Facts about Hijab

Facts are always more interesting than fictions

Concordia University in Montreal conducted a study of young Muslim women between 18 to 30 years old that shows particularly interesting phenomena: 52% of Arab women and 40% of Pakistani/Indian women wear the hijab, but only 2% of Iranian women and 2% of Turkish women wear the hijab. Of Canadian immigrants – all from countries weathering strong Islamic revivalist movements – only a fraction wears the hijab. Second-generation respondents coming from these backgrounds were far more likely to wear the hijab than those born in these particular countries. South Asian immigrants usually adopt the hijab upon arrival in Canada, and not prior. Thus, the author suggests that the forces that shape this new North American Muslim identity are located in Canada itself.

In the same study, more than 70% of the respondents wearing the hijab and more than 60% not wearing the hijab felt that the hijab earns them trust and respect from their families and Muslim communities. The study also shows that more than 1 in 4 Muslim women are encountering some form of direct, applied pressure to change their dress code in both ways.

Source: The Muslim Veil in North America, Edited by Sajda Sultan Alvi, Homa Hoodfar and Sheila McDonojgh, Women’s Press, Toronto, 2003


Hijab in the World Now

Recently, the debate about hijab has been renewed at the global level. In the past few years, government policies regarding Muslim women’s clothing have become increasingly restrictive and polarized in both Muslim-majority countries and non-Muslim countries. More governments and authorities have started either banning certain styles of dress worn in public or have gone in the opposite direction by making it mandatory for all women to cover their hair. Legislatures that are anti-hijab are especially apparent in Europe and the former Soviet Union, while wearing hijab has become mandatory in several districts in South East Asia. Both circumstances have resulted in arrests and protests. Similar phenomena have occurred in the province of Quebec in Canada, the Caribbean, and Africa as well.

In this context, this documentary is a case study of individual liberty and the coexistence of diverse traditional values in increasingly multicultural societies.