Monday, April 11, 2011

Wearing a Veil in France = One Year in Jail PLUS $43,000 Fine

This woman who is wearing her traditional clothing called a niqab veil, is being pulled by a police officer

       Here comes Monday morning..People are recoverying from their relaxing and fun weekend, our new day has just started with a beautiful spring sunshine and the ocean breeze here in the West coast, California. BUT! there is one crucial peoblem which is about to go very radical. We are certainly shocked by this article from Yahoo

       Let's face it.
      "France bans face-covering Islamic veil" by Camille Rustici, April 11th, Monday.

         So, what's happening in France today, yep, literally, is that police men are arresting those who are "veiled" in Paris. This woman who is wearing her traditional clothing called a niqab veil, is being pulled by a police officer (in the picture above). Why? It's because they are fighting against the France's new law; banning Muslimic veils.
         The article says that the county police have already sent about 61 people who tried to stop the law from officially banning veils to jail!!
The story goes on;
"It was unclear whether the women were also fined for wearing a veil. The law says veiled women risk a Euro 150 ($215) fine or special citizenship classes, though not jail. People who force women to don a veil are subject to up to a year in prison and a Euro 30,000 fine ($43,000), and possibly twice that if the veiled person is a minor (The France's law)."

         The lists of France's points about their ban of face-covering veils:
-Gender equality(Minister Claude Gueant)
- "It's just a law... the history of France"which people have to accept if living in France (Emmanuel Roux of the police union SCPN).
-"It is illegal to hide the face in the public space.."except motor cycle helmet and special festivals(The law)
-The law of banning veils apply to both tourists and citizens.

        On the other hand, People who wear face-covering veils/head-scarfs have their voice:
-It's "racist (Kenza Drider, who lives in Avignon and wears a niqab)."
-France is where people can wear whatever they want.
-The veil "is a submission to God ( Drider)."
-Against the Human Rights.
          There are about 5 million Muslims in France, and some speak out that wearing their traditional outfits is their own freedom. Moreover, those who wear niqabs, abayas, and any other traditional veils express that the law that forces to take their veils off is against the human rights.

         We talked about the same topic earlier in March, but this article makes us think whether the France is making sense, or Muslim women and those who wear veils in the public have their rights to wear what they choose to wear.

Picture updates, summary by Heidi
Link, summary editing by Yuri
Editing support, organization by Jose

Saturday, April 2, 2011

It's your choice whether you want to cover or not.
--> watch this clip before reading!

Girl A

Girl B
Girl C
<Conversation on the clip>
A: Do you have to wear that dress?
B: You mean my Abaya?
A: Yeah, can't you just cover your head and wear normal clothes?
B: I prefer this. We're supposed to cover our beautiful body parts. Only our husband has the right to see them.
C: Salamaz!
A: I meant like her. She's covered and she looks beautiful!
B: (If I say that's not the right way to wear Hijab.. that would be backbiting...... How do I explain?)

1.Abaya : a long black-sleeved robe worn by Muslim women in Arabic-speaking countries, often with headscarf or veil
2.Salamaz :"Hi" in Arabic
3. Hijab : a traditional scarf worn by Muslim women to cover their hair and neck and sometimes the face
                                                                                     Created by Amirah Yousaf
                                                                                     From Youtube

     There are 3 different girls dressed differently. Girl A in a tiny top and shorts asks Girl B if her Abaya is something Girl B must wear. Girl B explains that Girl B believes that her body is very "special" and only her husband is allowed to see it. Girl A continues; Girl A wonders if Girl B can just cover her head and wear whatever. Girl C shows up. She is covering her head but not her body(she is wearing a casual outfit.)


     I believe that it's totally Girl B's choice if she wants to wear Abaya or casual clothes, and no one can tell a person, like the Girl B in Abaya, to suggest/ask her to wear something else. I think Girl B is wearing Abaya not because she HAS TO or the LAW says so. (maybe some places in the world, ex, Saudi Arabia, might ask you to wear some certain outfit.) Girl A has no right to tell Girl B what to wear. Girl A says Girl C looks pretty because she is wearing something other than Abaya, so is she saying that girls in Abayas looks less beautiful?

