Radio Netherlands Worldwide

SSO Login

More login possibilities:

  • Facebook
  • Flickr
  • Twitter
  • Google
  • LinkedIn
Monday 22 December  
Head Book
Willemien Groot's picture
Amsterdam, Netherlands
Amsterdam, Netherlands

A hundred headscarves in Dutch glossy

Published on : 27 November 2011 - 8:00am | By Willemien Groot (Photo: Sander Stoepker)
More about:

A unique magazine has just been launched in the Netherlands: the Head Book, a glossy all about Muslim headscarves. Contrary to general belief, this piece of clothing is nearly always worn voluntarily.

Nine out of ten Muslim women in the Netherlands decide for themselves whether or not to wear a headscarf, according to a survey to mark the magazine’s launch. One of them is the Dutch-Moroccan journalist Boutaine Azzabi. Her enormous collection of headscarves ranges from traditional to fashionable and colourful. In the Head Book, Azzabi models 100 of her headscarves and shares the stories behind them.

A shirt addiction, a handbag addiction – we’ve heard about them before. But apparently it is also possible to have a passion for headscarves. Jan Knaap, who initiated the Head Book project, knows this from experience.

“For a short time, I had a Moroccan child minder who wore a headscarf and I noticed that she had so many different headscarves. I started to wonder how many she actually had.”

It turned out she had 50. Mr Knaap asked girls working in the supermarket the same question. Some of them turned out to have more than a hundred. Mr Knaap:

“These girls have a lot more headscarves than the average Dutch person imagines, which made me think. Especially as my friends and acquaintances believe Muslim women have 4 or 5 headscarves or one for every day of the week at the most. This is characteristic of the one-sided image of the garment. It is seen as a symbol of oppression. This project is meant to broaden that image. There are more truths than one.”

Headscarf debate
The headscarf is still a topic of much debate in the Netherlands. Can a women be refused a job because of her headscarf? Should girls be allowed to wear headscarves at school? The anti-Islam party Freedom Party (PVV) even proposed the introduction of a ‘headscarf tax’. The proposal turned out to be hot air.

Six out of ten Dutch Muslim women between the ages of 15 and 35 wear a headscarf. Most women make a conscious decision whether or not to wear one around the age of 19. Apparently, mothers do not have much influence; in only half of the Muslim families where the mother wears a headscarf do the daughters follow her example. And daughters make different choices: one of them may decide to wear a headscarf, the other may not.

Haute couture
Jan Knaap noticed that many Muslim women were very enthusiastic about the idea of a glossy about the headscarf. But in the end they decided they didn’t want to pose. But Bouaine Azzibi was prepared to show her whole collection.

The headscarf is a visible sign showing someone’s identity or religion. But it is also a fashion accessory that doesn’t always come cheap. Fashion houses like Chanel and Gucci have already discovered the market and are selling haute couture scarves.


See also: Cup of Culture
Photographer's homepage: Sander Stoepker
Head Book homepage: Hoofdboek 
Link to: Facebook


  • Head Book<br>&copy; Photo: Sander Stoepker -
  • Head Book<br>&copy; Photo: Sander Stoepker -
  • Head Book<br>&copy; Photo: Sander Stoepker -
  • Head Book<br>&copy; Photo: Sander Stoepker -
  • Head Book<br>&copy; Photo: Sander Stoepker -
  • Head Book<br>&copy; Photo: Sander Stoepker -
  • Head Book<br>&copy; Photo: Sander Stoepker -


user avatar
knirb 2 December 2011 - 8:06am

Ms. Azzabi’s efforts to promote the headscarf are akin to polishing turds. The naive Ms. Groot fails to notice the rotten smell of the refinished product.
A survey claims that 9 out of 10 women wear headscarves voluntarily in the Netherlands. The survey is for a magazine that promotes Muslim headscarves and it is taken at face value by the writer.
A competent reporter might have asked questions like these:
*Had all of these women tried not wearing the headscarf and suffered no consequences or are many of them women who have accepted their fate?
*Were women who might be afraid to admit that they were not wearing it voluntarily taken into account?
*Doesn’t this survey still suggests that a whopping number of women (10 percent) have stated that they wear the headscarf against their will?
*What methods are used to coerce these women?
Instead of exploring this crime against thousands of women, the writer ignores them and decides to participate in polishing the image of this tool of isolation and oppression.
Women who don’t wear the headscarf are not mentioned, nor are those who are mistreated for not doing so.
Here is a recent story about 4 such Canadian Muslim woman:
And another with some relevant links to stories from women this writer seems to want to pretend don't exist:
Until Muslim women can be free not to wear the headscarf or hijab, all claims of wearing them voluntarily or consciously are suspect. It is like a slave grown comfortable in his bondage, who convinces himself it was what he wanted all along.

