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A law has come into force in France which makes it an offence for a Muslim woman to conceal her face behind a veil when in public. [more inside]
Recent troubles with Muslim women's clothes have lead to the Quebec Government to begin proposing legislation on the issue of face covering and access to public services. The niqab has become a central symbol in the anti-muslim rhetoric of nationalist parties in Europe (political poster examples: France, Switzerland, and Britain) about the threat Islam poses to tolerant secular societies. [more inside]
Suheir Hammad, a Palestinian-American poet and activist now based in New York, writes about being a Muslim immigrant and also a woman challenging conventions. Spotted by Russell Simmons for Def Poetry Jam, she has performed pieces about love in the time of war, exoticising beauty, and a touching ode to her father, among many others. Suheir has just produced and released her first feature film Salt of This Sea, up for the Cannes Films Festival and possibly an Oscar, and recently performed in Ramallah for the 2009 Palestinian Festival of Literature.
A recent poll (PDF) asked for reactions to the same model dressed in two different ways: in a plain shirt with her hair down, and in a blue head scarf of the style of some Islamic women. Perhaps understandably, the survey respondents felt the scarfed image was more traditional and more religious. But some of the other perceptions are less obviously predictable. (via crooked timber)
Colors of Islam. "Islam 1,400 years ago gave women the right to choose her own husband, have her own business and finances, the right to ask for divorce and control her own body."
The Death of a Muslim Woman In many cases, fathers -- and sometimes even mothers -- single out their youngest son to do the killing, Boehmecke said, "because they know minors will get lighter sentences from German judges."
Star presenter wears hijab and apparently gets "a flood of calls". But, in an odd turn for the BBC, the piece doesn't say what those calls think. Are they all praising the traditional - and controversial - head-dress, or are they up in arms. The story skirts the issue. Islam 101 explains a bit about it.
Saudi Arabia considers allowing women into legal profession. Justice Minister cautions that "female lawyers would not be allowed to attend court...Women would instead be asked to write out their arguments, which would be presented on their behalf by men."
The Burka and the Bikini "Our war against the Taliban, a regime that does not allow a woman to go to school, walk alone on a city street, or show her face in public, highlights the need to more fully understand the ways in which our own cultural ''uncovering'' of the female body impacts the lives of girls and women everywhere. ... Whether it's the dark, sad eyes of a woman in purdah or the anxious darkly circled eyes of a girl with anorexia nervosa, the woman trapped inside needs to be liberated from cultural confines in whatever form they take. The burka and the bikini represent opposite ends of the political spectrum but each can exert a noose-like grip on the psyche and physical health of girls and women."