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 (200 Responses)
  1. Leah

    I can't believe this woman is a CNN correspondent: this piece is poorly written, lacks original ideas and any focus. I almost couldn't finish reading it. After over a year in Afghanistan, all Atia can come up with is one common place after another. Is CNN hiring real journalists any longer?

    January 22, 2010 at 6:09 pm | Report abuse |
  2. guleycan

    As a muslim woman who grew up in a muslim society where headscarf-burqa-niqab is nothing but a tool of oppression, it really irritates me that supporters of headscarf totally ignore the masses of muslim women's plight. Those muslims who say this is a basic human right are dishonest, those non-muslims who say the same are just clueless.
    Well, whatver you might think, we, muslim women, will continue to fight for our freedom, we will banish any tools used to subjugate us, we will lead the armies with our heads uncovered!
    There will come a time when wearing headscarf will look as absurd as
    a slave-descendant person wearing chains.

    January 22, 2010 at 6:07 pm | Report abuse |
  3. California

    @ Asif
    But dont you see that is wherein the issue lies. The problem with a country led by a religion or religious leader is that if that leader institutes inhumane laws that directly represents that religion. Most people cant tell the difference between what Islam actually preaches and what bin Laden calls true Islam. A state run by religion always becomes dangerous for those who dont hold the state's beliefs. This leads to discrimination, abuse, or death. Which contradicts the Koran. People need to be free to choose/ realize what they believe in. For what kind of a follower is one who only follows involuntarily.

    January 22, 2010 at 6:06 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Ursu


    I believe you are right, men rule the islamic/arabic world. I lived in Jordan, I was married to one. He abused me for 10 years but I got out. Since I was a foreigner in Jordan I did not wera a scarf but if I walked by myself men would stare and make comments about me being a whore.

    There are Muslim men who are kind and good to their families, however, they are taught from childhood that women are nothing and they are MEN. If they know right from wrong and truly love their women, they will treat them with kindness and respect.

    I strongly agree that people who want to live in the USA should not try to force their women into submission, for that they should go back home and may God forgive them.

    January 22, 2010 at 6:03 pm | Report abuse |
  5. A modest, Western Christian woman

    Several commenters claiming to be Muslim have stated this absurd stereotype that Western women are all whores walking around in a half-naked state. Not so. I am sitting at my desk typing this right now in a modest shirt and a long, loose skirt. Why? Because where I live in the United States this is what we wear in the summer time. In the winter I wear a long sleave sweater over another shirt or two and very warm pants with boots. Those are not the clothes of a half-naked woman. And, I am insulted by the repeated assertion that women in Western nations all dress immodestly.

    No, I do not cover my hair. But, the men I am surrounded by will not treat me like a whore because the crown of hair God gave me is on display. In my religion we must wear certain clothing. However, that clothing is required by BOTH women AND men. THAT is equality under the eyes of God – requiring BOTH men AND women to dress modestly in a religious beliefs. And, my thoroughly Western Christian religion believes exactly that – what is good for the goose is good for the gander. So, I challenge any man who feels a woman must cover their hair to be respectful of God TO DO SO HIMSELF. That is the way it is in MY worship of God. Because MY God is a god of fairness and mercy.

    Muhammed was obviously an inspired man for his time. I do not believe he was a prophet – and even if I did believe so we don't worship prophets – and the only man to live on earth in total perfection was God's son, Christ (praise be His name). I find it disheartening that so many claiming to be Muslim in these comments clearly do not know very much about Muhammed or what he actually wrote. And, it is clear from his writings that women aren't meant to be regarded as chattel – to be covered up because they might cause men to go into a frenzy by the mere sight of their hair. Instead, many modern Muslim males (and females as well) like to refer to other men's "interpretations" of Muhammed's words (ie "hadiths") rather than what Muhammed actually said or did.

    And, finally, I saw several comments that revealed complete ignorance on Christianity as a whole. One of the unfortunate side affects of living in a country where freedom of religion is not allowed is that the people living in that country will often have NO idea of what other religions actually believe, teach, and DO. Christ (praise be His name) was the God of Abraham and the God of the Old Testament. Christ (praise be His name) is necessary for us to be able to repent of our sins and live again with our Father in Heaven. In order for us to fully repent of our sins we must ACT – we must change our behavior. It is so much more than just saying, "I believe in Christ (praise be His name)", because truly believing means DOING.

    In the end, whist reading through endless complaints of Westerners insulting the religion of Muhammed I have also read the same complainers wildly incorrect stereotypes of Western belief, culture, and practices.

    January 22, 2010 at 6:03 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Michigan


    Go back and read the story of Omar Al Khatab (the second successor of the Prophet, peace be upon him), when he walked to a woman, with a head cover, and he removed her headcover with his own hand...saying to her "Do not betray our city".

    You probably don't know this story, because the Wahabes block this story from being public knowledge.

    Oh, and yes, I am VERY sure that I am Muslim. You are in no position to judge me, or even dare ask me if I am a true Muslim. You are no closer to Allah than I am. You are no better than I am. Maybe a little less versed, but that is nothing I hold against you.

    January 22, 2010 at 6:02 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Asif


    I stand by what scholars of Islam say:

    Among the more liberal ones is Sheik Qardawai – he says that Islam mandates that a woman cover her hair/body such that men outside her family cannot see it. Wrt niqab/burqa, it is not compulsory. But if a woman chooses to do it, it is better

    This is very consistent with the way in which prophets wives dressed (burqa) and the wives of the companion.

    And Allah knows best.

    January 22, 2010 at 6:02 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Bill


    You are correct to point out the hypocrisy of the French initiative to ban the burqa. However, do you not note the hypocrisy of making this an issue in light of the conditions non Muslims are forced to live with in Islamic states? For perspective read the OIC report on Islamophobia and compare it to any number of human and religious rights reports in the Islamic world. Hint you will see harrasment with large financial settlement compared to death, church torched, and torture. The fact remains much of the Islamic world is rife with the vestiges of Dhimmi laws that directly contradict universal human rights. Here are some examples to shed some light on the subject:

    1) In the majority of Islamic states it is illegal for non Muslims to call others to their faith
    2) In several it is illegal to practice anything other than Islam
    3) In most Islamic states it is illegal for Muslims to convert to another religion and is often met with a death sentence
    4) In Egypt they state they have freedom of religon yet it requires Mubarak's approval to even build or repair a non Muslim house of worship.
    5) In Iran the Bahai's are prohibited from Universities, taking government jobs, and even observing their religion
    6) Every year Islamic states rank dead last when it comes to human and religious rights reports
    8) Islamic states could not agree with the decleration for Universal Human Rights manily because it guranteed freedom of religion thus they created their own the Cairo verision. This document clearly states it does not gurantee the rights of women and non Muslims but instead their "dignity." In addition it clearly omits any reference to respecting freedom of religion but instead exclaims the superiority of Islam over all others.

    Just imagine if we were to ban you from fullfilling your religious rights, banned construction/repair of mosques, and open displays of your faith? You would be aghast and rightly so. Yet these conditions are everyday realities for non Muslims in Islamic states. Read up on the plight of Pakistani Hindus/Christians or the Copts in Egypt for further perspecive. The clear evidence is the fact while the Muslims population grows in the West the non Muslim population shrinks in the Islamic world. Why? Could it be that the Quran, Hadith(ie Buhkari), and Sira do not trully respect any other truth than its own? Yes and further, having read the aforementioned works, the issue is compounded because Islamic scripture clearly places a negative predisposition on the other simply becaus he or she is not Muslim. The West is not at war with Islam and has clearly shown we will accept it, but from my vantage point it seems Islamic scripture and a huge portion of the Islamic world will never accept us. They won't accept us simply because we refuse to submit. Sadly Islamic scripture supports this worldview and clearly states it is the job of all Muslims to bring about a state in which all religion is for Allah force being an option. That my friend is the crux of the issue and is why the Islamic world, uniquely among all major religions, is literally in open conflict with the other. It's why the majority of the world's separitists movements(ie Bosnia, Kosvo, Thailand, Philipines, Kashmir, Pakistan, Somalia, and a number of others) are headed by Islamists who insist on Sharia because they don't believe in the validity of man made law. For god's sake the Muslims of India are even trying to carve up India again into Mughalstan. As you guessed it they cannot bear the indigity of man made laws or non Muslims ruling them–oh the nerve of us infidels wanting to enforce manmade laws that gurantee the same rights for all.

