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What Is Veiling?$
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Sahar Amer

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9781469617756

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: January 2015

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469617756.001.0001

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Veiling and Feminism

Veiling and Feminism

(p.133) Chapter Seven Veiling and Feminism
What Is Veiling?

Sahar Amer

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter examines veiling within the context of feminism, with particular reference to the desire of many secular Muslims and non-Muslims to liberate Muslim women from their allegedly oppressive religion and veiling practices. It begins by tracing the history of veiling practices in the twentieth century and the emergence of feminist debates about veiling in Muslim-majority societies during that time. It cites the case of Huda Sha'rawi, whose decision to shed her hijab in public in Egypt in May 1923 ushered in the birth of the Arab feminist movement. It then discusses two opposing views: feminists who consider veiling an oppressive tradition that must be discarded, and those who view veiling as a symbol of Islamic feminism and of women's true liberation. It also looks at Qasim Amin, the first advocate of Arab feminism and of unveiling, whose 1899 book The Liberation of Woman (Tahrir al-Mar'a) sparked a heated debate on veiling. Finally, the chapter discusses the spread of calls to shed the veil in other Middle Eastern societies such as Turkey and Iran.

Keywords:   veiling, feminism, Muslims, Muslim women, Huda Sha'rawi, Egypt, Qasim Amin, The Liberation of Woman, Turkey, Iran

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