Book review: ‘A Quiet Revolution’ by Leila Ahmed

When I was 13, one of my classmates came to school one morning wearing a beige head scarf. This was in the 1980s, in Morocco. Surprised by her attire, I joined a group of girls who gathered around her, watching them pepper her with questions. Our classmate calmly replied that she had decided to wear the hijab because that was what a “true” Muslim girl should do.

This struck us as strange. After all, we were Muslim girls too, but none of us, regardless of the degree of our piety, thought that our religion required us to cover.

“A Quiet Revolution” is an important book, even if at times it favors an opaque, academic language. It provides a thorough history of the resurgence of the veil both in the Muslim world and in the U.S. and adds significant nuance to the complex issues that surround the veil. Ahmed’s work will no doubt continue to inspire a new generation of Muslim feminists.

NYC 12-year-old charged with recess hate crime, accused of trying to take Muslim girl’s scarf

NEW YORK — A 12-year-old boy accused of trying to rip the head scarf off a Muslim classmate during recess has been charged in New York City with a hate crime. Police and school officials say the boy has a history of harassing the 13-year-old girl, taunting her and threatening her on at least four separate occasions.

The police report says he asked, “Are you Muslim?” while trying to remove her scarf.

The girl suffered minor injuries. If convicted, he faces 18 months in juvenile detention.

Appeals court reinstates case by Muslim woman in CA over forced removal of head scarf in cell

SAN FRANCISCO — A federal appeals court unanimously reinstated a lawsuit Tuesday filed by a Muslim woman who accused Southern California jailers of violating her religious freedom when they ordered her to take off her head scarf in a courthouse holding cell.

An 11-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals also said plaintiff Souhair Khatib had the right to wear the scarf unless jailers can show it was a security risk.
Khatib filed the lawsuit in 2007 against Orange County. She had been jailed for several hours in November 2006 after a judge revoked her probation for a misdemeanor welfare fraud conviction.

Man in Muslim woman’s garb robs Ottawa bank

A man used a Muslim woman’s religious garment as a disguise to rob a bank in an Ottawa strip mall police say. Sgt. Mark Myers said the man was wearing a blue robe and a head scarf concealing his mouth and nose when he passed a note demanding money to a bank teller at a Scotiabank branch in the city’s west end.

After the teller handed over an undisclosed amount of cash, the suspect fled on foot. Three or four customers in the bank at the time were uninjured. Myers said police are confident the suspect is a man because he spoke in a masculine voice at one point during the robbery. Myers said there have been a handful of similar robberies in Ottawa since the summer. He could not say whether police suspect they have been committed by the same person.

Georgia: Lawsuit Over Muslim Woman’s Head Scarf

The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a lawsuit on behalf of a Muslim woman in Georgia who was arrested in 2008 when she refused to remove her head scarf while entering the Douglasville Municipal Court to accompany her nephew to a traffic hearing. The woman, Lisa Valentine, verbally protested the order and was briefly jailed for contempt of court. Ms. Valentine is suing the City of Douglasville and court officers for damages, arguing that her religious freedoms were violated. Georgia has since recommended that religious head coverings be permissible in the state’s courthouses, but Ms. Valentine is asking for the recommendation to be made a binding policy.

Muslim woman: Roller rink didn’t allow head scarf

VERNON, Conn. — A Muslim woman in Connecticut says a roller rink’s request that she either remove or cover her head scarf was discriminatory.

Marisol Rodriguez-Colon of Windsor tells WTIC-TV that she and her sister-in-law went to the Ron-A-Roll indoor rink in Vernon on Sunday for her niece’s birthday party. She says inside, a woman who identified herself as a manager told them they would have to either remove their hijabs or wear helmets. She was told the rink has a policy prohibiting headwear.

Rink management issued a statement reiterating the no headwear policy and saying helmets are offered for safety purposes.

La Presse considers non-Quebecois Canadian responses to the niqab

This article in La Presse suggests that the remainder of Canadian provinces would have been less likely than the provincial government of Quebec to expel a niqab-wearing woman in a language class for wearing a niqab. The journalist suggests that students in similar classes in Nova Scotia, Ontario and British Colombia are permitted to keep their niqabs.

Canadian Muslim woman refused entry into the US, claims discrimination

A Muslim woman alleges she was mistreated by border officials at the Halifax Stanfield International Airport after she was denied entry to the United States. Ayat Manna, who lives in Halifax, said she had a one-way ticket leaving Monday for Cleveland, where she was planning to spend several months to visit her husband.

The 25-year-old was held for questioning – something she said made her believe she was targeted because she was wearing a head scarf and is a Muslim woman. Border officials questioned her for more than four hours about why she was visiting the United States.

She said she was told to go home and escorted from the building by the RCMP. “I felt like I was a terrorist. Everybody was staring at me and it was the most embarrassing moment of my life.” A spokesperson for the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency denied many of her claims of poor treatment.

Texas Medical group denies hijab for potential Muslim employee; apologizes

A Texas woman was told in a job interview with CareNow that she would be unable to wear her hijab to work as part of the company’s “no-hat” policy.

“Being that I wear a head scarf to cover my hair as part of my religious practice, I felt very discriminated against. I have worked in many places that have a ‘no hat’ policy, and I have never been confronted with a problem regarding my head scarf. I can’t imagine this being an issue with an organization like CareNow. Please confirm if this is really a policy at CareNow.”

CareNow replied stating that the correct information had been given on the company’s denial of religious accommodation.

The Council on Islamic Relations CAIR called on the company to allow her to wear the headscarf, adjust the policy to accommodate religious symbols like the hijab, and formally apologize to the applicant.

CareNow President Tim Miller told the Associated Press, “I would apologize for any misunderstanding, definitely … but I don’t really feel like there is anything that we did that is wrong and our policy is wrong.” He then stated, “We apologize to Dr. Zaki for the misunderstanding. We will clarify our policy, and will continue our ongoing sensitivity training.”

“Care Now has made religious accommodations for employees in the past,” he said, adding that the company is interested in “sitting down with Dr. Zaki and discussing a job.”

In Dresden, High Culture and Ugly Reality Clash

In early July thousands of mourners took to the streets in Egypt, chanting “Down with Germany.” Thousands more Arabs and Muslims joined them in protests in Berlin. In Iran, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad added to the outcry by denouncing German “brutality.” The provocation was the murder on July 1 of Marwa al-Sherbini, a pregnant Egyptian pharmacist here. She was stabbed 18 times in a Dresden courtroom, in front of her 3-year-old son, judges and other witnesses, reportedly by the man appealing a fine for having insulted Ms. Sherbini in a park. Identified by German authorities only as a 28-year-old Russian-born German named Alex W., he had called Ms. Sherbini an Islamist, a terrorist and a slut when she asked him to make room for her son on the playground swings. Ms. Sherbini wore a head scarf. The killer also stabbed Elwi Okaz, Ms. Sherbini’s husband and a genetic research scientist, who was critically wounded as he tried to defend her. The police, arriving late on the scene, mistook him for the attacker and shot him in the leg. More than a week passed before the German government, responding to rising anger across the Arab world, expressed words of sorrow while stressing that the attack did occur during the prosecution of a racist and that the accused man was originally from Russia. Dresden is one of the great cultural capitals of Europe. It is also the capital of Saxony, a former part of East Germany that, along with having a reputation as Silicon Saxony, has made more than a few headlines in recent years for incidents of xenophobia and right-wing extremism. One wonders how to reconcile the heights of the city’s culture with the gutter of these events. MICHAEL KIMMELMAN reports.