    At some point the Islamic world needs to wake up and realize if they want respect they had better start showing it to our coreligionists. In the West we need to stop our wars(ie Iraq), corporate greed, and awful foreign policy. But, again it is a two way street and the Islamic world has got to stop forcing itself on the other simply because their scripture mandates it. Failure to do so and will result in the West trully being at war with Islam. It will be a war Islam cannot win because the majority of the the world is not Islamic and to boot the technological, economic, and military might is in the hands of the infidel not the Muslim.


    January 22, 2010 at 5:58 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Ann

    This is an other article that has the mistakes that we always do "Criticize others faith and culture". We always think our culture is superior to all others. This mentality is not positive.

    I have also read articles written in non western media, that criticizes our culture. They also daemonise our culture, which is also not acceptable. When I was in China, their media use to write articles about our magazines having nude and semi nude pictures. They write about our culture of single mom system, premarital affairs, high divorce rate, teen pregnancy, high rape crime rate, our female proportion being more than male population, our TV commercials with sexy women. They also write about the TV programs like "sex & the city" and other programs that uses filthy languages which to them seems to be in appropriate for the children to watch, who cares? So I think it is better not to criticize their culture and them criticizing our marvelous culture.

    January 22, 2010 at 5:58 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Kassandra

    To Sa'id

    "I challenge any woman, who says she is covering
    her head by choice, to remove her scarf in front of a group of men (better yet,
    on TV) letting her hair and neck out, then putting it back on. If you cannot
    do it for whatever reasons, you are NOT covering by choice."??


    As far as i know, Muslim Women cover their hair out of fear of "ALLAH".

    Your analogy is weird. Its like asking you to walk naked on TV! Does it mean when you can not do it , means its not your choice to cover up.
    Come on!

    January 22, 2010 at 5:56 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Rachid

    Asif, you are right about the Sunnah except it never called for Burkah or similar wear. it never said that women should cover their face. In fact women face is not supposed to be covered. Go do your homework. I'm a muslim and I'm sure about this...

    January 22, 2010 at 5:55 pm | Report abuse |
  12. sara

    I think there are a couple of issues that need to be clarified:

    1) As a couple people mentioned, Islam only mentions MODESTY (this is the meaning of the words hijab). This applies for Men as well as women. The headscarf is one way to maintain modesty through traditional attire present in middle eastern countries back in the sixth and seventh centuries. If you look back in history, many European countries also had some sort of head covering in their culture, so it wasn't specific to Islamic countries... Since middle eastern countries were the first to initially convert to Islam, their traditions carried on. The burka is an Arab-specific attire, due to sand storms in the desert - It does not have anything to do with hijab, although one may wear the burka and remain modest. However, eventually the form of hijab as we know became an identity of Muslim women after (like caps worn by Jewish men and tubans worn by sikh men, etc) . I am a devout Muslim women who doesn't interpret "hijab" as covering my hair, but I do believe in modesty. However, I do respect anyone who wishes to display their religious identity through some form of attire.

    2) I'm not sure about Afganistan, but in some Islamic countries like Iran, wearing a head scarf is a law, which needs to be obided by EVERYONE in public (regardless of personal beliefs). Not wearing a headscarf in public is similar to passing a red light or shoplifting...That being said, I think respecting the clothing culture in a society is always common sense and for that reason it would have been smart for the reporter to wear a headscarf, if it wasn't specifically against her values. However, if her values were against covering her hair, she should simply (a) not travel to those countries if it's a national law or (b) if their isn't any law imposing certain attire, she should be strong enough to stand up for what she believes in.

    January 22, 2010 at 5:55 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Rachid

    Asif, you are aboutthe Sunnah except it never called for Burkah or similar wear. it never said cover our face. In fact women face is not supposed to be covered. Go do our homework. I'm a muslim and I'm sure about this...

    January 22, 2010 at 5:54 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Ann

    This is an other article that has the mistakes that we always do "Criticize others faith and culture". We always think our culture is superior to all others. This mentality is not positive.

    I have also read articles written in non western media, that criticizes our culture. They also daemonise our culture, which is also not acceptable. When I was in China, their media use to write articles about our magazines having nude and semi nude pictures. They write about our culture of single mom system, premarital affairs, high divorce rate, our female proportion being more than male population, our TV commercials with sexy women. They also write about the TV programs like "sex & the city" and other programs that uses filthy languages which to them seems to be in appropriate for the children to watch, who cares? So I think it is better not to criticize their culture and them criticizing our marvelous culture.

    January 22, 2010 at 5:54 pm | Report abuse |
  15. owlhowl

    Thank you.


    January 22, 2010 at 5:53 pm | Report abuse |
  16. Show Your Face

    Headscarfs are for sheep, lemmings who follow an antiquated law that has ZERO relevance in todays society.

    However it seems there are those in this world that want to live in the past (2000 thousand years ago) and cry god god god as a saviour for everything in the real world they cannot handle

    They are robots who are self-oppressing themselves. Get a grip.

    Trivial, useless and really hurting, get an identity

    January 22, 2010 at 5:50 pm | Report abuse |
  17. Jane

    Having spent time in Muslim countries as an American Christian, I wore the headscarf out of respect for the culture. I appreciated the time it freed up in the morning. However, I felt uncomfortable and "naked" if I took it off. Its amazing how softly coercive others wearing a headscarf can be. On the one hand it frees women from being objectified to an extent, but on the other it makes women's hair and skin even more sexualized.

    January 22, 2010 at 5:49 pm | Report abuse |
  18. Sanjay

    @Asif and people like you (from any religion)..just clear your head and take a chill pill..
    Why you folks have to be so stubborn headed with radical thoughts,

    I really think people like you drive other people to do extreme craziness because your head is messed up.

    Give up extreme thoughts, no religion ever dictates minor things like what to wear, when to pray, and other how to's when to's...

    These are interpretations made by selfish folks to pursue their own personal agendas.

    January 22, 2010 at 5:48 pm | Report abuse |
  19. Aslam


    Niqab is something different from Burqa. Burqa is just covering body except face and the hands. Niqab is Burqa+covering the face. Niqab is not compulsory in Islam or Islam doesn't recommend or prohibit Niqab, it is upto the individual to decide. But Burqa is part of Islam. I have lived in USA for past 20 years and I have never seen more than 4 or 5 women in USA who wear Niqab.

    January 22, 2010 at 5:40 pm | Report abuse |
  20. Asif


    Have you been to Middle East – the rulers of Middle East do not rule by religion. They are puppets and tyrants.

    I don't know about Christianity, but in Islam there is no separation of 'mosque and state'. The state is the mosque and the mosque is the state. This is consistent with shariah as taught by prophet.

    January 22, 2010 at 5:35 pm | Report abuse |
  21. Sherry

    I would just like to say that as a non-Muslim American woman, I totally support the right of Muslim women to wear a headscarf if that is what they wish to do. There is absolutely no harm in it if it is chosen. I see lots of Muslim women in my neighborhood all the time, and I have never seen anyone bother them over their headscarf.

    However, I do have to say that I can see why burqas cause concern. People in American culture rely heavily on being able to see people's faces for social reasons, so when someone (a man or woman) covers their face, it makes Americans uneasy. Just imagine what it would be like if everyone (including men) wore burqas.

