January 22nd, 2010
06:43 AM ET

Headscarfs, vulnerability, IEDs: Change in Afghanistan

When I was back in Atlanta a few months ago, I was discussing my thoughts about the changes I’ve seen in Afghanistan since arriving full time in 2008.

The editors of CNN’s Afghanistan Crossroads blog asked me if I could write up my feelings for a blog entry.  I’m doing that now and aware there will be people living in Afghanistan that agree with these thoughts and others who feel differently. But this is purely based on my observations.

I’ll be honest when I say the vulnerability feels stronger now than it did last year.  I’m not sure if it is due to the increasingly perilous security situation or because the reality of it all is sinking in.

I’ve noticed some small changes that in the end can be seen as big changes – something as insignificant as my headscarf.  

I remember in 2005, when I was here to shoot a documentary, I was driving in a taxi with my headscarf covering my hair.

An Afghan woman I was riding with turned to me and said, “What are you doing?” She then yanked the scarf off my head.

“They need to get used to hair again. When you’re in the car keep it off!” she demanded.

I thought I was respecting Afghan culture by keeping it on but I also understood her stance.  This was a woman who remembered Kabul in the 1960s and 1970s, where she didn’t have to wear a headscarf or dress in a certain way – and she missed that Afghanistan.

When I came back in 2008, I would wear my headscarf when we were walking outside.  But I figured what was the harm in keeping it off inside the car?
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/01/21/story.atia.abawi4.jpg caption="With TV’s ‘Afghan Star’ contestants in December 2008 (no headscarf)"]
I remembered what the woman said to me in 2005 but I also had a hell of a time trying to keep the scarf from falling off; I just couldn’t get used to it – and I’m still struggling.

I didn’t get very many stares, it seemed like people didn’t care; and they were now used to the hair on a woman’s head; a relief and a good sign.
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/01/21/story.atia.abawi3.jpg caption="With an Afghan general in Khan Neshin, Helmand province in July 2009 (no headscarf)"]
Fast forward a year later, I keep my headscarf on because I now do get more stares if I don’t wear it. Sometimes angry stares. When it’s off it feels like it screams, “I’m a foreigner!”

And with the growing disappointments Afghans have faced after so many failed promises, sometimes the frustrations are directed toward the international community.

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/01/21/story.atia.abawi2.jpg caption="At an internally displaced person camp in September 2009 (with headscarf, as I was also in the photo, at top, later last year with school girls in Kabul.)"]

There is still a mindset of hospitality in Afghanistan; most Afghans are very friendly to foreigners.  And it doesn’t even feel like the frustrations stem from fundamentalist ideology.  More so the fact that the over 40 nations have been in Afghanistan since 2001 and the majority of the Afghans I speak with say, they have yet to see a positive change – something they were promised.  But instead they say they are living through more and more negative changes.

But the hope of a better future is still there among the majority of the Afghans I’ve encountered – mostly because it’s really the only thing they can hang on to.

But the trivial headscarf is just a small example of change in city life. Rural life has also seen a lot of changes; a life most journalists are not able to see without embedding with the military.

I can’t even count how many military vehicles I’ve ridden in. It just became second nature when you were out with coalition forces, and you never really thought too much about it.

2009 was the deadliest year for the troops in Afghanistan and the majority of those deaths were due to roadside bombs. Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDS)  have also killed countless civilians throughout the country.

In a span of 10 days, two journalists, Canadian Michelle Lang and Rupert Hamer of England, were both killed in what were described as routine patrols.

Riding along some of the roads in Afghanistan now feels similar to a game of Russian roulette with more rounds in the chamber.

But it’s not a game.

The troops have to do this on a daily basis as a part of their job; the villagers have to continue to live their daily lives and provide for their families.

But it’s us journalists who choose to make these trips.  We are not forced.  We base our choice on the people we cover and the stories that need to be told.

Some may agree with our choices, others may not.

But what we need to remember is that most media organizations forgot about Afghanistan for many years – as did the world.  Making it into the forgotten war.

But it also made it into the Afghanistan we see today – a challenge much greater than it was just a few short years back.

soundoff (283 Responses)
  1. guleycan

    Why do many people think that scantilty dressed women(in the west) are doing so to please men? I have met many beatiful women who think of their sexual attraction as power over men. Not to PLEASE them but to RULE them. And.. many DO. I am not saying that I approve such behavior, but picturing such women as powerless people is just wrong.
    So, if you live in a muslim country and observe muslim men's behavior,
    you will see that they are afraid of women's sexual power over them just as
    the power of alcohol and drugs, etc. It is a matter of "nefs".
    Unfortunately, the solution the muslim men has found is to cover up women,
    rather than being mindful about their weakness and try to improve themselves,
    like the Budists do. It is like removing all the food from the kitchen because
    you cannot control your appetite. That is why if a woman puts on a revealing
    outfit in a muslim country, many men will look at her with hungry eyes, some men will harass her out on the street while other men just watching and smiling as if it is an entertainment.
    I am not talking about abstract Islamic ideals here, I am talking about how
    everyday life is in a muslim country, how some muslim men behave.
    Hey, muslim sisters living in the west...Girl, aren't you lucky?!

    January 28, 2010 at 1:52 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Ali

    Everything falls in the Bell Curve when looking at various populations and analyzing them. If you are not familiar with the Bell Curve concept its very simple. All it does is shows where the Average population falls, right smack in the middle with app. 68%. Then there are few who fall on the Right Side of the Curve ( The shape of it is like the Bell shape) and few fall on the Left Side of the Curve app. 17% on both sides.

    So, if you keep this bell curve in mind and then look at this dressing issue, you will see an interesting fact. There are probably an equal number of womem, from the population of All the women in the world, perhaps in Million that fall under Extreme Right when it comes to dressing with Modesty and self respect, i.e. wearing Burka, Scarf, dress to conceal their hidden beauty which is reserved for their Husband.

    And there are equal number of women around the globe that fall under the extreme Left, numbering in millions also whom are FORCED into thinking that they must wear as minimum clothing as possible to please a man, any man, or even "whatever". Then there are Average women, that fall in the middle, 68% group, that dress OK, meaning not too revealing and not too conservative, i.e. what your Mother would wear, no matter what religion, race, ethnicity.

    January 28, 2010 at 11:02 am | Report abuse |
  3. Jay

    Burka of the East Versus the Bikini of the West


    True both are stereotypes and both are targetted against making fun of the women of either East or West. Not all Muslim women wear Burka, and not all Western women wear Biknis. So the arguement is setteled.

    Hugzzzz... anyone.. 🙂

    January 27, 2010 at 1:11 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Zane

    @ A Modest Christian, Western Women,

    Wait till its Summer time 🙂 Thank God for Creating the Freezing Winter in the Western Countries, the only time of the year when the Western Women are forced to dress modestly, and don't like to show their hot bods and assets around to anyone that has got two eyes, even the kids. Isn't that immoral?

    I am not saying all of the Western Women are like that. But a great majority have lost the modesty which their own grand mothers from as late as early 1900 still had.

    If you dress modestly, then that is good, you are keeping some hope alive. I've also a Westerner, I grew up in New York and now live in Mid-West. Western Hemisphere belongs to same One God, that East belongs to. Its just the narrow minded people both in the West and East that are creating trouble for all, and making big issues of something that does not and should not concern them, like the issue of the head scarf, that is being so hotly debated over here, and that is what prompted me to react when so much fervor against the nudity in the West, as a counter-example to contemplate upon for the people in the West.

    Both East and West can learn alot from one another, only if they learn to respect one another and respecting each others culture first.

    January 27, 2010 at 12:55 pm | Report abuse |
  5. A Modest, Christian, Western Woman

    Again, I am seeing more of the spectacularly INCORRECT stereotypes that Western women parade around naked (I'm looking at YOU "Zane" and "Jay").

    Women in the west do NOT parade around naked. I've never worn a bikini in my life – and I'll wager that MOST Western women have NEVER worn a bikini. And, there seems to be this idea that Western women walk around on the street in swimwear. That is insane.

    Today I am wearing nice slacks and a sweater (the weather got cold again). There is nothing nude about my attire. And, guess what? Every single other woman I've seen today in my very Western nation has worn almost the exact same outfit I have – which pretty much only leaves our hands, heads, and necks viewable. And, THAT is considered immodest?!?

