Thursday, September 22, 2011

NYTimes Glosses Over Real Meaning of Interfaith

In this NYTimes report about Muslim dress code for females, it seems that interfaith doesn't have to include Judaism, which actually has a lot to say on the subject of female fashion modesty:- an “interfaith” discussion after the official panel, during which four women — three of them Muslims wearing the veil, and the fourth a Hindu — tussled with two businessmen, one from Pakistan and the second from South Africa, over the niqab, the veil for the face.

Tellingly, perhaps, the discussion was initiated by a resident of Latvia...“How do we want to create an interfaith dialogue if they ban the burqa, discuss the headscarves, don’t allow Muslims to build mosques and then even have a preacher who wanted to burn the Koran?” Ms. Karklina asked.

...Ms. Majeed, 25, challenged...: “Don’t you think that it would create problems for Islam” for everyone to wear the niqab? “It is nowhere mentioned in Islam and does make our religion look bad.”

Crucially, Ms. Majeed contrasted the situation in Europe, where, she argued, life was hard enough without the question of the veil. “Some jobs you cannot get if you are not willing to take off the hijab,” she said, pointing to her headscarf. “People think of us as the scary Muslims, so we don’t need women to wear niqabs.”

...“See, we would actually need an intrafaith dialogue,” said Deepika Nagabhushan, a businesswoman from Bangalore, India. “We all talk about tolerance and common ground between different religions, but what’s with the tolerance inside your own religion?”

She said she followed some aspects of Hindu tradition not out of belief but because she lives with her parents and does not want to disappoint them.

“We have a tradition which says that you are not supposed to touch anyone when you have your periods,” she noted.

Heeding that, or wearing the niqab, she suggested, is not just religion, but custom.

Ms Majeed disagreed. “No, it is different with the niqab. You are talking about traditions inside your house, but we are talking about the picture which people have about Islam,” she said, crossing her arms.

Mr. Ahmed, a banker from the mountainous Gilgit area of Pakistan...raised his hands in a gesture of resignation. “What can you do — these are traditions and dress codes. We have to be tolerant and cannot force people not to wear something.”

Still, the Iraqi woman disagreed. “No, no, tolerance is a happy medium,” she said. “Tolerating niqabis would lead to the extreme.”



MJ said...


There were Jewish youth at this conference. This reporter simply mentions an interesting exchange between Muslims and Hindus that took place after an official section ended. The fact that a Jewish perspective happened not to be mentioned--because no Jewish kids happened to be taking part in that small discussion-- means that the NYTimes glossed over something? There are lot's of things wrong with the times reporting but your knee-jerk taking offense is ridiculous.

YMedad said...

Thanks for input. Then that the participnats did not see fit to invite a Jewish woman to participate shows their failing. But the reporter still should have written perhaps "it was too bad a Jewish female was not participating as modesty and fashion are quite intrinsic to traditional Jewish life.