    January 22, 2010 at 5:33 pm | Report abuse |
  22. Lisa

    The head scarf is not a functional piece of clothing it is an act of respect whether it be to God, to others, tradition or to the culture itself. Head scarves are adorned with gems and sparkles. Women wear head scarves and make up and trendy clothing, therefore we know women wear it for no other purpose but respect. Do not criticize someone's attempt at showing respect or reaching out to another culture or celebrating tradition. When someone sneezes you say "God bless you" or "Bless you", why? It serves no functional purpose yet it is considered polite. By the same token don't think that because you apply some outward display of modesty you are indeed a modest person on the inside. Stop majoring in minors and minoring in majors. These people deserve human rights and freedom as we all do whether it's to please your man or wear a head scarf. In the end we are individually responsible to God for the choices we made.

    January 22, 2010 at 5:26 pm | Report abuse |
  23. GN

    It so ironic that a religion of tolerance cannot tolerate a woman to show her hair.
    If a woman anywhere in the world shows her hair is a temptation and a problem to these men; these men have a head problem. Furthermore I have no idea how these people know their Prophet's women were dressed? An imam told them?
    The headscarf and the covering of women is just an excuse for these men to suppress and subjugate them. Religion is the scapegoat presently used very successfully in the Muslim world to suppress women and show man's superiority over them, because this is what the book says.
    The freedom of choice and equality and slavery in the western world has been won after many centuries of revolts wars and sacrifices against church and kings and establishments and will never be compromised to some religious nuts.
    If they want to live in the west in inner peace they better learn that we are not going to change our culture and laws to make them comfortable. They may have to return to an environment where their "modesty" is the norm.

    January 22, 2010 at 5:25 pm | Report abuse |
  24. Sa`id

    Its a shame when non-muslims tell MUSLIM how to worship

    1. Say : O ye that reject Faith!

    2. I worship not that which ye worship,

    3. Nor will ye worship that which I worship.

    4. And I will not worship that which ye have been wont to worship,

    5. Nor will ye worship that which I worship.

    6. To you be your Way, and to me mine.

    January 22, 2010 at 5:22 pm | Report abuse |
  25. Sa`id

    @ guleycan "I challenge any woman, who says she is covering
    her head by choice, to remove her scarf in front of a group of men (better yet,
    on TV) letting her hair and neck out, then putting it back on. If you cannot
    do it for whatever reasons, you are NOT covering by choice."

    They are doing it for Allah not for anyone else. How is this bothering you. Where are all those who shout for womens rights, when women are being threatened with legal action in france when THEY WANT TO COVER....There is no compulsion is our religion. A women can cover if she wants to if not then she is considered sinful. NUNS chose to wear it out of their devotion...why the double standard...would you ask a nun to remove their scarf.

    January 22, 2010 at 5:18 pm | Report abuse |
  26. Annoyed at the blinders everyone is wearing!

    If the headscarf was a choice, why doesn't an American woman visiting Afghanistan feel comfortable showing her hair??!! I mean COME ON people, the evidence is clearly there that this scarf is also a symbol of the control the men have over the women there! People were staring at her...why?? If it isn't her religion then why should she have to wear it?

    It's common sense people. Maybe here in North America, women can actually wear it for religious reasons rather than out of fear for their life, but I highly doubt it is the same in Afghanistan.

    January 22, 2010 at 5:16 pm | Report abuse |
  27. angie786

    congrats! Hala for finding the one true religion. I am also sick and tired of them talking about Hijab and how it is suppressive. We muslims never talk about two piece bathing suits and nude beaches and how feel that they dishonor women, its really the western womens' business. I have lived in Pakistan for many years, I don't think women really cared about being able to walk around in a miniskirt or revealing clothing. They were concerned about education safety and well being. Pakistan, Benglades, Indonesia, and Turkey have elected female leaders before many western countries, if women were so suppressed it could never have happened. Hijab is the greatest woman's honor, virgin mary was covered up and nuns cover themselves too.

    January 22, 2010 at 5:13 pm | Report abuse |
  28. California

    I feel that "think about it" brings up a very interesting point. Here in America, we have a very different type of persecution. The increasingly secular society in Western culture praises a very materialistic/superficial way of life whether that be possessions, sex, strength, intelligence, etc. Religions such as Islam and Christianity focus on spirituality as their meaning of worth. Sadly, the majority of secular society looks down on people who hold religious views and labels them as stupid or intolerant. But if we believe that there is no God then why do we look down on those who do? What is it to us and why should we care what they believe. The only time society should interfere with religion is if that religion supports violence or other injustices against other human beings. Christianity and Islam (according to the Bible and Koran respectively) are very peaceful and loving religions. Those who commit violence, hatred, and other inhuman acts in the name of these religions are heretics of their own religions. It is that religion's duty however to make this known. So, I say let Muslim women wear the hijab as long as its their choice. Let no person or establishment punish those who choose to express their devotion. But the Middle East needs to realize that religions cannot govern a country because this leads to forced "devotion", i.e Inquisition, crusades, sharia law. This goes against the teachings of Christianity/Islam.

    January 22, 2010 at 5:06 pm | Report abuse |
  29. Bobby

    I was anticipating something original in Afghanistan Crossroads....different voices, different perspectives, but this contribution borders on silly, yet another young western woman jabbering about a headscarf and full of herself as a journalist. Like most people I am looking for something more in the reporting and unfortunately, CNN falls short of the mark with this woman's inability to bring anything fresh to the table.

    January 22, 2010 at 5:03 pm | Report abuse |
  30. Child Of God

    Some interesting comments – thanks for sharing. I think the joke is on us though. We all worship the same God. Who amoung us can say we know why God permits the confusion? Maybe we are all called to love God/Allah the way we were taught & be faithful to only that – and we will be judged accordingly. This would also mean that we are wasting our time judging others. If a man was to judge his wife for what she wears or doesn't wear than he is guilty and will be judged by God. If we all believe this and controlled our own actions by loving others then there would be peace.
    P.S. Does anyone else out there follow Medjugorie? or Kieboko in Rawanda – this genocide was fortold to everyone who lived there a decade before -and all the Rawandans knew better & ignored God. Why is this not common knowledge? Look how that story ended. Fascinating stuff. We best be cleaning up ourselves & not focus on what you don't like about others. There are very specific & basic intructions for us – we just have to have a willing heart.
    Peace & hugs to you all.

    January 22, 2010 at 5:01 pm | Report abuse |
  31. Billy (Belal Malik)

    The biggest issue Afghanstan has is what to base its economy on.......no industry .....No manufacturing nothing ....that is why the War Lords and Drug lords are being sucessful...instead of putting more troops put industries so they can earn money and have a decent living...what else you expect from this nation...I am sure all the people who were killed during Taliban Regime due to which they were tagged as brutal administrators are a fraction of the total killed in the last few years. Has it brought any good to Afghan Nation. Afghanistan is a country where a complete generation has been almost without education....what do you expect from them ...Uncivilized and above it uneducated...from the same generation they ended up having talibans as adminstrators...thanks to those forces who funded them with money and weapons to fight Russia and then they were left alone....better off having head scarf and burqa than being photographed nude for mags and insulting the female gender. Selling off your dignity on street corners is ok. I AM SURE JESUS WOULD ALSO BE ANGRY TOO...If Jesus was to put things straight in todays world he would have ordered head scarf and burqa for female gender...believe me... .

    January 22, 2010 at 5:00 pm | Report abuse |
  32. Donna

    To Omer – thank you for speaking the unvarnished truth about the situation in Afghanistan and all the various foreign parties that had a hand in the travesty that is Afghanistan today. I truly believe the "regular" people of Afghanistan would back anyone who could give them peace, stability, and basic government services sans the rampant corruption in the government. To wear or not wear the headscarf is a trivial issue compared to an entire generation of children without enough food to eat, security in their lives, and a decent education for both boys and girls. The NGOs have, for the most part, pulled out of Afghanistan because it's too dangerous to continue working there; thus, leaving a huge gap in needed aid for people who really need it. That gap will be filled by whoever can provide services no matter what their ideology. Let's pray for Afghanistan's sake that the gap isn't filled with the most militant factions in the area.
    On another note, I'm surprised that no news outlet has yet latched onto the story that many groups of American soldiers have reached out to the American public to send needed items for the Afghan children, such as, baby food, clothing, shoes, school supplies, which the US military then distributes to Afghan villages in their area of responsibility. These soldiers ask for these items rather than care packages for themselves because they see the great need firsthand and want to help. These efforts may be a drop in the bucket when measured next to the need, but getting a story like that out there might encourage more Americans to seek out ways to help rather than worrying about trivial things like the "great religion" debate and the "headscarf debate" which helps no one.

