Archive for Muslim women

Zahra Lari, the ‘Ice Princess’ in the hijab

Posted in Anti-Loons with tags , , , , , on April 15, 2012 by loonwatch

Zahra Lari

Whether it’s sporting a burqini or fashioning a stylish costume for figure skating, Muslim women are finding creative ways to compete in sports without compromising observance of their faith.

Zahra Lari, the ‘Ice Princess’ in the hijab

By Emmanuel Barranguet (AFP)

CANAZEI, Italy — From the sand dunes of the Rub al Khali desert to the snow-capped peaks of the Dolomites in northern Italy, Emirati teen Zahra Lari made figure skating history this week.

The 17-year-old not only became the first figure skater from the Gulf to compete in an international competition but the first to do so wearing the hijab, an Islamic headscarf.

“In my country women don’t do much sport and even less figure skating,” the quietly-spoken teenager told AFP after competing alongside skaters from 50 countries in the European Cup.

A practising Muslim, her black headscarf and sober costume, stood out among the flashy orange tutus and fluorescent pink tights.

“I skate with the hijab, my costume is in line with Islamic tradition,” she explained.

“The other girls are very nice to me. I think they accept me very well. I haven’t had any problems, people are open. It’s not a question of an exhibition, but of sport and my father is in agreement.”

Lari’s American-born mother Roquiya Cochran admitted that it had taken some time to convince her husband to let their daughter compete.

“I had to convince him. In the beginning he saw it as his daughter dancing in front of a male audience

“But he came along to watch, he saw how beautiful she was on the ice, and he loves her, he wants her to be happy. She’s covered, she hasn’t done anything anti-Islamic.”

Lari explains that her love of the ice began when she watched a Disney movie at the age of 11.

“I watched The Ice Princess over a 100 times, I loved it! I said to myself ‘That’s what I want to do’.”

Three years later she realised her dream when she pulled on her first pair of skates at the Zayed Sports City in Abu Dhabi where she met her coach Noemi Bedo.

“Promising skaters usually start aged 3 or 4 years,” explains Romanian Bedo.

“But she’s very talented, she’s very powerful and jumps higher than the others. I also believe in the Olympic Games,” added Bedo, of Lari’s dream of competing at the Winter Olympics.

The European Cup in Canazei does not have the stature of the ISU Grand Prix events and Lari did not compete at the world junior championships last February, but she nevertheless finished in the top 15.

“This has been an incredible learning experience and I am happy to have been able to show what I have learnt in the last few years,” she said.

“I may not have the competition experience that the other skaters have but I feel that I held my own and look forward to participating in future competitions.”

“For Sochi (2014 Winter Games) I’m giving 100 percent, I can do it. Otherwise I’ll try for the 2018 Games,” she said.

She certainly has the determination, getting up six days a week at 4:30 to practice before her day begins at the American International School.

“I’m on the ice until 7:30 and at 16:00 I’m back skating for an hour and a half. It’s not difficult, I love that, and I want to succeed.”

Apart from wanting her own success, Lari added: “I want to encourage girls from the Emirates and the Gulf to achieve their dream too and not to let anyone tell them not to do sport, not only figure skating but all sports.”

Muslima Fashionista: High fashion and modesty—clashing ideals, or can it actually work?

Posted in Anti-Loons with tags , , , , on February 26, 2012 by loonwatch
Muslima Fashionista
Model for Underwraps Agency, NYC

There is no shortage of controversy about how Muslim women should dress.

Some argue Muslim women need to adopt Western-style fashion if they want to assimilate and flourish in Western culture. Others insist that modest dress is a non-negotiable article of the their faith, and challenge Western democracies to demonstrate their much-vaunted commitment to freedom by making room for everything from headscarves to burqas.

Is modest dress oppressive, or does it free women from superficial notions of beauty and command respect?  As the debate rages on, some Muslim women have staked the middle ground, where modest dress and fashion-forward styles are viewed as perfectly compatible.

A New York City modeling agency has brought bold interpretations of Islamic dress to the catwalk, turning heads and challenging stereotypes in the world of high fashion and beyond.

Modesty x Couture | New Muslim Modeling Agency in NYC

By Ada Lee, Schema Magazine

The American-born Muslim designer Nailah Lymus seeks out to bridge the gap between fashion and modesty. She does so by launching a new modeling agency in New York City for Muslim models.

The agency, Underwraps, will represent aspiring models that wish to work in the mainstream fashion industry without having to compromise their faith-led belief of modesty in dress. According to Lymus, it is a belief that requires clothes to be loose and not shape revealing, and that the only body parts that can be visible are your face, hands and feet.

