Muslim women who make the choice of taking off their hijab are often subjected to a barrage of unsolicited criticism, hate, and cyberbullying. No one is ever satisfied and pleased enough with another person's decision ... go figure.
Egyptian actress Sabrien is the latest target of those taking it upon themselves to judge the personal decision to wear or remove the veil.
A very important note: she wore a turban, not a hijab.
The celebrity, regardless of what she wore on her head out of religious conviction, came under attack when she posted photos of herself without a turban. The viral images - which were uploaded on Instagram - stirred up controversy and saw many bash the actress as if her choice was any of their business.
The online campaign launched against her was so intense that some people questioned her faith, insulted her, and sent hateful messages to her family and children.
The actress was understandably shaken by people's reactions to her photos, so much that she felt the need to speak out about the matter on live television.
On Sunday, Sabrien made a statement via phone on MBC Masr's Al Hikaya program and broke down in tears as she explained how people's words have taken a toll on her mental health. Addressing Amr Adeeb, the show's host, Sabrien said that for years, people criticized her for "wearing her turban the wrong way and defaming the hijab."
"Now that I've taken it off, they also won't leave me alone! I don't know what these people want," she exclaimed.
The actress added that removing her turban was a personal decision she felt the need to make. Adeeb reassured her that the choice she made was no one's business and he's right on that.
Sabrien and every other woman owes no one an explanation over wearing or taking off the hijab.
It's ridiculous that we still have to repeat something that should go without saying. But it's necessary because in the Arab and Muslim world, the veil has become a matter of public discourse when it's simply a choice related to personal freedoms.
Berating women for making their own decisions about anything at all, including what they wear on their heads, is unacceptable. It benefits no one to make women feel like they owe the world an explanation.
The veil is certainly a matter of public divide in Egypt
In Egypt, divisiveness over the issue is evident and incredibly significant, especially in the public sphere.
The concern of people who are anti-hijab in the North African nation stems from the belief that the rise in the veil's popularity among women is linked to the power of Islamists. Therefore, it's a reflection of the politics of the country, rather than women's conservativeness.
This explains why some continuously criticize the veil, including Egyptian billionaire Naguib Sawiris who recently argued against it. Though some take a stance against the garment, as many as 90 percent of local women were covering their heads (at least) in 2007.
Regardless of all that and no matter what women wear on their heads, there's a need to ensure that their right to freedom of choice and speech is protected. After all, what they choose to wear or not shouldn't be up for debate nor judgement.