After reading the latest from Stand for Peace, about a ‘pro-Palestinian’ event at Middlesex University scheduled for 5 Februrary, I had a look to see what the three main speakers had been up to recently. I soon came across this particularly sickly piece by Lauren Booth:
I just want to say that a couple of strange things happened to me after that. I took the plane back to London from Tehran. As the plane was coming into London the pilot said: “Thank you for flying Tehran airways we’ll be in London in 20 minutes.” And at that point every Iranian Muslim woman took off the hijab and made out like she was from Sex in the City even showing some cleavage.
The question everyone wants to know is how did your family or children react. My two daughters who are very practical and are aged 8 and 10. They came to me with three questions:
Mummy when you’re a Muslim will you still be mummy?
I said: When I am a Muslim you know what, I will be a better mummy, they said: “Horrayyy!”
Mummy will you drink alcohol?
I said: When I am a Muslim I will never drink alcohol again and they said “Horrayyy!”
When you’re a Muslim will you show your chest?
I said why would you ask such a question? They said when you come to the school and your chest is showing we are embarrassed and we hate it and we want you to stop it.
I said: When I am a Muslim I will cover all this area and to which they said:
“We love Islam.”
It was that easy. When you look at those 3 questions the basic female womanhood is summarized in those 3 questions from the purity of children.
Speak for yourself. Although I felt rather queasy after reading this, it did remind me that I had been urged by a Twitter contact to watch a programme - ‘Make me a Muslim’ – about female converts to Islam. And I thought it was pretty good – we were introduced to five women with different experiences of converting to Islam, and also to a model, Shanna Bukhari, born a Muslim but no longer practising. The converts were, typically, rather more zealous than many Muslims in their faith, but also demonstrated self-deprecation and humour when admitting to weaknesses – missing parma ham, skipping early prayers and hanging on to some not entirely suitable shoes with super high heels.
Bukhair expressed a range of feelings and views over the course of the interviews – she was irritated by sex-segregation and the demand to wear hijab when she attended an Islamic class, and described the hostility and threats she had faced as a Muslim model, yet ended the programme implying she wanted to think further about the place of Islam in her life. However (unlike Lauren Booth tutting at Iranian women relieved to be able to take off their scarves) she spoke eloquently about how much she valued the freedoms of our society, as a modern British Muslim.
Returning to the Middlesex event – although obviously such speakers are not going to present Israel in a great light, they could also be said to be doing the Palestinians a disservice too. Let’s not forget that, in Lauren Booth’s eyes, the PSC and Harry’s Place are essentially indistinguishable. She says ‘we are all Palestinians now’ (repeatedly) here, but she doesn’t seem to have much in common with Palestinians such as – to pick a few very different examples at random – Bassam Aramin, Mohamed Abu Muailek or Khaled Dajani. Well, maybe that last link was a bit sickly too – but in a nice way!