Marnia Lazreg


On her book Questioning the Veil: Open Letters to Muslim Women

Cover Interview of October 05, 2009


It is my hope that this book will open up a space for discussing the issue of veiling without reticence or fear in spite of the very difficult times that a number of Muslim countries are facing.

Some women may feel that this is not the right time to question veiling, that there are “more important” things to grapple with, such as counterinsurgency wars in Afghanistan and recently in Iraq, looming war in Pakistan, the Palestinian issue, displaced people, increasing poverty etc.

The reality and importance of these issues is beyond doubt.  However, the resurgence of veiling among women of all age groups across the Muslim world also needs to be addressed now.  This is so because veiling is linked to other forms of gender inequality that become aggravated in periods of crisis.

Furthermore, there are organized networks of advocates of veiling who, oblivious to the grave issues facing their societies, choose to invest time and energy in redefining women’s identity.  I wish that one of the outcomes of this book would be for women to demystify the various veil justifications, and realize that as long as governments mandate or prohibit veiling, as long as imams preach about the virtues of veiling, as long as the veil is endowed with multiple meanings, a woman may never know whether the decision she has taken to veil herself is truly free.

© 2009 Marnia Lazreg