Pedant1 29 November 2011 - 5:42pm / usa

Pretty scarves. About time they got more fashionable.

we love hiram 29 November 2011 - 5:13pm

Mr. Kievit, RNW's web site states "Abusive and inappropriate comments will be removed" and failed to comply to it's standard's. I posted a comment on the subject of scarves because it was indirectly a subject of abuse by a specific religion on women throughout the world and my comments were not directed at any specific person. After my comments, another person, who did not agree with my opinion felt free to insult me. In response, I posted RNW's "Abusive and inappropriate comments will be removed" twice and no response came from RNW. Mr. Kievit, again you allowed individuals to make personal attacks from such indiviuals as "I like Rob". Do you not see in his response to your statment he is being abusive to an individual and making a threat he will continue his attacks if you do not pay more attention to what I am up to? First, he called me a racist. Where in the article or any of my articles did I ever attack anyone because of their race. He fails to understand that religions normally have people from all three of the major races and has nothing to do with race at all. In fact, Islam has followers from all three races. What I did was defend Muslim women of all three races. The scarf normally has no meaning of opression but in the case of Muslim women it is no different from someone forcing a person to wearing a hat in church. His other comment indirectly stated he would continue to stick to reading the pages and attack me with insults if you didn't pay close attention to me. Not only was being offensive to me but to you, also. I read the opinion of another person in this specific article and she too understands the real reason for headscarves and how it is nothing more than subjugation of women. You don't need to respond. I posted my opinion because you allowed "I like rob" to make another attack on me by calling me a racist.

I like Rob 29 November 2011 - 5:38pm / usa

Read above. I rest my case.

Hiram1 29 November 2011 - 6:32pm

You call a person a racist and you don't show proof. Where is your proof? Again, just as before, you made a direct insult and then you accuse me of racism. Your case lacks the evidence. If you rest your case on your evidence, then I recommend you go back to law school. Just as I told Mr. Kievit, you made a threat to continue your abuse unless they complied to your demands. You knew I would responed to your attack by calling me a "racist". You did it order to justify your personal continual attacks. Your personal attacks of slander will not deter me from speaking out against the abuses by any religion.

Anonymous 29 November 2011 - 7:33pm / Uk

You're a raving loony.

Hiram1 29 November 2011 - 8:04pm

How did you come to logical conclusion? Was my support for the rights of Muslims women your justification to insult? My opinion was that Muslim women are forced to subjugate themselves to religious dogmas and the root cause of the bondage is a religious teaching. Your insult was because of my defense for Muslim women, right mate?

user avatar
Rob Kievit 29 November 2011 - 9:54am

Following a string of abusive comments by authors calling themselves "I hate Hiram" and "We love Hiram" we have decided to remove these comments. They amounted to a direct attack on Hiram1. Authors are welcome to engage in frank and lively discussion on our pages, but please refrain from personal attacks.  - Rob Kievit, Senior Editor, RNW English website

I like Rob 29 November 2011 - 3:42pm / usa

Hi Rob. Actually, I'm quite delighted you took down my posts, because I wanted to attract your attention. I did what I did because Hiram's posts aren't "lively and frank", they are abusive, often racist (always anti-Muslim) and needlessly aggressive. I hope you'll pay more attention to what he's up to. If you do, I'll simply stick to reading the pages. Keep up the good work and thanks.

user avatar
Awesome Ted 28 November 2011 - 9:04pm

The article suggests that 9 in 10 women who wear a headscarf do so willingly. Only a xenophobe could be bothered by those circumstances. The designs shown above are startlingly beautiful. We should concern ourselves with those who feel coerced into wearing them and those who avoid wearing them for fear of persecution. Both groups would be aided by fostering a society which is less divisive and more tolerant.

Hiram1 29 November 2011 - 7:19am

Awesome, we should be defending Muslim women and not hindering their right to be equals. people like you are the reason why women are abused. You don't know right from wrong because you are on an ego trip. Stop making excuses for a religion that treats women like trash. You are full of it it when you say 9 in 10 who wear a scarf do it willingly. Like I stated, you are full of it because 9 in 10 women do not do it as you stated. Did you go and ask the millions of Muslim women if they preferred to wear the scarves? No you didn't and neither has anyone else. Muslim women are not going to say they dislike it and you know it. They will get slapped just like the Quran tells the man to do to a women who gets out of place. There is nothing wrong with wearing a scarf but milllions of women are forced to wear them. It is a smybol of submission and nothing more. No woman should ever stand to be treated with disresppect and your stance for the scarf shows you have no respect for them either. I would rather be classified as a xenophobe than I would an "Awesome Ted".

