An Israeli woman who wore a hijab for two weeks after the start of her five-year maternity leave is now forced to remove her headscarf and wear a headscarftag in public.
Masha Shukr, a 25-year-old mother of two, told Al Jazeera she felt “betrayed” by the Israeli authorities, who banned her from wearing the hijab during her maternity leave.
“I’ve felt that I have been treated as a second class citizen.
I am no longer a woman, but a woman with a head covering, even if it’s a scarf,” Shukl told Al-Jazeera.
In January, Israeli women were banned from wearing headscarves, which were seen as a symbol of Islamic conservatism.
Since then, the country has seen a spike in cases of religious extremism in which men and boys in particular are radicalised.
The hijab, a head cover that covers the hair from the neck down to the ears, was seen as the symbol of the Muslim faith and was considered a traditional garment.
“It was a very painful time, because I had to take on a lot of responsibility and become a parent, but at the same time I was also trying to do something about my mind,” Shkur said.
“My mother wanted me to wear the hijab because it’s something that was very important to her.
She told me to not let the head cover be a hindrance to me.”
In her first two weeks of maternity leave, Shukrl wore a head scarf to her job as a cleaner at a restaurant, but said she was forced to do so because her employer would not let her wear it at work.
“We were working on the streets and in the park and in a few places they would take me off my headscarve if I didn’t wear it, so I would wear it on my head and the hat, but it was very difficult to do that at the end of my maternity leave,” Shulk told Al Jazeera.
“There were many instances where I couldn’t work or work in the kitchen, because it was not a place where people can be seen in public,” she said.
Shukr has since returned to her previous job, but her boss told her that she was not allowed to wear a hijab in the office.
“That’s why I am not wearing a hijab, because in the restaurant I am allowed to do my work.
But if I am working at a cafe, it is not a common practice to wear hijab in public, and it’s not the norm that I am seen wearing,” she told AlJazeera, adding that she had to leave the restaurant to take her new responsibilities.
In her interview with Al Jazeera, Shulk said she feared the authorities would “punish” her if she went back to wearing the headscarff.
“Even though I had a positive experience in the hospital, the authorities have decided to punish me.
I’m being punished,” Shuzr said.
“I can’t get away from this situation and I am scared that this is going to happen to me again.
The fact that I was allowed to go back to work shows that they can’t tolerate women.”
While the policy is not new in Israel, it was implemented under a new administration and the head scarf ban was expanded to cover all women.
Shukratz was the first woman to be banned from the head covering.
“As soon as I started wearing a scarf, I was given a lot more support, and the public came to support me,” Shulchan El-Maghrebi, a professor of religious studies at Al-Quds University, told Israel’s Channel 10 news on Monday.
El-Maghebi also explained that the head scarf ban is “a continuation of the policies that have been implemented since the beginning of the [Israeli] occupation” and is part of the government’s plan to “degrade the Palestinian state” and “disarm the resistance”.
“We are not talking about a new ban.
We are talking about the continuation of policies that the government has already taken place,” he said.