Articles in the ‘Thoughts’ Category

Why another film about hijab?

This is how this project was born.

I lived in Istanbul with my Turkish husband for several years. In Turkey, crashes between women in hijab and the secular authority were one of the most familiar news stories. Completely virgin in the this country and religion, I started wondering what this piece of fabric was all about. There were sharp tension and division over the hijab issue in the society at that time.

Here in Canada, things are different, of course. I saw all sorts of views about hijab within the Muslim communities, and saw oversimplified and heavily politicized view of the hijab and Muslim women in the media. Every Muslim woman has a very personal, often emotional and interesting story about the hijab, and each of them is so different. There was a huge gap, however, between these diverse realities and how the media, including documentary films, treat the subject.  More interestingly, at least to me, the subject of hijab is so personal and sensitive that not many women talk about it with their friends.

I’m not a Muslim. I’m an outsider. Because I am an outsider, I don’t have to take a position. I don’t need to explain why I’m wearing hijab or not wearing hijab. I can simply tell different stories from their perspectives to fill the gap.



What does hijab mean to a woman?

I have wanted make a film about hijab for a long time, more than 10 years since I was living in Turkey.

It is there I saw frequent crashes between women wearing the hijab and police or security guards.  Being totally virgin in this part of the world and its religion and history, I couldn’t help but wondering what this piece of fabric is all about.

I saw the purest spirituality of women wearing the hijab and also saw people who seriously fear that the increasing number of women in hijab may be indicating the rise of fundamentalists. I heard some political parties are paying women to wear hijab. I saw young women blocked from entering universities  because of their hijabs.

Since I moved to Canada in 2000, I realized that things are quite different here, not only from Turkey, but even from other Western countries. Every Muslim woman has different and very interesting experience on hijab. Because Muslim people in Canada have such diverse backgrounds, many of their hijab stories don’t fit news reports whose job is to keep everything simple and see everything as a political issue. I found that for most women, hijab is a very personal subject and barely political expression. At the same time, it involves their relationships with family, friends and society.

I was also fascinated by the complexity the little innocent garment generates. Every Muslim woman who takes her faith seriously needs to choose one way or the other, and handle what comes with that choice. I thought telling different stories of Muslim women’s experiences will help others decode the dress code and understand the hijab and women who wear it a little better.

That’s how this project started.

What is hijab to you?