Veiled woman to give C4′s speech


by Leon
5th December, 2006 at 9:47 pm    

Oh dear, Channel 4 has decided to take its pseudo subversive ‘controversy’ reputation one step further.

A veiled Muslim woman will deliver this year’s alternative Christmas speech on Channel 4, the broadcaster has said. Khadija, a Zimbabwean-born British citizen who has been wearing the full veil – or niqab – for 10 years, has been given the slot.

The message will reflect a year in which the wearing of religious clothing and symbols have “dominated the news agenda”, said a Channel 4 spokesman. [Via BBC news]

Sure, not ‘We’ve just thought of another way to exploit a news story for ratings’. Right? Opportunistic and cynical or simply clever marketing?

Update: Clive Davis likes the idea of Helen Mirren (she played the Queen on film recently). Kinda like that idea too. Better yet why not get those Spitting Image puppets out of storage and use them?!

Sunny adds: Turns out Khadija actually loves the Queen and “being British”. I love such twists to the tale.


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  1. Indigo Jo Blogs

    Khadija’s Christmas message…

    Via Deenport and Pickled Politics, we hear that Channel 4 is planning to have a woman in niqab to read their “alternative Christmas message” this year: A veiled Muslim woman will deliver this year’s alternative Christmas speech on Channel 4,……


  2. Clive Davis

    DRESS CODE…

    Christmas Day competition for the Queen from a woman in a niqab? I look forward to a lively debate on the pros and cons over at Pickled Politics. Perhaps someone should persuade Helen Mirren to address the nation as well?…




  1. Psychohobbit233 — on 5th December, 2006 at 10:03 pm  

    I shall listen to it wearing my balaclava and hear what she says.

  2. ZinZin — on 5th December, 2006 at 10:08 pm  

    “Khadija is a freelance lecturer in Islamic studies and the Koran.”

    Translation: she is unemployed.

  3. Nyrone — on 5th December, 2006 at 10:54 pm  

    I’m guessing it’ll probably be more interesting than Sharon Osbourne or Marge Simpson’s Christmas message.

    I’m actually looking forward to hearing this.
    does it smack of ‘empty controversy’?
    of course it does…but that shouldn’t prevent it being powerful, relevant and important.

    nevertheless, It’s a very brave move by C4..it’s so risky it hurts, but it may have a real unifying effect on the millions who watch it…I can’t help but feel that the woman in question has a lot of pressure on her shoulders…it’s quite a tightrope to walk along.

  4. Psychohobbit233 — on 5th December, 2006 at 11:06 pm  

    How can we tell she’s a woman? As if it mattered.

  5. Don — on 5th December, 2006 at 11:15 pm  

    Lip-readers every where are outraged.

    So, the hearing impaired are once again a cheap joke. ‘Let ‘em read the sub-titles’ you may say, but what of the dyslexic lip-readers? Who speaks for them?

  6. Psychohobbit233 — on 5th December, 2006 at 11:41 pm  

    Sign language lesson for deaf dog (may be relevant or not)

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/edinburgh_and_east/4753911.stm

  7. Refresh — on 6th December, 2006 at 1:05 am  

    Excellent idea!

    I see that its already having the effect I should imagine C4 executives thought it might.

  8. DavidMWW — on 6th December, 2006 at 8:14 am  

    How do we know it’s not Ali G in disguise?

  9. Jagdeep — on 6th December, 2006 at 11:20 am  

    Channel 4 – dont you just love them. Put her in the next series of Big Brother.

  10. Jai — on 6th December, 2006 at 11:47 am  

    ^^^…..with a Page 3 model. Or a hyper-feminist type.

    God, imagine the fireworks. Assuming they don’t all decide to gang up on the woman.

  11. sonia — on 6th December, 2006 at 12:06 pm  

    Heh heh. how strange. i find it weird how these women in niqabs seem to be so keen on on turning themselves into some kind of symbol. ah well!

