News Briefs: Week of September 27, 2010

The “Niqabitches” take to Parisian streets in veils and hot pants, three British Islamic schools make the burqa a mandatory school uniform, and an openly gay Imam speaks in London on Islam, Gender and Sexuality.
Three British Islamic schools have introduced uniform policies which make wearing the burqa mandatory, reports the Telegraph. All three are private girls schools for students aged 11 to 18. Critics are concerned that the spectacle of crowds of burka-clad students entering and leaving the schools could damage relations between Muslim and non-Muslim communities. Prominent Muslim leaders in the UK have heavily criticized the schools’ policy saying it sets a “dangerous precedent.” The admissions application form for one of the schools warns that girls who do not properly follow the dress code will be “appropriately punished,” and its website states, “if parents are approached by the Education Department regarding their child’s education, they should not disclose any information without discussing it with the committee.” The website for another school warns: “Students must not cut their hair, nor remove hair from between their eyebrows. Doing so will lead to suspention (sic).”

An openly gay imam and activist, Daayiee Abdullah, spoke on Islam, Gender and Sexuality this past Sunday at Meco, the Muslim Education Centre of Oxford. Meco has been known to attract criticism from conservative British Muslims for its unorthodox lecture topics and positions including the center’s support of European moves to ban the Burqa, reports the Oxford Mail. Imam Abdullah, 56, was born into a Southern U.S. Baptist family, embraced his identity as a homosexual man at the age of 15, and converted to Islam in his thirties. He is a leading advocate for gender equity and sexual tolerance within the Muslim community.

Two anonymous French women, one of them Muslim, caused a stir on the streets of Paris while dressed in niqabs and mini-shorts, reports the Montreal Gazette. Calling themselves “Niqabitches,” the duo said the act was a tongue-in-cheek way of criticizing France’s niqab ban, which they consider “clearly unconstitutional.” The Niqabitches, a pair of political science and communication students in their twenties, are becoming an internet sensation on youtube and twitter.

Shazia Riaz is Events and Publicity Editor for Altmuslimah.

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