review by- michael lee


A harmless three foot piece of cloth fashioned into a neck and headscarf, the Hijab, is the cause of much controversy, especially in the western world, where it is often criticised by media as a symbol of the Islamic oppression of women. But for many Muslim women wearing the Hijab, this isn’t the case, it’s a means of spiritual liberation, an act of devotion to Allah that’s part and parcel of their religious heritage, nothing more, nothing less. In contrast, other Muslim women admit to feeling restricted by the hijab, or socially obligated to wear it.

The Tainted Veil strips the rumours aside one by one, as it reveals the polarity of different cultural perspectives with regard to the Hijab; interviewing various members of the Islamic community young and old, and a number of recognized academics and religious scholars.  One by one, they discuss the cultural heritage of the garment, and illustrate similar religious traditions and cultural practices throughout the world.

The documentary keeps an energetic pace, as it builds on the perspectives of interviewees. It’s a democratic affair and avoids bias. The subject matter is reinforced by powerful cinematic images of cityscapes and Mosques, Churches and temples from around the world. We’re constantly made aware of the everyday reality of the hijab and the international scope of the topic. We’re shown people in the hustle and bustle of busy streets, stuck in traffic jams, ears to phones, everyday living.

It can be viewed as an act of devotion, a symbol of oppression, or even a fashion statement. But in the end, the Hijab is an example that perhaps best serves, to represent the divide between eastern and western philosophies. What The Tainted Veil does, is build a bridge between these conflicting views regarding the Hijab, paving the way to a richer more informed understanding of the topic.

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