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Saddleback Speaker Offered 101 Reasons to Cover Up for Allah

Mona Ebrahim compiled a list of 101 reasons to wear the hijab. Credit Peter Schelden
Mona Ebrahim compiled a list of 101 reasons to wear the hijab. Credit Peter Schelden
Saddleback College students were lectured Tuesday afternoon about the value of wearing the Muslim veil known as the hijab.

The one doing the lecturing, Mona Ebrahim, said she covers up to make a feminist statement as well as to serve her god. Her new book of humor, "101 Reasons Why I'm Glad I wear Hijab," was published in late October.

"Men were much more flirtatious and attracted to me when I had my long, curly, black, Egyptian 'ooh la la' hair," she said. "I was just sick of it. I wanted to get rid of it. I don't want to be sexually attractive to anyone. That's temptation."

Although she puts away the hijab at home, Ebrahim said she has worn the veil in public since college.

Her father was alarmed.

"My dad was like, 'What? Oh my God. How are you going to get a job? How are you going to get a husband?'" she said.

She did find a husband after college, and he also warned her against wearing the garment following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. He feared for her safety.

But Ebrahim continued to wear the hijab, saying that it was a part of her identity.

She said that while she initially felt "horror" after witnessing the attacks, she also feared the ensuing backlash against Muslims in America. She said many Muslims believe conspiracy theories in order to avoid any association with the attacks.

"Psychologically we want to remove ourselves," she said.

Her book uses comic illustrations to take a light-hearted look at a subject that attracts much political attention. Her first reason for covering up? "I don't need a bluetooth. I just stick my cell phone in my hijab."

Ebrahim said that while wearing the hijab has always been a choice for her, there are governments, societies and families that force women to cover up. But she said that as an American, "I believe that we are forced to uncover."

Students challenged the speaker on several points. One said that by wearing brightly-colored hijabs, sometimes with sequins, Muslim women draw as much attention to themselves as they would without the head covering.

Ebrahim responded that Muslim women have different reasons for covering up, and while some may wear the hijab out of religious devotion, others wear it for fashion.

Another said that Ebrahim, who had described herself as a nonconformist earlier, was actually conforming to the religious preference of her parents.

Ebrahim said that she came to her religious convictions on her own terms.

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