    I am sick and tired of reading these wild distortions that Western women all dress like whores. No we don't. We largely wear modest attire. What you see on television programs does NOT accurately reflect true Western society. If you do not want to be stereotyped then learn NOT to stereotype others!

    If anything I find this extreme preoccupation with women's dress on the part of some of these Islamic male posters as obscene.

    January 27, 2010 at 10:40 am | Report abuse |
  6. Rafiq

    Marlon: "Love your neighbour"? That is why you send your army with bombs and tanks? killing more civilians than combatants? robbing houses? (Yes, the residence of one of my staff in Baghdad was looted by US soldiers, gold and cash was taken). And read this:

    ccording to NPR, “In 2003, a survey of female veterans found that 30 percent said they were raped in the military. A 2004 study of veterans who were seeking help for post-traumatic stress disorder found that 71 percent of the women said they were sexually assaulted or raped while serving. And a 1995 study of female veterans of the Gulf and earlier wars, found that 90 percent had been sexually harassed.”

    The BBC recently reported on The Lonely Soldier: The Private War of Women Serving in Iraq by Helen Benedict. This book examines the extreme difficulties female soldiers have in serving abroad. Benedict interviewed several women in the military to get a deeper understanding of the issue, and some of their stories were real eye openers.

    Army specialist Chantelle Henneberry spoke of some of her experiences in Iraq, “Everybody’s supposed to have a battle buddy in the army, and females are supposed to have one to go to the latrines with, or to the showers – that’s so you don’t get raped by one of the men on your own side. But because I was the only female there, I didn’t have a battle buddy. My battle buddy was my gun and my knife.”

    Another study concluded that 90% of all women serving are sexually harassed. Another one estimates that 90% of all the rapes do not get reported, despite supposedly easier ways to report the crime with confidentiality since 2005. Either way, this appears to be an epidemic that needs to be dealt with.

    An online discussion from a former soldier whose identity is being protected had this to say, “At least a rape ends. It’s the day-to-day degradation that eats at you. None of my friends who were raped on active duty reported it. Or if we tried, we were told to shut up for ‘morale.’ Working with your rapist on a daily basis isn’t a lot of fun, believe me.”

    How the military is dealing with this appears to demonstrate a pattern of sweeping it under the rug. In 2008, 62% of those that were convicted of sexual assault or rape received very lenient punishments such as demotion, suspension, or a written reprimand.

    January 27, 2010 at 3:35 am | Report abuse |
  7. Peace Maker

    OK, its good that we are discussing something here and yes this arguement is also encouragement as long as all the parties have rational reasonable arguements. I think both sides, Christians and Muslims qualify in that regard. Although, there are some from both sides that get a bit emotional.

    Now, an important example. when Toyota or GM makes a Car, why do you think they put a Manual in the glove box, its not just for staring at it, or to tossing it in garbage can, like many people do anyway, but to let the buyer know what is the Best, Optimum way of taking care of that Product is. Same is the case with Human Being, our Product Manuals come in form of Oracle, and who is a better Manual writer for Human Being than GOD, whom created us all. All the Holy books, initially were decended from God, the Old testament, thru direct conversations of God with Moses (Peace be upon him), and dreams of direct messages from God for Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him) and Revelation of Quran thru Arch Angel Gabriel to Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) as well as direct meeting with God on the night of the ascension and returning back to Earth, the Time literally froze, when the Prophet Muhammed (Peace be upon him), ascended to Heaven with Arch Angel Gabriel, the description of how the water froze when Prophet Muhammed (Peace be Upon Him), perform the holy washing, before ascending, as well as how the bed stayed warm, with no one around when Prophet returned. The water also started to move again, the chain on the door started to move back and forth, all indication that Time stayed still, when prophet moved thru space and time. Now modernn Science proves that theorectically, if a person travels thru time and space, everything around them seems its frozen in time, stops in its tracks because you, yourself are travelling faster than light. Prophet Muhammed (Peace be upon him), during his journey also saw many images of the future, i.e. Modern Cities, Modern Way of life, and many such things, which Prophet Muhammed (Peace be upon him) told to all the companions. Only a true prophet could have experienced such a miraculous travel. During the journey, Prophet Muhammed (Peace be upon him), met with all the great holy prophets, i.e Jesus Christ (Peace be Upon him), Moses (Peace be upon him), Abraham (Peace be upon him), and many more.

    As a Muslim we believe in Jesus Christ (Peace be upon him), as our own prophet and as Son of Mary (Peace be upon her). Ameen.

    January 26, 2010 at 8:50 pm | Report abuse |
  8. angie786

    For Marlon Jackson. I am a secular muslim and don't want to be offensive here and I don't think that you are any less religious than I am. But from a muslim perspective I will explaiin too you why slam values modesty and discourage intermingling of sexes outside of marriage. We believe that man and women are naturally attractive to each other and they need to dress modestly to protect their chastity (for both men and women). Men are also required to lower their gaze as a requirement for modesty, but it si hard to impose that on men than it is easier to ask women to wear a head scarf. You can argue agaiinst it saying that many christian woman wear shorts and do not cover their head and stay virgins till they get married and stay loyal to their husbands. However, in reality we all know that there is only a small percentage of christian women who are really guarding their chastity. I have many christian friends who go to the church and call themselves christians but have children from illegitimate relationships and sometimes even have to abort their babies because they are not ready to be single moms. We also believe that intermingling of sexes lead to infidelity, you can argue against it but the increased divorce rate in christian coutnries and it being related to infidelity speaks for itself. However, I feel that religion is a personal matter and state should not dictate what muslim women will wear but Islam's increased emphasis on modesty in clothing and separation of sexes, even in a secular state, it is difficult to think that someone who calls himself a muslim would dress immodestly and would have sexual relations outside of marriage. What do you think Jesus pbuh would have thought of this, don't you think he would have preferred modesty in clothing for his followers? Also, correct me if I am wrong did not Jesus say that even if someone thinks of committing adulturey he is a sinner, if women and men dress modeslty there are fewer chances of thought of adultery coming to ones mind. Just a thought, thanks for your opinion.

    January 26, 2010 at 12:03 pm | Report abuse |
  9. marlon jackson

    Speaking from a christian perspective. We honor God by loving him with all our heart, soul, and strength and loving our neighbor as ourselves. It comes from the heart. It's not abut what you wear, what you wear or how you are wearing it. God is Love and in Him is no darkness. There is a lot more that can be said, but I'll just leave my comments as they are.

    January 26, 2010 at 10:53 am | Report abuse |
  10. Freshta ( some one from Afghanistan)

    One more point.....
    A true muslim should accept and say the most obvious. Not every Muslim woman wears the headscarf willingly. Some do and some don't. Inside information. I have lived enough Islamic countries and know this very well but do not live in a state of denial. Nor do I have any problems with my religion Islam but definitely with those who call themselves muslims and yet destroy it too. Can't give you any statistical data but yeah alot of Muslim women around the world, are being forced into alot of things by their muslims.

    Afghanistan was not as big of a mess when NOT MAJORITY was focusing on women covering up and staying home and raising kids as it is now. Thanks to all muslims and non muslims whose mentality and capacity is limited to women and how they should dress rather than how a human being should be.

