This blog explores and examines the intersections of rhetoric, race, and religion.
Thursday, January 17, 2013
Hip Hop Hijabis Explore Gender Equality
A recent parliamentary report in the United Kingdom reveals that some Muslim women are removing their headscarves and anglicizing their names to improve their chances in the job market. Two best friends featured in the upcoming documentary film Hip Hop Hijabis did the exact opposite.
Born in Bristol to Jamaican parents, they converted to Islam in 2005, started wearing the hijab, and changed their names to Sukina Abdul Noor and Muneera Rashida. Together they are known as the hip hop duo Poetic Pilgrimage and have toured internationally to critical acclaim.
It is estimated there are a total of 100,000 British converts to Islam, a majority of them are women and a growing number are black youth from the inner cities. Combined with immigration, this has made Islam the second largest religion in the UK at around five percent of the population according to the latest census data.
Polls indicate that roughly half of all Britons think that is too many and that “Muslims create problems in the UK” reports an Evening Standard article. Yet evidence compiled byIslamophobia author Chris Allen shows that two-thirds admit to knowing "nothing or next to nothing about Islam" and get most of their knowledge from the media, which the Leveson Report on British press culture recently described to be biased in their coverage of Muslim stories.
By gaining insight into the mindset and daily lives of two outspoken female Muslim converts, Hip Hop Hijabis aims to dispel some of the misconceptions that cause such polarized views, especially around the issue of gender equality, which was a major concern for Ms. Abdul Noor and Ms. Rashida when they initially felt drawn to the religion.