user avatar
Awesome Ted 29 November 2011 - 9:19am

Hiram, I don't know why the 'Awesome' in my handle bothers you so much. Yours has the number 1 in it. You could even have your own cool avatar with a couple of minutes effort.
But if you'd actually read my comment you'd have realised that I'm in favour of a woman's right to choose her appearance. I'm opposed to oppression regardless of whether it's coercion within a social group, or harassment from outside. Your pretence of defending human rights is simply a veil for your hatred of things which you find frightening or confusing.

we love hiram 29 November 2011 - 5:24pm

If I or anyone stands-up and speaks-out against the abuses of humans regardless of the motive, then it shouldn't make any diffrence, right. When a lawyer represents his client, he may have many reasons for doing so. When a person makes a financial donation to help the homeless or feed the hungry, does it make a difference why he does so? As long as the client wins his case or the homeless and hungry have something to eat, it really doesn't make a diffrence, does it? Have a good day, Awesome ted.

Katharina Sri (ex Noor Aza) 28 November 2011 - 10:28am / Germany

This is so sick! The most primitive veil-wearing is about ENSLAVING and HOMOGENIZING women/girls to savage and primitive Arabic racist, sadist-macho and supremacist culture, through Islam - only good enough as breeder for as many "holy warriors" of Arabic-led Islam and as sexual objects (especially in polygamy). Women/girls are being abused, raped, murdered and their unique diverse identity especially from non-Arabic culture eliminated, under such veil-slavery, and some pathetic ignorant Westerners, especially the Socialist feminists regard this as liberating? See if these hypocrites can stand being forced to wear the veil as children or if their young girls are forced into such slavery, just because the creator of Islam, Mohammed, the Arabic Pedophile rapist (Mohammed's child-bride was six year old Aisha), robber, slave-owner and mass murderer of the Jews, declared his god says so! The hard reality is that the Devil is Mohammed's god who love to abuse and enslave women/girls only as objects!

Hiram1 29 November 2011 - 8:29pm

Katharina Sri, if you don't mind I will use your post as an example of how women perceive the injustices of the peaceful and loving teachings of Islam. Now, Islam has many followers who do not demand women wear head scarves or burqas but those followers who say nothing are just as guilty as those who force women to wear them. Failure to speak-out against this crime against women is due apathy and discernment not only by Muslims at large by all women. One would think women as a whole would be defending the rights of women around the world. Why do they not speak-out against this crime? It is because they are comfortable and it does not affect them personally and they have not ever been subjugated to the abuse as millions of Muslim women have. It is good to hear from a woman who speaks-outs. Far too many women in the West are are silent on the subject. They should be shouting and demanding freedom for all women. women in the West must speak out because Muslim women will not do it and it is understandable why. No Muslim woman wants to get beat down by her husband for speaking -out. Muslim women understand but they are suppressed and are afraid to speak. I used your reply section for freedom and thank you for speaking-out.

Anonymous 27 November 2011 - 10:23pm / USA

The pictures shown here are fabulous. These kinds of headscarves and the fact that most Muslim women have so many clearly makes wearing them more of a fashion statement than a religious one, What is wrong with that? The Catholic Church used to require women wear hats in church, but hats were never seen as a religious symbol so this whole business is silly. Let them wear what they want to. If a scarf is a safety issue, such as it could get caught in machinery the woman operates at work, that is different, but I for one think they are beautiful.

Hiram1 28 November 2011 - 3:25am

"The Catholic Church used to require women wear hats in church, but hats were never seen as a religious symbol so this whole business is silly."...Do they still require a woman to wear a that? The woman who are required to wear headscarves should be equal with the Catholic women of today and not have to wear headscarves. They need not be treated as chattel and as equal to men. If they want to wear it, then so be it, but there are millions of women who are being forced to cover their heads and faces. They need support throughout the world and not some justification that Catholics "used" to make them women wear hats.

Anonymous 27 November 2011 - 8:54pm

RNW has become a mouthpiece of the liberal-Islamist alliance. Cease this wicked propaganda against women.

Maudy 27 November 2011 - 4:24pm / netherlands

Beautiful and lovely headscarves and look at the women, so full of spirit and love. A very good idea an glossy about headscarves.
thank you

Anonymous 27 November 2011 - 1:06pm

The headscarves are lovely, and I wonder what's wrong in wearing it!!!

Hiram1 27 November 2011 - 6:13pm

If they are not forced into wearing it, there isn't anything wrong with the scarf.

Post new comment

Please be reminded all comments must be in English, short and to the point - guideline 250 words. Abusive and inappropriate comments will be removed.

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd> <p> <br>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.

More information about formatting options

RNW on Facebook

RNW Player

Video highlights

Ladies on the move
RNW is keen on featuring inspiring women in our target countries, women who...
What about men?
In many countries, men don't stick around to raise their children. This is...