     Girl A thinks abaya is not pretty and not "normal." But, who decide which is normal or abnormal? From Girl A's view, wearing abaya is abnormal, but from Girl B's view, it's just something to be proud of and beautiful. It's their tradition and belief coming from their own history. We should respect their custom.
     However, I hope Girl B wearing abaya is aware that their custom could oppress their freedom to choose what they want wear. She said "We're supposed to cover..." It means there is a force (could be tradition and belief) to educate her to think like that. Therefore, sometimes rooted tradition and belief are so strong that majority of people think it's fine without questioning even though they could be wrong. Also, I personally think women get a self-confidence when they decorate themselves nicely and beautifully with different clothes, hair styles, and makeups. Conservative people can choose to wear conservatively, but forcing every women to wear abaya by acceptable social value and custom is not right.

     I think that it all depends on how the person is feeling with the clothes she or he are wearing. In my personal opinion if you don't like the way you see yourself in the mirror ....just get another outfit that you really enjoy!!! \m/ 

Images, a link of youtube, scripts by Heidi
Designed, organized by Jose
Edited, summaryof the clip by Yuri
Commented by al of us!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Abaya vs. NY Fashion

From a movie, Sex and the City 2

       The location is in Abudabi, Saudi Arabia, where people are a accustomed to wear their traditional outfits:the thawbs and ghutras for men and the abayas for women.

     A thawb is a  full-length  white clothe, and a ghutra is a white clothe which a man is wearing on his head.
    An abaya  is a black (mostly black) head-to-toe dress covering a woman's head and body.

   Carrie(above), Charlotte, Miranda, and Samantha walk on the street crowded with local people in their traditional clothing.

      One man runs to Samantha(below), who is in a tiny red top ((because it's really hot outside) and yanks Samantha's purse!

    Samantha's purse gets broken.. and her belongings are everywhere on the ground. There are condoms out of her purse.Samantha gets in a trouble in the middle of a market place because of her inappropriate sexual behavior.

Samantha screams, " Condoms!...I have sex!"
    The local men are getting angry because woman's exposing sexual words/behavior in public is illegal in their country!

    Samantha gets upset and the girls try to avoid the conflicts.
(we would like to focus on the scene where the girls meet five local girls in the building.)

    Running away from the local men accusing Samantha, five strange women in abayas take the girls into a building to avoid the turmoil.

    The women in abayas tell the girls from New York that they are very interested in fashions in NY.

    They are excited to meet the girls from New York.

Saudi Arabian women start taking off their abayas.

    It turns out that they admire New York fashion. They show their New York spring collections under their abayas.
       In this case, abaya could be oppression considering woman's desire to wear what they want freely, and the fact that the weather in town was so hot and everybody was sweating in long abaya.

    So... we hope you have gotten what's going on with the girls from New York traveling in a traditional town in Saudi Arabia. There are two main points in the scenes:
    1) Samantha, who is in a sexy top, carrying condoms in her purse, gets in a trouble. She was yelled by local men on the street because of her sexual behavior and words in public, which is illegal in Saudi Arabia.
   2) Those women in their abayas apparently love to wear New York fashion. They are so happy to show off their fashion under their abayas.

Let's focus on the second part.
Is wearing Abaya good? 
    There are, for sure, conservative people in Saudi Arabia who are accustomed to cover their bodies in public. On the other hand, there must be some women who like to wear jeans and shirts especially in hot summer. 

    (In our opinion,) The movie the Sex and the City 2 represents that Saudi women in abayas are seeking regularly a freedom in their fashions in the public. Plus, the scene, where the local women show their excitement in showing their colorful modern clothes, shows that they are restricted, and they are willing  to show what they really like to dress. 

     We think that the scene makes audiences think that Saudi women want to wear western clothes and also freely enjoy being an individual or unique by wearing many colors and choosing different styles. However, we believe that the majority of women in abayas respects their clothing and they may be used to the heat inside their abayas and the temperature in the town. In addition, women who wear abayas in regular basis grew up with the abaya culture, and have seen their female family members and other citizens wearing abayas in the public, therefore, wearing abayas are, perhaps, normalized in their living.

   We are not saying that the movie is a lie, however, the movie possibly shapes our thinking and gives an image of "Oh, Saudi women cannot enjoy their fashion like Carrie, Charlotte and other girls from New York. The abayas shouldn't be something that they MUST wear, but they can at least be their choice.
Any comments on that?

Images, summary of the scenes by Heidi
Designed, arranged by Jose
Edited, written  by Yuri

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

This is What I Want To Wear

( The top: Abaya. The bottom: Niqab)

There are actually many different forms of traditional clothes that women wear to cover their heads, faces (sometimes), bodies and appearances.

