Religious ‘Ghosts’ Haunt Coverage of Hijab Controversy at Georgia State

Barb Wire

Muslim college student fights for her right to wear a hijab: good, controversial piece in the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

At least until you see that much of the article was drawn from the campus newspaper, the Georgia State Signal. And both stories are haunted by religious “ghosts” – the omission of the faith-based objections underlying the student’s protest.

You’ve no doubt read about hijab cases before, often involving students or office workers. Nabila Khan’s story is a more extreme case, an acid test for individual freedom: the niqab, which not only covers a woman’s hair and neck, but envelops her face except for her eyes.

So her story carries a greater punch, which the Constitution adroitly summarizes:

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During her first week of school, a Muslim student was asked to remove her veil by a Georgia State University teacher. She refused.

Nabila Khan, a first-year student, is now at the center of a controversy about religious freedom.

She told The Signal, the school’s newspaper, that the teacher held her back after class and asked her not to conceal her face while in class, as was written in the syllabus. Khan refused, and said she believed being required to remove her niqab violated her rights to freedom of speech and religion.

Khan said in the article that she chooses to wear the niqab, which is a veil that covers all but the eyes, to work and school.

“Many people have this misconception that, as Muslim women, we’re oppressed or forced to wear it. For me, it’s a choice. My parents never forced me to wear it,” she said.

It’s a compelling, counterintuitive treatment of a news story: the head covering not as a symbol of an oppressed gender, but as an individual religious choice. But how original? Have a look at the Signal’s version:

On Aug. 25, during Khan’s first week of college, one of her teachers held her after class to request she not conceal her face. Khan refused, claiming such an ask violated her right to freely exercise her religious beliefs…

Read full article at GetReligion.org

 

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Barb Wire.

Jim Davis
Jim Davis writes for GetReligion.org, scrutinizing religion coverage in mainstream media. He also runs the Faith and Values page on Facebook, and freelances as a writer and photographer with The Florida Catholic newspaper. He worked for more than three decades as the religion editor of the South Florida Sun Sentinel, covering national as well as local events and issues. His other projects have included copy editing and writing for a Christian web designer, editing educational white papers for the University of Florida, and publicizing Jewish studies at Florida International University.

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