Let's wrap it up
November 26, 2003 2:37 AM   Subscribe

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.
posted by bonaldi (13 comments total)
The Islamic brassiere. Or is it the islamic N-word? Embracing what others have used to control you.
posted by the fire you left me at 2:52 AM on November 26, 2003

So long as no-one's forcing her to wear it, I don't see the problem. I think it looks OK.
posted by Blue Stone at 3:18 AM on November 26, 2003

About time. Without a veil, she's just another harlot trying to tempt you to rub your man-parts on the television screen.
posted by Mayor Curley at 3:56 AM on November 26, 2003

my sensible comment: who cares? It's up to her. In the liberal countries, wearing a veil is often about choosing to demonstrate pride in Islam; I know one woman who, after 11 september, wore the hijab for the first time but also wore a badge ("button" in the U.S.?) with "9/11: not in my name" to show she's proud to be a moslem, but disgusted by the world trade centre attacks. To me, that's a valid - and brave - point to make via dress. If a woman isn't *forced* to wear hijab/ burka/ itsy witsy teenie weenie yellow polka dot bikini, but chooses to, who the fuck cares?

stupid comment (but my first thought): She looks *way* foxier with the scarf rather than without it. I know: I'm bad and inappropriate.
posted by Pericles at 4:19 AM on November 26, 2003

Forcing one way is as bad as forcing another - free choice is the way to go.

The majority of schools of thought in Islam agree that the headscarf aids in modesty and is a part of ideal modest dress - hijab the word actually refers to any type of modest clothing for males or females - it also in fact refers to the attitude of modesty that both sexes should ideally exhibit.

Some indicate that it is a necessary part of religion from the direct text - if you want refereces to that, check here: Al Muhajah's in depth analysis of the different types of dress. Aimed more at muslims - she has articles there for non-muslims too (niqaabed paralegal in the States, heh).

Of course, the core issue in the majority perception is that nowadays the headscarf is a symbol of Islam rather than a standard part of modest dress - back in Victorian times most ladies wore it, as did people all around the world (some Jews still do). I think its similar to how the traditional 'muslim' beard differentiated the early muslims from the non-muslims - that's why its hard to wear these days for most women, especially in light of all the uneducated negative vibes sent out about it being indicative of oppression of women by evil bearded muslamics.

I say good on her as she feels it is right.

As an aside, the headscarf is interesting for women from the indian subcontinent in particular - they usually have ok hair, but good facial structure, so wearing it in almost all cases makes them look quite a bit better.
posted by Mossy at 4:45 AM on November 26, 2003

Apparently Germany and France have been considering banning the veil because it's considered a "political" statement. Here's a story about France (and other media comments on it). I picked up a free Muslim newspaper in Brick Lane yesterday and they had a few stories and editorials about the situations -- one writer asked why it was bad if Muslim women conformed to their culture's rules on dress while Western women conform to society's ideals by starting to diet as children, developing eating disorders, getting plastic surgery, and wearing revealing clothes. All my feminist instincts find the idea of veiling repulsive (i.e., why can't men simply behave and not make women feel threatened or devalued unless they hide themselves? why give so much societal power to the male gaze?) but one could say that all over the world, women try to fit how their culture says they should appear, whether it's Bollywood stars bleaching their skin or Afghani women wearing the full burkha. Granted, the consequences for refusing to step into line are more or less severe depending on the culture/religion, but it still raises the question of what is "choice."
posted by fotzepolitic at 4:51 AM on November 26, 2003

Oh hum and I guess that soon we'll see the hijab on britney spears and it will be either commented as

"toughtful provocation"
"scandalous desecrating provocation"
"we'll go postal on her assets"
"it's about the fragility of woman she wants to show"
"that's just hollywood don't take it seriously"
"it's a liberals/republicans conspiracy"

tabloids will be filled with such insanity. Much ado about nothing and reinforces my already strong opinion that blind faith isn't but a drug for the masses, much like TV.

A la Fark : still no cure for cancer.
posted by elpapacito at 4:59 AM on November 26, 2003

great, now I can't stare at her ears and jack off.
posted by angry modem at 5:18 AM on November 26, 2003

I think we may need more info...Has she been wearing it in her daily life all along and not on the air bec. of pressure from management? Or has she had a sudden surge of religious feeling? Or is this a ratings ploy? Female newscasters here aren't even allowed to cut their hair without network approval. Such a drastic change in on-air appearance would have to be approved at the very top, i believe. (and I wonder why a head scarf alone wasn't enough--she was dressed modestly already.)

Also, interestingly, a related link next to that story speaks of an English woman who recently decided to wear it, and she meets a friend in Cairo who, "started telling me about how she viewed the hijab as being restrictive, and that as a trainee TV newsreader the hijab wasn't for her."
posted by amberglow at 5:24 AM on November 26, 2003

I'm just back from a trip to Cairo, and was surprised at the very small number of women with uncovered hair. The TV seemed to have a mix of both about equally, although soaps tended towards covered - a reflection of life, I guess.

What I wondered about this particular story is what all those calls said - did they approve? It occurs to me after something I was told quite frequently in Egypt, after Bush made his proclamations about Democracy in the Middle East. The problem with that, they said, was that ME countries would end up voting in right-wing tyrannical governments that, since they were fairly elected and less prone to US bribery, would give the States monumental political headaches.

That's what's got me wondering about the BBC story. Clearly the author expects that we'll think "oh, all those calls were outraged that she chose to do this", but people don't always behave like we'd expect. I wonder if the calls were actually approving of her decision.
posted by bonaldi at 5:58 AM on November 26, 2003

Al-Jazeera is majority-owned by the Qatari government

Quoted from the linked article though slightly off-topic. I thought this government was allied with America, more or less, but then why is their news station teeing off on the US constantly?
posted by billsaysthis at 5:08 PM on November 26, 2003

fotzepolitic: read the Islam 101 link above, you'll see that it's not a commandment from man against women, it's a commandmnet from God , who orders both men and women to do something. I don't find any feminist issue in this subject, given that the "order" wasn't given by a man, but by a God.

On a tangent: the problem, I guess, is rooted in the way we're teached about sexuality that is lived by some as something dirty, while it's natural . Ignorance about the true nature of sex (again, naturally occurring chain of impulses) generates irrational fears, like fears of asking information about contraceptives and STD, fears of expressing your sexual desires naturally which leads to frustration and possibily in abusive and violent behaviors.
posted by elpapacito at 7:23 PM on November 26, 2003

Al-Jazeera is majority-owned by the Qatari government


Quoted from the linked article though slightly off-topic. I thought this government was allied with America, more or less, but then why is their news station teeing off on the US constantly?

It's the only news media source in the Arab world which is free to say what they want, and in that sense is a true reflection of Arab culture in journalism. Why does the Guardian UK slag on the US if the UK is allied with it? Or does an alliance equal unwavering allegiance in all aspects of life, media and culture? Are our allies supposed to goosestep or think for themselves?
posted by krinklyfig at 12:33 AM on November 28, 2003

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