What does the Palestinian Scarf Mean

What does the Palestinian Scarf Mean?

The keffiyeh, also known as a hatta, igal, shemagh, or just simply a Palestinian scarf, has an interesting history. Though today, it has become a popular fashion accessory, the keffiyeh actually holds extremely significant meaning for the people of Palestine and those who support them.
History of the Palestinian Scarf.

It’s believed that roots of the Palestinian scarf date back to ancient Mesopotamia, when Sumerian high priests wore the headdress as a way to signify their rank, delineating themselves from the “common” people. Eventually, however, the scarf was adopted by mere peasants, who wore the keffiyeh as a way to shield themselves from the intense heat and damaging rays of the sun, as well as the desert sand and dust that swept past them as they worked.

Significance of the Palestinian Scarf

While people of the Arabian regions continued to wear the keffiyeh to both shield themselves and signify their honor, in the 1930s, the scarf become the symbol of Palestinian resistance. In 1936, Palestinian rebels planned what would become known as the Arab Revolt. The revolt was intended to fight back against the Mandate of Palestine, or a League of Nations mandate for British administration of the Palestinian territories.
During this revolt, Palestinian rebels wore the keffiyeh to conceal their identity from the authorities so that they could avoid being apprehended. As a result of the Arab Revolt, British Mandate authorities banned the keffiyeh. In response to this banning, all Palestinians began wearing the headdress to make it more difficult for the authorities to distinguish the rebels among them. Because of this, the Palestinian scarf became a symbol of resistance, and continues to be until this day.

Political Significance of the Palestinian Scarf

The Palestinian scarf become even more significant during the 1960s, thanks to Yasser Arafat. The Palestinian leader wore the scarf regularly and would very rarely appear in public without wearing the headdress.
The Palestinian scarf has also been associated with other political figures. Leila Khaled, for example, a member of the armed wing of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, regularly wore the scarf. Until Khaled, the Palestinian scarf was a symbol of masculinity among Arabs. It’s believed that she wore the garb as a way to signify her equality with Arab men in the armed struggle amongst Palestinians.

A Symbol of Solidarity

Palestinians aren’t the only ones who wear the keffiyeh; it’s also worn by people in other nations as a way to show their solidarity with Palestinians who were involved in conflict with the Israeli state. For example, young Jewish people wear the scarf as a way to share their political stance. The scarf is also worn by people throughout Europe to show their solidary; however, in some nations, such as Turkey, wearing a keffiyeh has been banned, for the sole purpose of the symbolism of the Palestinian scarf.
A Fashion Statement
In the 2000s, Chinese manufacturers began mass-producing the Palestinian scarf and it became a popular fashion accessory. People from around the globe wear the keffiyeh, not knowing it’s historical and political significance.

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1 comment

  • Sister Salome

    May Allah SWT grant Palestinians Jannatul Firdaws. Allahumma Amen

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