French burkini ban sparks sales, says designer

Burkini bans in France have boosted sales and interest in the full-body Islamic swimsuit, particularly from non-Muslim women, the Australian credited with creating the design says.

The burkini has created controversy in France, with bans in 15 towns in the south-east and tension after deadly jihadist attacks. But Australian-Lebanese Aheda Zanetti, who claims the trademark on the name burkini and burqini, and created her first swimwear for Muslim women more than a decade ago, said on Tuesday the furore had attracted more publicity for her products.

“It’s just been so hectic,” she said.

“I can tell you that online on Sunday, we received 60 orders – all of them non-Muslim,” the 48-year-old from Sydney said. She usually received between 10 and 12 orders on Sundays.

Zanetti did not have sales figures for the rest of the past week but said she had also received numerous messages of support – and only one disparaging email – since the French bans.

They include messages from cancer survivors and other swimmers who use her lightweight, quick-drying, two-piece garments as protection from the sun.

There are other Islamic swimsuits but Zanetti has said her designs are the first to be streamlined into two-piece swimwear with a head covering.

“A lot of the correspondence … was that they are survivors of skin cancer and they’ve always been looking for something like this, saying, ‘Thank god we’ve found someone like this producing such a swimsuit,’ ” she said.

“The support I’m getting is somehow about empowering women … I feel like I’ve been a counsellor. It’s a cry of need that they want to have this enjoyment.

“Women are standing together on this. It doesn’t matter what race or religion.”

The one critical email questioned why Zanetti wanted to cover up women in France, saying “we prefer our women to be naked”.

 

Gym faces lawsuit over Muslim head covering

March 20, 2014

 

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A gym in Albuquerque refused to let a Muslim woman wear her religious head covering when she tried to work out, according to a new lawsuit against the company.

An attorney for Tarainia McDaniel, 37, recently filed the lawsuit in a New Mexico district court stemming from a 2011 clash at a Planet Fitness that prevented McDaniel from using the gym while wearing the head covering, even though court documents said another Planet Fitness in the area had previously let her do so, the Albuquerque Journal reports (http://goo.gl/lqi6Xj).

On Oct. 3, 2011, she was turned away at her new gym and was told the informal head covering didn’t meet its dress code, the lawsuit states. The gym had a sign that said “no jeans, work boots, bandanas, skull caps or revealing apparel.”

McDaniel said she asked to be allowed to wear the informal head covering to accommodate her Muslim faith, and she even asked if she should come back wearing a formal head covering known as the hijab, according to the lawsuit.

But the gym denied her requests, the lawsuit states.

Planet Fitness attorney Erika Anderson said the head covering violates the gym’s dress-code policy. “My client’s position is that they didn’t know the head covering was for religious purposes,” Anderson said.

McDaniel’s civil lawsuit, filed under the New Mexico Human Rights Act and the Unfair Practices Act, alleges that Planet Fitness illegally based the decision to deny her access upon her religion, or alternatively upon her race — she is African-American — and that the gym had no legitimate reason to deny her entry.

Planet Fitness, in its formal answer to the claims, denies violations of either the Human Rights Act or Unfair Practices Act. It says McDaniel failed to participate in good faith and that the company has legitimate business reasons for its practice as well as measures to prevent discrimination.

Washington Post: http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/gym-faces-lawsuit-over-muslim-head-covering/2014/03/20/755d6f7c-b074-11e3-b8b3-44b1d1cd4c1f_story.html

Muslim who says she was fired for refusing flu shot sues Children’s Hospital Boston

February 4, 2014

 

A former Children’s Hospital Boston employee who said she was fired because her Islamic beliefs prohibited her from getting a mandatory flu shot sued the hospital today.

Leontine Robinson says in her complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Boston that her civil rights were violated because the hospital “intentionally discriminated against (her) due to her religious beliefs.” Some Muslims refuse flu shots because they contain a small amount of pork gelatine — a violation, the abstainers contend, of restrictions on consuming pork products.

Robinson, according to her complaint, worked in patient care at Children’s for about a year before a flu shot requirement was instituted in 2006. Hospital managers had known she was a Muslim when they hired her, the suit suggests, noting that she wore a traditional Muslim head-covering for women.

 

Boston Business Journal: http://www.bizjournals.com/boston/news/2014/02/04/muslim-who-says-she-was-fired-for.html

Tony Blair’s Muslim sister-in-law fears attacks

Cherie Blair’s half-sister, 45, said she felt like men want to hit her when they see her wearing her traditional Islamic dress and a hijab head-covering. Ms Booth told ITV’s Daybreak: “When I came to Islam two years ago and I first put on the scarf I was nervous about going on the Underground, I thought everyone is going to see me differently, and everyone was beautiful towards me. “I was invisible for a few weeks and then I noticed that British people were smiling, same as we always do, we’re really good at that, we’re really good at absorbing and accepting people. “But honestly, in the last two weeks I’ve been getting public transport and there are grown men looking like they want to hit Muslim women, and I’m a tall, white woman, I’m not easily threatened, but I have felt scared at times, so there is a change unfortunately.”

