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Ex-Hijabi Interviews You Really Need to Read

Whew. I was so busy with the New Year stuff that I got to read this wonderful piece from Between a Veil and a Dark Place only today. Well, better late than never. She touches on the fact that ex-Muslims are underrepresented in the atheist community, and that being an ex-Muslim makes you face with many hardships. I agree, it resonates with me deeply. Ex-Muslims feel trapped between many oppositions, and facing many challenges. Marwa does a very great job of enumerating these problems. In this piece she also refers to me, which is very nice. *waves back*

But this piece is also about three interviews. This is the story of those interviews:

A few weeks ago, Valerie Tarico, a psychologist, author, and journalist, released a piece in the Huffington Post entitled “Is the Hijab A Symbol of Diversity or a Symbol of Oppression?” While I was glad to finally see a mainstream media venue tackle the issue of the hijab in a different way–without being needlessly apologetic, pandering to the sensibilities of Muslims, and giving undue focus on the perspectives of those privileged enough to have had free choice regarding the hijab and only those perspectives–I was dismayed that no women were interviewed for the purposes of this article.

She then writes to Vlarie Tarico, and three interviews are arranged, with three ex-Muslim women who used to wear hijab about their experience with hijab. I strongly encourage you to read these interviews.

Again, a link to Marwa’s article: Ex-Hijabi Interviews and the Underrepresentation of Ex-Muslim Women

A link to the introduction: Unveiled. Three Former Muslim Women Look Back on the Hijab.

 A link to Marwa’s interview: While I still vehemently oppose anybody asking a woman to take off or put on a piece of clothing that she actively chooses to wear if it does not pose harm or discrimination to others, I’d like to challenge the ethics of continually heralding the hijab as a free choice when it actively drowns out the experiences, testimonies, and legitimacy of women who do not have that free choice, presenting their experiences as anomalous, unrepresentative, or the results of misinterpretation of Islam. Defending Islam as an ideology from criticism often obscures an honest examination of the injustices done to women in its name, and it is frankly appalling to me that shoddy excuses like ‘that’s just a misapplication, that’s not thetrue Islam, those are just mistakes fallible Muslims make’ are continually given to keep the suffering of women in Islamic societies invisible.

A link to Reem’s interviewAnd it occurred to me that the only way I could take my life back was by unveiling, not only my hair but also my true nature.I would have to obliterate the persona that I was so carefully molded into in order to discover who I really was.

A link to Heina’s interview: Islam itself can be seen as shaming women who do not cover and threatening them with eternal damnation if they do not. Despite that, there are plenty of women who self-identify as Muslim without covering themselves. In my view, it’s not my place to question a woman who covers within that context. Covering oneself as per Islamic law is hardly the only anti-feminist choice that some women make; demanding that level of ideological purity only of Muslim women who cover but not, say, white American women who change their surnames upon marriage, is rather inconsistent.



  1. opposablethumbs says

    Thank you so much for linking to these interviews. These are the voices that we need to listen to – that white western feminists, atheists, left-wingers need to listen to – that I need to listen to. Thank you.

  2. yubal says

    I don’t have much to contribute to the veil topic in general, because I am not a Muslim female, but I sometimes feel obliged to point out publicly, whenever someone complains about “Burqa woman” (just after said “Burqa woman” left hearing range) that what she is wearing is called a Hijab or a Tchador or a Niqab and not a Burqa. That throws most people off to the point where they seem to be thinking about what they just said. And if they actually know anything of those things they were just talking about.

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