  12. miraxx — on 6th December, 2006 at 1:57 pm  

    ….with a Page 3 model

    Didn’t the Sun actually get a page 3 model to wear a niqab for the day a few weeks ago? Agree with Sonia though; niqabis are the most exhibitionist, vainest lot around – the assumption that all men fall to a ravenous lust upon beholding them. Really! So the C4 decision is a joke at their expense afterall.

  13. Don — on 6th December, 2006 at 5:03 pm  

    Odds on she’ll be wearing alluring eye-make up.

  14. Jai — on 6th December, 2006 at 5:19 pm  
  15. DavidBruno — on 6th December, 2006 at 5:31 pm  

    she’ll need some visual aids:

    - subtitles;
    - a mini look-alike in the top right hand quarter of the screen signing for the deaf community.

    I wonder who will be advertising to the mix of Islamists, RESPECTees and followers of surreal humour who will be watching?

  16. ZinZin — on 6th December, 2006 at 5:48 pm  

    Hang on christmas speech and veiled Muslim women?

  17. Don — on 6th December, 2006 at 5:58 pm  

    Thanks Jai, you gotta admit that’s hot. If a woman really wants me to avert my gaze and quell my amorous propensities, muffin tops are the way to go.

  18. Jai — on 6th December, 2006 at 6:15 pm  

    =>”Thanks Jai, you gotta admit that’s hot.”

    Hell yeah. Smouldering beautiful eyes like that, where everything else is completely covered, just serve to increase curiosity even further and kinda defeats the original purpose.

  19. inders — on 6th December, 2006 at 6:16 pm  

    Channel 4 are seriously losing their way, firstly with those cheap documentries and now this. Its all very gimmicky and one dimensional.

  20. Suzzy — on 6th December, 2006 at 6:29 pm  

    From the TV channel that brought you a woman masturbating with a wine bottle on Big Brother a few years ago….

    Channel 4 — what a bunch of twats

  21. miraxx — on 6th December, 2006 at 6:37 pm  

    >> Muffin tops are the way to go.

    Do you mean the bulge of flesh at the hips when one’s wearing low-slungs Don? I somehow didn’t figure you for the kind of guy who notices such…;-)

  22. Don — on 6th December, 2006 at 7:02 pm  

    Yep. It’s when you swing round on your bar stool and it’s six inches from your eyes. A total stranger sticking lumps of unsightly mottled flesh into your face, how would I not notice?

  23. William — on 6th December, 2006 at 8:26 pm  

    I am wondering what sort of statement CH4 are trying to make. Or is it like some kind of conceptual art where bung it out and watch the reactions.

    I await some wisecrack comic to do a mickey take!!!

  24. Arif — on 7th December, 2006 at 2:30 pm  

    By covering her mouth she doesn’t lose the ability to speak.

    By being outraged or cynical at her appearance, we won’t lose the ability to listen.

    Maybe someone can explain why it is so controversial? Nyrone, you say it is risky… what do you fear might happen?

  25. Jagdeep — on 7th December, 2006 at 2:40 pm  

    It depends on what she says Arif.

    If she makes a ten minute speech cussing non Muslims on Christmas day and comes out with the usual tendentious radical Islamist crap, I expect she won’t receive a generous response. If she spends ten minutes congratulating Christians on the day of the birth of Jesus, and makes a magnanimous speech about Christianity and integration, she’ll probably get a good response.

    There is a chance though that as someone who wears a visible sign of separation and backwardness, she may well indulge in a victimhood screed or perhaps even take advantage of the audience attention on the birthday of Jesus Christ to assert a rhetoric of Islamic Supremacism. If that were to be the case, I’m sure she would be criticised, and let’s face it, niqab wearers have a fair share of supremacist types among them. It’s great publicity – what a coup, on Chritsmas Day too!

    But as I said, were she to make a speech full of love and respect for Christianity and go easy on the Islamist (xmas) stuffing, I’m sure it would be taken in the right spirit.

