Princess Hijab has become one of Paris’s most controversial and hard to identify street artists. She is Paris’s answer to British guerrilla graffiti artist Banksy, though in many ways she is more controversial. Princess Hijab chooses to focus on one major issue in the French capital and it’s a hot potato; immigration and the Niqab. In case you haven’ been paying attention to the news coming out of France lately the Hijab, Niqab, and Burqa have become hot button issues in the resolutely secular republic and have ignited a firestorm over immigration, women’s rights, islamophobia and civil liberties. Last month the government approved the so called “burqa ban” which means that starting in the new year women will be banned from wearing any full-face Muslim veils in public, not just in government offices but anywhere outside of their own homes. The government argues that the ban it its way of protecting women’s rights and making it impossible for Muslim women to be forced by men to cover their faces.
This makes Princess Hijab’s particular bent of graffiti art all the more subversive in the French capital as her signature is painting the veil onto fashion advertisements. It isn’t just the advertisements that feature women who are being niqabed. Princess Hijab also gives the veil to men as well. The first graffiti veil to appear was a niqab painted onto a poster for an album cover of one of France’s most famous female rappers, Diam. In an interesting turn of events said rapper has actually turned to Islam and is now wearing the veil herself.
The Identity of Princess Hijab remains a mystery and while she did recently grant an interview to the Guardian, the report was inconclusive about her identity.
At the moment Princess Hijab is only hitting about four or five advertisements per year that tend to last only about 45 minutes before being ripped down by Paris Metro officials but each of her interventions is carefully photographed and most of them circulate online. Whether you agree with the “burqa ban” or not Princes Hijab is certainly trying to make you think about it.