The numbers of American-Muslim women wearing scarves have increased dramatically in the past few years, reports New Jersey’s Bergen Record newspaper (July 11).
One official of the Kentucky-based International Union of Muslim Women says that “In the last year in particular, the number of inquiries we’ve had from women dealing with the issue of whether to wear the scarf has increased dramatically.” While wearing the scarf is a sign of modesty and allegiance to Koranic teachings, most of the women taking up the observance have mothers who don’t wear the veil, and they are doing it against the wishes of their husbands and families.
Many converts begin wearing the veil before cradle Muslim women do, adds reporter Monique El-Faizy. But the issue of wearing a veil is divisive enough that the Union of Muslim Women does not take a position on the matter. The many American Muslim women taking up the observance has “sparked a growing area of civil rights litigation.”
The number of charges filed by Muslim women on instances of work-related bias has grown from 44 in 1996 to 62 in 1998, although it is uncertain how many of these charges are related to wearing veils. At the same time, however, Muslim women reporting discrimination from the public about wearing the veil has decreased in recent years, according to the Council on American-Relations.