  26. Jagdeep — on 7th December, 2006 at 2:41 pm  

    But what are the chances of that? Who knows! Only God.

  27. Arif — on 7th December, 2006 at 3:09 pm  

    Hmmmm, I see Jagdeep. I assumed that she would make a thought through speech (given the context of the TV programme). But as I don’t see the niqab as a symbol of separation and backwardness, I guess I have a different set of assumptions about the kinds of people who might wear it. It didn’t occur to me that she might make a supremacist rant. Even I would find that controversial.

    Is that what the rest of you believe too? That a niqab-wearing woman is likely to be a politically-motivated supremacist?

  28. sonia — on 7th December, 2006 at 3:13 pm  

    well it depends arif. i wouldn’t generalize, but some women i have met ( within a ‘muslim woman’ context) have acted superior because they felt they were being more ‘true’ to their religion than ‘ahem’ some of us. which frankly doesnt bother me, but it did bother some other muslim women i know. so…

    in any case, anyone can feel superior to others and that can then be taken a step further into more abstract ‘supremacism’. i dont think its got anything to do with what one wears – obviously – could apply to any of us.

  29. Jagdeep — on 7th December, 2006 at 3:26 pm  

    Yes it’s right not to generalise Arif. But I think that as a statement, which is what it is, it is a statement of separateness, and because it asserts a symbolic and literal obliteration and marginalisation of women it is backward in that it asserts a womans negation as a result of the male stare, rather than stating that the male stare and the supposed ‘lust’ therein aroused to violate the woman is at fault, and that it is an extreme statement of accession to that patriarchal falsity and backwardness. For all of those reasons it is possible that the wearer might subscribe to a particular religious-political stance.

  30. miraxx — on 7th December, 2006 at 3:38 pm  

    >>That a niqab-wearing woman is likely to be a politically-motivated supremacist?

    For those that willingly choose it, yes that or brainwashed fool.

  31. Arif — on 7th December, 2006 at 4:02 pm  

    Jagdeep, I agree that there is a statement involved, but I don’t agree that the statement is as narrow and predictable as you suggest.

    Jagdeep and Miraxx, I think there are other possibilities. I’ll just give a few as examples:

    A woman who wishes to separate herself from her past (eg a failed relationship) may wear the niqab as a statement of a new beginning. A woman who has recently converted and is looking for ways to quickly make a statement of this with zeal, in defiance of how other people will judge her. A woman has seen others at mosque put on a niqab and doesn’t feel strongly about it one way or another, in comparison with how much she wants to stay one of the crowd with her friends. A new arrival to the UK who feels frightened and shy about aspects of their new country and feels safer psychologically behind barriers of fabric. Someone who feels that the controversy over the veil is ridiculous, genuinely sees it as an inoffensive piece of fabric, but wants to wear it now as a show of defiance – revelling in the discomfort of those she judges as narrow-minded bigots.

    We can judge them all as bad reasons, woefully naive and immature, or whatever. But clothing decisions always seem a bit arbitrary to me. When I think about it, I think I wear my styles of clothes to fit in, so I guess my reasons also make me a brainwashed fool. As such I feel I can’t judge others for being the same, or being more conscious in their decisions.

  32. Jagdeep — on 7th December, 2006 at 4:08 pm  

    Yeah I suppose it could be all of those things, but it’s still a statement of separateness and backwardness.

  33. Arif — on 7th December, 2006 at 4:16 pm  

    :)

    You made me laugh Jagdeep.

    It’s still a statement of separateness and backwardness in your head, but not in mine or hers or in any objective way.

  34. Jagdeep — on 7th December, 2006 at 4:17 pm  

    Yeah :-)

  35. Ria — on 7th December, 2006 at 4:44 pm  

    I think its a brill way forward. as i understand it is supposed to be an alternative to the queen’s speech. with all the media hype this yr surrounding muslims n especially muslim women, why not have a veiled woman taking on this role this yr?

