We continue to hold screenings, mostly in the Bay Area but also in a few other places! Here are a few examples:
The Bettendorf Public Library in Iowa showed the video on April 24, 2014, and hosted a panel discussion. “We showed Just a Piece of Cloth to a most appreciative audience. They all seemed to find a different woman to relate to. Most of the audience of 40 people was female and not Muslim. We had a panel discussion with women of Bangladeshi, Pakistani, and Arab heritage and the President of the Muslim Community of the Quad Cities who converted to Islam.” (Hedy Hustedde, Bettendorf Public Library)
The Monterey Institute of International Studies also had a screening. Here are some comments: “It changes my view about hijab. I thought it was imposed on Islamic women, but it is not.” “Please, in this day and age, more Americans need to be educated about this!” “Maybe the title can be misleading if people just see the title and don’t see the film.” (actually, there was an extended discussion about the title and it was suggested that it should have a question mark at the end.)
This Spring, we held two screenings at the Muslim Community Association in Santa Clara — one for women and one for girls. Both events were well attended and generated a lot of great dialogue. Here are a few comments I was able to write down: “One of the things that doesn’t get talked about much is the rift between converts and their families. We need to do a better job of helping people understand the purpose [of the hijab]”. Young girls who are starting to wear hijab also face the challenge of how to explain to curious non-Muslims why they suddenly now wear hijab. “How can I respond when people ask me why I wear it?” Also, the topic of “choice” generated a lot of discussion. Non-Muslims often assume that women wearing hijab in the US are forced to wear it, and a common response is “No, it’s my choice.” We all began to wonder, is this discourse of choice is really an oversimplification, used to counter the stereotypes of oppressed Muslim women perpetuated by the media? Does the concept of choice get too much emphasis?