Expert on geopolitical conflicts, Alan Salehzadeh, urges to ban head scarves in schools and face veils in public spaces

Alan Salehzadeh, who has gained publicity in the past years as an expert on geopolitical conflicts and researcher for the Finnish National Defence College, urges in his blog for a ban on head scarves in schools and face veils in public spaces. Salehzadeh, an immigrant from Iran, has previously as well spoken out for issues that touch upon issues in multicultural Finnish society, such as migrants’ difficulties in the job market due to language skill requirements.

In his blog post from May 21st Salehzadeh maintains that in democratic Finland it is not acceptable that certain religious groups – with this implying to Islam – force their children to embrace a religion and at the same time force little girls to wear the headscarf to the school. He notes, that it creates inequalities between students for example when a girl who wears the headscarf is not able to attend gender-mixed swimming lessons. Hence, he urges for a citizens initiative that would call for a law which can forbid parents from determining their children’s dress style.
Salehzadeh argues that the headscarf should be allowed to be used only after the child has reached 18 years of age, which is the age of majority in Finland. However, he finds that even then, when a woman is able to decide for herself about her religious dress, face veils should be banned as they are not compatible with democratic values.

The issue of the face veil in the public space has been a topic of discussion also earlier this year, as MP Nasima Razmyar, like Salehzadeh with an immigrant background, expressed her concerns against the face veil in an interview. For Razmyar it would be necessary to ban the face veil in cases in which a woman is wearing it in her profession in the child education sector. Although she criticized the face veil as part of an employee’s dress in schools and nurseries, she extended her argument so that the face veil does not support the integration of its wearer into the Finnish society.

Olympic faithful: Ibtihaj Muhammad

Even as a kid, Ibtihaj Muhammad stood out. She was faster and stronger than her friends, and she was serious about her religion. Most of the sports she tried required physically revealing gear, in sharp contrast to the modesty her Muslim faith required. Then she discovered fencing. The sport let her express her athletic talent, and the uniform allowed her to stay true to her faith.

Today Ibtihaj is one of the best fencers in the world—and an observant Muslim woman. This summer, she will represent the U.S. at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. And when she competes for her country, representing all of us, she will be the first American Olympian to do so while wearing the hijab. Ibtihaj embraced what made her stand out, and she’s an Olympian because of it.

That’s not just the story of Ibtihaj Muhammad. That’s the story of America.

H&M Features First Hijab-Wearing Muslim Model In Campaign

One of the world’s largest fashion retailers is launching a new advertising campaign featuring – for the first time in its history – a Muslim woman wearing a hijab. Mariah Idrissi, 23, appears in the H&M advert, which is trying to encourage people to recycle clothes. She told the BBC that she believed the fashion industry was changing to cater better for women wearing the Muslim headscarf.

Idrissi who is of a Pakistani and Moroccan heritage is based in London appears in the high street brand’s video wearing a chequered hijab and sunglasses to promote its Close the Loop recycling initiative.

Speaking to Fusion about the ad campaign Idrissi said ‘It always feels like women who wear hijab are ignored when it comes to fashion,’ but she is delighted over the huge step to inclusion in fashion. Since the advert launched her Instagram following has more than doubled to 4,000 and she is getting messages from young Muslim girls saying it had helped them with their confidence.

Idrissi has also suffered from her fair share of negative comments, particularly from other Muslim women who said the advert was not modest. But she has brushed them off, saying: “People have said ‘Wearing a hijab is about being modest so how come you are posing?’ But why can you not look decent and covered? You don’t need to be naked to look good. There is no restriction on having a personality if you wear a headscarf.” She said the women making the comments about modesty were the reason British society still sees Islam as oppressive to women.

The ad celebrates models of various ethnicity, religion, body types and goes a long way to tell us there are no rules in fashion!

UK hijabi competes in Clipper Round The World Yacht Race

Breaking down negative stereotypes, a British veiled Muslim woman is taking part in the world’s longest ocean race, proving that hijab has never been a barrier in the life of Muslim women.

“I’ve got my headscarf on, I’m going to do my prayers … go forth, the world is your oyster!” Noreen Rahman, maths teacher from Walthamstow, east London, told NBC news on Monday, August 31.

The 32-year-old Muslim woman aims to defy the negative misconceptions surrounding her faith and the hijab by participating in the 10th Clipper Round The World Yacht Race. Rahman is one of the 700 participants from 12 teams who will spend a year travelling the globe during the eight-stage race.

