Alberto Fernández Carbajal
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The good, the bad, and the ugly?
Unveiling American Muslim women in Rolla Selbak’s Three Veils (2011)
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The last chapter of Part II explores Rolla Selbak’s Three Veils (2011). The religious symbol of the veil is analysed as standing metonymically for the film’s three American Muslim protagonists. The chapter suggests the film depicts the women’s struggles with familial and societal expectations about their Muslim femininity, particularly regarding arranged marriages, rape, domestic violence, and homosexuality. It is argued that the film’s protagonists struggle with inherited ideas of what constitutes a ‘good Muslim’ and Arab girl, as they find themselves grappling with the competing ideologies of American liberalism and Muslim traditionalism. The three girls are constructed as the good, the deviant, and the bad Muslim. Although Selbak tackles controversial topics regarding the American Muslim community, it is argued she does so in an attempt at dealing with real issues assailing Muslim women, yet she depicts an American Muslim community that is gradually becoming more attune to the plights of women. Amira, the homosexual Muslim, and Nikki, the queer Muslim, do not end up together, and Amira becomes a hijab teacher in Jordan, which constitutes Selbak’s admission that allegiance to faith and community can still impede the free expression of homosexual desire.

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