Monday, 10 October 2016

Wear What You Want

The Washington Post reports on the stand taking by an American chess champion, Nazi Padkize, who is refusing to take part in a tournament in Iran because she would be required to wear a 'hijab'.

Now I find this quite amazing, I have to say. 

Not least because Muslim athletes were allowed to 'wear what they want' in terms of their sporting attire, at the recent Olympic Games in Brazil.

So why should such ridiculous double standards exist in world chess and why does the sport's governing body go along with this kind of nonsense?

Let's see if the protesters who gathered outside the French Embassy in London recently in protest at the 'burkina ban' now rally round Nazi Padkize and the stand she has made over not wearing a hijab.

‘I will NOT wear a hijab’: U.S. chess star refuses to attend world championships in Iran

By Cleve R. Wootson Jr - The Washington Post 

As one of the most successful women to ever play the male-dominated game of chess, Nazi Paikidze is used to having her moves watched closely.

Her latest has drawn international attention: Paikidze announced last week that she will boycott February’s Women's World Chess Championship in Iran because the players will have to wear hijabs.

Paikidze’s decision will deprive the tournament of one of the game’s brightest stars and biggest draws — the U.S. champion who once told a magazine she would “do everything I can to help more girls get into chess.”

Islamic coverings for women in public — required in Iran and some other nations such as Saudi Arabia — have increasingly become a target for both protests and struggles over Muslim identity. Some activists in Iran have launched online campaigns against the hijab rules, while other women continually test the boundaries by pushing back headscarves to near gravity-defying levels.

[The age-old war between Muslim clerics and chess players]

Bikinis and Burkinis (20/09/16)

The Huffington Post reported on the story of a 23-year old Australian woman, Zeynab Alshelh, who traveled all the way from Australia to protest about the 'burkina ban' in France.

In doing so Zeynab must have flown across a host of Islamic countries where conservative religious leaders (men with beards) lay down strict rules and dress codes instructing Muslim women on what they can and cannot wear. 

In fact in some of these countries women would not be able to even visit the beach without the permission of a male relative, yet Zeynab's wrath is directed exclusively at France.

Now I don't agree with the 'burkini ban' in France anymore than I agree with the 'bikini ban' in Saudi Arabia, but I find it interesting that some Muslims only wish to protest about human rights in western secular countries - while turning a blind eye to what's going on elsewhere in the Islamic world. 

Burkini-Wearing Woman Gets Chased Off French Beach
Villeneuve-Loubet’s burkini ban has been overturned. But that didn’t stop beachgoers from threatening 23-year-old Zeynab Alshelh.

By Dominique Mosbergen - The Huffington Post


Zeynab Alshelh donned a blue burkini and walked onto a beach in southeastern France. The 23-year-old medical student had crossed 10,000 miles, flying with her family from her home in Sydney, Australia, to Europe, to reach the sands of Villeneuve-Loubet.

Her journey, she said, had been fueled by just one goal: to stand in solidarity with local Muslims after dozens of resorts in the French riviera banned the burkini, a kind of full-body swimsuit, earlier this summer.

The burkini ban in Villeneuve-Loubet was overruled in August by the country’s top administrative court. But that, as footage of Alshelh’s time in the resort town shows, did not stop beachgoers from chasing her away and threatening her with police action.

“I just wanted to see it for myself. I just wanted to see what is going on here,” Alshelh told Channel 7, an Australian TV network that filmed her experience on the French beach. “Why is this happening? I wanted to speak to the girls that have gone through all this stuff. Hopefully [there’s something] we can do to help these girls just live a normal life.”

France Is Not Alone (29/08/16)

If I had been in London yesterday, I would have gone along to support the 'wear what you want' (WWYW) protest outside the French Embassy. 

Because for me it's an issue about freedom of expression and despite the terrible Islamist atrocities in France recently this is a time for cool heads - not demonising Muslims.

But I have also been in touch with the organisers of the 'wear what you want' event to ask when and if they intend taking their protest to the Saudi and Iranian embassies - countries where women are unable to say, do or wear what they like, of course.  

In the Islamic theocracy of Saudi Arabia a woman is not even allowed to go to the beach without a male escort, never mind wear what they like, yet women are permitted to operate vacuum cleaners and washing machines, but are prevented from driving a car or travelling on their own. 

So I hope the WWYW campaign is not just another anti-western leftist campaign because that would be very sad and terribly hypocritical to boot. 

Read the report below in The Guardian.

Burkini ban protesters throw beach party at French embassy in London

Demonstrators sport burkinis and park deck chairs, lilos and makeshift sand outside French embassy 

Image result for burkini ban protest + guardian images

Burkini ban protesters stage beach party outside French embassy in London

By Alice Ross - The Guardian

Demonstrators have staged an impromptu beach party complete with sand, deck chairs and a lobster-shaped lilo outside the French embassy in London to protest against burkini bans that have become law in many French coastal towns and cities.

Under the bemused gaze of the embassy’s armed police officers, some protesters sported burkinis – swimsuits that cover the wearer’s whole body, including her hair – or swimsuits, while others threw beach balls at the lunchtime protest.

Shortly after midday, a van pulled up and deposited several sacks of sand, to the consternation of police officers. The 40 or so protesters set up deck chairs and brandished placards among a scrum of journalists. 

— CaoimheMc (@CaoimheMMC) August 25, 2016

'Aslef of Arabia' (29/12/11)

A number of readers have been in touch to ask where the 'We the Women' picture came from - to accompany the post about women drivers - dated 27 December 2011.

Well  it comes from people campaigning in Saudi Arabia - against the ban on women driving cars and other motor vehicles - public or private.

According to the Saudi authorities it's against Islamic teaching that women should drive cars - never mind trains - it's against the law of the land.

Any women caught doing so - by the religious police - are liable to be severely punished.

But all hope is not lost - because people are fighting back - with courage, wit and humour.

By arguing that it's ridiculous and even anti-Islamic - to suggest that God somehow proclaimed that women can't drive.

'We the Women' is their campaign slogan.

And the campaigners think of all kinds of ways to illustrate how crazy it is - to ordain that women can use washing machines or mobile phone or computers - but not cars (or trains for that matter).

Some women have taken to dressing up in male clothes and wearing false moustaches - to ridicule the authorities - but as the law stand women still need a man to drive them around.

Apparently a father, brother, son - or just about any old male relative will do - which seems bizarre.

Now to look at the statistics on the number of women train drivers in this country - or the number of women members in Aslef - you'd be forgiven for thinking that God had made a similar proclamation in the UK.

But thankfully no one believes that kind of nonsense in this country.

So maybe 'We the Women' will catch on in the UK - maybe even deep in the bowels of the still male dominated parts of the UK trade union movement. 

I for one hope so - anyway.