The year of the veil? Muslim highs and lows in 2012

Published January 6th, 2013 - 16:17 GMT

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Blazing veils of glory: fans of the hijab tradition of Islam, or sisters in scarves, felt victorious when Egypt got its first veiled news anchor. Mubarak had forced the head-cover to stay off when the camera rolled on state TV in line with his secular modus operandi.
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Image 1 of 13: Blazing veils of glory: fans of the hijab tradition of Islam, or sisters in scarves, felt victorious when Egypt got its first veiled news anchor. Mubarak had forced the head-cover to stay off when the camera rolled on state TV in line with his secular modus operandi.

Muslim-pride in parliament: When a Hijabi girl speaks in British parliament, Islam and the famous House of Commons gain a historic moment. Sumaya Karim was the first Muslim in the House of Commons’ 700-year-history to appear in the head-covering. Participating in Youth Parliament, she took pains to point out that she donned the veil by choice.
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Image 1 of 13: Muslim-pride in parliament: When a Hijabi girl speaks in British parliament, Islam and the famous House of Commons gain a historic moment. Sumaya Karim was the first Muslim in the House of Commons’ 700-year-history to appear in the head-covering. Participating in Youth Parliament, she took pains to point out that she donned the veil by choice.

Hiking the Hajj: Bosnian Senad Hadzic captured the hearts of believers & nonbelievers across the globe this Hajj, after walking to Mecca. It was a tale of rags to spiritual riches when this pious man trekked a 6,000 km to his pilgrimage, helped along by fellow Muslims. He walked war-torn Syria, but was never afraid as, “God [was] is with me.”
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Image 1 of 13: Hiking the Hajj: Bosnian Senad Hadzic captured the hearts of believers & nonbelievers across the globe this Hajj, after walking to Mecca. It was a tale of rags to spiritual riches when this pious man trekked a 6,000 km to his pilgrimage, helped along by fellow Muslims. He walked war-torn Syria, but was never afraid as, “God [was] is with me.”

Setting the pace: The first female Saudi athletes competed at the Olympic Games in London, gaining standing ovations from the crowds. Hailed as heroines by some and ridiculed as “Prostitutes of the Olympics” by others, the women were nevertheless pioneers in the history of sport in the Arab World.
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Image 1 of 13: Setting the pace: The first female Saudi athletes competed at the Olympic Games in London, gaining standing ovations from the crowds. Hailed as heroines by some and ridiculed as “Prostitutes of the Olympics” by others, the women were nevertheless pioneers in the history of sport in the Arab World.

Muslims make in-roads in construction: Power to the people and Muslim women no less, when a veiled lady heads up a giant building project in Europe. Turkish engineering graduate and migrant to Sweden, Yelda Aujan will be the Islamic face behind Stockholm’s largest sports stadium, as she oversees and gets it off the ground.
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Image 1 of 13: Muslims make in-roads in construction: Power to the people and Muslim women no less, when a veiled lady heads up a giant building project in Europe. Turkish engineering graduate and migrant to Sweden, Yelda Aujan will be the Islamic face behind Stockholm’s largest sports stadium, as she oversees and gets it off the ground.

Let them eat pizza! and wear scarves! A Muslim-friendly dress-code was issued by the law-makers for the lawyers as more historical precedent was made for Islam in continental Europe. The espresso-stoked Italians permitted practitioners to wear the Muslim head-scarf in court and other corridors of legislation.
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Image 1 of 13: Let them eat pizza! and wear scarves! A Muslim-friendly dress-code was issued by the law-makers for the lawyers as more historical precedent was made for Islam in continental Europe. The espresso-stoked Italians permitted practitioners to wear the Muslim head-scarf in court and other corridors of legislation.

Riots broke out in the Belgian capital Brussels in June, 2012, after a woman was arrested for refusing to remove her veil. A ban against the niqab came into force in 2011 in Belgium, following a similar law in France in 2010.
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Image 1 of 13: Riots broke out in the Belgian capital Brussels in June, 2012, after a woman was arrested for refusing to remove her veil. A ban against the niqab came into force in 2011 in Belgium, following a similar law in France in 2010.

More than skin deep, in the eye of the beholder: The world’s first Muslim beauty pageant, Muslimah Beauty, hosted in Indonesia, attempted to show a different perspective to Islam. The event stirred grumbles from the conservative-set, while stringent criteria included technological, academic & sporting accomplishments. Non-hijabis need not apply.
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Image 1 of 13: More than skin deep, in the eye of the beholder: The world’s first Muslim beauty pageant, Muslimah Beauty, hosted in Indonesia, attempted to show a different perspective to Islam. The event stirred grumbles from the conservative-set, while stringent criteria included technological, academic & sporting accomplishments. Non-hijabis need not apply.

Bad apple: An advert on a New York subway that called opponents of Israel “savages” sparked protests against anti-Muslim sentiment in the city. It came after the New York police were found to have a large network of spies operating on college campuses in the state.
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Image 1 of 13: Bad apple: An advert on a New York subway that called opponents of Israel “savages” sparked protests against anti-Muslim sentiment in the city. It came after the New York police were found to have a large network of spies operating on college campuses in the state.

