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Hijab News: Hijab makes a return in Tunisia

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  • Zafar Khan
    Hijab makes a return in Tunisia by Yvonne Ridley January 21, 2011 http://www.foreignpolicyjournal.com/2011/01/21/hijab-makes-a-return-in-tunisia/ Something
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 22, 2011
      Hijab makes a return in Tunisia
      by Yvonne Ridley
      January 21, 2011


      Something really wonderful happened outside the Tunisian Embassy in London the other day as a crowd of us gathered to continue the demand for justice in the people’s revolution.
      I was standing next to a sister, and, with tears in her eyes she revealed she had been inside the embassy that morning to get passports for herself and her family. Her face looked vaguely familiar but I could not remember where we had met previously.
      Just a few weeks ago she would not have been allowed to put one foot over the threshold but this time she was welcomed like a long lost daughter and given the red carpet treatment by the embassy staff – one even asked if she wanted to meet the Ambassador.
      The more she talked the more I knew that we had met previously, but where?
      Then we began speculating about the deposed dictator Zine el Abidine Ben Ali and his truly awful wife Leila, who, we now know thanks to Wikileaks, fancied her chances of becoming the next leader of Tunisia when her ageing husband either stood down or expired.
      We both laughed at the irony of the location of their current bolt-hole … Saudi Arabia, The Land of the Two Holy Mosques, and wondered how Ben Ali and Leila Trabelsi were coping with hearing the athan five times a day.
      They had banned the athan from being played on state television, shunned fasting during Ramadan and dismissed the hijab as being a foreign import and not part of the Tunisian culture.
      Let’s just say they made it up as they went along and if they wanted fatwas they would wheel out their tame and obliging scholars for dollars.
      Ben Ali, a brute of a man who made words and phrases like torture, detention without trial, political and religious persecution commonplace in Tunisia, is also credited with ripping off the hijabs from the heads of Muslim women. He banned them from wearing their scarves in schools, hospitals and universities and other public places.
      He saw that the Holy Quran was banned and desecrated in the cages and dungeons where prisoners of conscience are beaten if they dared to pray outside of allotted times.
      His brutal regime brought in happy clappy clerics whose narcotic-style preachings in praise of Ben Ali and his corrupt government certainly had the desired effect … it drove God-fearing worshippers out of the mosques.
      No wonder the Muslim youth no longer clamored to get into masjids on Fridays to listen to these khateebs who spent half the khutbah praising the President and his followers.
      To our Christian friends, put it this way – can you imagine sitting in a church pew listening to some vicar or priest urging you to thank God for Tony Blair, George W Bush or Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney? Exactly!
      My sister and I both wondered how Leila would view having to wear a black abaya every time she steps outside her new home. I’m sure the Saudi religious police will be on hand to give her some encouragement.
      Of all the places in the world those two had probably expected to end up I think it’s a fair bet Saudi was nowhere near the top of their list as they boarded the flight from Tunisia.
      In fact what wouldn’t I have given to see the expressions on their faces as the pilot delivered the bad news. Sorry, we can’t get clearance for Paris, New York, Monaco or Geneva but how does Jeddah sound?
      It was Ben Ali’s barbaric actions and abuse of the most basic human rights which prompted me to first go and stand outside the Tunisian Embassy in London way back in November 2006 and protest in defense of our Tunisian sisters … and Islam.
      This man and his godless wife despised the religion of their birth so much and everything it represented that they did their best to turn the country in to a secular state.
      Did they do it to please themselves or the western powers which courted them and pretended to be their best ever friends?
      I remember in February 2009 driving through Tunisia with the Viva Palestina convoy encountering literally hundreds of Ben Ali’s henchmen who did everything in their power to stop us from praying and attending Friday prayers.
      The horrified expressions on their faces when we stopped our vehicles in the middle of the road and prayed in the street is something I will remember forever.
      I recounted the tale to the sister outside the embassy and again we both laughed at the ultimate irony Ben Ali and the light-fingered Leila (she is reported to have looted 1.5 tons of gold as she fled) were now languishing in Saudi.
      How poignant, having been shunned by their fickle friends in the West, it was Muslims who came to their rescue. Forgiveness is a major element in Islam and while it is far too early for Tunisians to even begin to think about that F-word, the ex-president and his wife should be grateful that some Muslims are prepared to show them the sort of mercy Ben Ali and Leila could never show their own people.
      Now that he, in particular, has time to reflect on the brutalization of our hijab-wearing sisters, practicing brothers and human rights campaigners, I wonder if he will discover the beauty of real Islam and not the distorted, diluted version he tried to force on his people?
      I turned to the sister outside the embassy and wondered out loud if Leila will ever discover the beauty of the hijab. The words were barely out of my mouth when I suddenly recognized this woman.
      We had first met in 2006, outside the Tunisian Embassy in London, at a protest. She told me in graphic detail of her detention, abuse and torture at the hands of Ben Ali’s thugs.
      I will never forget her dramatic words back then as she said in a shaky voice: “I came to London with my hijab still in my pocket.” I remember being moved to tears by her story, one of many countless Tunisian sisters can tell and no doubt will over the coming months.
      And now she is planning to return but with her head held high and wearing her hijab with pride.

