A documentary following seven Muslim women and their relationship with the hijab is set to premiere in Barking.

The film is being shown at the Broadway Theatre in Barking tomorrow (Thursday, March 9), the day after International Women's Day.

One of the women featured is the deputy leader of Barking and Dagenham Council, Cllr Saima Ashraf, who moved to the UK 18 years ago.

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Marianne follows seven French Muslim women and in the country it is illegal to wear a burqa or niqab (veil) in a public place.

Public officials such as teachers, government workers, and barristers are also barred from wearing any overt symbol of their religion while they are at work.

A spokesperson for Barking and Dagenham Council said that the film aims to challenge the idea some have of the 'submissive' Muslim woman.

Barking and Dagenham Post: The film follows seven Muslim women, some of whom choose to wear the hijab and some of whom do notThe film follows seven Muslim women, some of whom choose to wear the hijab and some of whom do not (Image: Film Barking and Dagenham)

Cllr Ashraf, who chooses to wear a hijab, explains in Marianne that she feels freer and more equal in the UK, where her choice to wear the hijab at work is accepted, than in France.

Cllr Ashraf says: "In France, the state’s version of secularism – laïcité – has been used to justify the exclusion and discrimination of Muslim women, including those who choose to wear the hijab.

"As a Muslim woman who grew up in France, it is heartening to see a film like Marianne challenge these harmful stereotypes and show the reality of our experiences.

"I am proud to be part of this project and to share my story in the hope that it will inspire others to speak out against discrimination and for the right of all women to choose how they express their faith."

Director of Marianne Valentina Canavesio added: "I made Marianne to challenge what sadly is too often the discourse about Muslim women in the context of French media and politics - that of a monolithic and submissive group in need of liberation.

"I hope the film challenges this view through the portraits of its protagonists and makes the viewer question their own beliefs about laïcité, feminism and liberty."

The documentary screening will be followed by a panel discussion and Q&A with Cllr Ashraf, Valentina, as well as opera singer Narimène Bey and award-winning Franco-Irish journalist and filmmaker Dr Myriam Francois.