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Extremism? Haras Rafiq vs Mohammed Shafiq

19 Mar

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DhUzUcx187Y

Join the Movement: Stop Buying Israeli Dates

17 Mar

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yBcGgOfoGz4&feature=related

Syria and Gaza 2012

16 Mar

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dyc7ekXoAS4

Nobel Peace Prize 2011

15 Mar

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5boFsFRKDK0

Princess Hijab Grafitti

9 Mar

Veiled Threat

The guerrilla graffiti of Princess Hijab
Veiled Threat
Article by Arwa Aburawa, appeared in issue Art/See; published in 2009; filed under Art.
The guerrilla graffiti of Princess Hijab

Since 2006, the elusive guerrilla artist known as Princess Hijab has been subverting Parisian billboards, to a mixed reception. Her anonymity irritates her critics, many of whom denounce her as extremist and antifeminist; when she recently conceded, in the pages of a German newspaper, that she wasn’t a Muslim, it opened the floodgates to avid speculation in the blogosphere. If her claim of being a 21-year-old Muslim girl was only partially true, some wondered what the real message was behind her self-described “artistic jihad.”

In her online manifesto, PH declares that she “acts upon her own free will” and is “not involved in any lobby or movement, be it political, religious, or to do with advertising.” The Princess insists that, like the ape-masked Guerrilla Girls and Mexico’s balaclava-clad Zapatistas, by being nobody, she is free to be anybody. But as liberating as this anonymity may seem, it does leave her work open to conflicting—and occasionally unflattering—interpretations. On the popular blog Art21, critic Paul Schmelzer points to Princess Hijab’s work as an example of right-wing street art, surmising that her motivation is to cover the “shame of omnipresent (and often sexualized) ads.” Another blogger, Evil Fionna, argues that if Princess Hijab were acting as a fundamentalist Christian, her work would be recognized as “religious extremis[m]” that demonizes women and makes them ashamed of their bodies. And a commentator on the anti-Islam site Infidel Bloggers accused the artist of urging women to submit to the “tyranny of Islam.”

These observers also allude to the uncanny similarity between the work of Princess Hijab and that of conservative religious groups that have historically used less literal hijabizing to police the female form. In Saudi Arabia, the 80-year-old government agency known as the Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice is tasked with, among other things, blacking out bare skin wherever it shows up. In line with Sharia law, women in the pages of magazines, on billboards, and in other public images are painstakingly covered up: Katy Perry may be sporting high-waisted hot pants and a tiny top on her cd cover, but once the Committee gets through with it, she’s garbed in a long-sleeved shirt with matching leggings. (The group, notorious for beating up men and women engaged in “immoral behavior,” have also made headlines for banning Valentine’s Day and restricting the sale of cats and dogs, lest they be used by men to attract women’s attention.)

And in the U.K. in 2005, the activists behind Muslims Against Advertising (MAAD) began daubing blobs of paint on the underdressed models in street ads for the likes of Dove and Wonderbra, and in some cases ripping down the posters altogether.

The ongoing conflict over hijabs in her home country does give Princess Hijab’s work an inescapable political context, or what she calls a “shade of provocation.” France’s hijab debates first erupted in 1989 when three high-school girls were suspended after they refused to remove their Islamic headscarves at a school in a suburb of Paris. Successive years of controversy led to former President Jacques Chirac passing a bill in 2004 banning “religious symbols” in schools on the grounds that they clashed with France’s cherished notions of secularization; more recently, President Nicolas Sarkozy upheld the ban on burqas and headscarves in public spaces, stating, “The burqa is not a religious symbol, it is a sign of the subjugation, of the submission of women. I want to say solemnly that it will not be welcome on the territory of the French Republic. We cannot accept women in cages, amputated of all dignity, on French soil.”

But Princess Hijab insists that anyone confusing her work with that of either conservative culture-jammers or Muslims supporting freedom of religious expression is missing the mark. “My work supports right-wing radicalism like Taxi Driver support cabbies. I’m using the hijab for myself.” And looking through her catalog of work, neither label seems right. If her goal really is to cover up the skin-flashing women in ads, then why leave slinky legs on display underneath the painted-on hijabs? And if she’s aiming to make a statement about the dignity of Muslim women, why hijabize male models in Dolce & Gabbana briefs with shoulder-length chadors, leaving their tanned, oiled abs and legs even more preposterously exposed?

A Dolce & Gabbana ad featuring young men in underwear has been hit by Princess Hijab. Their upper-bodies have been spray-painted with black hijabs and headscarfs. The paint drips down their exposed lower-bodies. 

In fact, Princess Hijab asserts, her dressing up of billboards is a symbolic act of resistance meant to reassert a “physical and mental integrity” against what she calls the “visual terrorism” of advertising. Arguing that the human right of expression has been displaced by publicists, advertisers, and the machinery of capitalist, commodified culture, she offers that, “My work explores how something as intimate as the human body has become as distant as a message from your corporate sponsor.”

“Like that poster of Farah Fawcett,” she continues, “with her teeth clenched in fear above her perfect polyester swimswuit. When she revealed her cancer, we had to see her and her body as something capable of tragedy. It’s that sort of re-humanization that I aim for with hijabization.” Princess Hijab later admitted that this example, and equating wearing the hijab with physical suffering, was a clumsy one, but wanted the point to stand: Her work attempts to remove the hijab from its gendered and religious context and convert it into a symbol of empowerment and re-embodiment.

