‘Veiled threats’ from Egypt’s nightclub owners
Alarmed at the country’s growing religious tilt, some businesses in Cairo are creating ‘hijab-free’ zones to attract a different clientele, reports Trends.
January 17, 2010 3:34 by Ashraf Khalil
The complex attitudes toward the hijab reveal a deeper societal polarization that extends into Egypt’s media and entertainment spheres, and speaks to the country’s perception of itself. Katatney points out that although the vast majority of adult Muslim women in Egypt are veiled, that reality simply isn’t represented on television or movie screens.
Female news presenters on state-run channels have found themselves taken off the air if they adopt the veil. And female roles in Egypt’s robust film industry tend to portray a completely different reality than the one outside the theaters. “If you see [a muhajjaba], they’re either from the countryside or are older women,” Katatney said. “Even in the commercials, it’s only the ones on the Dubai-based satellite channels where you have the young veiled mothers.”
Indeed, portrayals of “normal” muhajjabat in Egyptian movies are so rare that each role prompts its own sociological debate about its meaning. Several years ago the movie “Sahra Leyali” (Sleepless Nights) became a surprise hit and a social phenomenon for its controversial depictions of drug use and premarital sex. But one of the most unprecedented aspects of the movie was a pregnant muhajjaba. The character played by Mona Zaki is a young upper class mother, whose religion is treated as incidental and who doesn’t hesitate to kick out her philandering husband. The veil is not the center of her life, merely an aspect of her personality. Some of her closest friends aren’t veiled and it’s simply not an issue.