    It is for the politics and manipulations of people that lives are being wasted, not for Islam or for sake of humanity which is infact the same but narrow minded people have seprated them by their thoughts and their actions. NO RELIGION teaches hatred. It is the human choice. The fact that you use religion (any religion) as a weapon is a FACT and yet upsetting fact that no one realizes. Only if you all would realize that one of the things Atia is trying to show or convey is how many lives have been wasted by all sorts of name and how things have changed, how people live in fear or a state of denial with lack of knowledge...... but it is probably far from the scope some can grasp here and lets ot blame her for us not understanding her point.Whether you are all muslim or christian or what ever believe you have, go search it in your books and you will find that all the lives that have been taken were GOD given and if any great muslim or (whatever believer) really knew and respected God or religion would respect his creation as well.
    Can't fix a problem or an issue please stop destroying more. Also agree with all who say that women are being disgraced anywhere in the world. But it is not the religion or the culture that does the disgracing, it is the unfurnished human nature. That is why there are books and religions or so many other resources to be used to correct it. Fixing our characters and ourselves will fix all problems. Stopping manipulators and respecting others human beings will hopefully fix the problems. Thinking of others as inferiors just so we can assure ourselves that we are superior will fix many issues.
    Healing a wound will decrease the pain and that in turn will decrease the complain and reduce the voices that come out as scream and shouts..... if you can't heal a wound at least don't make it worse by pouring acid on it........... None of you sound to have lived the life people live in Afghanistan everyday or whose lives have been affected for good no matter where they live..... A great muslim or any believer or a human would be the one to go and hold the hand of a orphan in any part of the world and put a roof over her/his head and feed them or go built a school or an orphanage, provide a means for those women who have no one and nothing yet children to feed..... go and help those who have lost their, hands, legs etc because some of you wanted to show their greatness of belief to whoever they needed to show..... Use what ever means that would make a good human being out of you.... so tired of hearing speeches and lectures with no actions.

    January 25, 2010 at 6:58 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Freshta ( some one from Afghanistan)

    Atia was very clear in the beginning that it is a blog. If some one is not familiar with the purpose of blog, may be first they should figure that out. Easy way google it!
    Being from Afghanistan, For All of those who claim to be great Muslims:

    Afghanistan and thus our lives are torn apart and disgraced just because of you all, who I don't even think ever understood the meaning of Islam. Afghanistan went in war to preserve the right of people to practice their religion, Islam. No matter what level their islamic education was. Now the ones who always claimed to be great muslims/real muslims/ scholars, always lived your lives with your families in western cultures. Used all their resources and completely destroyed our lives. If it was all for Islam and muslims, then Afghanistan should have been built, Not destroyed. The truth is all who claim Islam and being great muslims, just like to manipulate the word Islam to prove themselves as something even if it costs lives. This goes for mulims pretty much from all parts of the world. It already shows how great you all are because no one have been able to go past women's headscarf.
    Islam is a great religion but the ones who shout and claim to be great muslims are infact the worst.... what have you done so far as muslims?? the best example of you all are not so far but just in your comments. Don't ever show your greatness of Islamic religion of Afghanistan History by offending others or downgrading someone else, Like Atia Abawi here. If this was anyone else but Atia or for that matter anyone afghan origion, you wouldn't read all this. It is not her grammer or way of writing but it is way most of you think here that missed the point.
    Mr. Asif and the rest who think like him, You want to feel Afghanistan issue and Islam in Afghanistan or any other part of the world, get out of wherever you are and come live the life those people live. Not saying go for vacation for a month or two and stay in some ministers home, come and see daily life of common people. Then start your own blog or write an Article and tell us how you helped or will help Afghans or millions of other muslims in our situation. Believe me if I get to read one of your articles and or blogs, I won't act like I am an English teacher and won't correct your article or grade you on it but will try to get the content or learn from your experience.
    Atia jaan, I have been following some of your work. You are doing great and no need to get discouraged because of narrow-mindedness of a small group. keep up the good work.
    I always thought God and his religious books and teachings are all there to make good human beings and show us a good way of living and show us how to live in peace....... please don't make us believe the other way around. Islam is about alot more than just women's scarf, figure, looks and it is alot more than men and their manipulations.

    I apologize to all that I have hurted and hope that it will stop and see the reallity.... no body becomes great(anything) by shouting themselves as whatever they want to be called.... it is the actions that speak for itself..... you want to prove you are good or your religion is good... do good, say good and be good. Don't offend and don't get offended.

    January 25, 2010 at 6:14 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Buddy

    Headscarf, burkas, lashings, beheadings, amputations as punisment, stonings, forced weddings, honor murders, females denied education, females not allowed in public without a male 'escort', females not allowed to work, this list could go on and on and on to infinity.
    The common denominator here is MALES. MEN make these Islamic 'rules' and justify them by proclaiming that the koran authorises such in the name of Allah.
    To all of the insecure and cowardly men who espouse and perpetuate these mind and body crushing 'rules' that keep their women property 'safe' from their bretherns prying and lusting eyes and evil thoughts, I say to you; pry yourselves off your mommies teats, grow up and get a life. Let the WOMEN make the 'rules' and you may be surprised how much more easy life can be. Let gooooooooo.......

    January 25, 2010 at 4:53 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Jay

    The Westerners are also forcing the women, into shedding their clothes off. Look at US history. The women going in public areas like beaches and stuff, used to wear extra layers of clothes, due to modesty standards of that time. With only time, as well as pressure from the modern times, and media's portrayal of the modern, happy women dancing around in their underwears on public areas was deemed as normal.

    So, the shedding of clothing of Western Women did not happen suddenly, but gradually, and uptil 1950s, alot of American dressing was quite respectable by most standards around the world. Only later on, and perhaps even early during roaring 1920s, in places like New York, and other "modern" cities, women going to beaches in bikinis was being popularized as normal. But it was all the media's portrayal, and Hollywood's definition along with changing times, and need of women in the work force during the WWI and WWII that actually brought about significant changes in perception about what women in the West.

    Many women in the West equated, new liberal codes of dressing, i.e. going almost naked on the beach as "new found freedom". Which infact has been a misconception, as many women are now realizing. Yes, it should be your choice to dress as you want, but their should always be some codes of decency. Ofcourse in a normal work environment can you imagine your lady coworkers all clad in "bikinis", No, that would be wrong. It will disctact you from your work. Then why do you think its OK to wear something very private like underwears, in public anyway. If you need a sun TAN that badly, then make sure no one else is watching you, and do it in privacy of your own home, not in Public areas, like beaches.

    January 25, 2010 at 12:51 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Zane

    People who think that women are being forced to wear Headscarves are wrong in their way of thinking. A good anology would be the dress code of many Western Women. For a person who is not used to seeing Western Women almost naked, would think that they are somehow being forced to shed their clothes, to please men. Think about it, why would a women go in public places like beaches, with no clothes on, its not just for getting a nice tan on, but to assert yourself as a new "Modern" women, who can go naked in public with confidence. Who defined that dress code for the women of the West. Whoever it was, it would not have been a self respecting woman. If you search a bit more, about origin of "Bikini", it was actually a French Man who invented the "Bikini" and named it after the famous Bikini Island, where atomic bombs were tested, to perhaps signify the "Heat", or hotness factor, of Bikini. Atomic Bomb = hot, get it. Anyway, it was Western Culture which FORCED the women to go naked and parade themselves shamelessly with G-strings, and no clothing on, and make it seem civilized. It was the Modern Man of the West whom forced the women of the West to go Naked. So, why is it not a problem for the Westerners, when due to Man's lust of seeing almost every women nakes is popularized and praised, and forced upon them, in order to be accepted as modern, you Women must go almost naked, on the public areas.

    So, lets not even get into the debate over who is forcing what on women. If you Westerners think that woman are somehow being "Forced" to wear headscarves then you are dead WRONG. The fact of the matter is that, Westerners themselves are forcing the Westerners women to go almost naked in public and making them feeling insecure, if they don't show their "Assets" in public, they are less acceptable and less beautiful.

    January 25, 2010 at 12:36 pm | Report abuse |
  15. rikhath

    Media, cheap Fanatical Politicians and Hate Mongers always want to target Islam..
    Actions of a handful of creeps is bringing bad name to our community..

    Women who love to wear head scarfs or Hijab shouldn't be prosecuted by these stupid Politicians and Journo's.

    Journo's and Politicans should also stop quoting out of context.

    Let our Mother's and Sister's do what they want to do.
    For rest of the world not 100% of Muslim women wear Head Scarfs or Hijab, Nor all Muslims Sport beards, which means we are not Fanatics and people who wear Hijab or have flowing beards are just following their religion and let them do so, stop prosecuting them.

    All the creeps who have done harm to humanity dont always have Flowing beard.

    ISLAM = PEACE and all Muslims will abide by it.

    If you wanna prosecute people based on Religion, Ask Nuns to stop wearing flowing Gowns, Ask Rabbi's to stop growing Beard n wearing Skull cap, Ask Sardar (SIKHS) to stop wearing Turban, and Stop constructing Churches with glorious Architecture when u dont want Mosques to have Minar...

