Marilyn Monroe in a Burqa: Commentary or Cliché?

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Walking home recently, I rounded the corner from my apartment and noticed a poster that was banal and startling at the same time. I had previously written about the (mis)use of images of Muslim-looking women by Dutch non-profit organisations as an attention-grabbing device, which may or may not be related to the actual work being promoted. Here was another prime example: a film festival poster showing a pair of female legs and high heels peeking out under a blue burqa, blown about above a vent à … [Read more...]

Entrenching Stigma: Malaysia’s Cross-Dressing Law

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2013 ended with another decision, somewhere in the world, to entrench the persecution and ostracisation of a minority group. I'm referring to a new syariah law introduced by the Pahang Islamic Religious and Malay Customs Council (MUIP) in early December 2013, which would imprison for a maximum of one year or fine up to RM1000 (USD 304) a man who dresses like a woman, or a woman who dresses like a man.The deputy director of the Pahang Islamic Religious Department (JAIP) added that the ruling … [Read more...]

Use a “Muslim Woman”: Reasserting Dutch Values 101

Source: Hivos.

A few weeks ago, I went to a small, local cinema in my city to catch a film. I’ve always liked going to this particular cinema because they screen international and independent films – a fresh change from the standard Hollywood fare at the bigger cinema.The film was about to start, so I quickly ducked into the ladies’. After I washed my hands, imagine my shock at seeing the following poster pasted behind the door:The text on the poster says (in Dutch): “This woman is a symbol for all … [Read more...]

Tudung or Not Tudung?: Hijabis in Singaporean Workplaces

Facebook image created by anonymous artist to show solidarity with Singaporean Muslim women. Source. LINK TO BE ADDED.

In Singapore, the hijab is more commonly referred to with the Malay word ‘tudung’, which simply means a covering. In October this year, a petition was started on Avaaz.org by a "Syafiqah K." to allow Muslim women in Singapore to wear tudung (hijab) in the workplace. It aimed to reach 20,000 signatures, but was closed down recently with about 7600 signatures short of its goal. It was originally planned to be sent to several figures in the government.As of today, the Singapore government has wh … [Read more...]

Little Hijabis: To Wear or Not to Wear?

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Recently, a series of online shopping sites were brought to my attention: at first glance, they seemed to be the garden-variety online hijab shops. Some even had blanked-out faces – again, nothing that I hadn’t seen before. However upon a closer inspection, I noticed that the hijabi models on the website were smaller than usual – they were little girls.My immediate reaction was that of uneasiness. Even though in Singapore where I grew up, it is common for parents to dress their pre-pubescent … [Read more...]

Budding Bedfellows: Islamists and Feminists against Beauty Pageants

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This last week has seen protests in Jakarta, Medan, Surabaya and Jogjakarta over the Miss World 2013 beauty pageant to be held in the next few weeks. Recently, I wrote a post about a similar debate in Malaysia where their Muslim participants were eventually dropped. The Miss World 2013 protests numbered in the thousands and were made up of members of small Islamist organizations such as the Front Pembela Islam (Islamic Defenders Front or FPI)  on the island of Java, and Muslimah Hizbut Tahrir … [Read more...]

Miss Malaysia – Not for Muslims?

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Beauty pageants have gotten a bad rap over the years for objectifying women by putting them on parade and privileging their looks over their personality or brains. Some pageants have actively tried to change this idea, by including a talent segment, and making charity work an increasingly bigger part of the winners’ duties. One such pageant for Muslim women was the 2011 Indonesian Muslimah Beauty competition, which emphasised women who "don hijab, have Internet and technology capabilities, Q … [Read more...]


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