    January 22, 2010 at 4:58 pm | Report abuse |
  33. alef

    I was in Afghanistan on a UN mission in 2002. I remember back then women were wearing blue Burqas. If women are now dressing as the ones I am seeing in the above picture, this is a huge improvement already.

    January 22, 2010 at 4:48 pm | Report abuse |
  34. Asif


    Are you sure you are Muslim – just because France can do it does not mean it is right.
    Where is freedom of religion for Muslimahs when it comes to wearing niqab. If you are saying France is right, then so are Muslim countries for imposing hijab on non-Muslimahs.

    As for bibi Aisha and hijab –

    * can you read Eng. I did say that she led in the battle of Camel.
    * you said she fought alongside the prophet. That I think is wrong. I am theorizing that if your statement is correct, then she may have been assisting (read your post 84 where you state she fought alongside the prophet)

    * Islam is predicated on Quran and Sunnah. Read my post 71. Where does it in say in Quran to pray 5x, the details of fasting, how to pray, details of jajj... these are all told from sunnah. In the sunnah, it is specified what the dress code. And our example is prophets wives – they clearly wore niqab/burqa once the command was revealed. This much is clear – END OF STORY.

    January 22, 2010 at 4:48 pm | Report abuse |
  35. Kerry

    This article is not about whether wearing hijab is right or wrong, but about the freedom to choose to wear it or not. As an American woman who converted to Islam I am still debating whether to cover my hair. And the fact that I get to have my own internal debate over this choice is what is important. I believe that Islam calls for modesty for both sexes, however I believe that no government should enforce a dress code. The author simply sensed the changing of sentiment over personal freedoms for women and was mentioning that in relation to hijab.

    January 22, 2010 at 4:45 pm | Report abuse |
  36. Chicago

    I love your comment Katja. Why are Muslim men allowed to wear what they want? Also, Seattlite and Michigan, you had some powerful words to share. Very though provoking.

    It seems from reading many of these postings to be a cultural issue and not one of religion. The Bible suggests women should not cut their hair and that eating shrimp is an abomination, yet I see a lot of short haired women eating shrimp at the all you can eat buffet! To often religion is about picking and choosing what one wants to believe and women seem to get the short end of the stick.

    January 22, 2010 at 4:43 pm | Report abuse |
  37. two-cents

    Asif, Michigan, and all who claim to know the correct interpretation. I stand by my other posting: it is obvious that no one actually KNOWS the whole reason for even doing this. EVERYONE who claims to have knowledge can't agree! Therefore it is useless and pointless. Same thing happens with the Bible. They are books that were rewritten/translated numerous times and the original was written by MEN with a writing implement! Then people use these passages to gain control over others or cause the overthrow of the other because if two people are at opposite poles then each says: "I must be right and you must be wrong". Throw these books away and then people will be able to meet in the middle. The middle will never happen until then. You do not need to be told how to live a good and just life, because I can guarentee you already know, even without a book to tell you.

    January 22, 2010 at 4:40 pm | Report abuse |
  38. Michigan

    Asif, for the last time, there is NO verse saying that they should cover themselves up. Period. END of story.

    Aisha did NOT assist in battles, she led them. You choose to deny that, that's your business.

    And as for JeffreyP's post...there is no reason why France/Europe should not impose what they feel is the law. If other countries are free to impose laws that force women to cover, then why shouldn't there be countries imposing the opposite?

    If you don't like the laws of the country, don't go there. Stay home.

    When in Rome, do as the Romans do.


    January 22, 2010 at 4:39 pm | Report abuse |
  39. guleycan

    Pointing to a few WESTERN muslim women wearing headscarfs by choice is the
    most idiotic argument for ignoring how "covering of women" is exploited
    over and over again to subjugate women in many muslim countries,
    The headscarf for muslim women in the west is an issue of IDENTITY and
    their minority status.
    Had these women born and lived in a muslim country, they would
    have had different reasons for wearing a headscarf.

    I grew up in Turkey, supposedly the most liberal muslim country, yet examples of
    subjugation using head-to-toe covering was all around me. I know many young educated women who were asked to cover head-to-toe as a precondition for marriage. Some of them do not even practice Islam everyday and they are not
    required to. It is always put as an honor issue for the groom's family. A married women's hair, neck, arms, legs, chest, etc. are only for her husband's eyes.
    Even many of those who say they cover by choice are deeply ashamed if
    any of their body parts accidentally show. If you feel such a deep shame when
    your hair is out, you cannot claim that you cover by choice.

    So here is my litmus test. I challenge any woman, who says she is covering
    her head by choice, to remove her scarf in front of a group of men (better yet,
    on TV) letting her hair and neck out, then putting it back on. If you cannot
    do it for whatever reasons, you are NOT covering by choice.

    January 22, 2010 at 4:33 pm | Report abuse |
  40. Stalker6

    I grew up in a town where there were many different religions present. As kids, some of us compared notes about what we did for worship, what holidays were like, etc. Those differences weren't used to tease anyone or make anyone feel bad, they were simply differences. As an adult, I've traveled quite a bit and talked with people of different religions about their beliefs. I find it absurd that we continue to have clashes over religious idealogy as most of the teachings in major religions center on compassion, love, respect, values, and the belief in a higher power. Some vocal groups, both Christian and Muslim, feel our current wars are still somehow based on religious differences. As a Soldier, I disagree. Though many people in America might identify with Christianity, certainly not everyone is what you would call a practicing Christian. We have members of other religions and atheists within the ranks of our armed forces. They aren't Christian Soldiers, they are just Soldiers. On the other end of the spectrum, there are loads of Christian-based extremist groups that cause problems as well, both at home and abroad. As with any extremist group, they tend to pick a handful of fiery passages that bolster their aims, but fail to take in the whole context of their holy book. In America, they tend to live in compounds full of guns. In feoreign countries, they can create animosity or even destabilize the entire region (example areas: Ireland, Yugoslavia). Oddly, these groups tend to have issues with Jews or other Christians. This blog touched on an observation about a garment's accepted use over time. It was not an attack. We fight over many things nowadays, but in my view, bringing religion into the fold is unnecessary. Instead, we should focus on the similarities our people share.

    January 22, 2010 at 4:33 pm | Report abuse |
  41. JaneCitizen

    Post 150.

    The headscarf is a garment. I understand where you're coming from but it was men who misinterpreted what the Koran says and that is why it became a symbol of oppression. Sort of like what happened to the swastika-it was a Hindu symbol for eternal life but after Hitler adopted it as the symbol of the Aryans, it became something totally different. The conditions that you mentioned are oppressive, not the headscarf.

    January 22, 2010 at 4:31 pm | Report abuse |
  42. Maven

    For the Muslims in the group: I can guarantee you that Allah/God doesn't give a damn what you're wearing on your head. If you think He does, it's because you're a self-absorbed egomaniac. If you REALLY think that in world filled with tragedies like Haiti, wars of Genocide like Rwanda, and all the other horrors we're face with, God has nothing better to do than worry about the hat you're wearing, you really need to re-prioritize your life.

    January 22, 2010 at 4:29 pm | Report abuse |
  43. Marianne

    Rather than focus on scarves or no scarves, as Americans, we should make it a point to learn more about the history of Afghanistan and more about Islam. We're very ethno-centric in America – how unfortunate. Greater awareness, and taking the time to educate ourselves is the only route to understanding.

    I applaud the blogger for raising conciousness about Afghanistan. And speaking of education, I also agree with the comment about it being essential to the country's future. Last night I finished reading Stones into Schools by Greg Mortenson, the author of the best-selling Three Cups of Tea. It's very clear that the parents – both the MEN and the women -of Afghanistan are anxious to see their DAUGHTERS get an education. The hunger for education is palpable.

