Karate In A Hijab

Dania Mahmudi from Fisksätra has practised karate for years

Here’s an interesting case regarding Muslim women’s veils. They’re instruments or symbols of patriarchal repression, right? Well, check this out.

Dania Mahmudi is from my area, Fisksätra. She’s 14 years old and wears a veil. Mahmudi has been practising karate for years. Two weeks ago she went with her club to the district championship, eager to compete. But the umpire disqualified her – for her veil’s sake. It covered her throat, and karate competition rules state that the umpire needs to be able to watch for damage to each contestant’s throat. OK, said her coach after a heated argument, so she can’t do the hand-to-hand part of the competition. Surely the solo performance element, kata, will be no problem given this reasoning. No, she was disqualified there too.

Things are changing in the karate world. You couldn’t compete wearing any kind of veil until last year. When it became allowed, Iran’s women’s team immediately won a world cup medal at kata – wearing regulation veils.

My guess is that this problem will be solved a few years from now. But look at it from a repression perspective. I have no idea whether Mahmudi’s parents are forcing her to wear the veil. But I do know that they’re fine with their daughter practising karate for years at a dojo half an hour’s bus ride from home. Competition rules are apparently a bigger problem for her athletic career. Luckily, Mahmudi isn’t about to give up. She’s aiming for the world cup.

I wrote about the veil in 2006, comparing it to the bikini top, which is pretty much the same deal only in Western culture. This is what cultural relativism means, not the condoning of atrocities.

Download Dawkins’ God Delusion In Arabic For Free

Bassam Al-Baghdady (@Al_Baghdady on Twitter) is a Swedish film writer. He’s translated Richard Dawkins’ 2006 best-seller The God Delusion into Arabic. Bassam tells me the file may be disseminated freely, so go ahead and download Dawkins’ God Delusion in Arabic for free! وهم الاله بقلم ريتشارد دوكنز.

Two disclaimers, though.

1. Despite numerous contact efforts over many weeks, I haven’t received any response from Richard Dawkins or his staff when I’ve asked for permission to put the book up for download. The reason that I am going ahead anyway is that there is no official Arabic translation of the book that I could recommend people to buy. If Dawkins or his staff get in touch with me and ask me to take the file down, I will do so swiftly.

2. I don’t know Arabic. For all I know, the file may actually contain the script of the third season of Seinfeld. But I trust Bassam and I will be interested to receive comments on his translation.