    Grow up people and let people do what they love to do when it come to their religion and prosecute all fanatics.

    As Salam Alai Kum.

    January 25, 2010 at 8:47 am | Report abuse |
  16. Rafiq

    @BlueShift. We are against all actions targeting innocent civilians. We said so again and again. Even when the 'exporters of democracy' kill civilians. We pray that Muslims should fight only against those who fight against them.

    January 25, 2010 at 8:41 am | Report abuse |
  17. Blue Shift

    Sheesh, lot of hate in here, but alot of thought-provoking arguments too.

    This is my view on these subjects:

    HEAD COVERING- I personally have no problem with it, and the vast majority of people I know and have seen don't mind it either, other than perhaps find it a tad odd, but that's just a product of cultural differences. If Muslim women wish to wear such a covering because they personally want to and not because of cohersion, good for them, that's just an expression of personal freedom. I do not agree however that any woman should be forced to wear such a piece of clothing if she does not desire it, and I especially find it offensive that certain men that I won't name use this as a form of control because they regard women as property and not individuals, as to me that is the most blatant form of hypocracy. I also do not agree with the attempts by France and other countries to ban the wearing of these head coverings, as that falls into the categories of religious intolerance/violation of personal freedoms.

    ISLAM- As a Christian, I do not agree with the policies of Islam, but I do not hate it or those who practice it, and do my best to be tolerant of other peoples beliefs, be they Islam, Buddhist, Catholic etc. and I believe everyone should be extended this right. Banishing religions will not bring world peace, people will just find something else to hate each other over, we're pretty imaginative when it comes to that. Rather, we should be extending other religions the same courtesy we ourselves expect from them, as to expect tolerance and yet withold it from others is simple and blatant hypocracy. Probably be alot less violence and death in this world if this simple courtesy was followed, but I digress.

    Muslims need to understand that we do not hate you, but if you are honestly suprised if you are viewed with slightly more hostility and suspicion in recent years after individuals sharing that religion flew 3 airplanes into buildings killing thousands and declaring Jihad, then you honestly need to wake up. You are correct, not all Muslims are terrorists, it is a product of the times and will pass in time God willing. However, I do think that Muslims should be a bit more vocal about their opposition to these religious extremists, quite a bit more, because let's be perfectly frank: the vast majority of Muslim protests seen are actually CONDONING and SUPPORTING these cowardly and evil men, and those who oppose these actions seem to be noticeably quiet, though this might be the result of biased reporting practices.

    Please understand, I am not saying you do not oppose these despicable actions, I'm sure you do. I just think if more of the Muslim world took a harder stance against those who use the religion to further their own selfish and destructive agendas, perhaps this war could end that much sooner.

    I hope I did not offend you, and I apologize if I did. Regardless, thank you for reading and God bless.

    January 25, 2010 at 5:44 am | Report abuse |
  18. Zane

    People, stop and think.

    First of all, the reporter's name suggest she is of Middle Eastern Origin, Atia Badawi, sounds like a Muslim Women's name. She does not mention that she is a Christian and that she is being forced to wear the scarf. She is most likely a Muslim from US, and does not wear scarf, but feels confused when she is in Afghanistan and hence made a big issue out of nothing.

    Secondly, and more importantly, people who are comparing Afghanistan's laws and culutre with that of USA or a Western Developed country. There is No Logic in comparing a world's least developed country Afghanistan with the world's most developed county USA. Yet, even in USA during late 1800s and early 1900s, many Eastern European CHRISTIAN women used to wear head scarves, it was part of the American Immigrant Chritian Culture. What do you people have to say about that?

    Thirdly, back in Jesus's time, most Chritian and Jewish women did COVER their head, as part of Abrahamic religious Tradition. Just look at your own Christmas decoration with Baby Jesus and Mary wearing Headscarf, and other ladies of the Jesus era wearing Head covering to honor God. Muslims still continue to stick to their roots of the Abrahamic Culture.

    Fourthly, if you must compare, then Compare USA with a Modern Developed Muslim Country like UAE or Turkey, women are not forced to wear headscarves but they choose to wear it anyway, they can also wear Bikinis in Turkey, as part of their "Culture", yet it is not prefered and many are now realizing that on their own and trading their Bikinis and Mini Skirts with Headscarves now a days. And these are all Well educated women of Turkey.

    January 24, 2010 at 11:59 pm | Report abuse |
  19. Jeff Meng

    It is so funny to see that the country can't even form its own full government. Is democracy really working in the helping way in the country?

    I wonder if a woman with a different religion can live in this country without wearing headscarf. If she can, it means Afghan has returned to a nirmal country.

    Democracy doesn't seem match Muslim principles. I suppose the troubled future of Afghan is yet to come. difficult.

    January 24, 2010 at 9:38 pm | Report abuse |
  20. Cousindna

    Just because Mohammed wives wore burkas it does not mean modern women have to do the same! What really upset me is the fact that western convert women some how think and defend the unjust and humiliating headscarf requirement. They falsely associate headscarf as self-liberation. I regret that they find self-liberation in self-oppression.

    My dear Fatima

    Where in the Qur'an did you find this jewel? Where in the Hadith, the Sunnah, the Sira ...

    Please enlighten us.

    A question – are you able to read scholary Arabic? Have you read the Qur'an, Hadith Sunnah or Sira in their NATIVE scholary Arabic language?

    The vast majority of Muslims cannot and have not – they are taught to RECITE without ever understanding the meaning of their recitations.

    This total lack of understanding is also a major flaw within Christianity – a billion followers and a billion different opinions.

    January 24, 2010 at 7:14 pm | Report abuse |
  21. Cousindna

    Nassar states:

    Unlike Western women who show their bodies to any man, our women reveal thesmselves to their one man.

    He obviously DOES NOT follow the direction of ALLAH as given in Sura 024.031 and therefore as described in Qur’an 9:67 “The Hypocrites enjoin what is forbidden, and forbid what Islam commands.


    How many more are there I wonder

    January 24, 2010 at 7:07 pm | Report abuse |
  22. Cousindna

    In my last post, 262 I quoted from the Qur'an the following

    For those of you who are interested, Allah reveals in Qur'an 024.031

    “And say to the believing women that they
    should lower their gaze and guard their modesty; that they should not display their beauty
    except what (must) appear; .....

    The problem with this Sura is that it leaves open the question as to what MUST appear. To the religious extremist, ONLY the EYES must be revealed and not even these in the most extreme of extreme cases.

    And who gets to decide, why MEN of course so if you women who wear a head scarf of a full Burka, it is a decision made by the men of your area, NOT by Allah.

    January 24, 2010 at 6:41 pm | Report abuse |
  23. Cousindna

    For those of you who are interested, Allah reveals in Qur'an 024.031

    “And say to the believing women that they
    should lower their gaze and guard their modesty; that they should not display their beauty
    except what (must) appear; that they should draw their veils over their bosoms and not display them except to their husbands, their fathers, their husband’s fathers, their sons, their husbands’ sons, their brothers or their brothers’ sons, or their women, or the slaves whom they possess, or male servants free of physical needs, or small children who have no sense of the shame of sex; and that they should not strike their feet in order to draw attention to their hidden ornaments.”

    Here's another from the mouth of Allah by way of Qur'an 024.034

    “Force not your slave-girls to whoredom (prostitution) if they desire
    chastity, that you may seek enjoyment of this life. But if anyone forces them, then after such compulsion, Allah is oft-forgiving.”

    No wonder Sharia Law is preferred:

    After you have forced a woman to have sexual relations with you (generally referred to as rape in the modern era), you should not worry since Allah is "oft – forgiving"

    Women, surely you must protest – this is a directive of Allah – you can be raped and Allah will forgive your rapist ????????

