A Muslim headscarf can make a big difference…

If you’re a woman who wears a Muslim head covering or hijab, a lot of people might think you look pleasant enough but they wouldn’t necessarily want you living in their neighborhood.

That’s one conclusion to draw from research done by our friends at HCD Research Inc., using their MediaCurves technology. They showed more than 600 people photos of the same woman, one in which her hair was uncovered, the second in which her head was covered with a hijab or Muslim head covering. According to the HCD Research:

The study was conducted by HCD Research, using its mediacurves.com web site during January 2-3, to determine whether Americans possess different views of a woman based on whether or not she wears traditional Muslim headwear.

Participants were divided into two randomly assigned groups. Members of each group were asked to view one of two separate photos of an attractive young woman. Neither photo was identified in any way. Each sample was then asked identical questions about the woman, her age, perceived personality, activities, and how acceptable she might be as a neighbor.

One-third of participants indicated that they would rather have the woman with the traditional headwear live in another place, another city, and maybe out of the U.S, as opposed to living in their neighborhood. However, a clear majority of participants (89%) reported that the woman without the shawl would be welcome in their neighborhood.

It’s ironic that as President Bush prepares to travel to the Middle East to talk to Israelis and Palestinians about living side by side in peace and security, so many Americans would say that they wouldn’t want to live side by side with a woman in a hijab.

Baltimore Sun, 4 January 2008