Thursday, October 25, 2007

The Guardian: Missing the Point

The following originally appeared at the blog FreeWriters.

Browsing the Guardian's web site earlier this week, I came across a picture of four hijabis*. I don’t know what it is about me, but as soon as I see a veil / headscarf / bearded bro / muslimah / anything related to Islam / Muslims - I can’t help but click on the link. Often, I am faced with another damning article about how unjust Islam is as a religion; but this article wasn’t so much damning, as it was pointless. The article, written by one Fadia Faqir was about a feud that took place between her and her father twenty-three years ago. The clash was as a result of her refusal to wear the veil.

Is it me or has the media become obsessed with telling a tale about how much young Muslim women suffer because of the veil? Every community has their troubles, but by concentrating on this issue yet again the media blinds itself with a fallacy that somehow Islam condones the forcing of the veil - it does not. While I recognise that there is a problem in the Muslim community surrounding the veil (wear it / don’t wear it), I don’t think this article had any purpose behind it whatsoever. There are instances where Muslims are unable to practice their religion as they see fit, because it is socially unacceptable, but then no one really focuses on that story - because in the end, dirt sells. And what could be more interesting than getting your hands muddy in the apparent grim, dark waters of Islam? The issue of being forced to do anything should be tackled by acknowledging the root cause of that problem - and in this case, what Fadiq experienced was a cultural problem and not a religious one. Forgive my whiny approach to this, but I could not see the purpose of this article.

Fadiq Faqir seems to have told the wrong story - I was more intrigued by the fact that she got divorced at the age of 28 and lost access to her son. I mean surely there is a lesson in that for every woman? By telling the story of yet another “free” ex-hijabi Fadia Faqir has limited her article to an audience concerned with (or not) veiling women. She has done nothing for the plight of Muslim women who are actually struggling against an injustice or for those women who are a champion of their own success (irrespective of religion). It is a shame to have read such a pointless and insignificant story this week, and that too in the Guardian.

Hijab = From the root word “hajaba” meaning partition or screening. It is often referred to as the headscarf commonly worn by Muslim women.

P.S. Remember to wear a pink scarf tomorrow to raise awareness for breast cancer!