Hip In A Hijab

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20150109

20150109

Meet the Mipsterz - or Muslim Hipsters - just one example of the growing number of articulate, style-conscious, politically-savvy, headscarf-wearing young women who are confronting cultural stereotypes at the same time as they negotiate the sometimes difficult divide between their own, their families' and society's expectations.

The most recent census figures show that one in twenty children under five in England and Wales is a girl raised a Muslim - but who are they and how do they envisage their futures? The popular press and the mass media might leave the impression that Muslim girls are either all shy, submissive wallflowers or aspiring terrorists. And yet statistics show that young Muslim women growing up in the UK are among the most academically high-achieving of their peer group. Add to this the boom in social media and Instagram - which has offered them both the chance for self-expression and a window into a world of like-minded young Muslim women domestically and abroad - and what you've got is the very modern phenomenon of a new tribe of highly-educated, fiercely ambitious, pop-culture loving young women intent on claiming what they consider their birthright.

But as more and more gifted, young Muslim women assert their identities, what also needs to be acknowledged is that, within Islamic communities, there is a potential culture-clash waiting to happen. Will the backlash against secularism in many communities, the pressures of tradition and culture mean that, despite the glowing grades and the hijabi-swagger, the Mipsterz and their sisters may not achieve their dreams?

The writer Shelina Janmohamed investigates.

Produced by Anna McNamee

A Whistledown production for BBC Radio 4.

20150109

Meet the Mipsterz - or Muslim Hipsters - just one example of the growing number of articulate, style-conscious, politically-savvy, headscarf-wearing young women who are confronting cultural stereotypes at the same time as they negotiate the sometimes difficult divide between their own, their families' and society's expectations.

The most recent census figures show that one in twenty children under five in England and Wales is a girl raised a Muslim - but who are they and how do they envisage their futures? The popular press and the mass media might leave the impression that Muslim girls are either all shy, submissive wallflowers or aspiring terrorists. And yet statistics show that young Muslim women growing up in the UK are among the most academically high-achieving of their peer group. Add to this the boom in social media and Instagram - which has offered them both the chance for self-expression and a window into a world of like-minded young Muslim women domestically and abroad - and what you've got is the very modern phenomenon of a new tribe of highly-educated, fiercely ambitious, pop-culture loving young women intent on claiming what they consider their birthright.

But as more and more gifted, young Muslim women assert their identities, what also needs to be acknowledged is that, within Islamic communities, there is a potential culture-clash waiting to happen. Will the backlash against secularism in many communities, the pressures of tradition and culture mean that, despite the glowing grades and the hijabi-swagger, the Mipsterz and their sisters may not achieve their dreams?

The writer Shelina Janmohamed investigates.

Produced by Anna McNamee

A Whistledown production for BBC Radio 4.