A recent video showcasing Muslim women “somewhere in America”—set to the Jay Z track of the same name—has made waves big enough to reach the Arab World.
In the video, a diverse crew of stylish covered women skip, skateboard, and stroll the streets of America. They are Mipsterz, the tongue-in-cheek name of a loose network of “Muslim Hipsters”– though the group’s Facebook page says it is “open to all people, whether you are a Muslim and/or a hipster, or neither.”
The video went viral, stirring up a fierce debate about the relationship between female coolness, or women’s public projection of their own identities, and Islam—not only in the US, but also in Beirut, Cairo, and other Middle Eastern cities.
Many women and some men defended fashion as a valid form of self-expression for Muslim women. “Fashionable Muslim women who wear the hijab…[have] always been seen in the streets of the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait,” one woman commented.
But a Syrian Muslim woman argued, “in the Middle East, girls are not allowed to be attractive or different”; there, she said, Mipsterz are rare, “and they are called really bad names [by others].”
Others rejected the notion of linking hijab and religion generally to fashion, found stretch pants incompatible with hijab, and asked why the video didn’t show any women in abayas or niqabs.
Meanwhile, somewhere in the Arab World, women in hijab are now tagging their Instagram selfies #Mipsterz.