Today I had a long conversation with a young woman, a first-year university student. She is one of the few girls her age who do not veil, or wear hijab. The pressure (like adolescents aren't under enough pressure for so many other reasons!) is great to veil. She told me that in her elementary school, when a classmate began to wear hijab, she was enthusiastically commended in front of the class by the teacher and it clearly affected her grades.
Now, I'm all for choice, and have always had the gut feeling that prohibiting someone from wearing hijab (as in Turkey, or France, and now in Tunisia) was about as wrong as forcing one to wear the veil...but now I'm wondering if maybe the ban on veils in public companies, government positions and schools is not so wacky. Veiling or not veiling should no more affect your job status than should it your educational progress.
For those who read French, here's a great article from El Watan about hijab as a style phenomenon:
In my time here in Algeria I've seen too many people doing things only for the "points" they believe they'll get on judgement day, and they have no shame in telling you upfront that this is why they're doing it. People are constantly saying "if you do this, God will reward you.," and "If you help this person you'll gain favor with God." Am I naive to believe that people should do good, be honest, treat people well and with kindness, because it's simply the right thing to do, without concerning oneself with the reward? Actually, when the reward is first in the mind rather than the act of kindness/charity, that would seem to nullify the act altogether.
It's clear just by looking at the way that the veil is worn by so many here (skin tight sexy lacy top, matching veil with dangling hijab pin, tight long skirt and killer heels) that it's not being worn for modesty or respect for what they believe to be God's teachings (I would disagree that the veil is a religious requirement). I'm far more modest in my dress sans hijab than a huge percentage of the women here, and yet there are those who would criticize me yet applaud them for being more Islamic. There's something wrong with that, and I find it so apparent and extremely disturbing to see that with the increase in veiled women there is a decrease in sincerity.