      Iran holds hijab conference in Greece
      Jan 21st, 2011 | By Manar Ammar


      Iran held an international workshop in Athens, Greece, aimed at reviving the hijab, or Islamic veil, and to revive morality on January 17 in Greece.

      The International Scientific Workshop on chastity and morality with the aim of refreshing the Hijab, spirituality, ethics and moral education of people with the presence of educated women of various countries was held in the capital of Athens, the Shiite ABNA news agency reported on Wednesday.

      Attendees and speakers joined the discussion from different countries such as Iran, Greece, Turkey, Bahrain, Denmark and Belgium.

      Iran’s Ambassador to Greece opened the conference by saying, “the main cause of all these conflicts and transgressions is the lack of morality among human societies.”

      He added he hopes that this conference provides solutions to solve the problem of ethics in today’s world.

      Hojat-ol-Islam Akhtari, head of Ahl-ul-bayt World Assembly, a Shitte orgnization, pointed at the Hijab role and emphasized on the importance of a morale society.

      “In Islam unlike some other school of thoughts, in prayer and perfection a woman is exactly similar to a man. Women in Islam are economically as well recognized independent people and no one has the right to interfere in their personal property,” he said in an address the crowd.

      The hijab is a mandatory dress for Iranian women, who cannot be seen in public with out it. Police in Iran regularly arrest women who are not wearing the hijab properly in what is called “bad hijab” fashion and Iranian women are advised to adopt a more conservative dress by the authorities.

      Iran’s Muslims are majority with 98 percent, 89 percent are Shiite and sunni make up the remaining 9 perecent. Iran’s other religion include Zoroastrians, Jews, Christians and Baha’is.

      Suits: Woman denied swim access due to Muslim dress
      December 30, 2010 7:34 PM


      A Brookfield man filed two lawsuits today against the Forest Preserve District of Cook County alleging that his wife was denied access to the Cermak Family Aquatic Center in 2009 because she was wearing traditional Muslim dress.

      Mahmoud Yaqub went to the aquatic center, which has a wading area, fountains and sprinklers, with his wife and two children on Aug. 16, 2009, according to the lawsuits filed against the Forest Preserve District of Cook County in Cook County Circuit Court.

      In the lawsuit, Yaqub alleges that his wife was dressed in a hijab, which is a traditional Muslim headscarf, and a jibab, which is a loose-fitting garment. The family had arrived at the ticket booth to buy their entrance tickets when the cashier told them they couldn't go inside "because of your wife's outfit," the lawsuit states.

      Yaqub, who is represented by the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said that he tried to explain that neither he nor his wife would be swimming, but the cashier continued to insist that swimwear must be worn into the center.

      Yaqub then tried to enter the center with just his children, but was told by another employee that there might be a problem with his children's T-shirts and his basketball shorts, according to the lawsuit, which alleges that the facility's employees violated the Illinois Human Rights Act when they allegedly discriminated against the Yaqub family because they are Muslim.

      A Cook County Forest Preserve District spokesman declined to comment on the case Thursday evening and said that the organization does not comment on pending litigation.

      Yaqub has requested an unspecified amount of money for his family's subsequent "emotional distress, based on the significant and public assault on their dignity."

      In a separate lawsuit he has also requested that a judge require allow his family to be admitted to all Forest Preserve District of Cook County facilities if they are wearing garments mandated by their religious practices

      --Cynthia Dizikes

      Azerbaijani Muslims protest hijab ban


      Hundreds of people have staged a demonstration in Azerbaijan's capital, urging the government to overturn a decree banning Islamic headscarves in schools.

      The protesters who were mostly the parents of Muslim students chanted slogans against the anti-Islamic law.

      Baku imposed a ban on wearing the Islamic veil, or hijab, at schools in December, sparking angry protests across the Muslim country.