With a carnival-like opening ceremony and a parade under the iconic Tower Bridge on the sheltered waters of the River Thames, the race kicked off in London on Sunday. Participants from 44 countries started their journey from St Katharine’s Dock to travel 40,000 nautical miles. About 40% of the participants, who will travel 6,000 miles to Brazil’s Rio De Janeiro, have no previous sailing experience.

The world’s longest ocean race will see teachers, doctors, IT workers and students taking part, with ages ranging between 18 and 74. Taking the tough challenge, Rahman will be sailing across the Atlantic in Leg 1 of the race, as part of the Great Britain crew. “I am a traditional, Muslim Pakistani woman and I want people to know that we do not have to be restricted by the bubble society has put us in,” she told The Telegraph.

Women Rip off Muslimah Hijab in London

Adding to Muslim concerns about safety, another veiled British Muslim mother was attacked and her hijab ripper off by a group of women when she went to collect children from a London primary school.

“They pulled my headscarf off and started punching and kicking me,” the mother, who wished to remain anonymous, told the Standard on Saturday, June 6.

“One was dragging my head down while the others were hitting me.

“They were being so racist and using derogatory terms.”

Problems started when the mother went to collect her children from school when she met three women who attacked by three women to started “shouting and hurling abuse” because of her hijab in Derby Road, Croydon, close to the private Islamic primary school Al-Khair in south London.Hijab

They allegedly asked if she was hot in the headscarf, before tearing it off and punching her. The attack left her with whiplash and chunks of hair missing, but with no significant physical harm.

World Hijab Day celebrated on February 1st

world-hijabOn February 1st, millions of women, either Muslim or non-Muslim, prepared their headscarf to don hijab for a day, showing solidarity and respect to Muslim women’s choice to cover.

“I think it is important today to try to understand and experience other cultures and belief system,” Elizabeth Croucher, a non-Muslim Londoner, told OnIslam.net.

Muslim and non-Muslim women wearing a traditional Islamic head scarf will march on the streets of 116 countries to mark the third anniversary of World Hijab Day.

The World Hijab Day, held for the third consecutive year, is the brain child of a New York resident, Nazma Khan, who came up with the idea as a means to foster religious tolerance and understanding. Suggesting the event, Khan wanted to encourage non-Muslim women to don the hijab and experience it before judging Muslim women.

British Muslim Women wear a Poppy Hijab for Remembrance Day

British Muslim women wearing the "Poppy Hijab" designed to commemorate Armed Forces Day and the WWI Centenary. (Photo: Georgie Gillard/ The Daily Mail
British Muslim women wearing the “Poppy Hijab” designed to commemorate Armed Forces Day and the WWI Centenary. (Photo: Georgie Gillard/ The Daily Mail

British Muslims are being urged to wear a new ‘poppy hijab’ as a challenge to extremist groups who ‘spout hatred’ towards the Armed Forces. The campaign is being backed by the Islamic Society of Britain (ISB), and profits from its sale will be donated to Poppy Appeal. Sughra Ahmed, President of ISB, said it’s a way for “ordinary Muslim citizens to take some attention away from extremists… This symbol of quiet remembrance is the face of everyday British Islam – not the angry minority who spout hatred and offend everyone.”

The headscarf is patterned with poppies, and has been created specifically for Remembrance Day this year. Tabinda-Kauser Ishaq, 24, a student at the London College of Fashion and a British Muslim, designed the hijab. She says, “the idea to do a headscarf came from knowing that many Muslims generally mark Remembrance Day. We felt it wasn’t that widely known. The number of Muslim soldiers who fought in World War One was even less known. We wanted to create something that illustrated this history.”

More than a million Indian soldiers and 400,000 Muslims fought alongside British troops in 1914, but it is a fact that is little known or talked about. It’s why the Islamic Society of Britain and integration think tank British Future, which is selling the hijab online, approached Tabinda to help them find a symbol of Remembrance that would appeal to. It’s also where the idea of the poppy hijab came from. “I thought it was a really simple and clean way of saying that I’m very proud of being British and Muslim without it being in anyone’s face,” she says.

However, some have attacked this initiative. The Huffington Post scathingly criticises the campaign. It argues that the poppy hijab is a counterproductive and patronising since it singles out Muslims as being a suspect community whose allegiance lies elsewhere. Many British Muslims, they claim, do put their religion before their nationality but that doesn’t make them any less integrated. What that means, is that there is a significant percentage of Muslims who practice Islam holistically as a comprehensive way of life, which includes speaking the truth, standing up for justice, speaking up for the oppressed and accounting their government.

