A clip from a new reality TV show called Muslims Like Us shows how some people react to women wearing full-face Islamic veils.
Anjum, a cast member on the show, has an encounter with another woman while sitting on Sydney’s Manly Beach dressed in a niqab.
‘I thought there was a law against the burqa, is that starting to change?’ the woman says to another participant in the show, Bianca, who is a feminist and a boxer.
The three go on to have a respectful dialogue, with the woman asking Anjum – who refuses to mix with men and covers her whole body and face – about the garment.
‘Do you really want to be behind that, and not express yourself and be free?’ she asks.
‘This single piece of cloth is not going to be stopping me expressing myself any ways,’ replies Anjum.
‘But you’re hiding behind a mask, I’m looking at you now going “Why aren’t you free?”,’ the woman asks.
‘I’m perfectly alright with it, by choice. I’m wearing it completely by choice,’ answers Anjum.
‘I’m not forced, not oppressed, it has a religious reason but completely with my own choice.’
At the end of the clip Anjum addresses the camera while wearing a black niqab and reflects on the experience.
‘I’m intellectually, emotionally, physically pretty much like them, only the piece of cloth creates an immense difference,’ she says.
‘Just a piece of cloth? Very amazing and strange isn’t it?’
Muslims Like Us is a reality TV documentary about ten Muslim Australians living in the same house together on Sydney’s Northern Beaches for eight days.
The two-part series airs on SBS on February 21 and 22 at 8.30pm.