  36. miraxx — on 7th December, 2006 at 4:46 pm  

    >>Jagdeep and Miraxx, I think there are other possibilities. I’ll just give a few as examples:

    I am genuinely disappointed with your array of examples as i have come to expect more thoughtfulness from you, Arif. Not a single one of the circumstances you cite is unique to women or to muslims (with the exception of the last one, that of the woman playing provocateur which is arrogance personified) and yet, very few women and no men feel compelled to shroud themselves as such. The niqab erases individual identity and objectifies women, and only women so it is disingenuous to present it as just another arbitrary fashion choice. Especially when you and those that don the awful garment know very well that male religious dictat in other parts of the world make the burqa an instrument of cruel oppression. The niqab appears to me as pathological as self mutilation.

  37. El Cid — on 7th December, 2006 at 5:02 pm  

    I’m going to treat it as a spoof and watch it with all the family so that we can have a good laugh at the idea of somebody asking us to take her seriously even though she is unwilling to show us her face.

  38. Arif — on 7th December, 2006 at 5:16 pm  

    Sorry you are disappointed miraxx. I think if anything I intended to cite circumstances which were not unique to women or Muslims. I am not giving examples where people feel compelled because I thought they would come readily to mind.

    Erasing individual identity – if that is what you feel it does – is also something which clothes choices do without being unique to women or Muslims.

    Objectifying women is also something which clothes designs do without being unique to currents within Islam. And whether it is seen as an objectification depends on the particular interpreter – some people will insist it is resistence to objectification or a symbol of piety and they will think you miss the point as much as you feel they do.

    It is disingenious to present something which is imposed as something which is chosen. And where niqab is imposed there are many further layers of oppression and it is one of many instruments of oppression where both force and opinion are used to keep people conforming to unchosen rules and interpretations. But I did not think this was the situation of the woman who is making the speech (my own assumption).

    There are many things which people choose to do that appear pathological to others. I don’t think those things are above criticism. It is just that criticism which makes sweeping assumptions about people’s motives and worth are part of the same problem to me.

    If people make choices I don’t like then I shouldn’t assume they are doing it for reasons I don’t like. That would be another way of repressing complex human stories.

  39. El Cid — on 7th December, 2006 at 5:47 pm  

    Hey, why stop there. I must as well be truthful and go for the moslem-jewish 1-2

    My youngest son no longer goes on a Thursday to his nursery — which is voluntarily-run and in the grounds of a catholic church — because I object to one of the carers wearing the niqab. She doesn’t wear it during the day at work, or even when parents arrive to pick up their kids (although she used to) but she insists on wearing it on Thursdays when the kids (3-4 years old) visit the local library. I’m not happy with that because I don’t want my son to think that that is normal, let alone ok.

    I’m sorry if that offends, but the niqab offends me.

  40. El Cid — on 7th December, 2006 at 5:49 pm  

    P.S. She is by all accounts very nice, punctual, and dependable, unlike previous carers. But that is beside the point.

  41. Zantax — on 7th December, 2006 at 5:53 pm  

    What do they think is going to happen if a man sees their face? That they’ll go to hell or that they’ll be so maddened by lust that they can’t control themselves? WTF??

  42. ZinZin — on 7th December, 2006 at 6:02 pm  
  43. William — on 7th December, 2006 at 6:49 pm  

    Arif

    I agree that a lot depends on a persons motives and whether it is right to make evalutions as external observers. Taking into account the interior frame of reference of the individual and their first person account of why they behave the way they do is valuable
    in how something appears. There have been Muslim women on TV who have clearly said they don’t feel oppressed by their decision to wear the veil and I
    have no reason to disbelieve them and wonder why anyone else would.

    As well this has a history bound up with male patriarchy which puts the responibilty on the female.
    (I have sometimes said in jest, why not make muslim men wear blinkers). Maybe some muslim women are blind to this.