Equally central to her work is the goal of social equality. She notes that, in France, “You’re always being asked your origin, which religion you follow. It’s something that is very French, actually; you don’t see it in New York or Berlin.” Hinting that she is a racial outsider in France, Princess Hijab states that she is never taken at face value, but instead pushed into a homogeneous social group and then judged by a corresponding set of stereotypes. With stratification by gender, religion, place of origin, and sexuality, she asserts, comes groups that are closed off from one another’s experiences. Even during her time at university, she recalls her modes of expression being explained away by her origins: “I would be told [that it was] ‘natural,’ given my background, that I would work on [one] topic and not on another. I felt trapped.” But by highlighting everyone’s potential “outsider” status by imposing the hijab on public figures, PH asserts that she is “trying to create a connection with and between people.”

Another poster by Princess Hijab featuring the woman in the heascarf. Here her headscarf is black and the text beneath her face reads HIJAB-AD 

Back when Princess Hijab was believed to be a Muslim, blogger Ethar El-Katatney of Muslimah Media Watchnoted, “I’d actually love it if it turns out she’s not a Muslim, because it lends credibility to the idea that the dislike of being exposed to ‘visual aggression’ is not necessarily rooted in religious belief. Fed up with women being used to sell products, hijabizing ads could be a way to ‘take back’ women’s rights to their bodies.” Indeed, in Princess Hijab’s marked-up art, the headscarf is an agent not of covering but of exposure—of the oppressive nature of the advertising industry, of the displacement and disempowerment of women who are repeatedly told that they are not good, skinny, beautiful, sexy, or rich enough. It’s work that owes much more to Adbusters orNo Logo than to the Taliban.

Though Princess Hijab’s work has gained international notice, like much street art it still actively resists a simplistic reading. And that she uses such a contested icon to wreak artistic revenge on the dual constructs of advertising and social prejudice means her work is ultimately as much about the interpretation of others as it is about her own intent. “People are confused by me,” admits PH. “Some say I am pro-feminist, some say I am antifeminist; some say I am pro-Islam, others that I am anti-Islam. It’s all very interesting—but at the end of the day, I am above all an artist.”

Arwa Aburawa is a freelance journalist based in the United Kingdom.

Republicans don’t want to apologize for Qur’an burning

28 Feb

Obama’s Apology for Quran Burning a Mistake, Santorum Says

  • rick santorum
    (Photo: Reuters/Chris Keane)
    U.S. Republican presidential candidate and former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum speaks during the Faith and Freedom Prayer Breakfast in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina January 15, 2012.

Rick Santorum joined other Republican presidential hopefuls in denouncing President Barack Obama‘s apology for the burning of Qurans in Afghanistan, saying it could be misinterpreted as an admission of guilt for a “deliberate act.”

“There was nothing deliberately done wrong here,” former Penn. Sen. Santorum said during an interview with ABC’s “This Week” show Sunday, referring to Obama’s apology for the unintentional burning of Qurans at a U.S. base in Kabul last week that resulted in the killing of over 30 people, including four American soldiers.

Two American officers were shot dead inside Afghanistan’s heavily guarded interior ministry Saturday, and two U.S. soldiers were killed Thursday, the day Obama apologized in a letter to Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

“This (the Quran burning) was something that happened as a mistake. Killing Americans in uniform is not a mistake. It was something that [was] deliberate,” added Santorum, the current GOP front-runner.

Last Tuesday, Afghan workers at the Bagram air base discovered copies of the Quran dumped into a pit where trash is burned. The workers reportedly salvaged the Islamic holy books to show to local leaders.

Santorum was interviewed also by NBC’s “Meet the Press” show Sunday. “The response needs to be apologized for by Karzai and the Afghan people for attacking and killing our men and women in uniform and overreacting to this inadvertent mistake,” Santorum told NBC. “That is the real crime here, not what our soldiers did.”

Obama’s apology, he said, suggests that there was blame “in the sense of doing a deliberate act.” The president, he added, should have said “this was inadvertent, this was a mistake. There was no deliberate act. There was no meant of disrespect – this is something that occurred that shouldn’t have occurred, but it was an accident … But to apologize, I think, lends credibility that somehow or another that it was more than that.”

Santorum’s rival, Mitt Romney, also flayed Obama’s apology. “With regards to the apology, I think for a lot of people, it sticks in their throat,” the former Massachusetts governor told Fox News Sunday. “The idea that we are there, having lost thousands of individuals through casualty and death – we’ve made an enormous contribution to help the people there achieve freedom, and for us to be apologizing at a time like this is something which is very difficult for the American people to countenance.”

Earlier, on Saturday, GOP candidate Newt Gingrich said Obama’s apology amounted to appeasement. “There doesn’t seem to be any request for an apology from Karzai,” he told Fox News.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton defended Obama. “I find it somewhat troubling that our politicswould enflame such a dangerous situation in Afghanistan,” she told CNN on Sunday. “It was the right thing to do to have our president on record as saying this was not intentional, we deeply regret it … We are hoping that voices inside Afghanistan will join that of President Karzai and others in speaking out to try to calm the situation … It is out of hand and it needs to stop.”

President Karzai appealed for calm on Sunday, but he has also called for punishment of those responsible for the burning of Qurans.

NATO’s General John Allen has recalled all International Security Assistance Force personnel working in ministries in and around Kabul “for obvious force protection reasons.”


Qur’an Burning in Afghanistan

27 Feb

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZITsglSXZgw