“I choose not to cover my hair” – Life as a modern woman defying traditions in Morocco


I had been on a guided tour in Morocco for three days when I had met Zineb. That night, our tour group of 27 Germans was divided into three groups with nine people to speak to three young Moroccan women at a local restaurant in Fes. Zineb was the only one to walk in without a scarf to cover her hair. Besides her kindness, her confidence and her welcoming smile, the missing hijab was one of the first things our group noticed about her and of course it didn’t take long that we questioned her about it.

She told us that she has studied the Holy Quran thoroughly, and nowhere did she find a passage telling her to cover her head – only her body. Her father and some people in her family do not agree with her decision; however, Zineb is well-respected and defends herself. “To be modern is to break down the law. They see me as a young girl who’s not obeying traditions and customes, but I don’t even care about them,” she said.

While her father is the bread winner for her family, his wife takes on the traditional role of the house wife and care taker for the children. Because Zineb’s mother never learned how to read or write, her daughter teaches her in her free time.

For herself, Zineb has big dreams. She’s currently a teacher in training at a primary and college school. Her goal is to have a job, to travel the world, and make a change in today’s society. These aspirations are more important for her than a husband. Unfortunately, she says, she hasn’t even been in love yet, but when the time comes, she will determine her own husband – contrary to some other young women in Morocco whose family will decide on their future partners.

When I ask her about how she will raise her children, she said laughingly: “I’ll just guide them and I’ll never ever oblige them to do what I want or society thinks is best for them. I think I ‘ll be a good Mom.”


*Cover photo courtesy of Flickr by rana ossama.

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  • This shows a hijab doesn’t always mean a more religious person. A Moroccan friend of mine wears hijab (her sister doesn’t) but she is a very open minded, independent person, doing what she wants with her life. Muslim – yes, forced to wear something by parents – not at all.

    • Jennifer Schlueter


      I love that both sisters can decide what they want to do and that they’re choosing different paths!