 

Ms Booth’s brother-in-law, former Prime Minister Tony Blair, previously said there is a ‘problem within Islam’ which allows the seeds of extremism to be sown in the wake of the killing. Asked if he was right, Ms Booth replied: ‘Absolutely not, and I think it’s very dangerous to take a summary of a religion from a man who’s overseen the invasion of several Muslim countries, and overseen a war where a million people whom are Muslim have been killed and millions displaced, so I wouldn’t take that as a kind of basis for any information on Islam.’

Philly security firm sued over Muslim head scarf

The EEOC is suing ABM Security Services, which provides guards for the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia, for religious discrimination after an employee claimed she was forced to choose between keeping her job and wearing her traditional Muslim head covering.
ABM hired Tahira, a devout Muslim, and she reported for training wearing a khimar, a head covering worn by some Muslim women. Her trainer told her to take off the scarf, but she refused, explaining that her religion required it. An ABM representative told her that she could not work at the convention center while wearing the khimar and sent her home.
Tahira filed an EEOC complaint, noting that ABM never discussed accommodations that would allow her to perform the job and observe her religious beliefs. EEOC mediation attempts failed, and now, barring a settlement, the lawsuit will go to trial.

Canadian woman’s hijab pulling called a hate crime

News Agencies  – March 9, 2012

The Kingston, Ontario Police Force are asking for the public’s help after a woman allegedly pulled on another woman’s hijab, which police are calling a hate crime assault. Police said a woman was finishing her grocery shopping at a store when another customer came from behind her and pulled on her hijab. They said the suspect yanked the head covering so hard it forced the victim to bend backward. The suspect then let go and left the store without saying a word.

The female suspect is described as Caucasian, slim, about 40 to 45 years old, with long black hair and was with a male companion. The Kingston case is similar to a November incident in Toronto, when Inas Kadri, a Muslim woman who wears a niqab face veil, was assaulted by a stranger while shopping. The attacker, Rosemarie Creswell, later pleaded guilty after surveillance footage of the attack was played in court.

Lamya Kaddor and the Hijab

6 April 2011

In a piece for Qantara, Lamya Kaddor, scholar of Islamic studies in Germany, vividly explains why the Islamic veil in her opinion is no longer required in contemporary Germany and how it has become obsolete over time. She writes that the original purpose mentioned in the Quran (33:59), i.e. that the veil protects women from male desire, is no longer relevant today. Instead, wearing a headscarf may only expose the woman to harm in the form of discrimination. A well-functioning legal system is the modern day equivalent of social rules on protection of the individual.

In the course of her discussion, Kaddor gives a variety of evidence why the headscarf no longer serves its original purpose, ranging from the fact that the sight of hair no longer is a sexual stimulous per se and that a moral life does not depend on head covering to regretting the often very male perspective of Quran exegesis.

The Spanish Headscarf and burqa debate

After the Najwa Malha affair and the ban on the burqa and the niqab in Lleida some political and religious actors have fixed their opinions on headscarves.

The Speaker in the European Parliament of the Socialist Party of Spain (PSOE), López Aguilar, compared the hijab to the Catholic nuns’ head covering.

Lawyer acquitted for refusing to stand in Dutch courtroom

Dutch lawyer Mohammed Enait has been acquitted of contempt of court by the Bar Association’s disciplinary council.

Enait argues that as a Muslim his religious belief maintains that everyone is equal, and thus that he will not stand during court cases when the judge enters the courtroom.

Enait was also reprimanded for wearing an Islamic head covering during sessions and for showing contempt of a judge in a TV talkshow.

He was acquitted on all three charges on Friday.

Cohen advocates reduced welfare for burka wearers

Amsterdam mayor Job Cohen says women who will not remove their burkas in order to get work should not receive welfare. Telegraaf reports that national politicians, including representatives from the CDA and PvDA parties, support this proposal. In 2006 Diemen local council attempted to introduce such a ban on benefits, but the decision was reversed by an Amsterdam court in 2007. There is every indication, De Telegraaf reports, that a vote on the issue would now get a majority.

Cohen said in an interview with Trouw that he opposes a general ban on the burka as he believes it is an expression of religious belief. However, he believes the burka is an obstacle in situation where contact with others is necessary, including work and school. There, women should choose a less restrictive head covering.