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Extremism? Haras Rafiq vs Mohammed Shafiq

19 Mar

Join the Movement: Stop Buying Israeli Dates

17 Mar

Syria and Gaza 2012

16 Mar

Nobel Peace Prize 2011

15 Mar

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

Have We Forgotten?

16 Feb

Have we forgotten the love Nabi SalAllahu Alayhi wassalam had for this ummah?

*Have we forgotten the love Nabi SalAllahu Alayhi wassalam had for you and I?

*Have we forgotten the favours and bounties we were blessed with because of Nabi SalAllahu Alayhi 

*Have we forgotten the wounds inflicted by Nabi SalAllahu Alayhi wassalam because of you 
and I?

*Have we forgotten the tears that rolled down and that were shed by Nabi SalAllahu Alayhi wassalam for this ummah?

*Today we have forgotten and have neglected the teachings of Nabi SalAllahu Alayhi wassalam. Today we have no value and we neglect the rights of Nabi SalAllahu Alayhi wassalam. 

*Did he SalAllahu Alayhi wassalam ever neglect us? Did he SalAllahu Alayhi wassalam ever once forget this ummah?


Petition for Khader Adnan (Hunger Striking Palestinian Prisoner)

9 Feb

Take Action for Hunger Striking Palestinian Prisoner Khader Adnan!

Khader Adnan, an imprisoned Palestinian activist held under administrative detention, has engaged in an open-ended hunger strike since December 17, 2012. Now at fifty days into his hunger strike, he is facing severe health consequences and has been moved to a hospital, continuing to refuse food in protest of torture, isolation, and the use of arbitrary detention against Palestinians. 

Khader Adnan needs international support and solidarity to make it clear to the Israeli occupation that the eyes of the world are on his case and that of his nearly 5,000 fellow Palestinian political prisoners. He is currently in a hospital bed and being force-fed liquids over his objection. Send a letter now to Israeli officials demanding his freedom.

TWEET NOW to share this action alert by clicking here!

Addameer, the Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association, details the experience of Khader Adnan with the Israeli occupation on their page dedicated to his case. Adnan, a spokesperson for the Islamic Jihad party, is currently held under administrative detention, which is arbitrary detention without charge or trial, based on secret evidence, and renewable indefinitely for repeated periods of up to six months. Khader Adnan was issued a four-month administrative detention order on January 8. This is the eighth time Adnan has been detained, and he has served a total of six years in Israeli prisons – mostly without charge or trial under the administrative detention scheme. 280 fellow Palestinians are also held without charge or trial under Israel’s administrative detention mechanism.

Addameer reports:

Khader was arrested on 17 December 2011, when Israeli Occupying Forces (IOF) raided his home outside Jenin at 3:30 am. Before entering his house, soldiers used the driver that takes Khader’s father to the vegetable market, Mohammad Mustafa, as a human shield by forcing him to knock on the door of the house and call out Khader’s name while blindfolded.

A huge force of soldiers then entered the house shouting. Recognizing Khader immediately, they grabbed him violently in front of his two young daughters and ailing mother. The soldiers blindfolded him and tied his hands behind his back using plastic shackles before leading him out of his house and taking him to a military jeep. Khader was then thrown on his back and the soldiers began slapping him in the face and kicking his legs. They kept him lying on his back until they reached Dutan settlement, beating him on the head throughout the 10-minute drive. When they reached the settlement, Khader was pushed aggressively out of the jeep. Because of the blindfold, Khader did not see the wall right in front of him and smashed into it, causing injuries to his face.

Following his arrest, he was taken to interrogation, refused medical care and treatment despite Israeli prison officials’ knowledge of his health conditions, subject to physical abuse and mistreatment including being tied to a chair in a stress position, causing extreme back pain, and pulling on his beard so hard that his hair was ripped out. Khader was subjected to abusive language about his family, and refused to speak any further to interrogators, as well as refusing food. In retaliation, he was placed into isolation and solitary confinement, denied family visits, awakened in the middle of the night and strip-searched. He has refused to end his strike, protesting the illegitimacy of his arbitrary detention by an illegal occupation authority as well as cruel and inhumane treatment and abuse.