    The zeal and back-breaking work on the part of many Afghans to help make this happen for their daughters is amazing, impressive, wonderful and sad all at the same time. I thought I was going to read a story about an American building schools for girls in Afghanistan, but I got a whole lot more. It's a wild adventure story to be sure, and the best part is that I came away with some understanding of the people.

    Takeaway for me: With all of the obstacles they have, if they can make education a priority, we can certainly make it ours to listen and learn as well.

    BTW, Three Cups of Tea is required reading for US top brass in the military. So, let's take their lead and try to understand Afghanistan's challenging history. Then let's learn about Islam beliefs.

    January 22, 2010 at 4:29 pm | Report abuse |
  44. Billy (Belal Malik)

    Yes i am muslim but yet like to write with my nick as Billy. I dont care if any one minds. Some people might not like it. My faith is that on the day of judgement i am answerable for my own deeds. We were brought up by our parnets with all possible knowledge our parnets could give us about Islam. It is the most humble of religions but portrayed absolutely differently these days. ONE QUESTION...WHY was the head scarf not discussed when russia occupied AFGHANISTAN. If it was discussed at that time then who would have fought the fight against Russia. There are other issue media should address about Afghanistan like for instance DRUG lords in AFG. Why no drone strikes on poppy fields. Drugs Lords are DISTRIBUTING death. My religion tells me to never question religion of other people cause if you do so they will question yours which could end in a dispute and GOD almighty does not like people or nations who bring dispute to his lands. So sis nice job in AFG I know people who travel to AFG are paid extra due to being a war zone area ...No one has the right to alter ones tradtion, reliogion and beliefs. Happy savings......

    January 22, 2010 at 4:27 pm | Report abuse |
  45. Christi

    I see many people here trying to explain to others why a woman wears the Hijab (covering, Burqa..Niqab or otherwise). You all need to keep in mind that women wear the clothes they do for various reasons, whether it be a covering or a mini skirt. No Muslim can say why various women choose to adopt Hijab just like no non-Muslim can call it a symbol of repression. These are things the Hijab means to you, not necessarily the wearer. And for anyone who thinks to condemn the middle east or Islam for repressing women, they must first look at their own country and religion's history and they will find that women have been repressed and persecuted since the beginning of any written history we have, all over the whole world, spanning various religions. Not a single Abrahamic religion is free of guilt toward their women folk. Stop getting hung up on the clothes a woman wears. As an American Muslim convert, I have been harassed, cussed at, and even pushed for doing nothing more than wearing clothes they didn't like. Just like it's no one business if a woman wants to walk down the street in a bikini, it is no one's business if I want to cover myself.

    January 22, 2010 at 4:26 pm | Report abuse |
  46. john g.

    One brave woman I could proudly call my sister, mother or wife! It's too bad the majority of the commentators have missed the whole point of her article.

    January 22, 2010 at 4:26 pm | Report abuse |
  47. N-word Plz

    Styles change and cultures advance. Any reasonable religion (God) would be able to realize and understand that. I would never be part of a "religion" that belittles women from the start. I realize this is based on some interpretations regardless of how misguided. It's just ridiculous and pompous of (some) muslim men to think they are any better than women. Afganistan used to be a progressive culture embracing Islam and I think that's what the reporter was trying to convey. Women could be doctors, teachers and (shriek) be something other than baby factories! They didn't have to wear scarfs and they could love their God just as much as anybody else. I read somebody was appalled by the cover of Cosmo. At least you have the choice to not purchase it and the publisher has the choice of what to print. If those covers don't sell, guess what happens... Stop living in your shell and enjoy life, love, and the cultures that surround you. You may be surprised by what you find.

    January 22, 2010 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
  48. Sydney


    The choice in what to wear and how to wear it is bounded by cultural and religious codes in all societies, that includes western societies. People do not have a choice to walk around naked on streets in the west!

    January 22, 2010 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
  49. Asif

    JeffreyP (post 149)

    Are you sure you are living in 2010.

    Plz see what France/Europe are doing – they have laws that stops girls from wearing hijab. Laws are being in France made that if a woman wears a burqa, she will goto prison

    The Enlightened Europeans !!

    Care to re-write your thoughts.

    January 22, 2010 at 4:20 pm | Report abuse |
  50. Katja

    Why is it that a -woman- must cover herself up, but men must not? Why is it only the woman's duty to be modest, but men can do whatever they want? That is the inherent sexism of the past that religions cling to.

    Religions - all of them - are a curse upon the earth.

    January 22, 2010 at 4:18 pm | Report abuse |
  51. Asif


    Your post: 84, 121, 147
    My post: 98

    In 84, you said vrey clearly

    >Aisha fought in battles, uncovered right along with the Prophet

    My post 98 is challenging this fact from your post 84. To the best of my knowledge, I said she did not fight alongside with the prophet. I said in 98 'perhaps' she may have assisted. And read the rest... I am making the case that if she assited the prophet and she was uncovered, then the verse to wear hijab was not revealed.

    You changed your stance in 118 saying that she fought in battle of Camel – the prophet had clearly passed by then.

    And I am making the case that when the verse was revealed to cover themselves up, they did infact cover their faces. And so did the wives of the companions.

    So what is your story now

    January 22, 2010 at 4:16 pm | Report abuse |
  52. M. Young

    Been there, felt it with my heart and mind, and seen it all. Headscarf is the first sign of oppression! I lived in Afghanistan during Taliban era when they beat up women who didn’t “properly” cover themselves on the streets of Kabul and turned around and kidnapped, raped, and sexually abused teenage boys in EVERY corner of the city. Each one of these men had a “boy” or several “boys” at their homes to satisfy their sickening sexual desires. So, anyone who supports the Taliban approach about women, especially about headscarf, I advise you to go live in Tora Bora for a while to get a real sense of what you are talking about and what it will do to you.

    January 22, 2010 at 4:15 pm | Report abuse |
  53. JeffreyP

    I think the muslims on this site are missing the point.

    What if a woman is an atheist or any other religion other than islam why should she be forced to wear a headscarf that Islam dictates? Western countries do no force Muslim women to remove their headscarves to conform to their cultural norms.

    January 22, 2010 at 4:10 pm | Report abuse |
  54. JaneCitizen

    Who cares about the headscarf? Nuns wear habits, Jews wear Yalmulkas and Orthodox Christians cover up also. I would much rather see a woman dressed in a modest manner than like a prostitute. A headscarf does not serve as a sign of oppression to me. Female circumcision, unfair wages, single mothers, inability to get an education, rape as a weapon-the list goes on and on. These are the examples of female oppression. Lets work on fixing that.

    Sincerely, American Christian who happens to be female.

    January 22, 2010 at 4:06 pm | Report abuse |
  55. Michigan

    Asif....I am not implying that she did not wear a hijab...I am saying that she did not. The facts are stated correctly....Aisha did NOT assist in the wounded, as YOU so put it. That is YOUR "fact", not mine. She led the battle in Basra, she did nothing less. THAT is fact, not fiction. It doesn't matter when Aisha fought a battle, the FACT is, that she did. So, YOU state the facts correctly.

    January 22, 2010 at 4:04 pm | Report abuse |
  56. doofus

    No one is forcing "Western" women to dress like tricks. They CHOOSE to. And honestly, I don't know any married man who wants his wife to dress like that (including myself). So be weary of how much you stereotype "Western" culture. Stating as fact that all "Western cultured" people dress and behave retardedly is no worse than saying every Middle Easterner is a jihadist Islamic extreamist psychopath. Which ISN'T TRUE. I'm sure many women there CHOOSE to wear their scarf. You wont convince me ALL of the CHOOSE to. Case in point, the bloggers 2005 experience. Or when Iraq was "liberated" (yeah, right) and all the women were taking off their scarfs because they didn't fear retaliation. Why would they "fear retaliation" if they were CHOOSING to wear it. Oh, that's right, they weren't CHOOSING to do it. I think the difference we are seeing here is this: When I see an Islamic woman wearing her headdress, I think to myself "cool, who cares." I don't call a Christian Jihad and slash the chicks throat, or slice her face up, or spill acid on it because she isn't like me. I believe in the freedom of choice. If she chooses to wear it, that's her choice. FORCING someone to do something because YOU THINK IT IS SO is WRONG. So mybad for believing in the freedom of choice...

