Egyptian society increasingly divided over headscarf

Egyptian society increasingly divided over headscarf
A BBC investigation points to “employment discrimination” in Egypt for women in hijab. KHALED DESOUKI / AFP

Discrimination in hiring, filtering in restaurants… A BBC survey shows that women wearing the hijab are less and less tolerated by wealthy circles.

Egypt may be an almost exclusively Muslim country, where religious freedom still has a long way to go (journalist Ibrahim Eissa, who was indicted in February for doubting a miracle of the Prophet, knows something), its well-to-do population seems to be freeing itself more and more from wearing the veil. So much so thata BBC investigation reveals that women still wearing a hijab bear the brunt of this: they would be more discriminated against than their fellow citizens who got rid of them.

According to British radio, which met several veiled Egyptian women, wealthy circles in Cairo would indeed be more and more reluctant to tolerate the hijab within them. Thus a 25-year-old researcher, Mayar Omar, confides that she has difficulty being accepted in certain prestigious restaurants in the city because of her veil. So much so that the story of her experience, shared by other Egyptian women, has emerged as a trend on social networks: many women wearing the hijab give their testimony about situations of discrimination against them, experienced in various places of Egyptian high society. These discriminations relate to the idea that “the hijab is not part of acceptable attire among the country’s upper classessays lawyer and women’s rights advocate Nada Nashat.

Other BBC investigations have in particular highlighted the difficulty for veiled women to buy holiday apartments: the property developer La Vista is thus accused of closing the door to customers wearing the hijab, and who would like to buy a high-rise apartment. range on the coast.

In 2015, 90% of Egyptian women were still veiled

In Egypt, discrimination based on religion is prohibited and the BBC, which presented the results of its investigation, quoted a spokesperson for the Chamber of Tourism Establishments and Restaurants who was scandalized by such discrimination, saying that “veiled women should not have their doors closed to any public space“.

Still, in mentalities, the veil is now relegated to the lower social strata. Yet a few years ago, 90% of women wore it, according to the correspondent of World in Beirut Hélène Salon. Since the 2011 revolution, calls to remove the hijab have multiplied in the country, and many journalists and politicians have removed it. In 2015 the writer and former journalist Chérif Choubachy, who had publicly supported the unveiled young girls, was accused by a women’s magazine “to insult Egypt», and the caricatures had flourished in the press to make his call a plea in favor of prostitution. always in The worlda young student had testified to the atmosphere of intimidation that dissuaded her from removing her veil during her studies: ” [Certains étudiants] punished me and threatened me with physical violence. I had no answer to oppose them nor the strength to face this pressure, so I gave in. she declared.

SEE ALSO – Australia: Fatima Payman, first veiled senator in the upper house, encourages young Muslim women to wear the veil


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