Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Young Muslim Women Covering

Reading the following stories reminds us that in countries where head covering is somewhat optional, the choice is made often by young women, who often come across as "counter cultural" in some ways.

"Youthful Voice Stirs Challenge to Secular Turks"

SABRINA TAVERNISE, October 14, 2008, in

ISTANBUL — High school hurt for Havva Yilmaz. She tried out several selves. She ran away. Nothing felt right.

“There was no sincerity,” she said. “It was shallow.”

So at 16, she did something none of her friends had done: She put on an Islamic head scarf.

In most Muslim countries, that would be a nonevent. In Turkey, it was a rebellion. Turkey has built its modern identity on secularism. Women on billboards do not wear scarves. The scarves are banned in schools and universities. So Ms. Yilmaz dropped out of school. Her parents were angry. Her classmates stopped calling her.

Like many young people at a time of religious revival across the Muslim world, Ms. Yilmaz, now 21, is more observant than her parents. Her mother wears a scarf, but cannot read the Koran in Arabic. They do not pray five times a day. The habits were typical for their generation — Turks who moved from the countryside during industrialization.

“Before I decided to cover, I knew who I was not,” Ms. Yilmaz said, sitting in a leafy Ottoman-era courtyard. “After I covered, I finally knew who I was.”

While her decision was in some ways a recognizable act of youthful rebellion, in Turkey her personal choices are part of a paradox at the heart of the country’s modern identity.

The full story of this young woman's movement for rights, and more on the headscarf debate in Turkey can be found at the title linked above.

"Muslim student seeks to change world"
October 14, 2008, By James Kneblik, Jr., in USFCrowsNest at wordpress

Read her story and of her good works with her family working with Iraq, at the title link above. Here is just the portion of the article relating her experiences as a Muslim student in the US.

Following the footsteps of world-changing family members, Shelaan Hakky lives her life furthering humanitarian good and her own Muslim faith.

Hakky is beginning her college career at USF St. Petersburg and hopes to make a difference on campus.


Anyone meeting Hakky today would notice her wearing the hijabi, the customary head covering for many Islamic women. A woman choosing to cover her head is a big decision, Hakky explained.

Hakky holds one of the three officer positions in the new United Muslim Student organization at USF St. Petersburg. As vice president, she is the only female officer that chooses to cover her head with the hijabi.

Recognizing the head covering is a visible indication of Islam, Hakky explained that a Muslim woman should wear it when she is ready.

Even in college Hakky has experienced people treating her different because of her decision to wear the hijabi. She says people sometimes stare at her while on campus.

A professor during class once asked her, while wearing her head covering, if she knew how to use a computer. Hakky was surprised, “of course I know how to use a computer,” she responded. “I was raised here, I have an American accent for god’s sake.”

“I’ve had people say, ‘go back to your country,’” Hakky stated. “I’ve had a lot of racism.”

There really is a lot more to these young women than what they wear on their heads, but as it is a strong symbol, they and other young women do really seem to be striving to help change perceptions of that symbol.

On the much rougher side of choosing to wear a headcovering, consider these young women:

"Tunisian College Bans Hijab-Wearing Women"
found in the MEMRI blog, 2008-10-15

A representative of the League for the Defense of Hijab-Wearing Women in Tunisia said that the director of the Higher Institute for Technological Studies in the town of Menzel Abderrahmane had prevented 60 women wearing the hijab from attending classes, and had threatened to cancel their studies altogether.

He said some of the women agreed to wear a traditional Tunisian headcovering instead of a hijab.

There has recently been an increase in complaints of restrictions on hijab-wearing women in Tunisia.

Source:, October 15, 2008

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