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The image of the Muslim woman’s veil in the popular western media is
that it is a symbol of oppression and violence in Islam. The forced covering
of women in postrevolutionary Iran, or lately, under the Taliban
in Afghanistan seems to confirm this image of the veil. But this singular
image of the ‘veil’ is not the whole story of covering. Since the late
1970s scores of Muslim women, from Arabia to Asia to the West, have
been voluntarily covering. The re-covering movement challenges the
reductive image of the veil as a symbol of Muslim women’s oppression.
Due to the ubiquitous image of the veil as a symbol of oppression or
violence, Muslim women living in the West who cover often suffer discrimination,
harassment, even assault. Hence, it is important to understand
the multiple meanings of the veil, and to challenge the media to
improve their representation of its meanings.