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The Veil Returns in Surge of Tradition

An article published in Los Angeles Times on May 24, 1997 focused on the return of the traditional veil, which covers not only the hair but the entire face, among conservative Arabs of Persian Gulf. The article quoted a Saudi cleric issuing a fatwa on the veil, saying that "the gates of evil shall open and will be difficult to shut again" if any man can look into a woman's eyes. Some women from United Arab Emirates said in an interview that they consider wearing the veil, or niqab, as their way of being closer to God. Along with piety, reasons given for wearing the veil include pressure from family and friends and its current stylishness. The article mentioned that women have not only taken to wearing the veil but have also stopped using kohl- an age-old Arab version of eyeliner- around their eyes because the clerics have declared women's eyes as too alluring.

    Dear Editor:

    After reading "The Veil Returns in Surge of Tradition (May 24), about the veil worn by some women in Muslim countries, I feel compelled to write a response. As an American Muslim woman, I am becoming weary of seeing the same one-dimensional issue rehashed in the media. Yes, the veil is worn by some Muslim women, and if they alone choose to be attired so and they are happy with their own decision, then more power to them.

    Let it be known that the Saudi clerics are relying on their own male-oriented interpretation of what a woman should wear. These fatwas are certainly not accepted by all Muslims. I wonder why the more pressing issues of poverty and illiteracy of Muslim women are not given the same amount of coverage as the veil.

    Fatima Cash,
    Muslim Women's League, May 1997

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