headscarves in France
Little kids wearing scarves/Hajib.

French hostages plead for lives

He says French people have been appalled by their plight, and are baffled that the country’s citizens should have been targeted by Iraqi militants, given France’s vocal opposition to the US-led invasion of Iraq.

Nonetheless there seems to be some sort of issue regarding the banning of religious headscarves in France behind this. That should further tick off the French public.

Any bets that this guy is behind it?

When I’m running France,
things will be different!

MECCA, Saudi Arabia (AFP) Saudi Arabia’s highest religious authority called France’s plan to pass a law banning the Islamic headscarf in schools an “infringement on human rights” and said the country was more concerned with the rights of nudists than Muslims.

“Interfering in the affairs of Muslims regarding the headscarf is an infringement on the human rights that they (French) say they are defending,” grand mufti Sheikh Abdul Aziz al-Sheikh said Monday night during a meeting with Saudi academics in Mecca, west of Saudi Arabia.

Does anyone wonder why a cleric in Saudi Arabia is having meetings in Mecca over French domestic policy? Seems odd. In fact, if you want to follow world trends, this is the go-to guy to watch. And, of course, nobody in the US media even knows who he is. You should make a note of his attire. While he wears the Ghutra or headscarf (the red and white common in Saudi Arabia) you’ll see no igal — that black rope-like adornment that helps hold the scarf in place. Typically when it is missing it means the person is a Salafist/Wahhabist Muslim fundamentalist/revivalist. It can also mean the person is a young male who is “stylin'” I suspect the former here. Keep an eye on this “signal” when you watch 60 Minutes and other shows. It’s amusing to see how no reporter picks up on this dress code. One reason given for the missing igal, besides codes, is that it’s considered an unnecessary even decadent adornment that is verboten. Here is a good minimal backgrounder on Arab attire. It seems to mystify most people, especially Hollywood directors

Related links:
When in in the Middle East you may want to blend in without accidentally wearing the outfit of a specific sect that nobody likes. Practical jokers are everywhere. Beware. I can assure you that wearing cut-offs and an Hawaiian shirt will make people think you are both an American and crazy.

Weird Tale of the Catholic Woman who wears the Hajib so she can get better prices at Muslim stores. Geez.

  1. Ed Campbell says:

    Fact is, the French government and citizens at large care more for the rights of nudists than the rights of ANY religion. With the Roman Catholic Church in France moving out about 150 priests in their annual ordination, this year — and the largest Christian denomination in the land empty enough to hold echo contests in their cathedrals — and anti-clerical for unsurprising historic reasons, only Americans who learn their world news from unworldly sources are surprised at any of this.

    Of course, most Americans, more so, since McCarthyites started shoving religious symbolism back into government a half-century ago, think freedom on questions of religion means you get to choose a religion from column A or B — and choosing NO religion makes you unAmerikan.

  2. Mike Voice says:

    The idea that most westerners, myself included, know almost-nothing about Muslim traditions – reminds me of a joke/story about the Fez.

    The story/joke is amusing to me, since it seems plausible – American visitor sees street-vendor selling “hats”, including the Fez. Sees several men wearing the Fez, and has often seen them worn in movies – and by Shriner’s in parades, driving those tiny cars – and decides to buy one, as a momento of the visit.

    Later, after having a few drinks, the visitor decides to wear the Fez – on the way back to the hotel.

    Wrong Answer! The Fez (at least, for the purposes of the joke) has cultural significance – as a sign the wearer has made the pilgrimage to Mecca! So, the locals are “less than friendly” to a drunk infidel stumbling-around their fair city – wearing the Fez.

    Probably a complete fabrication, with all sorts of factual errors – but a useful parable for travellers. Just because the locals are doing/wearing something, doesn’t mean they would appreciate you doing/wearing it.

  3. Mike Voice says:

    The story on the grand mufti starts with “Saudi Arabia’s highest religious authority…”

    That is something else foreign to westerners – the fact that one person can claim to be, let alone be acknowledged as, the highest religious authority for an entire nation.

