Dress and diversity in contemporary Ireland : the hijab in a minority context

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Keogh, Sharon
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BA (Hons) in Social Science
Dublin Business School
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In light of the banning of the hijab in France and the debates surrounding the hijab across Western Europe, this study sets out to investigate the importance of wearing the hijab for Muslim women in particular towards their identity construction in contemporary Ireland. The study was carried out using qualitative analysis, which involved nine semi-structured interviews with Muslim women living in Ireland. The findings show that the hijab is very important for these women, in particular towards their identity as they are proud to be Muslim. It is a deeply personal choice for them to wear it and as the findings show a complex one. The research found that they face pressures from within their own community and not just from the wider Irish society. The hijab is not a one fits all; culture, one‘s own interpretation and style are all factors that contribute to wearing it. In general, the women interviewed spoke very positively about being Muslim and living in Ireland. However, if Ireland were to ban the hijab this could dramatically change their experience living here. It can be concluded that the hijab symbolises much more than just a headscarf and is an important identity marker for these women.