    January 22, 2010 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse |
  57. Susan

    Well I never mind respecting another cultures beliefs or traditions but I don't we as americans get the same respect when it comes to our cultures or traditions. we are expected to change our traditions and way of celebrating, honoring our GOD. or holidays.

    January 22, 2010 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse |
  58. LMorris

    Nowhere in the Koran does it say that a woman is required to cover her hair. It states that women should dress "modestly". At some point in history an insecure husband decided he didn't want other men looking at his wife and decided to cover her up. It's not honoring God to cover your hair. If we really wanted to honor God we'd all work around naked, the way He made us.

    I lived in Iran for 10 years and wore hijab everydayI was there, it's the law. Because of my upbringing I personally think the whole hijab thing is ridiculous, but that's just me.

    I have friends who wear hijab and friends who don't, I love them all the same. It's their choice, and here in America, women have that choice.

    January 22, 2010 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
  59. John

    You say "As an American Muslim convert, the headscarf is worn to honor
    God" and then you say "The Burqua absolutely enrages me..."

    Don't you see??? It has nothinig to do woth God, It's all made up to keep women on the leash, controlled under a status of second class citizens.


    January 22, 2010 at 3:42 pm | Report abuse |
  60. Les

    Asif #6

    You talk about Western arrogance towards Islamic religion and culture however all I see in the UK on the streets on London almost every other week is arrogance from muslims across many backgrounds chanting hate slogans, forcing upon our society unrest and mistrust towards muslims, your religion and culture.

    You talk about Western arrogance but shouldn't muslims just stand back for a little while and be respectful of our Western cultures and way of life?

    Many people in the West respect your religion, culture and way of life so there is no need for muslims, in the US or the UK to "shove" Islam in our faces every day – there is enough respect there from the start that we do not need to be "force fed" islamic issues.

    The only arrogance that I have read from this story and comments are the arrogant thoughts of yourself... sure Western culture is not perfect, but dare I say it? Neither is any other culture, including islamic culture.

    God bless America and her allies.

    January 22, 2010 at 3:42 pm | Report abuse |
  61. two-cents

    this whole thing cracks me up. it is obvious that no one actually KNOWS the whole reason for even doing this. EVERYONE who claims to have knowledge can't agree! Therefore it is useless. Same thing happens with the Bible. They are books that were rewritten/translated numerous times and the original was written by MEN with a writing implement! These are just books for gods sake! stop fighting over them like it really means salvation (you die, your dead, the end).

    January 22, 2010 at 3:35 pm | Report abuse |
  62. Sayf

    The only thing that Allah commanded is that women dress modestly, that does NOT mean they must cover up their hair (HIJAB) nor does it mean they must wear a burqa. It is ignorant Muslims on this commentary that ruin the good found in our religion. The Quran stated that when people came to visit the Prophet, they he separate (or cover as the word used in the Book) his family (wives and children) from his public life. At the time of the Prophet, there was only one mosque, and his home was there, so that when people came to visit him, his family life would be separated from his personal life, ie they made a cover to create an extra room so that his wives had privacy from those people coming to see the Prophet and ask him for religious guidance. Asif needs to learn his faith, not his culture. A BIG problem with Muslims is that they confuse their faith with their culture.

    January 22, 2010 at 3:32 pm | Report abuse |
  63. Asif


    Rd post 71 from me.

    Learn Islam 101 and then post questions like the ones you ask.

    January 22, 2010 at 3:29 pm | Report abuse |
  64. Tony

    I remember the good old days of the 60's and 70's where headscarfs were not worn by a great majority of Afghans. I am a moderate Afghan and no one in my family wears any type of headcover. The emphasis on headscarfs by hardcore muslims is downgrading the role of women in the muslim countries. I am disappointed that they don't learn and they are trying to live in today's modern world with the ideas as old as 1500 years. No wonder that they don't get ahead. As for the headscarf coming off, I would say, it is definitely a pain in the nick to wear a stupid scard. Maybe we should change to a hat.

    January 22, 2010 at 3:29 pm | Report abuse |
  65. Hildah Mooleki

    Get a life and focus on important issues. Do what makes u comfortable. God is a loving god. it does not matter whether you are muslim or chirstian. he loves us all no matter what


    January 22, 2010 at 3:27 pm | Report abuse |
  66. jrhamp

    The people of Afghanistan must standup and fight....to protect themselves and to legislate how clothing items should be worn..or not worn.

    How have so many forgotten about the soccer stadium murders of women..or the horrible abuse of women under the Taliban regime.

    Time is now..of the essence.

    January 22, 2010 at 3:26 pm | Report abuse |
  67. Cherie

    I agree with comments 114 (gayle), 115 (Literate), and 116 (confused). I glanced at 2-3 of the first comments & got sick of reading that and flew through to the end of the comments. What is up with the people who seem to get all riled up and sensitive regarding the Muslim religion or how any mention of any part of the Middle Eastern group of countries is picked to pieces? So what if this news correspondent is writing her piece through a small glimpse at the wearing of the head scarf? Is it not one aspect of life in Afghanistan? Are we all who 'don't understand' to ignore and not ever mention the head scarfs? Get over yourself. People of every nationality misunderstand elements of other countries/ethnicities/cultures. And yet, how many other countries/religions/cultures take this misunderstanding or even just plain difference in opinion to a full scale war-mongering? Why not leave such disagreements to peaceful, academic dissemination rather than getting violent? PEACE OUT!

    January 22, 2010 at 3:26 pm | Report abuse |
  68. Suzy

    Mohammed Omran
    You consider free speech "attack" go and see how Christians are denied any rights and how Christian women are targeted in islamic countries and people are attacked and killed because they are Christians ,Yes God is truly Great and at last all the evil satanic teaching of Islam is being clear to every sane person except the blind Muslims

    January 22, 2010 at 3:23 pm | Report abuse |
  69. narrator

    There has never been any proof that God decreed these different beliefs. If God had really wanted something to be the law of the land he would have written it on a material that was impervious to decay and mans ability to erase this so called written word. All these religions were made up by men seeking to control other people, and persecuting those that didn't. Maybe all the religious leaders in the world should get together and call for God to show up and settle this debate as to who is right. I'm betting that God won't show up. Why? He has never showed his face to more than one individual at a time, Why Not?
    I think people started using a veil for protection against the elements long before it became a religious, or tribal requirement,

    January 22, 2010 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
  70. Asif


    Reference Post 83, Post 118

    You said in Post 83 that bibi Aisha fought alongside the prophet and you implied that she was not wearing hijab I know about the Battle of Camel at Basra – but that came after the prophets death. So plz state your facts correctly.

    I am not confusing burqa with hijab. If you are telling me the prophets wives did not wear the burqa, you are sadly mistaken. After the command was revealed to wear hijab, I am 100% sure that I have read that bibi Aisha took even a piece of cloth from somewhere to cover her face. And so did the wives of the companion.

    January 22, 2010 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |
  71. sensa


    You insist that the Burka is mandated in Islam.

    There is absolutely no mention of the Burka in the Koran.

    Please show me and all the others the verse in the Koran where it is mentioned, just so we can put an end to this argument?

    Or do you just repeat what you have been taught??

    January 22, 2010 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse |
  72. Nasser

    Please stop trying to westernize Afghanistan by trying to teach them to stop wearing the headscarf or getting used to seeing women's hair. Shame on anyone who is trying to do this.

    January 22, 2010 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
  73. Denise

    I feel so sorry for the people of Afghanistan. Their country and their way of life has been completely destroyed by the Soviet Union and the Islamic fundamentalists who came after the Soviets. The Soviets and the Islamics have a lot in common: they kill you if you disagree with them.

