The Latest on the Headscarf “Situation” in Switzerland

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The Swiss federal government gives a lot of leeway to cantons, cities and even schools and professional associations (for those of you who remember the Sura al Shawk case, where the original decision of basketball association, Probasket, was allowed to stand by the courts) to decide their hijab policies on a case-by-case basis.So despite having a nationwide minaret ban (which isn't as much about Islam as it appears on the surface), unlike in France, there is no national headscarf "law" in … [Read more...]

Stability and Sustainability: Interview with Dr Hawa Abdi

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It is a calm and cool afternoon in Nairobi, Kenya, when I catch up with Dr Hawa Abdi over Skype. After working hard in Mogadishu’s difficult circumstances with her two physician daughters Deqo and Amina Mohamed, she sometimes comes to Nairobi to rest and relax. Speaking over a passable internet connection, our conversation is peppered with silences, as our words travel between Kenya and Singapore. 68 year-old Dr Abdi, affectionately known by Somalis as Mama Hawa, is more than Somalia’s first gyn … [Read more...]

Dear Muslim Leaders: I am a Convert not an “Extremist”

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  A few months ago I was applying for a job when I was suddenly required to attend an in-person interview with a member of the intelligence services. I was interviewed by a white male, who very politely went on to ask me questions for the next two hours. The most puzzling part of the interview though was that I suddenly saw my life through a very gendered lens.I was asked about my conversion to Islam and whether or not a “boyfriend” had tried to recruit me for the purposes o … [Read more...]

TED Talks and Superheroes: New Representations of Muslim Women

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I have a friend who is obsessed with TED Talks, and who recently sent me link to this TEDx Talk with the title “I am a mad Arabian woman.” I rolled my eyes a little. Anything with the word “Arabian” (when its not followed by the word “horse”) makes me roll my eyes. But then, this was the same person who had sent me the video of Palestinian-American stand-up comic Maysoon Zayid’s talk “I got 99 problems... palsy is just one,” which (although Zayid makes a point of saying “I’m not inspirational”) I … [Read more...]

One Muslim’s furry initiative gets Malaysian religious authorities hot under the collar

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Previously published on the author's personal blog.A few days ago, my husband killed a small mouse which had been living in our kitchen for some time (possibly a year, if it's the same one). He meant to trap it and release it but in a moment of panic he killed it (while apologising to it and that's why I married this dude). After the trauma of having experienced the senseless killing of an innocent animal, I lay in bed thinking about why I had such an irrational reaction to seeing the … [Read more...]

No Culture for Niqabis

Part of the infographic produced by Libération.

The French "niqab" ban (burqa ban, whatever ban…call it what you will) of October 2010 has not faded away from the public consciousness in France at all. What I had originally hoped was just right-wing propaganda has turned out to be, since its entry into force in April 2011, part and parcel of a unique French interpretation of democracy and a revisionist version of French secularism, or laïcité. What started as laïcité was a series of what were originally anti-Catholic laws in 1882 and 1905, whi … [Read more...]

5 Reasons Why Media Coverage of ‘Latina’ Converts Does Not Represent Me

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This is not the first time I have discussed media coverage of ‘Latin’ Converts to Islam. In fact, I have written about how they are depicted in terms of their relationships, the ways in which Indigenous converts from Latin America puzzle the media, and how ‘Latina’ women are said to be the new face of Islam. The issue continues to be relevant today as coverage of ‘Latin’ converts is still prevalent. Now, let’s be honest. Articles written about ‘Latin,’ ‘Hispanic’ or Indigenous converts (often use … [Read more...]


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