The first Miss Headscarf contest was judged a couple of months ago in Copenhagen, Denmark. The organisers developed the idea in response to the recent controversy surrounding the Mohammed cartoons and ensuing debates on the appropriateness of Muslim women’s headscarves in Denmark. (Entrants don’t have to be Muslim; anyone can enter by submitting a photo of themselves wearing a headscarf). The contest organisers see MIss Headscarf 2008 as a way to give a much-needed visibility to the views of “all the Muslim women who are seldom heard in the debate.” As one of the contestants said, “it’s about the time the media talked to us, and not about us all the time.” (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/denmark/2044680/Miss-Headscarf-contest-for-Muslims-attacked.html)
“They Call Me Muslim” is a short film focusing on the experiences of two Muslim women, one in Paris and one in Tehran, who hold very different opinions on veiling. Samah, living in Paris, feels that the ban on headscarves in French schools forces her to choose between her religion and her education, whilst K must wear the headscarf when in public in Iran. The filmmaker, Dianna Ferrero, explains some of the issues arising from the film in this article. The overall message of the documentary is one that at times seems to be overlooked in the headscarf debate – that women are negotiating political and cultural obstacles in order to regain control over their bodies in both religious and secular contexts, and that ultimately it is the freedom to choose to veil or not veil that should be promoted.