It is probably one of the most visible and controversial symbols of Islam.

Westerners often view the hijab, or head covering, worn by Muslim women as oppressive. Even among members of the Islamic faith, it is subject of debate.

How should it be worn?

Does it need to be worn?

Is it a choice or requirement?

In recent months, the hijab and other forms of Islamic coverings have come under scrutiny in the media and by politicians. In June, French president Nicolas Sarkozy suggested women who completely cover their faces by wearing burqas are silent prisoners and that the practice is a "debasement of women."

Those comments have translated into debate over why Muslim women cover at all.

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