“My problem is not the hijab or niqab, it is the right of a woman to do whatever she wants. If she wants to do it she should, and if she doesn’t she shouldn’t be forced to,” said Hibaaq. “The bottom line is that it is a woman’s choice.”
For Meshref, it never was. “I starting wearing a hijab when I was seven years old, the niqab from 14-20 and then switched back to the hijab until just two months ago,” she said, just a few days shy of her 24th birthday. “My family thought I was too liberal, they thought I talked to boys and was too outspoken.”
“My parents forced me to veil, and I was so angry at them for taking my freedom to choose away,” she said. Now she has new worries: “Suddenly I have to think about my hair all the time. I have to brush it, and tie and it and use products. It’s so much new to think about.”
The implications have been dire. Meshref was forced to leave home and no longer sees her father. She has to maintain two Facebook accounts — one for her family and childhood friends which shows her veiled, and the other for new, or “understanding,” friends, which shows her new life.“For me, not wearing the veil, I feel like myself for the first time in my life. It should be every women’s right to make this decision for herself. And once every woman has that right, and the men respect her for it, then we will really be in a new Egypt ready for new revolutions and change,” she said.