The Headwrap Expo: Shifting the Conversation

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On June 8th, the 2014 Headwrap Expowas held in Dearborn, Michigan, billed as an event on “the art of headwrapping and scarf styling,” bringing together fashion, culture and interfaith dialogue.The event was presented by Beautifully Wrapped, an organization celebrating the art of headwrapping. According to Zarinah El-Amin Naeem, founder of Beautifully Wrapped, The Headwrap Expo is intended to celebrate “fusion — looking at how different cultural aspects, different things that people wear in di … [Read more...]

The Countdown to the Jaafari Law Decision

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On April 30th the Jaafari Personal Status Law will be voted on in the Iraqi Parliament. The Jaafari Law, as it's being referred to, has been controversial because it would enable Shia men to marry girls as young as 9 years old. Whereas the legal age for marriage in Iraq is 18 years of age, the Jaafari Law does not state an age limit for marriage, but spells out the divorce conditions for girls who have reached the age of 9. This piece of legislation, nonetheless, would also legalize marital rape … [Read more...]

How Not to Discuss Sexual Violence against Third World Women

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Last week I was invited to the Dutch embassy to celebrate the launching of the Nobel Women’s Initiative’s report on sexual violence against women in Sudan. The report is titled “Survivors Speak Out: Sexual Violence in Sudan,” and it is meant to address the situation of “mass rape” and other forms of sexual violence against Sudanese women of all religious, ethnic and cultural backgrounds.As a Masters student interested in issues of gender and gendered violence, I was quite excited to be on … [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...]

Pride Parades, Hijabs and Muslim Lesbians

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Last Saturday, the city where I live in Western Canada held its annual Pride Parade.This year and against all odds, the first member of my mosque participated in the parade. Sister Sarah (a pseudonym) decided to participate in the parade after years of struggling with reconciling her faith with her sexuality. She decided “to try to blend in” with the rest of the men and women dressed in colourful outfits by wearing a bright yellow hijab tied at the back instead of the front because, desp … [Read more...]

Running for Boston in Jakarta

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The weeks following the Boston bombing have been filled with media reports with all-too-familiar suspicion of Islam and --as Nicole explored in a recent post-- hijab-wearing Muslim women.However, both local and international media largely missed an act of activism from my part of the world that had taken place even before Ann Coulter appeared on TV with her infamous “ought to be in prison for wearing the hijab” comment.A friend of mine, Indonesian blogger Ninit Yunita, is an avid runner w … [Read more...]


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