Happy(ish) World Veil Day - Pacific Standard

Happy(ish) World Veil Day

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It's International Hijab Day. The event began in 2004 to protest the French government's ban on wearing the Muslim headscarf in public schools. It gained momentum in 2009 after the Marwa el Sherbini case in Germany. Sherbini, an Egyptian living in Dresden, was murdered inside a courtroom while testifying against Alex Wiens, a Russian also living in Germany, who had insulted Sherbini for wearing the veil. Wiens, who had smuggled a knife into the trial, crossed the courtroom and stabbed Sherbini 16 times. Sherbini's husband was then mistaken for the assailant, and a police officer shot him as he rushed to his wife's aid.

More recently, Jamaat i Islami, a religiously-skewed, conservative political party in Pakistan, has picked up the Hijab Day idea and run with it as a show of theocratic zeal. Whatever local political intentions accompany some of the effort -- JiI's leader is a man, and men don't wear veils -- various organizations and individuals still use the day as an excuse to talk about the hijab, Islam, and perceptions of both.

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In that spirit, here's the National Post's Chris Selley with some pointed numbers:

Are Muslims uncommonly devout? French government research shows only “8% to 15% regularly attend religious services”; 42% supported banning the hijab in public schools. Pew found that American Muslims are no more devout than Christians, and no more likely to identify themselves primarily by their religion.

Are Muslims bent on remaking their new countries? Pew found 63% of American Muslims see “no conflict being a devout Muslim and living in modern society”; the figure for Christians was identical.

The rest of the Post story is here.

A very long, very home-made, very cute tutorial on how to wear a hijab, should one be so inclined, is here.

A lot of the debate about the event has occurred online -- most of it in languages other than English. But if you look hard enough, the discussion has poked through to the Anglophone world here and there.

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