Connect to share and comment
Being French and Muslim doesn't mean a girl can't have fun.
Editor's note: GlobalPost featured this article in "Great Weekend Reads," a free compilation of the week's most colorful stories. To receive Great Weekend Reads by e-mail, let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
PARIS, France — The youngest of six children, all born in France to Moroccan parents, Mariame Tighanimine was in her last year of high school when the 2004 act was passed prohibiting the "conspicuous" display of religious symbols (including the veil) in French state schools.
“There were four of us who had to make a decision," Tighanimine, who had been wearing the veil for several years, said. "We decided to respect the law and [instead] wore bandanas that we bought at Zara.”
But many young French Muslims can’t see what all the fuss is about.
“France is a land of immigration,” said Tighanimine, now 23 and co-founder of a French-language women’s webzine called "Hijab and the City."
"I’ve never known anything but France. Everything that I’ve ingested has been French. I support secularism and don’t impose my religion on anyone else," she said.
Tighanimine’s parents came to France from southern Morocco in the early 1970s and settled in the Paris suburbs.
Tighanimine passed her baccalaureate and went on to get a university degree in sociology and economics. Her older sister, Khadija, who had studied architecture and urbanism, in the meantime could not find a job.
“She was basically told that if she took off her head scarf then she would be hired,” Tighanimine said.
“We’re in a country where we constantly have to prove ourselves. Other countries focus on the environment or social issues. Here they focus on something as simple as a veil.”
All of Tighanimine's five sisters wear a head scarf. It would not have been a problem for her parents if she hadn’t wanted to wear one, she said, but it seemed like a natural continuity.
“I hadn’t anticipated the problems this would cause in France,” she said.
Khadija and Mariame decided that if no one would hire them, they would go into business themselves.
"Hijab and the City," a webzine for “French women of Muslim culture,” went live in May 2008 and has been steadily attracting readers.
The tongue-in-cheek combination of the word Hijab, a broad word for head coverings, with the Candace Bushnell-inspired TV series, is intended to underline that “we are Western Muslims, who live our religion while remaining women.”
Tighanimine likes to say, “We are more than just walking veils.”
The site’s clean and simple design covers such broad topics as cooking, fashion and beauty, single and married life, psychology and spirituality.