Click actuality to see a accelerate appearance about Muslim awning girls.
MORGANTOWN, W.Va.—British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi, both of whom accept afresh announced out adjoin full-face veils, accept an accessory in me, an American-Muslim woman who believes that Islam does not crave women to veil—or alike to abrasion a arch scarf.
I aloof ambition I acquainted accurate by the image-makers of the West, who assume to accept a blind fetish. They are accomplishing the exact adverse of what the European politicians suggest: They’re arty the blind on women. I about able the aforementioned fate myself.
Publishing houses, art directors, and photo agencies are more application banal photos of (supposedly) Muslim babes with acute kohl-lined eyes affected by the aphotic niqab—the atramentous close advantaged by abstemious Islamic ideology—to advertise books about the Islamic world.
A Google chase for “Muslim woman” and “stock photo” reveals the deluge of buried images into which the West’s artistic admiral can dip. In the cyberbanking database of photo behemothic Corbis, a chase on the appellation “Muslim woman” after-effects in 3,302 shots of mostly buried and covered women in assorted acts of gazing, driving, working, weeping, voting, praying, and shooting. Among the aboriginal 100 Corbis “Muslim woman” photos, 26 awning their beard and blind their faces, 71 awning their hair, and a bald three do neither. This does not reflect the absolute world, in which an estimated bisected of Muslim women don’t cover. This arrangement was again at the added banal agencies I researched. Ross Sutherland, arch artistic administrator at Corbis, acknowledges that the angel of a buried woman can accept abrogating connotations. “They’re affectionate of like coffer robbers. They’re threatening.” Add a “come hither” look, he says, and the angel says, “Hey, big boy.” Sutherland says the angel of a buried woman is “Western apologue for behavior and cultures we don’t understand.” He adds, “It hasn’t yet been demystified.”
“Veils in the 21st aeon are a brainy adjustment to arresting ‘Muslim woman’—like afros in the ’70s were acclimated to arresting ‘black power.’ We aloof adulation to use symbols to average ‘the other,’ ” says Nancy Snow, a academic of advertising at Cal State Fullerton. Mohja Kahf, the Muslim-American columnist of Western Representations of the Muslim Woman, says the angel armament Muslim women into “a Victim or Escapee package.”
Book publishers assume to be the affliction offenders. And, ironically, buried women are generally acclimated to advance books by and about women who adios the niqab. Arab-American biographer Susan Muaddi Darraj protested back Praeger Publishers slapped the angel of alarming eyes affected by a atramentous blind (with minarets abnormally ascent out of the veil’s blackness) on the awning of Scheherazade’s Legacy, an album she edited of writings by Arab and Arab-American women, best of whom are Christian. “I was not blessed with it—it seemed about acerb accustomed the agreeable and the ambit of the book itself,” says Darraj. “However, the administrator seemed to appearance no absorption in my perspective. … The awning was ‘finished,’ from their point of view.”
In my besom with the veil, I accept to accept that I covered up my accurate self. This is my mea culpa.
In a book I wrote afterwards accomplishing the crusade to Mecca in 2003, I argued that Islam doesn’t crave women to cover. Chapter 33, Verse 59 of the Quran states: “O Prophet! Tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers to draw their cloaks over their bodies.” Saudi translators accept added parenthetical phrases into the Quran arise by their government, blame a abstemious Wahhabi interpretation: “[D]raw their cloaks (veils) all over their bodies (i.e., awning themselves absolutely except the eyes or one eye to see the way).” So, brainstorm my abruptness back I saw one of the aboriginal designs for the book anorak of Standing Alone in Mecca: An American Woman’s Struggle for the Soul of Islam. Above the appellation was a woman’s head, mostly covered with a white scarf.
That’s how I came to be in the backroom of a bounded photo flat the summer afore the book’s publication, amidst by Little League pictures, adjusting, of all things, a abounding white affection scarf, aggravating to carbon the awning design, so that alone my eyes would be visible. Jackson Lynch, a columnist acquaintance from New York, stood on a ladder to elongate my contrarily baby anatomy for the photos. “Perfect,” he said, as I got the bandage to anatomy my eyes aloof right. I attempt added pictures with the bandage slipped bottomward so it would anatomy alone my face.
I didn’t like my buried angel for artful and brainy reasons—I looked scary, and the canon abaft the blind of women is alarming to me. I explained to my accommodating editor at HarperSanFrancisco that while women from Afghanistan to Egypt awning their faces in the name of Islam, the best abstemious analyst of Islamic law in the world—the Wahhabist government of Saudi Arabia—says women cannot do the crusade to Mecca with their faces covered. In a army headed to the angelic abbey one afternoon during the hajj, I had been addled by a woman scurrying beside a man who was cutting the atramentous turban that’s become a attribute of the Taliban. She looked like so abounding of the women I had met in the North-west Frontier arena of Pakistan, but with a apparent difference: Her face was bare. At home, the women of that allotment of the apple absolutely blind their faces in public.
“For Westerners, the buried woman is mysterious. We don’t apperceive what to do with her. We were aggravating to re-create the mystery,” explained my publisher, Mark Tauber (who I achievement will still be my administrator afterwards this adventure runs). My publishing abode relented, advised an acting awning with the angel of a buried bairn from Getty Images’ banal files, but then, afterwards the archetypal columnist whining, acclimatized on an angel of me with my white bandage over my beard (but not my face) for the final hardback cover. The photograph captured me aloof as I had looked on the crusade to Mecca, but as I catholic about on my book tour, my publishing abode and I came to apprehend that it didn’t represent me as I am in the world.
Except for a few beginning runs and adoration at the mosque, I’ve never covered my hair. My mother grew up in India in the 1950s and aboriginal ’60s cutting a acceptable atramentous burqa. In fact, her ancestors wouldn’t acquiesce girls to go to academy afterwards she dared to abolish it in her Mumbai women’s college. (The disciplinarian ratted her out.) Afterwards graduating, she was bound set up in an abiding marriage. Back she accustomed in Hyderabad with my father, her new mother-in-law greeted her at the alternation station. My bold grandmother broken off my mother’s blind appropriate there on the platform. “I acquainted naked,” says my mother, but she never chose to acknowledgment to the veil.
To my publisher’s credit, the album copy of my book acclimated a photo that resembles me as I arise on the streets: unveiled, my beard aerial in the wind. It was attempt at the bend of Amsterdam and 111th Street in New York by a appearance photographer. Aloof as Tony Blair alleged the blind “a mark of separation,” Tauber says, “We absitively for the album that the bandage was a barrier to the accurate clairvoyant for the book.” For approaching titles, he keeps his options open, saying, “It depends on the book.” But one affair is bright about the veil, he says: “It’s a annoyed device.”
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