    January 24, 2010 at 6:34 pm | Report abuse |
  24. Rafiq

    It is amazing how much correspondence a topic such as a head scarf can generate and what different views there are. Amazing also that people think that Muslim ladies need to be 'helped' by 'force'. I can guarantee you that my wife wears the head scarf at her own free will and would be 'furious' if anyone wanted to 'force' her to take it off. (The last 'marital fight' we had when she shouted at me that why did I open the house door before she could go and put her head scarf on when a visitor was to enter our house). So, please leave her in peace and let her do what she feels like, as long as she is not taking any rights away from anyone else. And, by the way, speaking of Afghanistan. I met the Burka there in 1969, well before the Taliban was even invented. In those days in Kabul who ever wanted to wear the Burka was free to do so and whoever did not want to wear it was free to do so.

    January 24, 2010 at 8:01 am | Report abuse |
  25. Fatima

    This is a great article! I read through some of the comments and was disgusted with how many defend women oppression. From my personal experience and for thousands of other Muslims women the headscarf and burka are noting but tool of oppression!!! Why do Muslim women have to cover to please god, men don’t have to do it. How can god find pleasure in requiring his creation to cover?? Headscarf is manmade requirement and meant to commodity women. Just because Mohammed wives wore burkas it does not mean modern women have to do the same! What really upset me is the fact that western convert women some how think and defend the unjust and humiliating headscarf requirement. They falsely associate headscarf as self-liberation. I regret that they find self-liberation in self-oppression.

    January 23, 2010 at 9:23 pm | Report abuse |
  26. guleycan

    To Kassandra,

    by that challenge I was trying to make a point that head-covering is NOT by choice. It is forced upon a woman by the current interpretations of Islam. It is getting worse as Wahabi version of Islam influences other countries through Saudi money. The fact that muslim women feel shame when their hair is out is nothing but an example of internalized oppression.
    As a muslim woman in Turkey, I never had to wear a headscarf, yet, I was thought to
    be "decent" as early as 3-4 years old(like other girls), such as always closing my legs when I sat down even if I wore pants. On the other hand, 3-4 year-old boys could go totally naked in public, they were thought to be proud of their private parts that made them male as we girls were thought to be ashamed of anything that made us female.
    When it comes to girls, Muslim parents do not care much about teaching them things like
    honesty, responsibility, etc. They mostly care about how to control girls' sexuality.
    When a girl reaches adolescence, her sexuality becomes a big issue for the
    fathers, brothers, uncles, etc.

    As an example, the wife of current Turkish prime minister told the press once that
    she started wearing a headscarf after her brother had slapped her for not doing so
    (I think in public as she was attending a woman's conference).
    She added that she was glad that her brother had slapped her and had forced her to wear a headscarf because she had not understood the value of head-covering then, now she did.

    January 23, 2010 at 7:16 pm | Report abuse |
  27. Nassar

    There is unnecessary confusion about Muslim women wearing burka. God created women for man's pleasure. So Islam gives more than one woman to each man. He must show his respect and appreciation to God by covering up his treasure. Unlike Western women who show their bodies to any man, our women reveal thesmselves to their one man.

    January 23, 2010 at 2:41 pm | Report abuse |
  28. Margaret

    I applaud Atia Abawi for risking her life to report her observations of the Afghan culture of today.
    Often, we are not given an insiders view of everyday occurences in other parts of the world.
    We AMERICANS can sit in our cozy and secure homes to complain about the problems of the world. However, the main idea of ATia's article is about the changes in the Afghan culture after the influx of violence and oppression.
    I agree that we Americans can make better use of our time and resources by supporting EDUCATION for the children of Afghanistan. If you are interested in this cause, then I recommend you look up Greg Mortenson. He has lived in Afghanistan and has become an ambassador devoted to help BRING EDUCATION TO THE CHILDREN of this country.

    January 23, 2010 at 1:01 pm | Report abuse |
  29. Jameen

    Why should non-Muslims worry about what we require of our women to wear? We men are allowed to have more than one woman, and we prefer to keep them covered up in burkha. Our women are our property. They are no one else's business.

    January 23, 2010 at 11:44 am | Report abuse |
  30. mela

    firstly, sorry if my english isn't that good.

    I'm an Indonesian Muslim and am greatful for that. The thing that bugs me the most is, why do soooo many people judge Islam ONLY by the extremist sides. Islam, and I believe that all other teachings and religion, teaches peace, love, and all that surrounds it. Why does everything have to be so negative. These extremist or bombers or terrorists, in my opinion, cannot be the resemblance of Islam because their beliefs (in war, killings, bombings,etc.) are sooo not Islam. Islam doesn't FORCE you to do something, in my opinion, it gives me choice to obey or not obey the teachings (but of course be prepared), and in those teachings, I can see the reasons and logic of why we were aught to do this and that.

    I don't really know how to say it well, but you just can't judge a whole religion by what a few handfuls of people are like, even though these people have caused a grief throughout the world. Plus, please don't push negative comments about Islam if you haven't learnt or researched about the teachings (btw, i'm not telling you to convert or anything) and very well understand them, as i haven't to any other religions.

    Thanks for reading my comment, I'm sorry if i might have offended anyone. I'm just craving for some peace.

    And FYI, I really hate extremists. I hate what they did and are still doing. I hate how they make us (other) Muslims hated all over the world.


    January 23, 2010 at 8:59 am | Report abuse |
  31. sensa


    You are the epitome of the extremist, close-minded Muslim, who believes that everyone around him is a "Kafir".

    Who are you to tell us to go and learn Islam 101? I do not know where you are from, but I am born and raised in a Muslim country, and I am very familiar with my religion.

    At least I do not speak out of my ***, I read and do my own research before claiming something as part of my religion. All you are doing is repeating what others have stuffed in your head, and you will never see beyond that.

    Again i ask, where is your evidence that the Burka is mandated for Muslim women? Where is your evidence that Aisha wore a Burka?

    Give me one verse, either from the Koran or form the Sunnah.

    January 23, 2010 at 7:33 am | Report abuse |
  32. Sydney

    Every one, including all the news people and outlets, are avoiding the main point. The main point here is that US and its allies (maily European colonialiats) have invaded and occupied a poor country with a very rich history of liberation. US did her revenge thing for the 9/11 and it is time to get out, and leave Afghans to map their future direction and roadmap for their language, culture, religion and country themselves. This is what the Afghans (not only the talibans) are strugling for; to liberate their country. Every decent person would do the same (liberate his/her country) if their country were invaded and occupied, their constitution was dictated to them and told how to run their country, not to mention innocent people being slaughtered while sitting for dinner in their homes with 1000/2000 pound bombs dropping on them from the air.

    January 23, 2010 at 5:34 am | Report abuse |
  33. mukhtar

    i think the most important thing which should be focused is EDUCATION and Information. for the people.

    January 23, 2010 at 4:47 am | Report abuse |
  34. BG

    I'd say if you're not a Muslim, and you don't want to wear the headscarf, don't wear it. I think that would make you wear it for the wrong reason. Wearing a headscarf or burka is a way to honor your religion and your God. That should be the right reason to wear it. So making them compulsory (with threat of punishment) in some Islamic countries is kind of funny (though not so for the women who reside there, I'm sure). If everyone is forced into wearing it, even someone who is not even a Muslim, what's the point? It's like forcing everyone who isn't a Christian to wear a cross necklace or everyone who is not a Jewish to wear a Jewish skullcap.

    January 23, 2010 at 4:45 am | Report abuse |
  35. Greg

    I find the comments from our Islamic friends very enlightening and only confirm my disappointment that Islam has yet to live up to be a modern religion where people of either sex are treated equally. Regardless if it something important such as education or voting for women or something as insignificant as a head scarf, equality does matter. Why does a religion of “love” keep women suppressed? If such restrictions were placed on men, I think you'd see Islam disappear. Why is it that it always seems to be the women who are stoned and the men not? I’d like to see an article written on that.

    January 23, 2010 at 3:20 am | Report abuse |
  36. Matt

    As stated different ways, several times...Many times muslim countries expect western, non-muslim females who visit to wear the head scarf as a religeous symbol or as a symbol of respect for a religeon. Should western societies force muslims to wear a crucifix as a religeous symbol or a symbol of respect for a religeon. Assimilation and tolerance should go both ways my friends, though, somehow, unfortunately, it just doesn't seem to work out that way.

    January 23, 2010 at 2:21 am | Report abuse |
  37. Khadhie

    WOW! I just can't believe all these 'hate Islam' comments...