    January 22, 2010 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
  74. GoScranton

    I've read some ridiculous things in my day but this fairy tale about Muhammad's wife catching the eye of a soldier is beyond fabrication. So why did Mary, mother of Jesus, wear it then? Did she catch the eye of someone?

    January 22, 2010 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
  75. Julia

    I would like to read about something else besides the headscarf. This article contains no analysis of the country which would be of interest to those of us who cannot travel to Afghanistan. It is three times too long given the content. So either pair it down or add usefull content.
    I believe it is perfectly normal to respect the mores of a country you are travelling/working in. A certain degree of modesty is required in many countries and a scarf can be of use to protect from the sun even though it may be a religious obligation for the local women.
    Let me add that in the 1950s in the USA, women had to wear hats to church and often wore scarves. We have abandonned such constraints today but is that really what defines our country?

    January 22, 2010 at 3:04 pm | Report abuse |
  76. Javed Mohammad

    There are more pressing issues in Afghanistan than head scarf and religion. Why don't people who visit Afghanistan talk about it? In my opinion this blog focuses around the writer of the blog rather than the problems faced by the Afghans who strugggle to live on a daily basis. How are they overcoming those challenges? Is there in any change in their living standard since the War? Has their living standard gone worse after the war or becoem better?

    January 22, 2010 at 3:04 pm | Report abuse |
  77. Jameen

    Why are we facing the ridicule of the rest of the world? Most non-Muslimsthink of us as belonging to stone age. We go about dressing up like pengiuins and ghosts, and say that is what Allah wants. We call everyone else infidels and are ready to kill them to get a passport to haven.

    Everyone has figured out the truth about us - that most of us secretly support the jihadists, and we call it islam! Now we want Western women to wear scarf?

    January 22, 2010 at 3:02 pm | Report abuse |
  78. gordon peterson

    all religions have been started by males and most of them have women being second place to men. the koran says nothing about clothing except that to dress modestly. almost all of the conditions for how women should dress, behave , etc. comes from culture. the arab wolrd has always seen women as second class citizens. arab men never have to atone for anything. it is the religious extremists that dictate (who are men) that make women do what they say. few women in islamic countries have any rights. mohammed said that men and women are equal. true islam is not what most islamic countries are practicing.

    January 22, 2010 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
  79. Mimi

    @Mom of Three...congratulations on your ability to present a wholy unoriginal argument as if you're the first one to present failed logic. Hair is not shameful. Islam doesn't say hair is shameful, and whoever else thought they were clever in regards to why G-d would create hair if it's shame and women must cover it, you and Mom of Three should get together and trade faulty logic. Unfortunately the two of you are in good company considering some of the comments on here.

    The article was poorly written, incoherent and boring.

    January 22, 2010 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
  80. think about it

    the hijab is worn in worship of god. people think that the hijab oppresses women. it does not.

    society oppresses women....then blames the hijab

    here in America, unless you're a lesbian, the less you wear = the more free you are. in American, you are discriminated against and looked down on if you don't show skin or are sexy or wear religios head gear, like hijab.

    In many European nations, the burqa is not welcome. A woman who wears it is not given a voice. She made the decision to wear it, but society's dictates how a woman should look.....then punishes the woman for not conforming.

    Have you noticed how the non believers (those who don't believe in God) associate non righteous behavior with freedom and righteous behavior with oppression? They celebrate when the people of Afghanistan for holding beauty pageants, serve alcohol, and stuff like that....they call it 'progressive' and 'modern'....then they look at a woman wearing a burqa as being backwards and oppressed. They celebrate moving away from God, and criticize and look down at any attempts to move towards God.

    I once had an Iraqi christain woman stop me in the mall and ask, "why do you have that ugly thing on your head, you don't have to wear that here you know." I told her that I wear it only for God, and that she can't get between me and God. She walked away and left me alone.

    For all you true Christians out there...the ones that believe in God (not the ones who are christian by name only)....the main differences between your religion and ours is that you believe that salvation lies in believing that Jesus is the Son/God. Just believing that Jesus died for you is enough to get you into heaven.

    For Muslims, we believe salvation lies with the mercy of Allah/God. We do what we do because we are God's servants and we obey his commands. I cover my hair as an act of worship for God and as an act of humility. How is that bad? Why do you want to take that away from me? The ladies that choose to wear the burqua.....(especially in 'free' western societies)....wear it for God.. Who are you to force it off? Are you above God?

    I'm not denying that in some cultures the hijab/burqua is forced....and that is wrong in itself.....but what you have to understand is that the ones who wear it voluntarily do it because we believe that there is no power in this world greater than God....and that freedom is a relative concept....because in the end to Allah we belong and to Allah we return......me, you, and the rest of God's creation.

    January 22, 2010 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
  81. Michigan

    Asif...Aisha not assist in battles, she fought them. She raised an Army....in the year 656, outside the city of Basra confronting Ali. That's hardly assisting the wounded.

    No, the burqua is not a part of Islam, as a matter of fact, it has no place in Islam. Do not confuse the hijab with the burqua, as if they are the same thing.

    The Prophet's wives did not were burqua. They may have worn hijabs, but certainly not burquas. This is where you are mistaken by assuming they are the same thing, when in actuality, they symbolize the exact opposite.

    January 22, 2010 at 2:54 pm | Report abuse |
  82. Connie Williams

    It IS the Muslim duty of every woman IN Afghanistan and without to wear pink toe rings. Any woman seen not wearing this ornament demanded by the Koran will face serious retribution from the mindless men following in the footsteps of Genghis Khan

    January 22, 2010 at 2:52 pm | Report abuse |
  83. confused

    Why bother to discuss anything about the way they behave over there. I’m tired of reading, “Waaa you don’t understand our ways – waaa you’re looking through western eyes. You don’t understand our culture. Well you’re right we don’t understand your culture. We don’t understand how for more than 2000 years you have never ran out of reasons for killing. Whether it’s outside countries or outside religions – or if you can’t kill any outsiders you’ll kill each other. Sunnis will kill Shiites, I mean come on. So I admit you’re correct I don’t understand. Maybe you can explain how you justify all that senseless loss of life. We are all God’s children. Do you really think God wants us killing each other in his name. Head scarf’s, who cares. I suppose that will be another reason for killing someone sooner or later.

    January 22, 2010 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
  84. Literate

    I am not Muslim and I don't think headscarfs are worn to "honour God" or maintain a women's dignity. They are meant to prevent men from being tempted to "look" and have ungodly thoughts . Otherwise, men would also have an equivalent piece of clothing to "honour God", perhaps a pair of gloves -anyone? The problem I have with this traditon is that it undermines the human's ability for choice and free will–and I am not talking about the women. Why do women have to cover their hair so men are not tempted? Wouldn't it be more valuable in terms of religion to see a women with NO headscarf and a man NOT "look"/have bad thoughts? Human men are not animals; they have a brain they have self-restraint, they have CHOICE if so practiced. To me (and of course this is my own opinion), this is more valuable then covering that which might tempt. Same idea with consuming alcohol.

    January 22, 2010 at 2:39 pm | Report abuse |
  85. gayle

    If the headscarf is worn to honor God, why don't the men wear them?

    January 22, 2010 at 2:36 pm | Report abuse |
  86. Brendan

    To follow up on Janet Ottomeyer's post, Atia's point is that as a non-Muslim who has every right to express herself in accordance with her own religious views, she feels intense societal pressure to conform by wearing a headscarf, despite the fact that it is showing adherence to a religion other than her own. To those American Muslims who condemn Atia's post as a classic example of American intolerance and ignorance I ask: are you pressured to show allegiance to a faith other than your own when live and walk the streets of New York, Washington, or L.A.?

    January 22, 2010 at 2:30 pm | Report abuse |
  87. Nina

    Since nobody of religious women and men is capable of citing Kor'an, It's interpretaition or any other Holly Book saying that it is required by muslim religion for women to be covered, it is to be assumed that the custom of covering woman 's hair and body is made up by insecure muslim med who want to have power over their wives, sisters and children in other to cover their insecurity. The same is to walk behind their men or not to stand up for their opinion. I absolutely do not see any modesty in that.

