Maysoon Al-Suwaidan is known for being a poet, a TV personality and the daughter of Tareq Al-Suwaidan, a prominent Muslim Brotherhood member in Kuwait who has written many books, delivered numerous public speeches and appeared in TV interviews on Islamic subjects ranging from discussing the Quran to stories of the Prophet Mohammed. Like many daughters of Islamic scholars, Al-Suwaidan always embraced the headscarf. She traveled the world with it, she obtained her masters degree from Georgetown University with it, and she conducted her poetry TV show while wearing it. But late last year she posted a photo of herself on her Facebook page without the hijab, commenting that “I left to India in search of God away from any religion or sect and discovered that the biggest hijab between God and I is the hijab of people.” The literal translation of hijab in Arabic is partition used in many references including the head covering of women.
Al-Suwaidan’s statement continues explaining how she “let go of all that she inherited of hijab (partition) in her mind, and she started her search for God from the beginning.” She ends her statement musing about how “these beliefs, conflicts, judgments, and masks seem far away from her” after her experience in India.
Her decision to publicly announce her removal of the hijab and how she ultimately found God in India after all of her explorations of God in her own culture and region, including her visit to Mecca, unleashed a series of attacks on her and her father — especially by Muslim Brotherhood members and other religious groups. And it also opened a discussion of a much suppressed tension in the Middle East.