    I am a Muslim and I wear the head scarf....not because anyone forced me to, but because I absolutely love wearing it....I don't feel I am inferior to any male colleagues of mine nor do I feel I am less capable in my work...

    And please, don't even start talking about women's rights.... it exists only when it comes to Muslims having to wear head scarf???....gosh! If it really is such an issue and if it is everyone's right to wear what ever they wan't, then in some western countries, where did the rights of my Muslim sisters vanish....

    One thing I know for sure is that non-Muslims never got it....and most probably never will.

    January 23, 2010 at 1:51 am | Report abuse |
  38. Basil K

    I am concerned about people from all over the world. I hope there will be more education for all Afghans, male and female. I wanted to hear more about that. I didn't really hear something that showed me exactly what changes were made in Afghanistan. I don't care if the women wear a headscarf or not as long as a person does it voluntarily. I think the most important thing is some progress and stability in Afghanistan and safety for the people.

    January 23, 2010 at 1:26 am | Report abuse |
  39. DJ

    It's hard to understand someone else's perspective when you aren't wearing their "glasses".

    Eastern cultures view the world through a Shame – Honor scale. A lot of what heppens to wiomen in the east is based upon this paradigm, rather than religion.

    Western cultures see the world throuch Guilt – Innocence. Hence their yardstick is right and wrong.

    Other cultures veiw the world through Fear – Power glasses. For sure, these 3 paradigms blend together to produce the cultures of the world – just like primary colors.

    Checking to see what 'glasses' you wear is your first step to understanding another culture. Actually, listening is probably the first best step.

    January 23, 2010 at 12:04 am | Report abuse |
  40. FZ (17)

    Whatever happened to subjective reporting?

    January 23, 2010 at 12:02 am | Report abuse |
  41. Follower


    I centainly agree with most of what you said, but you should also clarify matters for those who stand with a different opinion. The words of Allah (the Quran) or the teachings of our beloved Prophet peace be upon him (the Sunnah) do no associate the words "burkha" or "Hijab" ONLY when describing how a muslim women should dress.

    'O Prophet! Tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers to draw their cloaks (veils) over their bodies (when outdoors). That is most convenient that they should be known and not molested.' (Surah 33, verse59).

    Hijab is NOT a veil. You can not cover yoru body with it.

    "....Not to show off their adornment except what must (ordinarily) appear thereof, that they should draw their veils over their Juyubihinna." (Surah 24, verse31)

    Again, a "hijab" does not fit the description. Whether a complete "buraka" does or not has become a matter of opinion more then a fact that can be proven.
    Point at the end is, for those Muslims who feel a "hijab" alone is enough should re-read these verses. Wear what covers your entire body except "what must (ordinarily) appear thereof. If you are a Muslim and your intentions really are to follow the commonds of Allah – rather then arguing about what your husband, the soceity, and others have to say about it.

    And lastly, Asif, you have choosen to live in this country. You should also respect their laws so long as they don't come between you and your belief. If their women choose to be that way, it is with them. Our job as Muslim men is to lower our gaze and move on.
    But for those who post comments as "if you dont live it, leave" should also keep in mind this isn't "their" land either. It was taken by force. And maybe one day there will rise a nation that will also take it from you, by force.

    "Each religion has a morality and the morality of Islam is haya'"

    January 22, 2010 at 10:36 pm | Report abuse |
  42. American Mom

    The scarf may be chosen by some but is forced upon many. There is no question that this is oppressive to women, and those who deny this are in denial themselves. The arguments for head scarves are as absurd as these counter-arguments, as follows:

    (1) When will men begin to wear the burqa? I'm not kidding - this is a reasonable question. That is, shouldn't men wear appliances and/or clothing to protect women from unwarranted, intrusive behaviors on the part of men?

    When and how will men be held accountable for their behaviors and personal choices? Do we expect men to demonstrate responsibility, accountability, and adult-like behavior?

    If men are not in control of their behaviors, then why have women, the arbiters of morality, been denied the legal rights afforded to men?

    Are men not only irresponsible but also illogical?

    (2) Re the cleric's example of cats and meat - who is restraining the cats? If you steal meat from my kitchen, you can bet I will hold you accountable. You have no business there. In my country, I can prosecute, and you can bet I will. In my country, I can educate myself and my daughters, and this indeed have I done.

    In your Moslem countries, you require women to wear veils, and you deny them the right to defend themselves either physically or in a court of law. And this is not oppression?

    (3) In a free society, there are many options between the burqa and the bikini. Most western women would not choose to wear a bikini, especially not on national television; and yet this silly and torrid example is the very sort of thing which many (usually male) defenders of the headscarf insist is supposedly "next" to occur, if women are not first required to wear the head scarf. Good grief. Ridiculous!

    (4) What are you afraid of? Show some real courage, and be fully human like the rest of us. Demonstrate morality because you choose to be moral (and not because you have someone watching and restraining you in order to prevent you from making any choices); demonstrate faith and trust in God by showing you do not need to oppress freedom - of choice or of thought; demonstrate courage by negotiating a path with the rest of the world which allows us to work together without destroying one another.

    January 22, 2010 at 9:53 pm | Report abuse |
  43. Megan

    As someone whom has lived in Afghanistan (an American) and chosen to wear the chadar or large headscarf of Afghanistan, (not the burqa) I did this as a respect to these people. I am a Christian–I may disagree with certain beliefs of Islam, however, I am saddened to hear all the hatred going around in this group. I was a guest in their country, I chose to respect them by living culturally. The scarf is cultural and religious...before criticizing the people of this land, please know they are beautiful people...there are good and bad in ALL countries...it just looks differently everywhere. We have major morality issues in the US...Afghanistan has its own issues...lets stop judging each other and learn to love and respect one another and serve and help where we can! Afghans (the majority) are amazingly, beautiful people...many have suffered for a long time, and many are like many of us here...different cultures, but many of the same hopes, desires, dreams for their lives and the lives of their families...I encourage you to spend some time with an Afghan or Muslims before you make judgement calls based on some unfortunate terrorist activity...

    January 22, 2010 at 9:48 pm | Report abuse |
  44. Kassandra

    To : No God would kill for a headscarf

    AGREE with you.
    BUT, the reality is the media is twisting the facts.
    In Islam (as far as I know) the man is held responsible for his actions, for example if he looks to a woman admiring her or teasing her this is considered HARAM (PROHIBITED) and in fact he get a punishment according to how far he went. Also if he comits an Adultery he will be punished too as the women too.
    So its equally for both.

    Mother of 1 , Jennifer

    January 22, 2010 at 9:45 pm | Report abuse |
  45. Remember

    Nowadays nuns do not have to wear a headscarf.

    The burqua and other forms of muslim dress for women are political statements. They say, "Women do not belong in the public world. Women are to be in the private world and there they are subject to the men in the family."

    Modesty has nothing to do with it.

    January 22, 2010 at 9:43 pm | Report abuse |
  46. Nasreen Khan

    I just do not understand why hijab is under microscope all the time. All of us has to understand that this world is diverse. There are muslims, christians, hindus, jews etc. etc. They all have different languages, foods, clothes, religions etc. And all of them have rights to do whatever they want to do or wear. I will never object to hindu ladies wearing sarees or American or European ladies wearing western clothes. I find the whole thing very ignorant
    and stupid to go on and on about a small piece of material.

    January 22, 2010 at 9:28 pm | Report abuse |
  47. angie786

    John: Who are you to define the faith of 1.5 billion people. Have U read your bible? FYI:
    Corinthians 11:2-16.
    Now I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions even as I delivered them to you. 3 But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of the woman is the man, and the head of Christ is God. 4 Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head, 5 but every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head—it is the same as if her head were shaven. 6 For if a woman will not be covered, then let her be shorn! But since it is disgraceful for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be covered. 7 For indeed a man ought not to cover his head, being the image and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man.

    January 22, 2010 at 9:03 pm | Report abuse |
  48. john

    A headscarf in the year 2010 is absolutely no different than a Nazi armband worn in 1938. The motivation is identical. Islam is not about God. It is about power and control. It is about murder and death. The headscarf is an affirmation of that.

