Debarking the plane, with children in tow, we move into the receiving area of Cairo International Airport and find a tearful family waiting for us to emerge from the final baggage check. Every one of our numerous female relatives present is wearing the new Islamic dress, covered head to foot to hand in a dark flowing abeya. We embrace them all, but discover someone missing from their welcoming ranks: my husband’s sister, Ameena. It is explained that, mash’ Allah, Ameena has taken the niqab, a small sartorial addition (a rectangle of fine mesh material covering the face and eyes) that nonetheless signals a radical change in her life choices and physical movement. Ameena has sent word that she will meet us at home; she prefers to avoid mixing with unrelated men at the airport.
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