2012 was a year of many firsts for Egyptians. Unlike her predecessor, Suzanne Mubarak, Egyptian First Lady Najla Mahmoud looks very much like an ordinary Egyptian mother, complete with hijab and abaya. The attire caused consternation among critics, who expected glamor in the wife of a leader, while others approved the more modest look.
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Image 1 of 13: 2012 was a year of many firsts for Egyptians. Unlike her predecessor, Suzanne Mubarak, Egyptian First Lady Najla Mahmoud looks very much like an ordinary Egyptian mother, complete with hijab and abaya. The attire caused consternation among critics, who expected glamor in the wife of a leader, while others approved the more modest look.

Students in Turkey will now be able to wear the hijab in school. A law passed last year means schoolchildren no longer have to wear uniform in the traditionally secular state.
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Image 1 of 13: Students in Turkey will now be able to wear the hijab in school. A law passed last year means schoolchildren no longer have to wear uniform in the traditionally secular state.

While in Egypt the brotherhood effectively came to power, there was no brotherly love lost in the wider Muslim world as Muslim turned on Muslim. Increasing sectarianism attending a region plagued by strife from Iran to Arabia, and Shia slaying Sunni and vice versa became the backbone of headlines.
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Image 1 of 13: While in Egypt the brotherhood effectively came to power, there was no brotherly love lost in the wider Muslim world as Muslim turned on Muslim. Increasing sectarianism attending a region plagued by strife from Iran to Arabia, and Shia slaying Sunni and vice versa became the backbone of headlines.

Smoke-screens & Muslim moles? In an odd twist, it transpired that the man leading the CIA’s war on terror is a Muslim convert, often seen clutching prayer beads while presiding over a covert counter-Jihad military campaign deep in Muslim land. 'Roger' oversaw the raid that killed OBL and was the key cheer-leader for the drone war in Pakistan.
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Image 1 of 13: Smoke-screens & Muslim moles? In an odd twist, it transpired that the man leading the CIA’s war on terror is a Muslim convert, often seen clutching prayer beads while presiding over a covert counter-Jihad military campaign deep in Muslim land. 'Roger' oversaw the raid that killed OBL and was the key cheer-leader for the drone war in Pakistan.

It's been a year of highs and lows for the Muslim faithful. Followers of Islam found the old disagreements over what is acceptable and what is not resurfacing in contemporary arguments. Here we present some of the best, worst and downright unusual, Islam had to offer in 2012.

Last year saw the opening of the first “gay mosque” in France to cheers and jeers. Some thought this was fabulous, saying that Islam is open to personal interpretation, a religion for the post-modern 21st Century, where each follower can choose his or her own path to being closer to God. Others, however, vehemently disagreed with the gay-founded house of Islamic worship, saying that it was an affront to Islam and to the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH).
 

It has also been learned that the head of the Central Intelligence Agency’s covert drone war - and the man in charge of the hunt for Osama bin Laden - converted to Islam when he married his wife.

The world’s first beauty pageant where wearing a hijab was mandatory was held in Indonesia and for the first time Saudi women carried the torch for Islam by joining fellow athletes at the London Olympics.

A key moment of the year was the violent protests that swept across the region, after a trailer for the film “The Innocence of Muslims” was posted on video-sharing website, Youtube. Vicious attacks were levelled at symbols of America. Embassies were hit, leading to a tragic fallout, starting when the US Ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens, was killed, although the jury remains out on whether his death was due directly to the film, or whether it was part of a pre-planned operation on the anniversary of 9/11.

It was one of the defining moments of the year, but did it do the religion any favors; and is it right to protest violently against offenders of the faith or indeed freedoms of speech -- even if those freedoms are used in a low-grade and anti-religious spirit? Does this kind of collective action just give Islam a bad rap?


For many Muslims, the film “The Innocence of Muslims” enraged, provoked and angered. The rise of salafists and other militant zealots in Tunisia and Syria worried more moderate Muslims and non-Muslims alike as to the future trajectory of political Islam. With conflict in Syria taking on an increasingly sectarian tone, protests in Iraq heating up along sectarian lines, and the continued exodus of minority faiths from the region, it is hard to imagine a more promising year ahead.

Still, among all the Islamic darkness and chaos, there was light.  Many firsts for the right to veil publicly visited formerly supressed Muslim communities- from East to West. 2012 was a record year for the hijab, and achievements for visibly Muslim women in sport and architecture.

Whether it was in actions by Muslims or on behalf of Muslims or even against Muslims, the year of 2012 can be defined by activities revolving around Islam. Was it a record-breaking or reputation-making year for the faith or the faithful? Did Islam make as many headlines as in years past? In answer, Islam probably grabbed as many headlines as we've come to expect, and then some more. Here are the highs and lows of Islam in 2012.

 

Share your thoughts on the year past - Was 2012 a happy year for Islam? What is your abiding image of the year - -the anti-Islam film or the first veil on Egyptian state TV? 

 

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