    January 22, 2010 at 8:49 pm | Report abuse |
  49. kapechi2

    When you see a woman wearing a headscarf and a mini skirt at the same time, she is not being respectful of her religion. the headscarf is of the religion, the miniskirt is of her rebellion. This woman is either confused and in turmoil or is being a scoffer of the religion and is just calling attention to herself. This is just one more Western influence in a 1400 year old religion. Women should not be rebellious. They should be submissive and honor their religion.

    January 22, 2010 at 8:48 pm | Report abuse |
  50. Victo C

    Another great read for those ignorant about Islam is " The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam and the Crusades". The trouble is with us in America is that we get stuck on an issue like head scarves. It's time we did some studying about the world's most intolerant religion- ignorance is not bliss when it comes to Islam.

    January 22, 2010 at 8:47 pm | Report abuse |
  51. ladeedah

    Why do people always assume (or believe, portray, etc.) the concept of a supreme being (aka god) to be masculine?

    That alone says volumes. 🙂

    January 22, 2010 at 8:44 pm | Report abuse |
  52. OmMane

    What a reasonably thinking human being regardless of his/her religious backround having troubles to understand is that why the Muslim societies such as Iran and Suadi Arebia enforce Burqa on women. These society even have religious police just to make sure women wear burqas correctly. Where is the freedom of "Choice" for women? How many Muslims can really speak on favor of those women who opt-out to wear Burqa? Any guts fellow Muslims?

    January 22, 2010 at 8:37 pm | Report abuse |
  53. No God would kill for a headscarf

    Someone wrote, "the headscarf is worn to honor God, and for no other reason" ... then why do men punish those that decide they do not wish to wear it? Because it sounds like a man-made religion that is routed deep in the bowels of anger and revenge. I can not forget the film that showed a woman being shot in the head, with her headscarf on, for showing her ankle! This is why women should throw away the headscarf .

    January 22, 2010 at 8:27 pm | Report abuse |
  54. Guleycan

    I believe that the repoter herself is a Muslim. As a
    Muslim woman I perfectly understand why she is so
    much interested in the subject. This issue follows us everywhere. I myself see the headscarfs and the opression of women before anythingelse
    in Afghanistan. When I tell people that I am from Turkey, many times
    I was asked if I was a Christian because I did not cover my head.
    I really hate that I have to talk about being a Muslim woman without
    head cover to total stranger.

    January 22, 2010 at 8:26 pm | Report abuse |
  55. Mark

    It's funny how many intelligent people on HERE cannot even Spell English Correctly..yet Cannot understand Universal LAW...WE are IDIOTs in the Universe...Just look at our 'Made-Up' Rules/laws/wars ..hmmm

    January 22, 2010 at 8:24 pm | Report abuse |
  56. Jazzington

    Religion is the culprit. Look into history. All the mayhem and death and destruction was done in the name of GOD (by human kind). If there is a GOD, he should never have given us religion and "its God found rules". Lets get rid of religions and the world will be a better place

    January 22, 2010 at 8:23 pm | Report abuse |
  57. ladeedah

    I have to question the man-made dogma surrounding any idea of an omnipotent being that demands fashion requirements as a sign of faith.

    Ever think about who wrote these rules?

    Most religious texts laying out the rules and regs of religious beliefs were written by men as control measures so is it any wonder they want their women to be less than equal and barefoot, pregnant and in the kitchen covered up from head to toe?

    For the creationists, consider this: If any supreme magical entity was the creator of the universe and as a humorous side project, whipped up human beings, and wanted these human creatures to wear headscarves or baseball hats, burquas or bikinis, flip flops or high heels, humans would be born wearing them.

    How you adorn yourself to honor your idea of god is up to you, but it should never be mandated by any government or religious order, particularly when it is overtly sexist.

    January 22, 2010 at 8:22 pm | Report abuse |
  58. Victo C

    I think this discussion is excellent. What needs to be brought to light is Islam and its teachings. I encourage all Americans and Westeners to read the book by Robert Spencer "The Complete Infidel's Guide to the Koran". It'll open your eyes to what Islam is really about. Do your own due diligence.

    January 22, 2010 at 8:19 pm | Report abuse |
  59. Alex

    Villagers are the ones setting up the bombs.

    January 22, 2010 at 7:51 pm | Report abuse |
  60. Said

    Who cares about what you wear, you are just a reporter and you are not a Muslim. It is up to the Muslim women to wear it or not. You are just wasting your time reporting this. Muslim women wear it because of their religion not to show off. Would you expect Muslim women to come to America and wear a Bikini to just report a news? Of course not. That is why they don’t care. I bet they would treat Muslim women differently.

    January 22, 2010 at 7:49 pm | Report abuse |
  61. ligaya

    There are many laws in a religion that are just human laws and not from GOD. And covering your head is one of them.Its a human law not divine. GOD does not look at your physical appearance but whats inside of you. He looks at your heart, your spirit, your good will. GOD is aSpirit and not interested with trivial matters but for things that are spiritual. Its what that comes out of you that harms you not what you put on and in you that GOD will judge you. Its what come out of your hearts, mouths, minds, etc that will harm us .Those who read this may open their hearts and listen.

    January 22, 2010 at 7:49 pm | Report abuse |
  62. Mario

    Funny that these guys spend so much time trying to teach others about the head scarf. No one cares why you wear it...dont 'force' women of other religions to wear it by staring at them!!

    January 22, 2010 at 7:42 pm | Report abuse |
  63. LK

    I think it's funny that most of the comments made by the muslim readers were negative, They did not like this article or the writer. Isn't this writer a muslim too?

    January 22, 2010 at 7:40 pm | Report abuse |
  64. Peter Romanov

    Sheer bias, bigotry, prejudice and illiteracy are the hall marks of our civilization.

    What is wrong with wearing a scarf? The nuns wear it all the time.

    January 22, 2010 at 7:38 pm | Report abuse |
  65. usagreat_indian

    USA is always a great country forever...
    Now India is following foot steps of usa... one day India too will become rich country...

    Indian muslims are different from rest of muslims in the world... They have lot of freedom for muslim women in india.... They can wear what ever they want...

    January 22, 2010 at 7:33 pm | Report abuse |
  66. Woman

    Thank you Sara. Perfect.

    January 22, 2010 at 7:32 pm | Report abuse |
  67. Christian Woman Married to Muslim Man for 18 Years

    One of the most interesting ways I've ever heard explained why a Muslim woman must wear a scarf and cover all of her body except her hands and feet was by a Muslim cleric in MacLean's magazine (I think it was MacLean's, it's been a while, so I may be wrong). I'm paraphrasing, but he said "if you leave a plate of meat out and a cat comes along and eats it, you don't blame the cat." Not sure who that is more insulting to – women or men. I have tried for almost two decades to see the good in Islam and it is definitely there – in the way that many Muslim women take care of their families, in the prayers offered by the faithful to a Being that is greater than each of us, so many ways there is grace and goodness. All of the valuable things that you can associate with Islam are completely undone, however, because they refuse to accept "innovation" in how they view women. Sadly, Islam has become a weapon. For so many years I have listened to my husband's friends talk so passionately about the great suffering of Muslims in Palestine. Yet, I have never heard any of these fine men ever, ever talk about the great suffering of Islamic women at the hands of their husbands, governments, etc. At best, they tell me "Allah knows all and will reward these women for what they have suffered." Until Muslim men can honestly look into their hearts and change the way they treat women and demand that their brothers in faith do so, there is no hope for your religion – it and the many Muslims (especially young people living in poverty) will be at the mercy of countless mad men with dreams of taking over the world. The head scarf is being used as a weapon to control women – and controlling their wives is often the only control these men have over their lives.

    Peace and blessings to all. God is watching us all and loves us all.

    January 22, 2010 at 7:29 pm | Report abuse |
  68. Ciara

    The headscarf should not take center stage on your article. I hear hijab and I am not Muslim. I wear it for my partner and I and to not worry about men looking at me.

    The headscarf is not "trivial." And if you bothered to learn how to wear it, you could wear it properly without it falling off. Please report on things that actually matter. Such as the condition of the country and the people.

    January 22, 2010 at 7:21 pm | Report abuse |
  69. Robert

    I see a muslim woman in the USA with a headscarf on and I shout "Take that off! You are free!" I guess some prefer to voluntarily enslave themselves for no good reason.