    Separation of church and state is impossible when the rulers are not just ruling the country, but are also responsible for protecting the two holiest shines in Islam.

    I remember my surprise, years ago, when reading a history of the “middle-east”, to find that Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world with a family’s surname in the title. With the “ibn Saud” name of the royal family – “Saudi” denotes ownership. So, the literal translation is Saud’s Arabia.

    I was amazed I have not heard this discussed – before or since. And, with recent discussions about the current royal family in danger of losing control of the country – I am scared.

    Not because I care about the Saud family or their oil, but because their rule is intertwined with their religious duties. Any “regime change” in Saudi Arabia will make the one in Iraq look like a picnic – because they will not just be over-throwing a monarchy, they will be overthrowing the “protectors” of Mecca and Medina. If you think the fighting in Afganistan and Iraq has drawn Muslim fighters from other countries – you ain’t seen nothing yet. 🙁

  4. JOhn C. Dvorak says:

    Mike, note that what we are really discussing is Arab, not Muslim tradition. The biggest Muslim country, Indonesia, has a totally different perspective on things as does Turkey. The Turks, because of their proximity to the Middle East have imposed strict penalties on radical Islamists. Like the death penalty, to keep the country secular. We don’t seem to understand why this is important to them and condemn them for being so harsh. In fact they have to do this. It’s all that Arab money causing the problem and creating Arab influence on the religion which the Arabs see as “theirs.” The whole thing is fascinating. I’m of the opinion that the Saudi Royal family will be ousted by these radicals and you’ll be seeing them in Beverly Hills living in exile. Americans need to get out more, there’s a lot going on.

  5. John C. Dvorak says:

    Oh, and regarding Saudi Arabia being named after the family, ask some knowledgeable people who is really supposed to own the country and whose family was tricked out of it. It’s a fascinating tale that everyone in the Mid-east knows.

    The rightful ruler and “owner” is King Abdullah of Jordan, a descendant of Mohammed himself. (Not to be mixed up with Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia). That’s one reason they keep trying to kill him. I have no idea why this basic information is kept out of the Western media.

  6. Mike Voice says:

    Thanks, John.

    I got tunnel-vision, and wasn’t thinking of the big picture. Just because the majority of Arabs are Muslim, doesn’t mean their culture is representative of all/most Muslims.

    The idea that “…the Saudi Royal family will be ousted by these radicals…” still scares me.

    There seemed to be enough tension/concern amongst the Shia/Shiites of the world, with the recent fighting near one of their holy shrines in Najaf. Anyone taking-over protection of, and access to, holy sites in Mecca and Medina would have to be of major concern to all Muslims – worldwide.

    Could they oust the royals peacefully, without a civil war? Would there be any disruption in the Hajj?

    Is my ignorance (freely acknowledged) causing me to worry, because I don’t understand how their system works?

    On the ” rightful ruler and ‘owner’ ” – all I (vaguely) remember reading was how the area was divided-up after WWII – by the victors – and Britain played an important role? I tried to do a quick web search – to see if my memory is accurate on this – and the few sites I checked all skip WWII on their history. Anything between 1938 and 1945 is not important??

  7. John C. Dvorak says:

    I used to have a site about all this stuff. I’ll re-do it before the next bad attack which I calculate will be around 2008. There is one thing of which you should be aware and something that still makes me suspicious about all this Iraq action is that the Trade Center radicals and all the violent fundamentalist who really hate us are all from the Sunni branch, specifically Salafists or the subgroups. The term Wahhabists is used by Westerners but it should be Salafist and Google search results are better using the right term. Personally, I cannot figure out why the Salafist moniker is never used by the Western media anywhere I can find. Something is a red herring, methinks. Anyway, when you read enough literature you quickly discover that the Salafist Sunni HATE the Shi’ites with a passion. This is a big deal, this feud. Huge.

  8. Mike Voice says:

    Thanks for the details.


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