A common question is whether a non-Arab wearing the kufiya, or keffiyeh, can be considered cultural appropriation. Actually, the keffiyeh can be worn by anyone in support of the Palestinian cause. In fact, Palestinians love to see people from around the world expressing support through this meaningful headpiece.
The headscarf was originally a form of traditional dress in the Middle East. However, after becoming popularized on a global scale, the keffiyeh has been boasted by people of all races, religions and nationalities.
It is important that, when wearing the keffiyeh, one makes an effort to learn its symbolism and show appreciation for the Palestinian culture and cause. Otherwise, wearing the headscarf simply as a fashion statement can be considered cultural appropriation.
The kufiya, or keffiyeh, has become a marker of resistance for Palestinians. Originally popular amongst farmers as a form of sun protection, the traditional headscarf has come to symbolise sovereignty and solidarity with the Palestinian cause.
During the Ottoman period, the keffiyeh was worn by rural workers whilst the more urban classes boasted the red felt hat known as the tarboosh. However, during the Arab Revolt of the 1930s, Palestinians of all classes began wearing the black and white head covering in an act of unity.
Gradually, the keffiyeh gained international attention, particularly after being seen around the shoulders of prominent Palestinian politician, Yasser Arafat.
Today, wearing the keffiyeh is seen as an unspoken expression of solidarity with the Palestinian people.