Thursday's Women in Black on BBC 2 was filmed right here in the UK. You can watch it for 6 more days here, or here's a short clip:
I had mixed feelings about this episode, but I don't have time to go into too much detail. There are a few things which did stick out for me though.
Amani visited Anila Baig, who is a writer for the Sun newspaper. Now for those of you not from the UK, let's just say that the Sun isn't exactly the most well-respected newspaper in this country. When asked about why she stopped wearing hijab, Anila's reply was that she 'had bigger things to be worrying about than covering her hair'. Huh? Since when did wearing hijab prevent anyone from paying attention to the more important issues in life? Had she said that she felt that she was not ready to wear it or not confident enough to keep it on, I would have understood. But her reply has simply sent out the message that hijab is unnecessary. You can read more about Anila in this article from 2004.
Two of the girls who were interviewed spoke to Amani about why the wear the abaya rather than salwar kameez. They felt that in salwar kameez, they were identified as Pakistani first, and then Muslim. They said that they wanted the opposite to happen - to be identified as Muslims first. But then they also admit that they are sometimes mistaken for Arabs when wearing abaya, but that they don't mind that. Is anyone sensing a contradiction here?
In the UK, as soon as you wear hijab on your head, you are pretty much identified as Muslim, no matter what else you are wearing. Secondly, people can often tell from your colouring what part of world you come from, so honestly I don't see how wearing abaya is identifying them as Muslim, when hijab is already doing that!
One woman who did seem to be making sense was the Pakistani ambassador. Even though she does not wear hijab herself, she said that the issue was a personal one for each woman to decide, and that it shouldn't be blown out of proportion. It's simply a personal choice.
Towards the end of the programme, Amani attends a fashion show by Yasmin Safri of Arabian Nites. I thought the abayas she designed were beautiful! Check out her website to see more, or read about her here.
Here are some stills from the show:
Hijabis shopping in Primark. What did you think of their style?
The fashion show: