been lots of attacks against our mosques, properties and persons. The British national Party has campaigned on an anti-Muslim platform. Where is your tolerance then?
Bilal Patel, London, UK

You have limited your religion to only the outside, to what is visible
Mona, Egypt
I'm an Egyptian woman; I just have one question to all these young Moslem women who say that hijab is part of their religion. Does this mean that your mothers and grandmothers were not as religious as you are because they didn't wear it? I don't think so. You have limited your religion to only the outside, to what is visible and forgotten everything about the common manners that everyone (Muslim, Christian or a Jew) should have.
Mona, Egypt

I have read all the comments and I feel that Ms. Alice Walters has some misconceptions about Islam. It is stated quite clearly in the Holy Quarn that one should not laugh at the misfortunes of others. Those people who danced and sang in the streets were not acting according to Islamic principles and Islam should not be blamed for their insensitivity and ignorance.
Afshan Rehman, Pakistan

Whatever people want to wear and be comfortable with or to be proud of, it's up to the individual. Why don't we mind our own business and let other people mind theirs?
Thanh, Australia

This is not only an issue about the way we dress, but also about the way we act
Merima, Bosnia and Herzegovina
I am currently living in USA. I identify myself as a Muslim. Islam for me is a religion, philosophy and a way of life. I do not believe because someone told me to, or because I was born a Muslim. I believe because I read and found logic in my religion. Hijab is a fashion, is a protection from the sun, it is an accessory, not something you have to wear. I would urge Muslim women and women of every religion, dress modestly, wear jeans, t-shirts, skirts, anything you want, but dress with dignity and do not show your wealth or your perfect bodies and think of other people who do not have much or who are physically disabled. This is not only an issue about the way we dress, but also about the way we act. Another point I want to make is that no matter what you believe in, be sure that you do because you have found your truth, your belief. Question it every day, so you can be sure every day that it is the right thing to believe in.
Merima, Bosnia and Herzegovina

A Muslim academic was quoted as saying "The veil is a symbol of man's shame." Why is it the responsibility of women to protect themselves against being sexualized regardless of what they are wearing? How about taking a little responsibility for one's own actions? The onus should be on the men.
Annika, Sweden

I am not a Muslim. I am actually a member of a Heathen religion, that of Hellenic Traditionalism. However, I wear hijab. I don't wear it because my religion says I have to (it doesn't). I don't wear it because any male in my life has told me to (they haven't). I chose to wear it because I came to the realisation that I wanted my body to be my own business. I wanted to be able to walk down the street and not have people staring at my "assets". I wanted to not have to spend all that time in the mirror getting ready to go out, just to have the wind and weather destroy all I worked to create. In hijab, I am truly free to be myself and truly give reverence to the body the Gods have given me. Hijab can be, for some women (Muslim or not) one of the most liberating experiences of their lives.
N. Jakobsen, Denmark

I see no problem in a Muslim woman freely choosing to wear the hijab. The problem is that millions of Muslim women around the world do not enjoy the freedom to make this choice for themselves. It is the knowledge of this that makes the hijab a symbol of the oppression of women, and therefore makes many westerners uncomfortable with seeing a woman dressed this way.
Rod Parkes, Hong Kong

It is not a veil that makes a woman a Muslim or not. It is what she holds in her heart
Sanae, USA
It is not a veil that makes a woman a Muslim or not. It is what she holds in her heart. So to each its own, if the woman thinks a veil will give her the identity she has been looking for, all power to her as long as she does not think she is the sole representative of the religion. Islam encompasses women who wear Burkha, veils, skirts, or pants and it is time that we all accept it.
Sanae, USA

Shaista is making fair use of the UK's tolerant attitude towards the outward display of symbols of diverse religious conviction. In this there is much to celebrate the cultural tolerance that residents and visitors alike can experience in Britain. However, it is tragic I feel that Shaista has chosen to identify the hijab as a symbol of her Islamic identity. The hijab, burqa and chadhor are - of course - dress codes established in pre-Islamic Arab societies governed by patriarchal authority models which, astonishingly, many modern Moslem women such as Shaista are still colluding with because of a confused religious identification which supports an outmoded social form which effectively enslaves and reduces the freedoms of literally millions of Moslem women. I applaud Shaista's right to make a choice, but I abhor her passive collusion in propping up a form of repression which reduces the status and opportunities of many of her less fortunate sisters.
Saif, UK

In response to Asma, UK and Waqqas Khokhar, Montreal, Canada (both below):
As much as I admire Shaista for choosing to wear the hijab in a western society, I feel I must correct you. I am a British, white female, with no religious ties at all. I think that you have both got your ideas wrong. I don't feel that I have to be a size 8 (I'm certainly not!), I never dress scantily (as a size 16, I'm sure it wouldn't look very good). I don't wear make-up and have a new hairdo every two months. Yet, despite all this... I have an extremely well paid job, which I didn't have to flirt my way into and am happily married. I am not oppressed because I don't chose to cover my face/head, neither am I oppressed because I wear unsuitable clothes/make up. Not all white westerners are sluts, just as, not all Muslims are terrorists. The majority of the Muslim world has been working hard to dispel that image, but please, in return, don't stereotype all western women because we don't cover up!
Shelley, UK

Every human being should be allowed the right of freedom and expression
Terry Millins, France
Although I am not a religious person myself, I respect the views and beliefs of others. I am not well versed in the writings of Islam or indeed any other religious writing. However, if the wearing of a Hijab is an expression of Shaista's religion and she wears it freely and proudly then, I truly think that she should hold her head high. Every human being should be allowed the right of freedom and expression. It is only extremists, in all cultures, that strive to deny others of this right. All races, cultures and religions should, no must, live together as brothers and sisters of one race. The human race.
Terry Millins, France

I would like to answer a few comments made by the Non Muslims around the globe with regards to the fears of treatment they would receive if they tried to practice their religion in a Muslim country. I would like to re-assure them all that if they practice their "religion", it will be respected fully anywhere in the world. What will not be respected or tolerated is anything else against the local law of the land. So please don't be afraid to visit a Muslim country but make sure you abide by the law.
Mohammed Anwar, United Kingdom

Is it not amazing that so much discussion has been generated over such a small piece of cloth? As part of the Sikh religion the men are made to wear yards upon yards of cloth on the head as a sign of their identity but without ever having to face public scrutiny for wanting to do so. Perhaps this discussion in a small way demonstrates the dynamic nature of the hijab in that the issues that it raises crosses all social, political, personal/spiritual and religious boundaries. I don't know any other piece of clothing that can do this and this is why the hijab is so special because it is a strength unto itself!!!!
Aleem Naqvi, UK

Some women wear the hijab so men won't look at them, others wear revealing outfits so that men will look at them. I feel both are equally self-repressive because the choice of what to wear is based on a concern about men's attitudes and therefore is not a truly free choice. Interestingly enough, early Muslim women did not wear head coverings. This practice started a few hundred years after the founding of the faith and was actually a Persian cultural practice.
Jeff G, USA

A feeling of togetherness has been created in the Muslim world
Musa Jabbar, London, UK
Those making negatives points about the hijab and any other aspect of Islam are just encouraging people who follow this faith. Take me for example; after 11 September, I had quite a few heated exchanges with people at work. A few weeks later, I turned up at work sporting a beard and a cap on my head. Obviously they were taken aback. After all their Islam bashing, they only succeeded in making me stronger inside. In fact I would say that over the last few years during which Islam got a bashing left right and centre, r most people I know who weren't practicing are now not only just practicing but are very strong in their faith. A feeling of togetherness has been created in the Muslim world.
Musa Jabbar, London, UK

Why feel the need to wear clothing that reflects the religious heritage of countries thousands of miles away rather than clothing that reflects the heritage of the country you're living in? She isn't asserting what she is a Muslim, rather what she's doing is asserting to the majority of UK citizens what she isn't i.e. I'm not like you.
Steve, UK

Martin has a pertinent point. There seems sometimes relatively little importance attached to belonging to the human race, the identity that we all belong to.
Kevin, UK

We can justly feel "proud" that in the UK we can live, pray and dress as we choose
Stephen, London, UK
It is wonderful that Muslims in the UK can freely choose to wear a hijab and practice their religion with none of those things being neither prohibited nor forced upon them. Perhaps some day Christians/Jews/Hindus and members of other religions can freely practice their faiths in countries like e.g. Saudi Arabia and Pakistan with the same freedom and tolerance that Muslims have to practice their religion in the UK. Accordingly, we can justly feel "proud" that in the UK we can live, pray and dress as we choose; that is because we live in an open and tolerant society - and long may it remain that way.
Stephen, London, UK

The Hijab is basically to protect a women from being looked at with lust by a man .There are also codes of dress for men in Islam. I can not see why the west has a problem with this concept, it is a honourable state to be in Hijab, Christian nuns dress in much the same way and are not criticised. The portrayal of women in the West as just an object is much less honourable and gives a woman far less respect than they are worthy of
Nasser, UK

I do not object but I do question the need for any religion to push its presence in the face of others. If I tried to do the same in Saudi Arabia or in other Islamic countries there can be no doubt that life would be made extremely unpleasant for me.
Ian Aitchison, Scotland

Being a faithful disciple of religion doesn't come from wearing a 'badge'
Ray, United Kingdom
I respect anyone that has respect for their heritage. The fact that it became relevant to be more aware of your religion after one of the worst crimes in all humanity seems a bit ridiculous. The 9/11 atrocities had nothing to do with Islam but an act of pure evil. The second point is and I feel this is very important, was when she visited an Islamic country, Egypt, she was behaving in an insensitive manner. The struggle that Egyptian and Muslim women all over the world have had to endure to be recognised as fellow human beings is being undermined but this 'self-righteous squad'. Being a faithful disciple of religion doesn't come from wearing a 'badge', it comes from within.
Ray, United Kingdom

Everyone is entitled to their choice of expression. Let Shaista do as she pleases. After all, it is her life.
Kabwe, Zambia

Having worked in the Middle East, I can only say that covering up is driven by men, to stop others looking at wives. Sad really!
Ian, USA

I hope that all those women out there who are wearing the veil have open hearts and minds and are not trying to prove that they are better than anyone else. Many Muslims in Sydney enjoy every freedom available to them and are equal to anyone, but are very judgemental.
Helen Hussein, Australia

I feel that the hijab and especially the all-black burqa are political rather then religious statements
Safia, Canada
I am a Muslim woman living in the West and have never worn the hijab. I find it sad that even though I consider myself quite pious some Muslims consider me a lesser or not a very good Muslim because I choose not to dress in a certain way. I feel that the hijab and especially the all-black burqa are political rather then religious statements. Islam is basically a beautiful, simple religion that was meant to make lives easier and happier for people but for some reason it has been hijacked by people with their own political and masochistic agendas. Whenever I see a completely covered Muslim woman next to her good-looking husband who is invariably wearing jeans and a tee-shirt, and sporting a fashionable goatee, I can't help thinking that something is not right here. If there are rules then they should be applied to males as well, as Islam encourages equality.
Safia, Canada

If you think the hijab is a form of oppression, you are sadly mistaken. If by simply wearing a headscarf and dressing modestly, a woman can free herself of lustful and perversely judgmental gazes, how can you say she is oppressed? Oppression is the constant pressure of having to wear enough makeup, or having a new hairdo every two months, or wearing a skirt that's racy enough to draw attention.
Waqqas Khokhar, Montreal, Canada

It's really most unfortunate that a modern woman brought up in the West can still cling on to ideologies and beliefs of the past. It's time for all the people to give up their religious marks and unite to be one It's indeed her own personal right to wear this head-scarf but it's also my personal wish not to see so many of them wandering in the streets in Holland. Why can't we all open up? They say it's their culture so why then it's ok for the guys to wear rugged jeans and t-shirts like everyone?
Mahmud Shahrear, The Netherlands

It's all very well Muslims asserting themselves in the West - when are we going to see equality and tolerance for non-Muslims in the Islamic world instead of violence and intimidation? These double standards do my head in.
Guy, UK

Surely all jeans-wearers also need emancipating from peer pressure and fashion trends
Hilary, The Netherlands
Here there is a raging debate as to whether Muslim women should be allowed to wear veils in schools/colleges. I think it's ridiculous that in a 'free' country this comes into question. Why not ban Jews from wearing caps or Christians from wearing crosses? Look at the number of people 'conforming' and wearing jeans. Surely all jeans-wearers also need emancipating from peer pressure and fashion trends. Different countries have different traditional dress; in hot dusty Middle Eastern countries it's not surprising that a headscarf has become a must have - have any of you tried walking around in Cairo with long hair? It gets filled with dust in no time. But I agree it shouldn't be compulsory, and often it isn't as there are plenty of Muslim women who don't wear it.
Hilary, The Netherlands

Living in a country where everyone that fit the preconceived stereotype of Muslims (Sikhs were attacked after the events of 11 September) can be culturally held apart, I find your correspondent's actions to be individually courageous. To have considered her own heritage and culture so carefully and come to an educated conclusion on her appearance is a testament to religious freedom and expression.
Kevin Hodur, USA

My own younger sister has started wearing the hijab at the age of 16
Aamir Ahmad, UK
There are examples of Shaista's story being repeated by young Muslim women throughout the UK. It is a matter of what makes these young women feel comfortable and not what other people feel or think. My own younger sister has started wearing the hijab at the age of 16. In this appearance-obsessed society, it gives a woman the ability to be judged on her personality, character and morals rather than the way she looks. This opposes the common misconception that Islam restricts women's freedom and rights, instead Islam dignifies and honours all women!
Aamir Ahmad, UK

I can understand a Muslim woman choosing to wear the hijab but what I don't understand about the Muslim lifestyle is that the men seem to enjoy the benefits of sauntering around in loose fitting pyjamas and the women are covered up from head to foot no matter what the weather. Perhaps if the lady concerned hadn't got the choice, which may happen soon, she would then find herself rebelling against the system. Personally I see nothing to be proud of in demonstrating you belong to a religion which had some of its people dancing in the streets at the deaths of others on September 11th 2001.
Alice Walters, England

I think people should have the right to wear what they chose. If they chose to wear the Hijab, good on them. Who are we to comment? I would be annoyed and offended if someone commented on my choice of clothes or hair cut, and so obviously I should reciprocate the same respect. I think western society makes too big a deal of the clothes worn by Islamic women, and should pay more attention to health and education.
Jacey, UK

Women wear the hijab to purely satisfy a patriarchal tradition. How many Muslim women's voices are heard in their own country? Do we once hear of a female 'Tribal Leader' being involved in the reconstruction of Iraq? Is there a Muslim woman in government in Iran? Are female descendants to the throne allowed to sit in power in Saudi Arabia? I don't know whether the problem is Arab culture or Islam, but there needs to be some kind of reformation, some kind of rethinking about the old, archaic principles that govern women's rights and roles in that area of the world under that religion.
Stephen Prior, UK

Let us be aware of our differences, and enjoy them
Herbert, UK
I am very pleased when I see symbols of religion, be they crosses, turbans or headscarves, on display in Britain. I was told that even in supposedly tolerant countries such as the Netherlands, public displays of religion are frowned upon, if not banned. Let us be aware of our differences, and enjoy them.
Herbert, UK

Have you looked behind the reason why Muslim women wear headscarf? It is fine that you feel good and but there is a deeper reason for it. It's a shame that as an educated person you have decided to adopt an oppressive symbol that can be seen as sexist and outdated. This is not a symbol of Islam, but one that has been created by people.
Sunny, UK

I feel that there will be no hope for this planet, until people stop seeing their religion or beliefs as being the most important thing about them. Whether people are good or bad is what matters, and you can't (or shouldn't) blame religion for that.
Peter, UK

It is great that in the 'developed' world we are free to practise our religion. It is just a shame that people cannot accept that there are other ways of life that people are happy with. I think that 'Westerners' feel uncomfortable that a person may decide to assert their freedom of belief and therefore does not conform to their expectations. After all, democracy, a free society, or whatever label you want to apply, is as much a doctrine as any other. It includes and excludes. It also has a uniform, an identity, and it also has a problem with exclusion (1 million children in extreme poverty in the UK).
Khalid, UK