    And for those who claim it is for "not being gazed at or look at". This only applies for the countries where majority of women is covered. In any other country in the world, covering is causing an opposite effect. I have traveled and lived around the world, including muslim countries and am basing my opinion on different experiences and observations as well as knowledge of Kor'an and other holly books from different religions.

    January 22, 2010 at 2:26 pm | Report abuse |
  88. Ibrahim

    Why should Muslims force non-Muslims to follow Islam traditions? Why can't a Western reporter travel in a "Muslim country" without a head-scarf? If Muslim women want to wear head scarf to respect Allah, that is their choice. But forcing everyone else is nothing short of intolerance.

    Let us accept it: Islam as practiced today by most Muslims is hypocratical and intolerant. Muslims expect religious freedom in Western countries but offer none to to others in their own. We go about talking and behaving like we know what Allah wants, and no one else does.

    Atia's blog points out the truth about urselves, but my brothers and sisters don't like to hear it.

    January 22, 2010 at 2:26 pm | Report abuse |
  89. Mom of Three

    Rick has a good point. Why don't the men have to cover up? Is it because they are not a shameful sex? When I see the men in big blue bags or the hijab, I'll take is seriously. But the wearing of ti may be sold to the women as love of religion, but it is really an acknowledgment that women are lesser and shameful.

    January 22, 2010 at 2:25 pm | Report abuse |
  90. Seattlite #2

    Can't we all just get along? I'm disheartened by so many comments with words of hate in them, or generalities flung onto entire races or ethnicities. There are some very poignant and thoughtful points in the comments, but I hope most can dismiss those showing no tolerance for different cultures (whether it be Afghan, American or any other culture). I'd rather spend my time focusing on how we (as human beings) are similar than persecuting how we are different.

    January 22, 2010 at 2:23 pm | Report abuse |
  91. Jahl

    Many people are right and wrong in the same comments here. The journalist took the time to write a BLOG about choice. She is also there in Afganistan viewing everything. She is trying to convey something based upon her personal morals and values. The people who have come here and made thinly veiled threats to people of the muslim religion should be ashamed of themselves. You are allowing your own anger to lash out against them then the same way that certian muslim EXTREMIST groups have done to others. It is like to bulls facing off and neither bull has the ability to concieve or view the other point of view or discuss it openly and rationally. While my personal views are not the same as many others here, there are a few things that should be said. One: Freedom of choice is just that. If a person chooses to wear something to cover her head then so be it. She is honored to wear it. I would respect that she feels that way. It the next person chooses not to wear the same covering, I also respect thier choose. Forcing someone to do something is the inappropriate part. Same thing as forcing a religion on a person or group of persons. Christians, I hate to say it but you have done this for 1900 years. Muslims have done the same thing only for less time. Don't force your views on someone else. Honor your religion, practice it to your hearts content, be faithful, but do not force me to have to do it if I chose not to. I respect people of religion. I respect the people who are open about thier beliefs and not afraid to hide them. It shows that persons strength of character. But it is nothing more than bullying when you tell someone else they have to do it to. Take your time to respect the journalist for her views and the views of other comments here, but please stop trying to shove your views down other peoples throats.

    January 22, 2010 at 2:20 pm | Report abuse |
  92. Sy2502

    The rate of suicide among Afghan women is staggering. When half of the population thinks they are better off dead, you know there is still a lot of work that needs to be done. And being oppressed and despised on religious basis doesn't help them feel any better either.

    January 22, 2010 at 2:17 pm | Report abuse |
  93. two-cents

    Kimberly, what the heck are you saying? I am sure they say sister to your face while you say they in turn cat call the girls. Proof that it is these men who have the problem, not the women, and you propose it as being the women's fault! shame on you! you are the reason this perpetuates as you look long down your nose at fellow women being cat-called to becuase the men on the street "respect" you. NONSENSE! they probably undress you once you've passed and chuckle about the probability unsightliness of what is underneath. I say this because I know the kind of men you speak of (not all men), and believe me, you are not above their comments. You underestimate on what you hear after you pass!

    January 22, 2010 at 2:17 pm | Report abuse |
  94. Rachid

    Asif, I'm a Muslim and I just like to say this to disagree with you. There is nothing in Qur'an that justify you asking your wife to wear Burka, you shoud know that very well. I don't know where you got that the prophets'w wifes wore burka???if they did, your wife diffenetley doesn't fall in that category...Prophets's wife can't even marry after his death out of respect to him...
    Burka is ugly thing and is only traditional. People against it have some valid reasons given crimes adn terrorism, you just never know who is behind the burk. Sometimes adn don't tell me this not true, somw women are forced to wear it because teir husbands force it upon them. Please undestand that I'm not saying that your wife shouldn't wear islamic clothing or I'm for nudity...etc. If Prophet was still alive, he would have done something about it. We need to give up this riduculous statements but as Voltaire (philosopher in 18th century) said:
    I disagree with what you said but I will fight to death your right to say it. In this case, I don't agree with you about the burka and I support your wife's right to wear it as I disagree with someone making her not wearing it for the same reason why others hav ethe right to wear nothing...

    January 22, 2010 at 2:13 pm | Report abuse |
  95. Hania

    It's quiet interesting how people justify wrongs by bringing God into the picture. Some folks equated nuns wearing a scarf to women being forced to wear scarfs and burqas. If a person decides to become a priest (or nun ) in any religion they make a consious choice to follow the appropriate dress code and live their lives accordingly. Forcing regular women (and young girls) to wear headscarves in the name of Islam is no comparision. If these peverts think someone going to an islamic country should dress accordingly, why do they feel uncomfortable to dress like the majority in any other country they end up in?? Why not just stay in your Islamic world and help those needy you so want the west to help??

    January 22, 2010 at 2:12 pm | Report abuse |
  96. acoram

    Wow...some of these comments are verging on obscene!! In my eyes you are as bad as the men who beat the living daylights out of women who do not do as they are told. Take your head out of your backside for a second and think about the real issue here. The blog is intended to bring real issues to the surface, not to judge or insult. If you care about your religion then surely that includes caring about everyone within your religious group? women too? You people are so naive in thought, it's disgusting!! The women have a RIGHT to freedom as much as the men. They deserve nothing less!

    Great blog – thank you for bringing these issues to the surface, for sponsoring change, for showing the people of Afghanistan that people do care!!

    January 22, 2010 at 2:11 pm | Report abuse |
  97. maxwunsche

    All this brainless talk about religious sanctioned clothing is positively laughable.God doesnot care about pushup bras, thongs or scarves.God cares about practice...behavior towards oneanother.A force that is all powerful, knowing and creative is not offended by anything.We all need to get past these ignorant religious fairytales, stop killing each other and join the human race.Stop worrying about the afterlife.Live this life.

    January 22, 2010 at 2:08 pm | Report abuse |
  98. tgoebel

    you did little or no background on this article having lived in kandahar for 12 years you need a do over or mulligan next time sit with the afgan people in there homes you will have a different perspective i guarantee it.

    January 22, 2010 at 2:08 pm | Report abuse |
  99. Gary

    I find it ironic and inconvenient that: "God justifies everything humans do, but nothing that humans do, justifies God." In a few billion years we'll all be space dust wondering around in the universe. There won't be a human breath to be taken, with or without a scarf. And that's when God will finally rest in peace.

    January 22, 2010 at 2:07 pm | Report abuse |
  100. narrator

    Thank God I have no religious sect that I feel bound too. But I guess that I am the primary enemy of all that feel bound to religious ( a.k.a. political ) groups. As if God cares if you wear any religious garb. I think his original recommendations were fig leafs only. But humans use these various forms of dress to show that they are taking a side and that they will be prejudiced to all that don't follow them and their beliefs.

    January 22, 2010 at 2:06 pm | Report abuse |
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