Few symbols have the ability to polarize public opinion as the image of the veil. It has long been stigmatized as a form of oppression or a “symbol of backwardness...a visual cue to bolster claims of the rise in Islamic militancy.”1 The majority of work written on the practice of veiling view it through a lens of assimilation. From this perspective, the veil becomes a road block to acculturation. The ambiguity of the identity of Islamic woman compounds this issue, so interpretation relies largely on the visual symbol of the veil, or hijab, as it is more commonly referred. This interpretation is largely problematic because she is not allowed an identity beyond the superficial. This perspective is directly challenged in the graphic novel Persepolis and the comic Qahera. Persepolis is a memoir of Marjane Satrapi’s coming of age in Iran during the fundamentalist revolution of the 1980s. Qahera is an online comic created by nineteen year old art student and native Egyptian, Deena Mohamed, that focuses on confronting women’s rights issues within Egypt. Both texts use provocative images of the veil to articulate a new understanding of the practice. This understanding centers around key issues for the contemporary Islamic woman: freedom, identity, and otherness. To develop a concrete understanding of these issues the practice and purpose of veiling needs to be established.
"Beyond the Veil: Graphic Representation of Islamic Women,"
The Compass: Vol. 1
, Article 4.
Available at: http://scholarworks.arcadia.edu/thecompass/vol1/iss2/4