I have certainly interviewed a man who grew up in Saudi Arabia, and he was kind enough to share his opinions about the Abaya culture in Saudi Arabia and other Middle Eastern countries.

I notice that some people from different cultures or countries think that women who wear abayas are "forced" to do so. Is that true?

" It's like more cultural than religious because I don't see any 'bibles' tell women what to wear and what not."

What is the idea of abaya?
"Part of Islam, for example, everybody should be equal. Men wear white clothes which are the same as others. Like, a poor man/woman wears the same as a rich one, or vice versa. I think it's a great idea so people don't ( or can't) really judge on you by what you wear or how you look."

I'm not from Abaya culture,however, I have my traditional dress called kimono. I have heard some complaints such as T-shirt-and-Jeans(skirts)style is much better because it's not as tight/uncomfortable as kimono and so on. Has anybody complain about Abaya dress?  
"No, in my opinion, I haven't heard anybody complained."

Do you see women still wearing abaya 100 years from now? Do you think the style of abaya is going to change in the future?
"Apparently, things are slowly but surely changing. Girls are now putting more colors on their abayas in Saudi Arabia (which I noticed when I visited there last winter). Still, they are wearing dark abayas in town, but things are surely moving forward."

Do you think they would be dressed as people here in California in few years or so?
"I would way! Still far from 'western fashion' such as a tiny shirt and a mini skirt. If girls suddenly begin to wear like 'western' girls, things would go chaos. I don't believe that abaya culture would dissapear that soon like poof! "

I hear some people comment on abaya culture as "strict", "less freedom". 
" I hear that too. 'Oh, burka is very strict! Girls have no freedom in fashion!' like that. Well, those comments are often said by the ones who are not wearing burka/abaya. And I hear some say, 'Muslim is the most strict religion ever!', (I reckon) most of the 'harsh' critics are from other countries or people who don't really know what it is."

Is every single woman wearing abaya or burka in Saudi Arabia?
"Well, some don't wear, or don't have to wear burka/abaya in Saudi Arabia or other places. But the girls are not so revealing. They wear shirts with long sleeves or long skirts that still cover their skin."

Any other reasons why women wear burkas/abayas?
"Girls respect their culture, tradition from their family and country; therefore, they wear burka/abaya. I think their style is very beautiful and I like it."

I have certainly found an article about France trying to ban any religious/traditional wear in France. Eventually, they did. Do you agree with what France did, or any comments on that?
"I know! They actually did it. No traditional clothes shouldn't be banned (in my opinion).
It's like, restricting everyone's freedom. Ok, smoking can be banned because the smoke hurts other people physically. but, any traditional wear, like a man wearing his Jewish hat, an Indian woman's bindi on her forehead, Japanese kimono, cross, abaya, burka and you name it,
wouldn't hurt anybody physically though (personally speaking)."

I had a very interesting and also valuable time with the kind man. There are so many things I never knew, thought of, or heard about in my life; however, by interviewing about this abaya/burka culture, I felt that I got such important, and amazing information which I would love to share with many people all around the world.

Written, edited, interviewed by Yuri
Big thanks to Mr. T to spend your time answering my questions!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

The Beauty of Burka

Do you have any traditional clothes from your home country?
Or, have you seen any of your family member wearing a traditional dress/clothe either in regular basis or on occasions?

Burka, (or burqa) is the Islamic traditional dresses worn by some women,  and the burka often covers woman's bodies from her heads to toes except eyes.
However, you might see many different forms, colors or patterns of the "burka", plus it isn't always called burka. (I would like to talk about that later.)

When I first saw women wearing the burka dresses was in Australia.
Some of my schoolmates wore their traditional dresses everyday in school and in public.
I thought that their traditional dresses were very beautiful, and also mysterious.
I never got to see their facial features; I didn't ask them.

I believe that women who wear a dresses to cover their faces and bodies and appearances are
not always forced to do so (perhaps some are), but I think that they respect their traditions of their home countries, and also families.  I am sure there are many more reasons and ideas of the burka tradition.

I found this article:
Is France right to ban wearing the burka in public? 
 by Mona Eltahawy and Stephanie Street


I was raised in Japan and I love my traditional dress: kimono
The article makes me concern how the women in the burka ("Muslim women" says in the article)
feel to be told to wear something except burka.
Can France really decide what they should or shouldn't wear in France???

Written, Edited, commented by Yuri