By ANNA HALLENBERG-FELDMANAssociated PressDUBAI (AP) Muslims in Saudi Arabia celebrated New Year’s Day on Saturday, but a new study suggests that the celebrations were an attempt to cover up the fact that women in the kingdom were banned from wearing hijabs.
The study, conducted by the Saudi government-funded National Institute for Public Health and Medicine, surveyed more than 200 Saudi women who had no hijabs and asked about their attitudes toward wearing the veil in public and whether they felt pressured to wear it.
It said that women who said they didn’t wear the veil or that they felt uncomfortable in wearing it were most likely to say they did it out of respect for tradition.
It said they were also most likely, though not always, to feel pressured to do so.
“Many Saudi women feel pressured by society to wear the hijab and veil, especially in the light of the fact they are under pressure to fulfill societal roles,” said researcher Zainab Al-Hafez, a researcher with the institute.
“They are often encouraged to wear their veil in social gatherings, such as in gatherings of family and friends.”
Women who said that they wanted to wear hijabs in public were more likely to be in favor of the hijab.
Those who felt pressured were more inclined to support the ban on the veil.
Al-Hafaq, who is based in the United Arab Emirates, said the results showed that “there is a socialization effect that prevents women from embracing the hijab.”
She added that the survey could have a major impact on women’s lives in Saudi, where women are often forced to choose between wearing the hijab or covering up their faces in public.