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08 January, 2005

Dance of the Seven Veils

Gulf News is running a little campaign against employers that won't hire women wearing hijabs, or fire them when they start to cover. Unfortunately it hasn't chosen examples likely to win a great deal of sympathy. 22-year-old student Tanzeela Saify was turned down when she applied to be a promo girl at an expo, for which the uniform - for East Asian electronics companies at least - is usually skin tight, metallic hotpants and enough cleavage to lose half the Saudi Royal family down.

"I asked if I could work there, but I was told no because the company does not allow girls with scarves."

She was told the promotional uniform included a short skirt.

Another Russian woman - employed as a dancer at a hotel - upon converting to Islam stopped dancing and started wearing a hijab, then couldn't understand why her sponsor was upset.

Western women converting face the same problem, with recruiters claiming that their multinational clients "usually want people with a "Western outlook"." They don't realise that this is a polite excuse for saying "pasty-faced women look bloody awful in a black headscarf." And of course it is western converts that tend to be the most zealous about tightly tucking away every wisp of hair, unlike the Gulf girls who wear the hijab more loosely and look immensely stylish.

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