"Poppy Hijab" Has Brits Divided

by
Suzanne Robertson
The poppy hijab was created as a way to honor fallen Muslim soldiers.

The little red flower donned by many on their lapel to commemorate Remembrance Day is generating controversy in the UK.  A poppy hijab for Muslim women was recently offered for sale and not everyone thinks it's a good idea

Designed by 24-year-old Muslim fashion student Tabinda-Kauser Ishaq, the scarf, selling for $22, is supposed to honor fallen soldiers and "offer British Muslims a new way to mark remembrance."

The Islamic Society of Britain (ISB) and the think-tank British Future began selling the scarf to raise money for the British Royal Legion and raise awareness about the 400,000 Muslims, most of them Indian, who fought with British troops in World War I. The first run, 120 scarves, sold out in just 36 hours.

"It is hoped that the garment will serve as a symbol of Britain's diverse and shared history and the coming together of people from all backgrounds to remember," the British Future website says.

However, some are not so happy about this new way of Muslim remembrance. 

In a widely shared blog post, the poppy hijab is called "the most ill-conceived of the recent spate of 'we are not extremists' initiatives". The post was written by Sofia Ahmed, an activist living in Manchester and the founder of Muslim Women Against Femen, the Ukrainian feminist group famous for its topless protests. Ahmed says no other religious group is pressured to prove its allegiance in such a way.

"I also take issue with the fact that a symbol of my religion is being appropriated as a marketing tool for (the) empire," Ahmed wrote.

"Thousands of British Muslims already wear a poppy. This is just another way for them to show they remember those who gave their lives for their country," said Sughra Ahmed, president of the ISB.

 "It's also a way for ordinary Muslim citizens to take some attention away from extremists who seem to grab the headlines. This symbol of quiet remembrance is the face of everyday British Islam - not the angry minority who spout hatred and offend everyone."

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