Although the four panelists at NYU’s Women, Islam and the Politics of Transformation event stressed the importance of breaking free from talking about Muslim women with regards to “the veil,” that particle article of clothing was the center of conversation at last night’s discussion panel.

The panel included Noor Al-Qasimi, a research fellow at the Center for the Study of Gender Sexuality; Sarah Husain, an activist and poet; Shaireen Rasheed, a visiting scholar at the CSGS and associate professor of philosophy at Long Island University; and Yasmeen Hassan, a social affairs officer at the United Nations’ division for the advancement of women. Moderator Radha S. Hegde opened the forum by introducing the idea that “the global strobe light focuses on Muslim women only to save, vilify, pity or caricature.”

Al-Qasimi argues that “in evading the veil through costume substitution and shaved head in Iranian cinema, the symbolism is thus erased herein, denaturalizing the hegemonic order of Islamic patriarchy,” in her presentation titled, “The Mobility of the Veil and the not-veiled Muslim Female Subject.”

“The Mobility of the veil thus refers to the possibility of evasion, substitution or at times removal of the veil,” she explained.

However, Husain asked, “When are we going to stop talking about the veil?”

She feels that the veil should not be an issue. Rather, she believes that instead of talking about the veil, there should be more focus on the actual issues women are going through.

“I believe that every woman has a right over her body,” she said, adding that the state should not mandate rules for women, who should have a choice about whether to veil or unveil. “It is my right to decide to practice my religion. It’s not anybody’s business,” she said.

One member of the audience asked why they were discussing the veil, if these women thought it shouldn’t be the focus. (MORE)


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