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Sunday, 06 December 2009

Last week the Swiss people voted to ban the building of minarets which caused a huge uprise. My friends´response was to combine their Balkan party with some pro-Islam elements. The pre-party movie screening featured a film on the Balkan war which evolved around religious differences and to release frustration we competed for the title 'Best Minaret Builder' with the free download package of a paper minaret.

In recent years countries across Europe have been debating how to best integrate Muslim populations. France focused on the headscarf, while in Germany there was controversy over plans to build one of Europe's largest mosques. After the referendum last week, newspapers reported that Holland will also take up the minaret issue. How many of my paper minarets can fight against that?

I have always greatly admired how modern Muslim women are creative in how to wear their headscarves in different ways to match their outfits. Years ago we did a 'customize your headscarf' workshop with some of them in Amsterdam and it was super. They not only created amazing pieces out of organic cotton fabric, but also had intense discussions on what ethical fashion entails. burqa_chic.jpg

The fact that Muslim women, just like most women, love fashion, accounts for interesting developments on the verge between design and the aspect of covering up. In Dubai I was amazed by the elegant golden masks some of them wear which has now been translated into this chic pair of sunglasses. Couture designers like Paris based Stephane Rolland make good business of selling their classy abayas to Middle Eastern clients. Other designers like John Galliano and Givenchy protested against Sarkozy's proposal to ban the burqa with a fashion show of couture abayas last June. But just across town, the islamophobia keeps on threatening female citizens who wear a headscarf.

I only wonder when people finally realize that it is diversity that brings color to this world.

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