“Being modest isn’t just a Muslim concept; it crosses many religions and cultures,” says Lymus. “Beautiful women who have always wanted to venture on to the catwalk but have declined because of their beliefs now have a chance.” Lymus’ goal with Underwraps, to me, seems to be creating a new space for reconciling concepts that are seemingly conflicting.

Lymus attracted attention when she first launched her line of clothing “Amirah Creations” last year. Her designs are hot but they’re also trail blazing—she’s determined to break stereotypes and limitations of what Muslim women can wear, and ultimately, how they can fit in without forfeiting their identities.

UnderwrapsUnderwraps Model

How will this agency fare in an industry where flesh-baring models are the standard? Judging by the comments online, it seems like everybody has their own idea of what modesty, Islam, modeling, and high fashion should be about. Many are skeptical of whether it’ll survive. Others are saying that there is no market for modest fashion.

But if fashion is an expression of the self, then what Lymus is doing resonates in Schema—Underwraps is to Muslim models as Schema is to hyphenated Canadians. It’s a space where 1st/2nd/3rd generations can navigate through cultures without having to compromise, without having to choose simply being one or the other.

So I say, you go, girl.

Ada Lee is a sixth year Human Geography/International Relations student who is interested in people and what makes them tick. The list ranges from social justice to astrology. She tries to get by in life by getting high on ideas, breathing deeply, and dreaming vividly. Follow 0415ADA at your own risk.

Niqab: ‘What if my daughter is afraid of her?’

Posted in Anti-Loons with tags , , , , , , , , , , on February 24, 2012 by loonwatch
Niqabi
Women who wear the niqab usually remove it when no men are present, as was the case at the daycare. Photograph by: PHIL NOBLE REUTERS, Freelance

A woman in Canada admits she once held stereotypical views of modest clothing, largely because her impressions of Muslim women were shaped almost exclusively by the media.  A 2010 Time Magazine article found widespread prejudice against Muslims, though 62% of Americans polled didn’t personally know a single Muslim.

Jenn Hardy’s positive experience with a daycare run by Muslim woman who wears a face veil dramatically transformed her views.

‘What if my daughter is afraid of her?’

I used to glare at niqab-wearing women on the street, but then I opened my heart and mind – to a wonderful daycare provider

By Jenn Hardy, Freelance – Montreal Gazette

Not too long ago, if I saw a woman walking down the street with her face covered by a niqab, I would feel it was my duty to glare. As a non-religious feminist, I had decided that a woman who covers her face is oppressed – that she is uneducated, and that her husband is making her cover up because he’s crazy and/or jealous.

OK, I’m exaggerating a little, but you get the point.

And yet until two months ago, I didn’t even really know a single Muslim. I went to high school in an Ottawa suburb, where I was baptized a Catholic so that I could qualify for schooling in the Catholic school system, which was considered better than the more open public system.

We had one year of religious education that gave us a glimpse of world religions. But I’m pretty sure my education about Islam came mainly from CNN, or Fox. I went to university in a small town in Ontario. I didn’t meet any Muslims there, either.

My real education about Islam came very recently, courtesy of a Montreal daycare.

Last December, I was seeking daycare for my daughter. At only 10 months old, she was still very dependent on her parents, and we wanted to find a place that would nurture her – rock her to sleep if need be, warm up my expressed breast milk and even be open to using our cloth diapers.

I punched our address into the magarderie.ca database, and the first one that came up was a 30-second walk from where we would be moving in a matter of weeks. The daycare provider, Sophie, had outlined her views on discipline, praise, healthy foods and the child-centred approach of Montessori. She was someone I felt I could get along with.

I phoned her and we talked for an hour, laughing and chatting and eventually deciding on a time to meet. She shared a great many of the values that my partner and I do. She was also highly educated, trained as a civil engineer.

Before we said goodbye, she added, “Oh, just so you know, I’m Muslim.”

I said I didn’t care, because I didn’t.

She assured me that her daycare didn’t teach religion. Cool.

But then she told me that when she’s in public, she covers her face.

She said the last time she didn’t warn a family over the phone that she wears the niqab, they walked into the meeting and then walked straight out.

I said I didn’t care, but when we got off the phone, I realized I did care. The first thing I thought was, “What if my daughter is afraid of her?”

My family drove over to meet Sophie, her husband and son.

She came to the door, dressed in black from head to toe.

It was the first time I had been in the same room as a woman wearing the niqab.

I felt nervous. But my daughter didn’t flinch.

The daycare was cozy; most of the toys were made of natural materials. There were lots of books, a reading corner and a birdwatching area. Books on Montessori activities lined the shelves. Nothing was battery-operated; there was no television.

It was perfect.

We spoke for a bit, all together in the room before Sophie’s husband put a hand on my fiancé’s back and they went downstairs to see the other half of the daycare. Once the guys left, Sophie took off the niqab.

I could feel my heart and my mind open at that very moment.

