Von Hardy Prothmann
As far as I’m concerned, anyone can run around as she/he wishes. Everyone should decide for themselves – even the way she/he is being perceived by others, which they decide themselves, after all.
Of course this is an abstract thing, the personal view, the perception, feeling, thinking – and then merging all of those individual aspects to one opinion.
Reem A. Alsa ‚awy joined Young Media Summit 2010 in Cairo.
The woman wears a black Niqab, a veil that covers everything except for her hands and eyes.
For two days, I have been looking for her again and again – nothing distracts my perception of her. I look at her hands, which use an Air-book quite brilliantly. The woman is in fact a blogger in Saudi Arabia and is committed to human’s rights.
Who would have thought. A fully veiled human’s rights activist.
She says she wears the veil voluntarily. If so, I must not be irritated about the veil – after all, I stated that everyone should be free to wear what he or she likes.
Then I look up and into her eyes. Her eyes follow the events attentively. Nothing distracts from the eyes – which makes the eye contact become a much more intense connection. I just have to look into her eyes.
This seems strange to me. When she speaks, I only have her eyes and her statements to make a picture of her. She seems very committed, and their comments on Twitter are pointed and almost feminist – as far as her English comments go, that is. She often writes in Arabic – my absence of knowledge of this language makes this a black veil that covers all understanding.
So I think about Reem, her veil, her behaviour, mine and the behaviour of others. And about the „Vermummungsverbot“ (ban on wearing face coverings during demonstrations) in Germany. I think of German women up to the 1960’s, when the headscarf was quite normal, especially in the country and today can still be found, as in bridal veil, black veil, Venetian carnival masks, painted eyes, coloured contact-lenses.
Somehow my thoughts drift around – and then, suddenly, I think of the black bar. That one which journalistic media strip over the eyes of a person when they publish pictures of someone for documentation, but don’t want this person to be identified. One can see the whole person (or just the head) – and the black bar over the eyes serves concealment of identity.
The black bar makes a person unrecognizable – Reem makes her body and her face unrecognizable, but leaves open the eye area.
The veil is thus the opposite of the black bar.
But does that mean that Reem tells other people more about herself than if she hadn’t covered her face and body?
I explain my thoughts to Reem and ask her. She smiles at me – I know only by her eyes‘ expression.
Then she says: „In the eyes you can see the people’s souls.“
Then she thanks me.
Her words and her eyes tell me the joy she felt about my thoughts and words. I would still like to see her face. I think about why? Why I have this wish „to see“, what does it tell me about identities, anonymity, reality, image, pictures on the Internet, cultures?
Because this was one of the issues the German-Arab Blogger discussed this day. Many find anonymity important, others say that one must show „his/her face“.
Reem is also for „the face“ to show, but differently: she means, that one should not hide his identity. The veil is a part of her identity.
The question that concerns me: Are many „enlightened“ people just too concentrated on the looks of a veiled woman? For her commitment to human’s rights, Reem is quite unveiled: with her opinion.
I used Google Translator for the basic translation – if you find any mistakes or better expressions let me know.
Thanks to Frank J. who gave corrective actions.