    Yes in some places the veil etc is bound up with oppression and is definitely just oppression and should be pointed out as such.

  44. Chris Stiles — on 7th December, 2006 at 7:15 pm  


    I’m going to treat it as a spoof and watch it with all the family so that we can have a good laugh

    Doesn’t C4 have a history of this – ISTR a few years ago they had Homer Simpson doing the Queen’s speech.

  45. inders — on 7th December, 2006 at 10:10 pm  

    Its like they’re trying to bait middle england using a woman with a face covering as the bait. Surely the ideal state of religious tolarance wouldn’t include a woman with a veil being so ‘provacative’ nor channel 4 trying to make one into some sort of provocative totem.

  46. Refresh — on 8th December, 2006 at 10:12 am  

    I am fascinated by all this fuss, that can only have been whipped up on PP or Harry’s Place.

    I think it says more about the posters than it was ever going to say about the woman doing the speech. And I don’t doubt for one minute the C4 executives didn’t know that.

    Its a challenge to ignorance, racism, prejudice and bigotry. For you all to watch and mull over.

    It may well have been specifically targetted at Harry’s Place and PP.

    It is for that reason, I consider this a very good move.

  47. Leon — on 8th December, 2006 at 10:24 am  

    Its a challenge to ignorance, racism, prejudice and bigotry. For you all to watch and mull over.

    Dear me, know nothing about the PR then I see…

    It may well have been specifically targetted at Harry’s Place and PP.

    Er…a national TV channel makes a decision to stir up two blogs??

  48. RandomGuy — on 8th December, 2006 at 10:31 am  

    @El Cid: I can completely empathise with your decision to remove your son from the nursery because one of the carers wears the niqab. I mean, I took out my kids from a nursery that was trying to make them take part in, of all things, a nativity play!!! Can you imagine my disgust at the whole thing? I too am offended by this sort of dangerous influence on my childrens’ social perceptions of other religions (they after all may think it is acceptable – and that is a no-no, right?) and ways of life. Well done that man, I say!

  49. soru — on 8th December, 2006 at 10:38 am  

    Its a challenge to ignorance, racism, prejudice and bigotry.

    That’s true, in the sense that petrol is a ‘challenge’ to firey burning combustion.

    Best case, she sticks to cute fluffy bunny stuff, the Sun takes the piss a bit, some americans rant about eurabia, everyone laughs at them, nothing happens.

    Worst case, who can say?

  50. miraxx — on 8th December, 2006 at 1:02 pm  

    >>Its a challenge to ignorance, racism, prejudice and bigotry. For you all to watch and mull over.

    Yes, of course, because to people like Refresh, bigotry and boneheaded stupidity and ignorance can only flow in one direction from us viewers, self-righteous prigs like him or the niqabi are higher mortals.

  51. Refresh — on 8th December, 2006 at 2:09 pm  

    Mirax,

    Sorry it really should have read as “For all to watch and mull over”.

    Otherwise it does read as you say.

  52. RandomGuy — on 8th December, 2006 at 2:20 pm  

    @Miraxx: what a pointless statement. Of course, it is a great excuse to NOT engage with the muslim culture. You sound like all the other ppl who put the need to whinge before the need to solve problems.

  53. Ravi Naik — on 9th December, 2006 at 4:49 pm  

    The whole point of a niqab is to protect women from unwanted eyes, and now she subjects herself in front of millions of people covering her face.

    This is not about celebrating diversity, it is about making a mockery of it.

  54. Sunny — on 9th December, 2006 at 4:54 pm  

    I really can’t be asked to respond to Refresh’s baits again. I also think the false ‘Christmas has been banned!’ stories do more damage.

  55. attention!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! — on 17th December, 2006 at 9:14 pm  

    idiots making fun of Khadija
    think again this should be interesting
    you’re just makin fun of her coz ur lives are borin
    and that you can’t think of any other ways of spreading islamaphobia
    i thinksome people are jealous too that she can present a channel and that you can’t

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