I am planning on taking my keffiyeh (a patterend black-white square scarf, commonly used as head cover in the Middle East) on my trip to Chile, Bolivia and Peru to wear it as a scarf while hiking in the mountains.

Would this be considered inapproriate, or can it be misunderstood as a political statement and cause problems?

  • 4
    Is this really opinion-based? It's asking if people in general find something offensive, not if you personally do. It's a question about people's opinions, not a request for the answerer's opinion. Mar 6, 2019 at 22:02
  • 2
    I would appreciate it if the close voters could explain why this should be opinion-based. It is asking if dressing in a certain way is likely to cause problems while traveling. On the other hand, even the question whether or not to wear shorts on a train was left open: travel.stackexchange.com/questions/74588/…
    – DK2AX
    Mar 7, 2019 at 5:01

2 Answers 2


This is arguably debateable and opinion based. But what it'll come down to, I suspect, is if it causes offense - either because of what it represents to someone, or for a misunderstanding.

It's probably not a South American-specific issue, but let's look at some other examples:

  • in South Africa, a Jewish boy donned one in solidarity with Gazans. It did not go down well

  • in terms of wearing it as a different type of clothing, this too can be problematic, as it's often the pattern that is distinctive and has meaning. For example, this designer dress inspired by the keffiyeh caused a problem for a Kiwi wearing it in Jordan. She contacted a lecturer on this, a Palestinian-Kiwi, who confirmed it was a form of cultural appropriation.

In short, some would say it's just a pattern/design, others have much more meaning attached to it. It'll depend who you run into, and their views. In general though, many people may not even know what it represents.


While the world seems extremely sensitive to such things recently, I would not expect this to be an issue in most of South America. It is a vast continent and there are tons of different communities, many who live quite isolated with their own specific dress. Even in the more cosmopolitan cities, people wear all sorts of clothes with subtle difference that locals understand and they often make presumptions based on what is worn.

The keffiyeh is rarely seen in South America and would certainly not be recognized so readily as it would in the middle east and Africa. For sure, it will be noticed but I suspect it won't be interpreted as a political statement as related issues are not as well known, unless you stumble into a particular community of middle-eastern decent.

It is impossible to say that no one will be offended but it is unlikely. I have lived in South America and have been to most countries on that continent.

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