      There have been a series of rallies against the controversial issue of the hijab ban in the country since the law came into effect.

      On December 24, hundreds of Muslims held a peaceful demonstration in Azerbaijan's second largest city of Ganja after the Friday prayers, but the police resorted to force and also detained more than 50 people.

      A similar protest was held on December 10 in front of the Education Ministry building in Baku in reaction to comments by Azerbaijan's Education Minister Misir Mardanov, who said that girls should comply with official rules on school uniforms, which forbid wearing headscarves.

      The Azeri government has refused to lift the ban, defending it as part of its attempt to revive Soviet-era school uniforms in public education.

      The disputed hijab law comes in contrast to the country's constitution which entitled Muslim students to wear headscarves at schools.

      Spanish city bans face-covering Islamic veils in public buildings
      Lleida, located in north-eastern region of Catalonia, approved legislation in May but procedural issues delayed its implementation
      Associated Press
      guardian.co.uk, Thursday 9 December 2010 12.55 GMT


      The Spanish city of Lleida has became the first in the country to implement a ban on the wearing of face-covering Islamic veils in municipal buildings.

      Lleida, in the north-eastern region of Catalonia, approved the legislation in May but procedural issues delayed its implementation.

      "I feel proud that Lleida is the first city in Spain to regulate against something that is discriminatory against women," the mayor, Angel Ros, told state-run radio.

      The gesture is largely symbolic because only about 3% of Lleida's population is Muslim and only a handful wear body-covering burqas or face-covering niqabs.

      Spain has a population of 47 million, of which around 1 million are Muslim. Most live in Catalonia and the southern region of Andalucia, but burqas are rarely seen in public.

      Other towns and cities including the Catalan capital, Barcelona, have taken similar steps – but bans are yet to take effect.

      The Spanish government is considering including the ban in a future law covering a variety of religious issues.

      Senior Carmedy West uncovers freedom with hijab covering
      Carmedy West
      Issue date: 12/2/10 Section: Knights' Life


      "Do you have a bomb under there?"

      This isn't a question I'm used to receiving.

      I reply with a question: "You mean under my headscarf? Do I have a bomb?"

      The two older men in flannel jackets sitting inside of the lumberyard nod and one grins a little uneasily at me. We're all alone in the tiny storefront where I stopped in to get some scrap wood. Since I walked in, things have become a bit strange.

      "Are you a Muslim?" The man with the grin asks boldly, clarifying his question.

      "No," I explain, "I'm actually not a Muslim. I am, however, wearing the Muslim headscarf as part of a school project."

      Immediately both men are put at ease: jokes fly, tensions are absolved and I receive a response identical to the one I've been getting since I started my project.

      "Oh, thank God," the old men say, like so many others. "We thought you were a Muslim."

      I am not, in fact, a Muslim, but I could see why they thought as much. For a month now I have been wearing the Muslim hijab - a scarf covering my head and ears and generally modest dress - to classes, work and on- and off-campus activities. Essentially, I've been walking a month in the shoes of a culture that is a visible minority here in the United States and certainly on the Geneseo campus. This has been an experiment for my Honors Capstone Experience, a project I've titled, "Fatima's Blessing: Hijabi in the USA."

      Another question that I've been getting pretty frequently is also very simple: "Why?"

      Anyone can see that America has a problem with Islam right now. On a broader scale, the world has a problem with Islam right now.

      According to the Pew Research Center, Islam is among the fastest growing religions in the world and there's no shortage of politically-motivated zealots out there willing to raise hell in its name. A great many Americans are afraid of Muslims; their very image is enough to stir tensions in the most docile of circles. So what would happen, I wondered, if I just started wearing a headscarf? How might people I see every day treat me? From Oct. 15 to Nov. 22, I was on a quest to find out.

      The number of acquaintances of mine who pulled the old "texting trick" when I walked by them on campus was staggering. The amount of cold stares and nervous glances I received was even greater. As a tour guide in the office of admissions, the reaction of one of my tour audiences was enough to make me want to throw in the towel just three days after starting the project.

      Yet I stuck with it. It was worth it all: the extra time it took to put on a hijab before class, the fights with family and the hurt that comes from an anti-Islamic slur to the face. I learned more in the past month than I'd ever expected.

      First, I've learned that Geneseo is a largely tolerant campus, at least on the surface. Second, I now know that I have true friends who support my decisions. And third, I've learned that covering your hair can shift your focus from the world around you to the one within. When I began wearing my scarf I did not felt oppressed at all but instead liberated from the pressures of expectations around me. By covering up, really, I felt freer.