My daughter has been going to this daycare for more than two months now, and we are very happy with the care she is given.

When they are inside with the children, the daycare providers (the majority of whom are Muslim) are mostly dressed in plain clothes – jeans and a sweater, long hair pulled back in a loose ponytail. These women do not cover their faces in the presence of children, women or close family.

My daughter isn’t afraid of any of the women who take care of her, whether they have their faces covered or not. On the contrary, she reaches out to them for a hug every morning. To my daughter, the women who work at the daycare are simply the women who hold her when she’s sad, wipe blueberries off her face, clean her snotty nose and change her cloth diapers.

My daughter isn’t growing up with the same ideas about Muslim women that I did.

I’m glad she’s learning something in daycare.

So am I.

JENN HARDY is a freelance journalist and blogger who challenges mainstream parenting at mamanaturale.ca.

Read more: http://www.montrealgazette.com/What+daughter+afraid/6190977/story.html#ixzz1nJoVJAJs

France: The Latest Legal Assault on Hijab

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 16, 2012 by loonwatch
French Hijabi
French women protest discriminatory laws

France was the first European country to publicly ban the face veil, an “offense” that carries a fine of 150 euros and a compulsory citizenship course. If passed, a new law will force Muslim women in the childcare sector who wear hijab to choose between observing their faith and keeping their jobs.

French draft law aims to ban hijab for child minders

by Bob Pitt, Islamphobia Watch

The controversy surrounding the Islamic headscarf in France is making headlines again as the French National Assembly studies a draft law that will ban religious symbols in all facilities catering for children, including nannies and childcare assistants looking after children at home.

The draft law was approved by the French Senate with a large majority on Jan. 17 and it was sent to the National Assembly to be ratified before being signed it into law by the president.

“Unless otherwise specified in a contract with the individual employer, a childcare assistant is subject to an obligation of neutrality in religious matters in the course of childcare activity,” reads the text of the draft law introduced by Françoise Laborde, a senator from the Radical Party of the Left.

“Parents have the right to want a nanny who is neutral from a religious perspective,” the left-wing senator was quoted as saying by ANSAmed news agency.

Critics of the draft law say Laborde is targeting Muslim nannies and childcare assistants.

The senator said that she was “encouraged to act” after a private nursery, Baby Loup, fired an employee who refused to remove her Islamic headscarf. In Oct. 27, 2011, the appeals court in Versailles upheld the decision to expel the employee as lawful.

“The recent ruling of the Court of Appeal of Versailles in favor of Baby Loup is in the right direction, and I hope that this case is translated into law,” Laborde said in December 20011.

Djamila, a childcare assistant, told Rue89 French website it is “absolutely not her role” to speak of religion with kids. “We look after children of younger three years. Can you you tell me what can they understand at that age?”

An analyst in secularism, Jean Baubérot, wrote in a blog posted on the website Mediapart, that he was outraged by the brandishing of secularism in what he described was a law discriminatory against Muslims.

He accused the ruling Union for Popular Movement and the interior minister Claude Guéant of having torn secularism’s principle of “religious freedom” by reviving links between religion and the state while at same time cracking down on individuals’ links with religion.

Altercation at New York amusement park after Muslim women banned from rides for wearing headscarves

Posted in Loon Violence, Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on September 1, 2011 by loonwatch

(Via Islamophobia-Watch.com)

Altercation at New York amusement park after Muslim women banned from rides for wearing headscarves

A New York amusement park was temporarily shut down Tuesday after a large-scale altercation erupted between Muslim patrons and park rangers over a disagreement on headgear rules.

Muslim women in a tour group at Rye Playland in Westchester County were reportedly denied access to several rides because they were wearing hijabs – their traditional headscarves, MyFoxNY reports.

“Our headgear policy is designed to protect the safety of patrons and safety is our first concern,” said Deputy Parks Commissioner Peter Tartaglia. “This policy was repeatedly articulated to the tour operator, but unfortunately the message did not reach some of the members of his group.”

The altercation began when park officials offered refunds and members of the Muslim group got in a scuffle, Tartaglia told The Journal News. Two park rangers were injured when they jumped in to break it up, he said, and were taken to local hospitals.

Dozens of police vehicles from nine agencies then rushed to the park, where officers arrested 15 people – mostly for disorderly conduct, authorities said. The disturbance involved around 30 to 40 people.

All other visitors were not allowed into the park between 4 and 6 p.m. ET, with exit ramps from I-95 closed as well.

The tour group – the Muslim American Society of New York – was at the park to celebrate Eid-ul-Fitr, an Islamic holiday that marks the end of Ramadan, MyFoxNY reports.

“Everybody got mad, everybody got upset,” Amr Khater, a Brooklyn resident, told The Journal News. “It’s our holiday. Why would you do this to us?” Khater said park rangers notified him of the headgear rules upon arrival.

