German lingerie ad targets Muslim niqab clad women

The spot begins with a dark-haired woman stepping out of the shower. With vaguely Middle Eastern music playing, she applies mascara, steps into high heels, slips on black lingerie and garters and spins in front of the mirror, clearly admiring her body and the lingerie she’s wearing. Up to this point, it’s typical lingerie commercial fare, but then the ad leaps from the mundane to the surprising: the woman quickly flips a niqab over her head. With only her mascara-ed eyes visible, she gazes out of a window. Then the tag line appears: “sexiness is for everyone.”

Of course, this ad is not meeting with approval from every corner. Islamineurope.com discusses a Norwegian television interview with religion historian Hanne Nabintu Herland, who criticized the commercial because it “links the Arab dress with sexuality, and not to morals and virtue.” Well, Liaisons Dangereuse is in the business of making money by selling naughty undergarments, so it’s unlikely their marketing plan called for promoting “morals and virtue.” Herland says the ad unnecessarily “trample[s] the cultural dress of Muslims”.

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Islamic banking enters the Austrian market

After several years of success in the UK and first attempts in continental Europe, Islamic banking is now about to enter the Austrian market. Islamic financing is said to be highly profitable: growth rates of 30 percent are predicted. So far, the roughly 400, 000 Austrian Muslims have no opportunity to invest their money in a “halal” way, but now the Austrian Standards Organisation has started to develop common standards for Islamic banking on behalf of the Islamic Information and Documentation Centre (IIDZ).

The process should be completed by summer 2010, when the first Islamic financial products are supposed to be available at Austrian banks.