      For the duration of my project I've kept a blog at fatimasblessing.blogspot.com. I encourage anyone who's interested to check it out. Who knows, maybe you've made a guest appearance?

      Having worn the hijab for the past month, I can say that it really was an enlightening experience in many ways and that I already miss it. I encourage anyone who's up to it to spend even just a day or two walking in someone else's shoes. It seems like such a small thing to cover your hair but the world around you really does change. In my case, I believe it was for the better.

      Muslim woman fights Boulder jail to keep hijab for mug shot
      By Erica Meltzer Camera Staff Writer
      Posted: 12/03/2010 08:52:43 PM MST


      A University of Colorado student who started wearing hijab after converting to Islam is fighting the Boulder County Jail's insistence that she remove her headscarf for a booking photo, saying that to do so would violate her religious beliefs.

      Maria Hardman, 19, of Boulder, reported to the jail Wednesday to do the paperwork for a two-day work crew sentence that was supposed to be served this weekend. But when a jail detention officer told her to remove her headscarf for her mug shot, she balked.

      "It's stated in the Koran in two or three places that believing women should wear the veil, except in the company of close family members," she said.

      Hardman said she spent three hours at the jail while her lawyer tried to convince officials to let her take the picture with her scarf. She eventually was allowed to leave the jail without taking a picture at all. She said she was told she would be found in contempt of court for being out of compliance with her sentence.

      Division Chief Larry Hank, who oversees the Boulder County Jail, said his officers never threatened Hardman with contempt of court. He said they told her she needs to explain to a judge why she wouldn't comply, and his office would be filing a motion explaining the jail's requirements.

      Hardman's attorney is working on a motion explaining her position, though no hearing has been set in the case.

      Hank said it's not his intent to violate anyone's religious beliefs, but jail booking photos are a law-enforcement tool and need to give a clear image of what the person looks like.

      He said he offered to have male officers leave the area and have Hardman take off her headscarf with only a female officer present, but she declined. Hank said that's been an acceptable compromise to other Muslim women in the jail. Hardman said she doesn't want a photo of herself without hijab entered into the statewide system, where it would be a public record.

      Hardman said that while she was detained, jail officers took her shoes and jewelry, and she worried she would be booked on the spot.

      "They told me I could just stay there and skip the work crew," she said. "I was worried they were going to forcibly remove my headscarf."

      Hardman's offense is an awkward one for an observant Muslim, whose faith prohibits alcohol consumption, to explain: driving while ability-impaired, the lesser version of a DUI.

      "I was given alcohol without my knowledge," Hardman said.

      Hardman said she was drinking punch that she assumed was non-alcoholic at a party in August, and when she realized she wasn't feeling herself, she asked about the punch. When she learned that it was alcoholic, she freaked out and just wanted to leave the party, Hardman said.

      She got on her 49cc scooter to go home but wiped out in the 1600 block of Norwood Avenue. A neighbor called police.

      The police report doesn't indicate that Hardman told police she drank alcohol without realizing it, only that she admitted to drinking. Hardman said she tried to tell the officer the full story, but it wasn't reflected in the report.

      Hardman's blood-alcohol content after the accident was 0.19, more than two times the legal limit.

      She pleaded guilty to driving while ability-impaired and was sentenced to two days in jail, as well as community service.

      "I made a mistake. I'm trying to make it better and take responsibility," Hardman said. "But this is America. Someone in the legal system has every right to have their religious beliefs respected."

      "I was shocked that this happened in Boulder," added Hardman, a Boulder native who converted to Islam three years ago and started wearing hijab about a year ago.

      Officials with the Aurora city jail and the Denver County Jail said they weren't aware of specific instances of hijab-wearing Muslim inmates in their facilities, but they likely would handle it the same way.

      "Law enforcement needs to be able to use the photo to identify the person, even if they're wearing a disguise," Denver police Capt. Frank Gale said.

      That makes features like ears and jaw lines important, Gale said.

      "I'm not trying to disrespect the religion, but if I allow her to wear it, what am I going to do if someone, a traditionalist or whatever, comes in with the full face covering?" Hank said. "Unfortunately, this is how we do it."

      The Colorado Department of Motor Vehicles and the U.S. State Department allow people whose religious beliefs require head-covering to have headwear on in driver's license and passport photos.

      Contact Camera Staff Writer Erica Meltzer at 303-473-1355 or meltzere@....
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