Yesterday, the British Parliament debated the ban of a garment, something that the British Parliament had not discussed since Victorian times. This time it was not the length of skirts or sleeves that the honorable parliamentarians addressed, but rather the well known (but rarely seen in western cities) burqa; banned in France, threatened in the rest of Europe, and now also under threat in the UK.
As other attempts, however, yesterday’s debate failed in imposing a burqa ban in the UK, and as the minister confirmed, Great Britain will not follow France.
The burqa is not an Islamic fashion per-se, but rather a tradition not opposed by Islamic teaching, which is probably the best way to present it. Covering the face, and in particular the mouth, has a geographical and environmental genealogy (such as the protection of skin and eyes from the dust and sand of, for instance, the Afghan desert). If such a garment is anything in Islam, it is a scholarly theological diatribe, with some sheikhs ready to wrap a baby in it, and others stating that it is not Islamic dress per-se. Continue reading
Posted in anthropology, Australia, BBC, democracy, Democracy and Justice, Ethics, Ethnic Minorities, Europe, Fashion, Freedom, Gender, Immigration, Islam, Islam in Europe, Islamophobia, Journalism, Muslim family, Muslims, Neocon, Politics, Religion, Research, sociology, Uk government
- Tagged Australia, burka, cloth, controversial, dress, France, Freedom, Human Rights, Muslim women, Parlament, Religion, The UK
As director, I am pleased to inform you that today the website for the Study Contemporary Muslim Lives Research Hub at Macquarie University was officially launched.
Study Contemporary Muslim Lives (SCML) is a research hub based within the Department of Anthropology at Macquarie University. It undertakes research on social, cultural and political aspects of contemporary Muslim communities and societies and is committed to the advancement of social scientific understandings of Muslim lives in different social and geographical contexts through excellent empirical research, scholarly publications, and active postgraduate programs.
SCML also has, among other activities, a Visiting Scholar Program. SCML welcomes applications from academics who want to carry out research as visiting scholars at Macquarie University. Visitors participate in and enrich the research-intensive and vibrant communal life of the Research Hub, which is part of the Department of Anthropology. Continue reading
Posted in Academia, anthropology, Australia, CyberOrient, democracy, Democracy and Justice, Ethnic Minorities, Europe, Freedom, Gender, Immigration, India, Iran, Iraq, Islam, Islam and Christianity, Islam in Europe, Islamo Fascism, Islamophobia, Israel, Israel/Palestine, jihad, Lebanon, Malaysia, marranci, Middle East, Muslims, Politics, Religion, Research, sociology, South Asia, Southeast Asia, University
- Tagged Macquarie University, research hub, Study Contemporary Muslim Lives, Visiting Scholar
During my 3 years of research in Singapore, as part of a wider research on Malay youth in Singapore, I studied the social identity formation of Malay teen Muslim girls from socially and economically disadvantaged families. Methodologically, not only have I conducted in-depth interviews but also, thanks to organizations such as Clubilya, 4PM and Petrapis, had the opportunity to engage in participant observation of several group activities involving these girls. Facebook has furthermore provided a level of access that years before would have been imaginable to an anthropologist studying youth. Continue reading
Posted in Academia, anthropology, Ethnic Minorities, Gender, Islam, Muslim family, Muslims, Politics, Singapore, sociology, Southeast Asia
- Tagged discrimination, Malay girls, Malay teens, racism, stereotypes, youth
That body is of 14-year-old Bangladeshi girl, Hena Akhter. Her story has distracted the western mass media from the still very confused situation in Libya. Hena Akhter was sentenced to receive 101 lashes to be delivered with extreme force after a village court implemented the fatwa of the local imam, whom decided that she had committed fornication with her much older married cousin. She died a week later from the injuries. The story is a script seen too many times in rural Bangladesh, at least since 1991 when Bangladeshi villages increased these extra-juridical sentences (Riaz 2005). Continue reading
Posted in anthropology, Gender, Islam, Muslim family, Muslims, Politics, Research, sociology, South Asia, Sunni
- Tagged Bangladesh, Fatwa, Hena Akhter, radicalism, salish, village
When I checked the news today, the horrific picture– selected by Time as a front-cover–of Aisha’s face, an 18-year-old Afghan woman whom was sentenced by the Taliban to have her nose and ears cut off for fleeing her abusive in-laws greeted me. International newspapers reported the news and the picture is now one of those icons of Afghanistan, which, interestingly enough, are often released in an apparent attempt to provide an ethical dimension to a war (particularly after Wikileaks leaked the massive documentation on the Afghan war) which is increasingly difficult to justify. Indeed, I am sure that many will remember the National Geographic split cover image that contained two photos of Sharbat Gula, the first having been taken at the time of the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan and the second at the end of the Taliban regime. While in the first picture she is a beautiful young girl with intense green eyes and her hair gently covered by a burgundy scarf, in the second she lifts the oppressive burqa to reveal a hardship-worn face that has been marked, as the article explains, by life under the Taliban. Continue reading
Posted in Academia, Afghanistan, America, anthropology, democracy, Democracy and Justice, Ethics, Freedom, Gender, Islam, jihad, Muslims, Neocon, Politics, Refugees, Religion, sociology, Terrorism, The UK, War, War on Terror
- Tagged Aisha’s face, Christianity, civilians, liberal, National Geographic, Pashtun, Pashtunwali, Talal Asad, Taliban, The Time, the US, West, Wikileaks
The year 2010 appears to be marked by the ‘war on burqas’ (the Switzerland minarets being an exception). While Belgium has formally moved to ban niqabs and burqas, Italy used regional laws to fine Muslim women using niqabs, and Quebec has imposed a ban for anyone wearing one to enter government places, including hospital and casualty departments (see this article for more information). The majority of European nations, such as France, are still debating the matter. Both politicians and experts recognize that the number of people who wear a face veil (click here to avoid any confusion about them as often happens) on European streets are very few, and in Belgium they are even less than fifty. It would not be so unimaginable to suggest–even starting from my own observations–that today in the west there are more Muslim women wearing miniskirts than face veils.
Posted in Afghanistan, America, anthropology, Censorship, democracy, Democracy and Justice, Ethnic Minorities, Europe, Fashion, Freedom, Gender, Immigration, Islam, Islam in Europe, Islamophobia, Italy, Journalism, Muslims, Politics, Religion, Research, sociology, The UK, War on Terror
- Tagged Belgium, Burqa, Civilization, face veil, France, hijab, ideology, liberal, Muslim women, Niqab, Quebec, veil
While in London in 2000, I met an Afghan man, in full Pasthun Afghan attire, who proudly told me that he was a Taliban. During the cold war, the Taliban were, for the UK and US, the heroic mujahidin who fought the Red Devil, the atheist communist USSR. Some, during the 1980s, were welcomed to the west to escape persecution or recruit volunteers for their training camps, which were US and UK supported.The man in London claimed to be among those who reached the UK in the 1980s. When we met, the Taliban had established their Islamic republic and, following their own version of Shariah, implemented one of the most (albeit contradictory and corrupt) brutal regimes that Muslim countries had ever known. Continue reading