Thursday, December 18, 2008

Story we're following: head coverings in court

"Muslim Arrested Over Headscarf In Courtroom"
Wednesday, December 17, 2008 – updated: 12:15 am EST December 18, 2008
from WSBTV.com/news, happening in Douglasville, Georgia

My thanks to Lucy for first bringing this story to my attention. I've seen several reports from different points of view about what happened since, but the short story is that a Muslim lady accompanied a family member to a court hearing, was told that she would not be allowed in with her head covering on, and when she got angry she was put in jail for contempt of court. Was it because she was wearing a head covering and refused to take it off? Did she get belligerent with the official? Did the officials behave badly first?

Though I've not been able to follow the stories in the news and blogs closely lately (I have quite a backlog of interesting looking articles to read), this will be one story that I will try to follow, for the US American reaction. As the husband of the woman points out in the interview, which you can watch at this link, the outcome really does pertain to everyone of any style of faith who chooses to put something on their head, from Sikhs to Jews to Mennonites to Catholics to Muslims and so on. What is the US law? And what is the US heart?

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"CAIR Seeks Sanctions Against Anti-Hijab Judge in Georgia" - marketwatch.com/news

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EDIT: Adding this blog article, because I like it.

Heading in the wrong direction
Posted by: Marcella, at wordpress, December 18, 2008

Purple. Red with golden tassels. Olive drab with strands of fabric shimmering through like gossamer. As a student in Egypt, this sea of warm fabrics and cool colors bobbing along in a crowd was my first introduction to the hijab in any practical way. I thought it strange back then, that women would wear such things comfortably, and from my young, Western viewpoint, saw it as discriminatory. Why should a woman HAVE to wear such a thing, I wondered, shaking my head at the apparent chauvinism of Islam.

And then, becuase I was in Egypt to learn, and study society, I did. I asked women what they thought of their headcoverings, and whether or not they ever felt oppressed by them. And I’m not speaking for all of them, certainly, but I spoke with enough women to understand that a headscarf is more than just a piece of fabric required by the religion. it was a symbol of beauty, and act of expression even, and a means of keeping somthing special under wraps. Literally.

“when a woman is covered, men cannot judge her by her appearance but are forced to evaluate her by her personality, character, and morals,” said Sumayya Syed during a recent discussion posted on Islam for Today.

I myself heard this over and over and over again, and eventually, came to beleive it. And at times, desire it for myself. How many times have I felt undressed by someone’s eyes, unwillingly? I will admit that the “judgement of morals” thing might not always be the best thing for me because sometimes I want that visual striptease to be an option, but many times, I would rather be looked at with interest for the intelligence apparent in words leaving my mouth, not the apparent pleasure of what might be able to go in it.

So in the past few days, as news of that judge in Georgia has incited anger and respect among different groups of people, I’m saddened to hear that most people still think of the hijab as something shameful, or disrespectul. I wonder if our culture will ever get it.
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