Khamis, April 06, 2006


Hijab-clad Muslim TV Host Sparks Danish Furor

Asma' Abdul-Hamid (أسماء عبد الحميد), a 24-year-old Danish Muslim of Palestinian origin, appeared last week on the DR2 network to host an eight-part program on the fallout of Danish cartoons lampooning Nabi Muhammad SAW.

The female Muslim host has been selected to co-present the talk show with Danish reporter Adam Holm, an ardent proponent of press freedom, debating on Danish society's pressing issues.

The move reflected the ongoing public debate in Denmark about the freedom of expression and respect of religious sanctities following the publication of the Prophet drawings.

The appearance of hijab-wearing Asma' has drawn mixed reactions from women's groups in the Scandinavian country.

Feminist Forum, a Danish women's organization, said Asma's TV presence "strengthens ethnic and gender equality in Denmark".

But another feminist group, the Women for Freedom association, echoed a different stance.

"The choice of Asma' Abdul Hamid (...) is an insult to both Danish and Muslim women," claimed Vibeke Manniche, the association's head.

"She sends the signal that an honorable woman cannot go out unless her head is covered," she said.

But DR2 network defended Tuesday, April 4, its decision to allow Asma's TV presence, saying "headscarf-wearing women are part of Danish society and we need to accept this fact".

Asma' told on Friday, March 31, that her hijab was expected to be the talk of the Danish audience at the very beginning.

"But I'm confident that with the passage of time they would come to realize my distinct personality and presentation."

Islam sees hijab as an obligatory code of dress, not a religious symbol displaying one’s affiliations.

Asma' said she received love and hate e-mails from Danish viewers after she had been chosen to appear on the Danish television.

"Some e-mails were critical and offensive; but I was never provoked and dealt with them in accordance with our Islamic teachings, trying to explain my viewpoints to the senders."

Muslims make up around three percent of Denmark’s 5.3 population, making Islam the second largest religion after the Lutheran Protestant Church.

Islam, however, is not recognized by the state unlike Christianity and Judaism.

Denmark has been the focus of Muslim anger following the publication of the offensive cartoons by mass-circulation Jyallands Posten last September.

The 12 cartoons, including one showing the Prophet with a bomb-shaped turban, were later reprinted by European newspapers on claims of freedom of expression.

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