    January 22, 2010 at 7:20 pm | Report abuse |
  70. ligaya

    Muslims requiring non-Muslims to wear headscarves uis just a sign of Islamin intolerance. Its true if you are not a mUlsim you are tretaed a third class citizen of that Islamic country. You will pay higher taxes and you have limited opportunities and benefits. You are even forced to be converted to Islam by coercion. Ive been through all of these that I rather migrate to USA rather than be converted to their perverted religion.

    January 22, 2010 at 7:10 pm | Report abuse |
  71. Alex the Atlantian

    Atia Abawi (The author of this piece) is not just another "Western Journalist" with a typical American global view. She is an Afghani-American and provides some great insights in this article.

    January 22, 2010 at 6:46 pm | Report abuse |
  72. Guest

    I'm a Christian, but I respect Muslims for following the Quran this closely. I'm making a very arrogant generalization, but I think Muslims follow their "law" more closely than we do. Their religion reflects a lot more in their culture than Christianity does. It is SOOO not Christian having scantily dressed women everywhere just to name one of the many examples. I'm not saying there aren't Christians who follow Jesus and the Bible closely, nor am I saying that all Muslims follow the Quran. I actually have no idea why I'm posting this. My two cents.

    January 22, 2010 at 6:42 pm | Report abuse |
  73. asian dude

    Is it just me or what?.....it seems to be that most of the Muslim guys who responded seem to think that women/ girls have no complaints whatsoever about wearing the headscarves/ burqa or etc!....their reasoning is that because it is a religious thing & because the women are doing it for a HIGHER POWER that women are o.k. with it! …duh… Just ask them (your mom, sister, daughter or your friends) if it is pain in the butt to wear them sometimes or if they would rather not wear it or wear something else sometimes….I know….I know they will say they are used to it...it is the culture...the religion…habits and etc. but I bet you you’ll be surprised by their responses. I am not Muslim so I don’t know all the intracasis of the issue…but been there, done it/ thought about it, got the responses and shocked by the responses…..of course Asian style!! …so stop picking on the blogger.

    January 22, 2010 at 6:41 pm | Report abuse |
  74. L30941

    To Katjad:
    Actually, Muslim men do have to dress modestly. Whether they adhere to it or not, they are not supposed to wear anything above their knees. Muslim women and men cover to be modest. There is no sexism involved.

    I go to a public school and I wear the scarf. I get asked questions and I am happy to answer. I wear the scarf to represent who I am and my religion and I am poud of it.

    January 22, 2010 at 6:36 pm | Report abuse |
  75. Bibi

    To all of the people criticizing this blog for grammar, it is a BLOG. It in no way evidences a lack of credibility.
    Also, I completely agree with the article and the fact that women had more freedom in the 60's. I do believe it should be the choice of women as to whether they should wear the head scarf or not, it shouldn't be up to the country. It does evidence respect to God, and is in no way involved with anyone else for that matter. If I lived in a population that was rich with Muslims, I would wear the head scarf as I am a Muslim. However, not in America. Just as Afghans stare at those who do not wear a head scarf for being a foreigner, Americans give dirty looks to Muslims which also scream, "Foreigner!"
    It is simply part of the religion to wear the head scarf. Simple, nothing more. What concern is it to anyone else if Muslim women are wearing a head scarf to show respect to God?

    January 22, 2010 at 6:34 pm | Report abuse |
  76. Josh

    why are these kuffar after the headscarfs? Mind your own businesses.

    January 22, 2010 at 6:34 pm | Report abuse |
  77. American Muslim


    I really appreciate your comment regarding most of the terrorists being Muslim (unfortunately). The truth is; it’s not the head scurf or the burka or hijab. The issue is people are afraid of Islam and Muslims. As Muslims it is our duty to take responsibility of our action in this world. Islam is a compassionate religion, Islam is just and Islam flexible. They are all true only in the book. Media is circus well all know that. Media will be unjust to every religion and onto every culture if they see there’s some money involved. The fact is as Muslims wherever we live; we’ve failed and failed miserably. All of you who are defending Islam and Muslim should realize we are running out of room. Let’s look back to 9/11, London bombing, Mumbai attack, planned charismas day attack (thank God it didn’t happen) killing of U.S. service men and women in the military compound in Texas. The list is pretty big.
    When are we (Muslims) going take action? Terrorism is spreading like wild fire in the name of Islam. Why is it only Americans responsibility to go after Bin Laden or other terrorists? Why the West has to convince the Muslim world to fight terrorism?
    Muslims awake up; these are facts, they are reality. We are messing things up. We have innocents blood in our hand. Arguing or discussing about head scarf will not solve our problem. All these hateful comments about Islam and Muslims are our fault.

    Stop with your theological discussion about Islam. Unfortunately the Islam you are talking about doesn’t exist today.

    Am I shamed of my religion? No, I am not but I am upset. As of now, we have to accept the fact that we are doing more damage than good in this world. Let's try to fix it. The reality is Americans are more sympathetic to us than we are to them. 9/11 is the proof, we are still here. If this would happen in any Muslim or Arab country, Christians would be wiped out or driven off.

    American Muslim

    January 22, 2010 at 6:30 pm | Report abuse |
  78. shahrzad

    To all the people who object her talking about the headscarf; As a woman who was forced by idiotic islamic laws to wear hijab after the revolution in Iran, I for one despise hijab. I can not wait for a government change in countries like Iran so we can force all women to take off their hijab. See how that feels.

    January 22, 2010 at 6:30 pm | Report abuse |
  79. Sherry

    Aslam, I am sorry if I am not using the correct terminology. I was trying to refer to garments that cover the face and body pretty much entirely. I thought that burqa refered to the garment worn in Afghanistan where the person's identity is completely obscured. I thought chador was the term for what you are describing.

    Most of the Muslim women in my neighborhood do not wear burqas nor niqab, but there are some who do. As a freedom loving American, I feel I should support their right to wear this, but as a social being, I find it awkward because I am unable to recognize them when there is more than one.

    January 22, 2010 at 6:19 pm | Report abuse |
  80. Dan Reed

    Women in the West wear a burqah... on their self professed 'most important day of their life'... their wedding day. Everyone in the Christian church pretends they don't know what the bride looks like, she wears white to exhibit her fake virginal purity. The Priest, who hopefully hasn't abused altar boys in his past, marries the two, then the husband lifts the veil, revealing her face for the 'first time', then the groom kisses the bride sweetly while everyone goes 'ahhh', the same bride he has already slept with countless times... strange days. And yet the West loves to criticize those who choose to wear a burkah as a life practice. Seems to me, at least for those women who truly 'choose' to wear this formal dress, that they are making every day their wedding day for their husband and for their God.

    January 22, 2010 at 6:17 pm | Report abuse |
  81. Shehzad

    wow!! a lot ignorance thrown around from both pros and cons camps... I am a GOD fearing Muslim but this notion that hijab or niqab or burka is necessary for muslim women is simply ridiculous..for some reason people who condone it try to justify by saying " I do it or my wife/daughters do it"...good for you if you or if your family does it but by falsely impying that its must for all muslim women to do it is wrong. Giving example that this sheikh said it here or that scholar said it there does not add any value to your case.. we have thrown muslim women under the bus by focusing too much attention on such matters and hampered their chances to play a positive role in our society.

    January 22, 2010 at 6:17 pm | Report abuse |
  82. A. Smith, Oregon

    It's likely the Afghanistan people are aware and realizing that America and Allied troops will soon be leaving Afghanistan and are re-adopting their previous pledges and connections to the Taliban and Muslim faith.

    America should have trained and given side-arms to the Afghanistan women for self-defense. Apparently even that act of humanity and compassion was too great a mission and task to carry out.

    As American leaves Afghanistan, the women will once again fall under the iron boots of the Islamic Clerics and those that carry out their sadistic and medieval punishments upon the Afghanistan women.

    January 22, 2010 at 6:14 pm | Report abuse |
  83. Robert

    Clearly, just looking at the posts, it is obvious there is a huge cultural divide amongst the West and the Middle East.

    January 22, 2010 at 6:10 pm | Report abuse |
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