Unveiled Women

31/12/2003


The same day of 2002, the first page of two Madrid journals had two women with their heads covered: a Nigerian Muslim condemned to lapidation and a Salvadorian nun by a murdered bishop; two years later, they again coincided with the images of a distressed Muslim woman and of a group of courageous nuns, threatened for their protests against the traffic of organs in Africa. What sets the Islamic veil apart from the Catholic habit? Westerners who find the burka scandalous, do they prefer the white virgin of Orlan? It is hard to know if we have the right to force upon others our own desacralization – and so the Croatian driving license that respects the burka –, even if satellite dishes diffuse the symbolic patterns of the West, destroying the certainties of traditional society but also demolishing the physical and legal prisons of the Muslim woman, raising the veils as in Kabul after the fall of the Taliban. A photographer of the National Geographic then searched for an Afghan girl that back in 1984 had symbolized the exact purity and dazzling beauty of the country, and the stark contrast between the two faces sums up more than just an individual biography: the still story of Muslim women stares back at us from the quiet pain of those green eyes...[+]


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