Copyright (c) 2008 University of California Hastings College of the Law
Hastings Race and Poverty Law Journal
Note: The Legal Status of Hijab in the United States: A Look at the Sociopolitical Influences on the Legal Right to Wear the Muslim Headscarf
Hastings Race & Poverty Law Journal
5 Hastings Race & Poverty L.J. 441
The hijab, the headscarf worn by many Muslim women, has long been a topic of interest in the Western World, playing a part in feminist, Orientalist, social, religious, and political discourse. It is often misunderstood to be a symbol of oppression or a sign of extremism, resulting in an idea that Muslim women need to be liberated from hijab. 1 Although such attention did not originate with the events of September 11, 2001, in its aftermath, Islam and manifestations of Islam, such as hijab, have been reexamined, scrutinized, and further critiqued. This resulted from a combination of fear fed by the media and political agendas, law enforcement practices, social and political influences, cultural practices and norms, and outright religious and cultural ignorance of Islam and Muslims. This view falsely depicts the hijab-wearing woman as an "oppressed, weakened woman, stripped of her "equal rights', forced to "veil' her sexuality, and mandated as inferior by the tenets of Islamic principle." 2 Despite the fact that this view is a severely flawed and false reflection of Islamic principles, it has made the hijab an easy target for post-9/11 backlash and is often used to advance political agendas and facilitate and justify discrimination. Such religious ignorance has affected Muslim women in many facets of their lives including education, work, travel, recreation, and the ability to participate in the legal process in the courtrooms of our nation.
Most often, reaction to hijab takes the form of "microaggression," smaller ...
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