Curious moments

Today’s paper-pushing, student-calming and so forth ended in a curious sort of gig which was entertaining 43 Arab maidens from the Emirates. They have been on some sort of empowerment course in Dundee, and were up for a day’s worth of Aberdeen, where it was, on and off, snowing. We therefore excused them Plan A, ‘A Walk Round Old Aberdeen’ and substituted a lecture with powerpoint pictures, improvised at the eleventh hour. I must say, they are clearly a very bright bunch, as an audience, they were both courteous and lively, and I can only say that whatever empowerment has been going on seems to be working. The chador does not necessarily result in a switching off of higher mental processes, whatever the French President might think. We had a schedule for this event, but the thing we hadn’t reckoned on was the aftermath. Not questions, but, I strongly suspect, a Courtesy of the Modern World (I encountered it in Japan). They wanted to take their photos with us. I can’t really think why they want stout, grey & shabby Aberdeen professors, other than to demonstrate that the event took place & they were there, in case of Questions Later, but they did. They were commendably efficient about the whole thing, and asked politely if we minded being on their Facebooks, but even so, as with weddings, it took FOREVER.

3 Responses to “Curious moments”

  1. The French Correspondent Says:

    Not just the French president, alas, but the entire population behind him. What the French call ‘laïcité’ effectively translates as anti-religion, rather than secularism or the toleration it was supposed to warrant.

  2. Jane Says:

    Evidence seems to be very much for women passionately defending their right to veil. You can say ‘they’ve all been brainwashed’, but hasn’t everyone? One thing that often strikes me (e.g. in the Rare Books Room of the British Library, where for some reason, many Muslim women work as fetchers) is that there is an enormous range of covered upness, each presumably motivated by personal preference, and family and ethnic traditions, so each is presumably exercising the right to be herself. None of them seem to be perturbed by anyone else’s choices, nor by those of their non Muslim colleagues who go in for plunging necklines and clinging garments. We have a rather good (non state) girls’ school in Aberdeen which has simply created a variant on the school uniform in which the standard grey flannel skirt is ankle length, and there is a plain navy blue veil. The lasses come out looking a bit like nuns, but hating your school uniform is traditional whatever your religion.

  3. The French Correspondent Says:

    Good for those school students, as long as they are happy to follow the national curriculum like everybody else, without tearing the pages on reproduction from biology books. Focusing on the veil as they do in France is a hypocritical way of diverting public attention from the important issues, those to do with social integration and Muslim girls’ prospects, as opposed to visible signs. Too many French Muslims are still worshipping in warehouses. During the climax of the veil controversy (that is, before it degenerated into the unrefrained nonsense you hear French authorities utter these days), it transpired that many outspoken middle-class teenage girls whose mothers didn’t wear a veil (or asked them to wear one) had reclaimed it as an identity symbol. I have several Muslim students here who use their veil to great effect in a whole range of looks, not least the pretty and trendy sort - playing on lots of very bright fabrics, combined with make-up and figure-hugging clothes. I might well find it a disturbing experience to teach someone whose face was almost entirely invisible, though.

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