This is not his first hunger strike – in 2005 he protested his isolation in Kfar Yuna with a 12-day hunger strike. Khader Adnan’s hunger strike has sparked solidarity tents in Gaza and protests in Ramallah. Ten of his fellow prisoners in Ofer prison have joined him in his hunger strike, six fellow Islamic Jihad activists and four imprisoned members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine; dozens of prisoners have refused food or participated in civil disobedience inside the prisons in support of Adnan. Students in Gaza are organizing a solidarity hunger strike outside the Red Cross building.

On Tuesday, February 7, Palestinian lawyers will boycott military courts to protest the treatment of Adnan Khader and demand an end to international silence around his case.

Hundreds of Palestinian prisoners participated in a 23-day hunger strike in October 2011, demanding an end to isolation, abuse, denial of family visits, and the long-term isolation of Palestinian leaders such as Ahmad Sa’adat; Israeli promises to end isolation, aimed to secure the end of the strike, proved to be false.


Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network urges the Palestine solidarity movement in North America and around the world to publicize the case of Khader Adnan and raise up the voices of Palestinian political prisoners. Palestinian prisoners’ struggle for freedom is central to the struggle for a free Palestine.

Addameer has issued a call to action – we encourage you to distribute and act on Addameer’s call, linked here, and also to

Organize a picket or protest outside the Israeli embassy or consulate in your location and demand the immediate freedom of Khader Adnan and all Palestinian political prisoners. Make it clear that the eyes of the world are on the situation of Khader Adnan and demand an end to the use of isolation, torture solitary confinement, and administrative detention against Palestinian political prisoners. Send us reports of your protests at Israeli embassies and consulates at

Write to the International Committee of the Red Cross and other human rights organizations to urge them to act swiftly to protect Khader Adnan and all Palestinian political prisoners. Email the ICRC, whose humanitarian mission includes monitoring the conditions of prisoners, at, and inform them about the urgent situation of Khader Adnan. Make it clear that arbitrary detention without charge or trial is unacceptable, and that the ICRC must act to protect Palestinian prisoners from cruel and inhumane treatment.

Share this alert on Twitter and use the #FreeKhaderAdnan and #KhaderAdnan hashtags. TWEET NOW to share this action alert by clicking here.a

This is the letter that is sent:

To whom it may concern;

I am writing to urge that Palestinian political prisoner Khader Adnan, currently on a hunger strike exceeding fifty days, be immediately and unconditionally released.

Khader Adnan is a victim of torture and abuse. He is being held without charge or trial and under secret evidence. It is the eighth time that Israel has imprisoned Mr. Adnan without charge or trial, where he joins over 280 fellow Palestinian prisoners in administrative detention.

Khader Adnan’s life – and the lives of thousands of Palestinian prisoners- are precious to me and to people around the world. The eyes of the world are on the case of Khader Adnan, and the government of Israel is fully responsible for his health and his life.

Administrative detention violates the right to a fair trial as recognized in the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights. It is a practice that is used to silence Palestinians without ever exposing the reality of such actions to the light of day – even in the rigged military court systems.

Furthermore, I join with Palestinian prisoners to demand an end to the use not only of administrative detention, but also the use of isolation and solitary confinement and torture, both of which have been used against Khader Adnan and numerous other Palestinian prisoners.

Khader Adnan’s valiant hunger strike is a cry for freedom that has been heard around the world. He must be released immediately and without condition.



Real World: Bothering Hijabis

2 Feb

Why do people think they can say anything they want to hijabis? Why do they think we’ll walk away and they’ll get away with it? I pick my battles-some I’ll walk away from, but there are a few I’ll ‘fight’. 

Yesterday in the mall a girl in front of all her friends puts on this weird manly voice and goes, “YOU WANT SOME CANDY?” I’m in shock-there’s no way this girl is talking to me. But oh, she is. Out of everybody in the mall…she picks me. This one I ‘fought’. “Are you talking to me? Yeah don’t talk to me thanks.”

TODAY my friend and I (also a hijabi) are waiting to cross the street and who should approach us but a grown man asking us: “Do you girls like to have @#%?” Um…..REALLY? No…really?? Would you ask ANY girl that kind of question? Let alone two covered girls? WHAT IS THIS WORLD COMING TO? Needless to say I didn’t fight this one. I grabbed my friend and quickly crossed the street the other way. Like….I’m getting tired of this….this happens to me every day: Men letting women on the bus ahead of them until it’s my turn, rude questions and comments…etc etc My friend wears niqab and says no one will sit next to her on the bus even if it’s packed!

What should we do? What CAN we do?