Muslim Women, Religious Neutrality, and Quebec’s Charter of Values

Women protest against the Charter of Quebec Values. [Source].

The news here in Quebec – and in many other parts of Canada – has been flooded in the past few weeks with stories about the newly-proposed Charter of Quebec Values.  Formally announced on Tuesday, September 10 (although some details had been leaked a couple weeks prior), the charter, if eventually passed as law, would prevent people working in the public sector from wearing “conspicuous religious symbols,” including headscarves, face veils, kippas, turbans, and large crosses.  Framed as a way of … [Read more...]

The Media and the Headscarf: Kosovo Public Schools Edition (not the final episode)

Women in Kosovo protesting against hijab bans in schools. Image via Al Arabiya.

This post was written by guest contributor Asifa Akbar.In the last couple of weeks, reports have surfaced about Kosovo’s supposed ban on the wearing of the headscarf (hijab) by Muslim girls in its public schools. Such reports were reposted on social media and influential blogs; for example, already over 900 people have recommended an online Al Jazeera report entitled “Kosovo orders ban on headscarves in schools.”The latest reports centre on the case of student Njomza Jashari, who was rece … [Read more...]

Recent Good News Out of Switzerland

Girls in headscarves enter a school. Image via RTS.ch.

Courts in the Swiss canton of Thurgau have overturned on appeal the cantonal school district’s decision to forbid two Albanian girls from wearing the headscarf to school.  The story begins in 2011, when two 14-year-old girls were forbidden from wearing their headscarves to classes.  What ensued was a two-year legal battle that saw the school’s decision approved once by the courts, then now overturned. Surprising to me is that the ruling found that a blanket ban on headscarves was dispr … [Read more...]

Re-Engaging with the Other “Liberation Theology”

Hijab

Complete with your standard extreme close-up of a hijab-clad woman confusingly looking at the voyeuristic lens before her, the Guardian’s “Comment is Free” section recently featured a piece by writer Nadiya Takolia, entitled: “The Hijab has Liberated Me From Society's Expectations of Women.”Probably like many readers of this blog, my initial reaction consisted something of a suppressed cough-caught-in-a-groan. … [Read more...]

Learning from Las Tapadas of Yesterday

Western writers have always had a fascination for veiled women. Read any explorers' diaries on their experiences with “exotic” women who cover their hair and their face. But few people realize the parallels between the exotic veiled women of yesteryear and the veiled Muslim women of today.An interesting example of this is found in what is know as "las tapadas Limeñas." Literally meaning "the covered girls from Lima," las tapadas Limeñas walked through the streets of Lima on the nineteen cent … [Read more...]

An Interview with Emma Tarlo, Author of Visibly Muslim

Last week, I reviewed Emma Tarlo's book Visibly Muslim: Fashion, Politics, Faith. This week, I got the chance to speak with her further about the book and her experiences writing it.Sara: Was there any inter-generational tension involving “newer” hijab fashions?Emma Tarlo: With most of the people I interviewed, their mothers did not wear hijab so the parents did not object. In a few cases mothers even adopted hijab following their daughters’ examples. More often, I came across cases where pa … [Read more...]

The Headscarf as Cultural Barometer: Emma Tarlo’s Book on Hijab

In her new book, entitled Visibly Muslim: Fashion, Politics, Faith, Emma Tarlo captures the diversity in the way that Islam is practiced against the backdrop of multi-cultural Britain. Refreshingly, the book did not aim to answer whether or not covering was a part of Islam, and neither did it represent the views of Muslim women as a monolithic body.In her book, Tarlo shows a snapshot of the way in which the veil has manifested itself within the Muslim population of Britain. In focusing on … [Read more...]


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