The issue of how women should dress in the Middle East has often been a contentious one, and now a recent Pew report, based on a survey conducted by the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research from 2011 to 2013 in seven Muslim countries, shows just how much the public's view toward covered women varies from country to country.
People surveyed in Tunisia, Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Turkey were shown six different pictures of women, ranging from one wearing the fully-hooded burqa to the less conservative hijab, or headscarf, to a woman not wearing a headscarf at all.Respondents were then asked which woman was wearing the most appropriate attire for public places. Overall, the majority across all countries surveyed said woman no. 4 (whose hair and ears are completely covered by a white hijab). In Saudi Arabia, 63 percent chose woman #2 (whose black veil only reveals her eyes).
However, 49 percent of Lebanese said it was acceptable for a woman to appear in public without her head covered, as did 32 percent of Turks.
Many respondents agreed women should be able to dress as they wish. This belief was seen most in Tunisia (56 percent) and Turkey (52 percent).
And perhaps surprisingly for some, nearly as many in conservative Saudi Arabia (47 percent) as in more liberal Lebanon (49 percent) agreed that a woman should be free to choose how she dresses.