Nadine Morano “hurt” by image of a veiled woman at the beach

The former minister of the UMP Nadine Morano has created controversy after posting a picture of a veiled Muslim woman at the beach on her Facebook page. Morano wrote, “There is nothing that threatens public order because the woman’s face was visible in accordance with the law, but it’s an attack on our culture that hurts.” Next to the photograph of the veiled woman, seen from behind, Morano showed the headline of the Figaro Magazine featuring a picture of Brigitte Bardot in a bikini.

Addressing the picture of Bardot, Morano writes: “This image of a Frenchwoman who is proud of her freedom as a woman struck me as a contrast to that of the veiled woman…When choosing to come to France, a state of rights, secular, one must respect our culture and women’s freedom.”

Her comments prompted a statement from the National Observatory Against Islamophobia, which called the post “stigmatizing.” “Is the act of wearing a veil on the beach not respecting the laws of the Republic?” asked Abdallah Zekri, the association’s president. Zekri contended that only the full veil is banned in France.

“It’s always the same one who stands out in the UMP…It would be better for her to deal with what’s happening in her party rather than to stigmatize women who wear the veil,” he added. Zekri is a former UMP member who left the party “after having felt the frequency of hate speech and racism rise.”

A Makeover for the Hijab, via Instagram: Muslim Women Add Personal Style to a Traditional Garment

August 17, 2014

A few years ago, Ascia Sarrha tracked the fashion blogosphere with frustration. As a Muslim woman who wears a head scarf, known as a hijab, she rarely saw someone who looked like her. A fashion enthusiast from a conservative culture, she decided one answer was to create a blog of her own.

Today Ms. Sarrha, now 24, has close to 900,000 followers on her Instagram feed, ascia_akf, who watch her model a kaleidoscope of stylish, but modest, outfits from brands such as Diesel and BCBG. (Some of her posts are sponsored by businesses in Kuwait, where she is based.) Not so long ago, it was considered radical for a Muslim woman to put a picture of her face online, Ms. Sarrha said in a phone interview. “I was one of the first personal style bloggers to show my face.”

Muslim women in their 20s and 30s are making their own mark on hijab culture, while propagating it in a way particular to the “selfie generation”: by posting pictures and videos of themselves on various social media sites.

“A lot of Muslim girls who wore the hijab got tired of being told that they couldn’t be stylish or that they had to be frumpy or dowdy,” said Melanie Elturk, 29, the founder of Haute Hijab, a Chicago-based company that sells head scarves and modest clothing. Haute Hijab’s Instagram page, which has more than 29,000 followers, is filled with smiling women in an array of bright and floral head scarves looking anything but dowdy.

In the not so distant past, the hijab had a very different image in the West, one that stoked controversy in countries like France and led to stereotypes of oppressed Muslim women.

The style tipping point may have been the release last year of the music video “Mipsterz,” shorthand for Muslim Hipsters, mixed to Jay Z’s “Somewhere in America” that featured urban women dressed in head scarves skateboarding, juggling and doing handstands. Their clothes were more evocative of hipster Williamsburg than a mosque. The video instantly went viral and has been viewed more than a half-million times since December.

Outrage in Saudi Arabia at appearance of London female newsreader without headscarf on state television

August 5, 2014

The unprecedented appearance of a female newsreader on Saudi state television without a headscarf has caused a scandal in the deeply conservative Islamic state. The unnamed anchor, who has previously worn a hijab in clips circulated online, was reading a bulletin from London for the Al Ekhbariya channel. Strict Islamic dress codes in Saudi Arabia require women to dress “modestly” – usually with headscarves, veils and full-length abayas. While women do sometimes appear without head coverings in programmes broadcast by state-controlled channels, newsreaders are never seen without the hijab.

Saleh Al Mughailif, a spokesman for Saudi radio and television, told Al Tawasul news the correspondent was reading the news from the broadcaster’s British studio. “She was not in a studio inside Saudi Arabia and we do not tolerate any transgression of our values and the country’s systems,” he added.

He promised that all measures would be taken to ensure there is no repeat of the incident after many viewers expressed outrage. Al Ekhbariya, which has offices in the Middle East, Europe and America, is known for its use of female anchors after having its maiden broadcast in 2004 presented by the country’s first female news presenter.

Society has been divided over the possibility of granting women more rights as the Government’s labour ministry encourages more women to take up jobs in the private sector, against strong resistance from conservative groups. King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz has appointed 30 women to his advisory body, the Shura Council, in a landmark decision for women’s status, Gulf News reported. A billionaire Saudi prince and businessman, Prince Al Waleed Bin Talal, is also rumoured to take a moderate stance in offices of his Kingdom Holding business empire by not enforcing the veil for employees.