Sunday, 4 April 2010

Halloween in Istanbul

Rukiye, my host in Istanbul, has her last university exam today, just a half hour on Arabic grammar. She's almost done a two year program in Islamic studies. Hijab is forbidden in government schools in Turkey, so she's going to wear a wig.

She tried it on this morning, and it was hard not to laugh.  It was a cheap wig and didn't look real at all. We spent quite a while attempting to comb and style the wig, but it didn't help much.

We're leaving Istanbul the day after tomorrow. I can't believe how quickly the time has gone, it doesn't seem like enough.


  1. I forget where it was, maybe in France, but I was reading a story about a young girl who was forbidden to wear hijab in school so she shaved her head.

  2. Could be France, I don't know. That's one way of not showing your hair and protesting at the same time.

    Women are not supposed to shave their heads in Islam, but I don't know which is worse - shaving it, or having to uncover it, which is also not allowed. I don't blame her at all.

    There have been movements to allow hijab in public universities in Turkey, and I think it might happen, but it seems like the rest of the world is moving to prohibit it. Even in Canada, there have been calls to prohibit it, and niqab as well.

    I heard a CBC podcast about an immigrant woman in Quebec who was not allowed to attend government French classes in niqab. I think the program was The Current.

  3. Yeah, that was in the news recently, the issue with niqab in Quebec. Quebec has now banned niqab when receiving government services, or rather now 'requires all people to have their face showing while receiving government services'. It's strange to me, but maybe it's because I try to understand why niqab is important to some Muslim women instead of feeling threatened by my western conventions.

    I didn't know Muslim women weren't supposed to shave their heads, but I thought it was a clever way of going around the law, and a very brave thing to do.

  4. Weird, my first reply here failed...

    I didn't know head-shaving was forbidden, but I thought it was a clever way of obeying the law without violating the hijab, so she could still attend school. Strange. I remember the girl guides having hijabs for purchase in the uniform catalog, one would think the school would just create a hijab uniform for girls, instead of banning them. I suppose there is the easy way, and the hard way of going about things.

    Quebec has since banned niqab when receiving government services. The wording of the law is something to do with not having one's face covered, so that it's not just straight-up discrimination, or anti-Muslim. I can't believe it. It's ridiculous. I hope someone can organize a women-only French class so that these women can attend.

  5. lool a sad to be pushed into such measures! Allah make it easy for her inshaAllah

  6. Yeah, a turtleneck and a wig was the best she could do. She tried to wear her hijab in, but the police and the head of the school were waiting at the gate and she had to remove it. It is sad, it's just a piece of cloth. Women shouldn't be required to show their bodies to be educated.

  7. Megan: I'm really delighted when I hear from non-Muslims who are interested in understanding Muslims. You made my day, thanks :)

    I hope someone does organize a women-only French class. A piece of cloth covering the nose and mouth really shouldn't prohibit women from receiving government services.

    I'm really sad to hear about that legislation, I find the culture in France and Quebec to be very racist and discriminatory, even if it is politely worded. This doesn't belong in Canada.

    I agree, it was a clever way of avoiding displaying her hair. People do the best they can.

  8. salam aleikom ...

    when you have a small break from your you mind filling out the questions I posted on my blog. I'm trying to collect as many emails as possible. When you have a chance. No rush. Take care :)

  9. Walaikom salaam Sarah,

    Yes, I definitely will, I was very excited to see that on your blog! I don't have much time on the internet, but I will get to it. Insha'Allah (and I don't mean that I'm not actually going to do it!)

  10. Meg: Sorry, I misspelled your name back there. Whoops!