Fox News, 30 August 2011

The Journal News reports: “Lola Ali, 16, of Astoria said she witnessed a group of girls and women wearing hijabs go to park security to confront them about the headgear issue. She said the women were upset and yelling. She said the security officers started pushing them away and the girls stood their ground, at which point the security officers grabbed them, pushed them to the ground and handcuffed them. Men within the park saw this and tried to intervene, Ali said, and the situation went downhill from there. ‘They were beating down the girls, then they started beating down the guys,’ she said of the security officers.”

Muslim Woman Assaulted in an Alleged Hate Crime in New York, Civil Rights Violation Lawyer Investigates

Posted in Loon Violence with tags , , , , , , , , on July 18, 2011 by loonwatch

(via. Islamophobia-Today)

Muslim Woman Assaulted in an Alleged Hate Crime in New York, Civil Rights Violation Lawyer Investigates

By: The Perecman Firm

New York civil rights lawyer David Perecman comments on allegations of an possible attack on a burka-wearing woman in Harlem. New York City police are investigating whether the attack was a hate crime.

Aissatou Diallo claims that two women, one back and one white, attacked her as she was walking in Harlem. She said she was called a “f–king terrorist” and punched after she asked one of the women to stop taking pictures of her. The pair allegedly then ran off only to return and throw Diallo to the floor, pull off her burka and curse at her.

Both women who allegedly attacked Diallo have been arrested on assault charges. NYPD hate crime detectives are investigating whether the crime was a bias attack.

In New York, civil rights violation lawyers understand that being charged with a hate crime can increase the severity of an assault or battery charge.

“Being charged for a hate crime can make a rotten situation even worse for someone arrested in New York,” civil rights violation lawyer Perecman said.

New York civil rights violation lawyer Perecman is the founder of The Perecman Firm, one of New York’s civil rights violation law firms.

Original post: Muslim Woman Assaulted in an Alleged Hate Crime in New York, Civil Rights Violation Lawyer Investigates

Open Letter to President Obama from a Muslim Family

Posted in Anti-Loons with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 20, 2011 by loonwatch

A good piece from Kari Ansari.

Open Letter to President Obama from a Muslim Family

Dear President Barack Obama,

Along with many American Muslims, my family and I listened to your speech today on the Middle East and North Africa. While I appreciate your encouraging statements to the people of the Muslim world — particularly to those who are currently fighting for dignity and civil rights in their own lands — I also couldn’t help feeling that many Americans are not setting the example of which you spoke when it comes to our own Muslim citizens.

Currently, 20 states have introduced anti-Muslim legislation, with more pending. Some of our country’s lawmakers and politicians have made very bigoted inflammatory comments about Muslims and Islam. Very recently, Tennessee, under extreme pressure, rewrote a bill that would have made it a crime punishable by 15 years in prison for Muslims to worship together in groups of two or more. Organized groups are staging hate rallies against Muslims building houses of worship around the country. Local municipalities are playing the zoning game by zoning Islamic schools and mosques out of the community. Mosque playgrounds are being torched. Muslim family homesproperty, and mosques are being vandalized. Children are being bullied and harassed because they are Muslim. Shockingly, last week the Editor of the Gainesville Times in Florida published a letter that called for the expulsion of all Muslims from America. Recently, several Muslim clerics, and also a young Muslim woman were pulled off airplanes for no other reason other than they were dressed in recognizable Muslim attire. This is all being seen through the modern technology’s “window into the wider world” that you mentioned in your speech, but like all windows, you can also look from the world outside and see what’s happening inside.

What does it say to the world when our President speaks about rights for people in the Muslim world that “include free speech; the freedom of peaceful assembly; freedom of religion” when our own people are being hindered from building mosques, and schools, and our right to worship freely is even being threatened?

Mr. President, Muslims in America know that you do not stand with this kind of bigotry and hatred. During your announcement of the killing of Osama bin Laden you said,

As we do, we must also reaffirm that the United States is not — and never will be — at war with Islam. I’ve made clear, just as President Bush did shortly after 9/11, that our war is not against Islam.

We appreciated this statement, however, judging by the uptick in anti-Muslim incidents since the death of bin Laden, the words weren’t enough to resonate with those in America who feel threatened by their Muslim neighbors.

Mr. President, Muslims need your leadership, your strong voice, and your support in this regard. You are a friend to the world’s Muslims, especially those fighting for their freedom, but Muslims need your friendship here on our own soil. Anti-Islam bigotry is getting worse in America — not better.

In our home, we love and respect you as our President; will you show us the same love and respect as a patriotic American family by speaking out strongly against this growing trend of anti-Muslim bigotry?

Follow Kari Ansari on Twitter: www.twitter.com/KariAnsari