Covered Up or Not

Islamophobia v Inclusion

You wouldn’t be wrong to think that the UK today, is unquestionably at its most hostile in decades. The political climate is not ‘strong and stable’, with Brexit looming and poverty increasing, anger and scapegoating are rife. The turbulent nature of today’s society, along with more recent terrorist atrocities, has added to the growth in hate crime which is up by 29%. Of these crimes, ethnic minorities and Muslims seem to be the main recipients.

Switzerland is set to hold a referendum next year to prohibit the wearing of full-face veils. If successful they will join the growing list of European countries that over the past 10 years have chosen to exclude, and punish women who choose to wear headscarves or face-coverings from society. Both France and Belgium have introduced blanket bans on the wearing of face-veils in any public place both of which were affirmed by the European Court of Human Rights in 2014 and 2017 respectively. Headscarves haven’t escaped scrutiny either, with schools in the UK, and schools and workplaces in France, being just a couple of examples where veiled women are unwelcome.

In 2016 Germany’s Chancellor, Angela Merkel, endorsed a ban on face veils which she claimed are, “…inappropriate and should be banned wherever it is legally possible.” In the same year, France caused controversy when several seaside towns excluded women wearing burkinis from their beaches.

Some have argued that the bans assist social integration and even defend women’s freedom. How exactly excluding women, and policing their clothing can be construed as integration or as an act, to defend their rights is difficult to determine.

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Women are increasingly fighting back with positivity and inclusion. Furthermore, surprisingly Muslim women are seeing support from the fashion industry. An industry once ruled by a painfully white aesthetic, regurgitating and reinforcing the Eurocentric status-quo, whilst simultaneously cashing in on cultural appropriation, in recent years has seen a marked diversification take place. Icon and bona fide business woman, Rihanna launched her massively successful Fenty Beauty campaign in 2017. She’s had us rejoicing in how she has catered to a wide variety of skin tones, particularly women (and men) with darker skin. Her inclusivity did not stop there. Rihanna, went a step further with her video campaign that not only starred darker skinned women slaying on our screens, but also featured a plus sized model, as well as, hijabi model Halima Aden in her video campaign.

 

Halima has also previously starred in New York Fashion Week for Kanye West’s Yeezy season 5 launch in her hijab.

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Rihanna isn’t the only one. Nike has been working on the Nike Pro Hijab for the past year which they hope to launch early next year. Figure skater Zahra Lari and weightlifter Amna Al Haddad have worked with Nike to develop the product and have publicly expressed their support for the brands willingness to help Muslim women overcome barriers to pursuing sports in comfort.

Not one to be left behind, the UK fashion scene has similarly begun to embrace a more diverse idea of beauty. Hijabi models were in high demand, and highly appreciated at the London Modest Fashion Week 2017, set to return in February 2018.

 

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British model, Mariah Idrissi, also starred in the Swedish multinational company H&M’s campaign for recycled clothes back in 2015 as their first hijab-wearing model.

Embracing hijab wearing women has not been restricted to fashion and beauty. Syrian-American Muslim activist and artist, Mona Haydar, released her single “Hijabi” on the 27th of March, Muslim Women’s Day, and we are so here for it! It stars veiled women of different ethnicities, shades and sizes dancing with Mona, herself pregnant in the video. Her biting lyrics include telling the audience “even if you hate it I still wrap my hijab” and “covered up or not don’t ever take us for granted”. She raps to celebrate Muslim women and says that “The way I practice my religion is mine, it’s not someone else’s.”, when some criticised her decision to celebrate religion through music.

We at JAN Trust support the acceptance and empowerment of all women, whatever they choose to wear and hope that Muslim women will continue to be better represented in all areas of society.

About JAN Trust

JAN Trust (www.jantrust.org) is a multi award winning not for profit organisation formed in the late 1980′s. We are based in London and cater for women and youth from disadvantaged and marginalised communities. Our work and services are delivered locally, nationally and internationally. Our aim is to create positive and active citizens of society by educating, empowering and encouraging women and youth. We are dedicated to the cause of combating poverty, discrimination, abuse and social exclusion among Black, Asian, minority ethnic, refugee and asylum seeking (BAMER) women. JAN Trust is making a real difference in improving the lives of communities; promoting human and women's rights as well as community cohesion. We provide a range of services and our work has been recognised by a variety of dignitaries. Check out our website for statements from some of our supporters: http://www.jantrust.org/what-people-say
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