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Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Hijabs: Veils or Chains?

It is a question that Muslim women who wear traditional Islamic head coverings often face in the United States. They know that many Americans do not understand such veiling or consider it repressive - not an unexpected reaction in a society in which women spent the better part of a century casting off social restrictions, along with floor-length skirts and corsets.

But in her book "The Face Behind the Veil: The Extraordinary Lives of Muslim Women in America" (Citadel Press, 299 pages, $22.95), Missouri-born journalist Donna Gehrke-White found that a growing number of Muslim American women voluntarily wear a head covering - known as a hijab - and find that choice spiritually empowering. She also interviewed women, just as devout, who have never worn veils and say they never will.

Gehrke-White, a reporter at the Miami Herald, grew up in St. Joseph, Mo., and is married to Tim White, an editor at the Herald who grew up in St. Louis. They have two sons.

She began writing about Islam after Sept. 11. In this book, she delves beyond the mystery and misconceptions associated with veils to put a personal face on a complex group of women bound by their faith. [Link]

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