It is sad to read about the illusion of Muslim women, and their misunderstanding of their religion. 'Hijab' is not a symbol of Muslim women it is an old Arab custom before Islam. How can any modern British Muslim woman be proud of a pre-Islamic fashion which was designed for Arab women in the Arabia peninsula?
Mohamed Ahmed, UK

I wear the hijab at all times
Michelle Jamal, Saudi Arabia
I am a German Muslim married to a Lebanese living in Saudi Arabia. I wear the hijab at all times, not as some of my friends in the UK do under pressure, or like some Saudi women who remove it once they are on the airplane, but always. In Saudi Arabia I am frowned upon because I don't cover my face and in Lebanon, where many women are as free as women in Europe are, there is a surprise at a Westerner wearing the hijab. But that is my identity and more Muslim women should be proud to wear it.
Michelle Jamal, Saudi Arabia

It is heart-warming to read Shaista Aziz's story, on how she has come to the self discovery of her roots. I respect her for her being proud, and her being able to stand out as herself as she affirms her identity.
Leong Wai Kit, Singapore

The story was interesting. It also shows tolerance shown to other religions in the UK. Contrast this with Saudi Arabia.
Jim Davis, England

It is a symbol of all that is wrong with the way Muslim men expect their women to behave
Andrew Nathan, Currently in Morocco
I find it so sad that an educated woman should decide for herself that she should wear a scarf. To me it is a symbol of all that is wrong with the way Muslim men expect their women to behave. Your correspondent just adds to the repression of Muslim women worldwide, and it is a sad reflection on the world today that she is proud to wear this repressive symbol in a country where there is no real need.
Andrew Nathan, Currently in Morocco

Andrew Nathan is assuming, assuming and assuming. Here is an article from a women who likes to wear a scarf and it is her choice, and yet people like you have to reinforce this myth that it is something pushed by men, especially in Muslim countries. I belong to Pakistan, and have been to many Muslim countries, and the fact is, women make their own choice to wear or not to wear scarves. Ironically, it seems that it is here, in the west that some men, like Andrew Nathan want to force women - not to wear the scarf.
Haroon Ahmed Khan, Germany

To Andrew UK / Morocco: Are you pitying all the women on the streets of Morocco right now? Shaista does not wear the veil because Muslim men want to view her that way! For her and many other Muslim women, it is a symbol of their relationship with God. I too am a Muslim, yet am not ready to wear the hijab. It's a personal choice. I don't feel that makes me any less of a Muslim, though perhaps to some people I'd be considered less of a 'victim'.
Kendra, England,

I hardly think that Shaista Aziz is being repressed.
Tahir, UK
In response Andrew Nathan's comments, I hardly think that Shaista Aziz is being repressed. She feels the hijab is part of her Islamic identity. She has not said that she is forced to wear it. In fact, my wife also wears one because she wants to, not because I make her. Also, in response to Martin who says he feels pity for her for needing an "identity" by wearing a scarf; anyone who wears anything is making a statement.
Tahir, UK

Andrew Nathan thinks it is "repressive" to Muslim women. That is a typical western response. Don't you think the way Western women dress is repressive? The fact that they have to fit into a size 8 and they have to dress scantily in order to succeed in life?
Asma, UK

I find it amazing tale that someone can be proud to be a Muslim by wearing the head scarf, especially after 9/11. It just shows that a majority of Muslims will not be ashamed of their religion because of an act of few individuals.
Zahid, UK

It's a pity people feel the need for an 'identity
Martin, UK
I think it's a pity people feel the need for an 'identity', whether through religion, nationality or skin colour. As far as I and many others are concerned, the only identity we have is a shared one: that of a human being on planet earth. By all means wear a hijab if you need to, but like all uniforms, it probably won't be welcomed everywhere, even in Egypt it seems.
Martin, UK

Martin has a pertinent point. There seems sometimes relatively little importance attached to belonging to the human race, the identity that we all belong to.
Kevin, UK

To Martin, UK; what do Jeans, trainers, baseball caps, English and democracy represent? A uniform of a culture. We may able be humans but, let us be honest with ourselves and others; we are all different and have a different tale to tell.
Gavin, UK

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