Muslim politician attacks racism and hijab in her memoir “My hair is pink under this veil”


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“A gentleman once asked me what color my hair was under my hijab. In order to intrigue her, I told her they were pink, but one of my goals was to shatter the idea that women wearing the hijab have no interest in hairstyles or bright colors, “says Rabina. Khan, British Muslim politician and writer. The National.

“Of course what I would have liked to say is, ‘And what color was your hair before you went bald?’ but I wouldn’t be so insensitive.

This experience inspired the title of Khan’s memoir, My hair is pink under this veil, which was published by Biteback in May and is full of memories, remonstrances and witty responses.

Khan, who left Bangladesh for the UK at the age of 3, is a Liberal Democrat adviser in London’s Tower Hamlets and former special adviser to Lord Newby in the House of Lords.

“My place as a second generation immigrant was not at home. It was in the world, ”she writes in her book.

By the age of 19, she aspired to become a teacher and to perfect the entire education system – a system that did not fairly recognize her heritage and her community’s contribution to Britain, but rather homogenized Asia. South, without differentiating between India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

Writing about his children’s current experiences with Islamophobia, Khan maintains his belief that the education system needs to be turned upside down from primary school level in Britain.

In his memoir, Khan juxtaposes past and present, detailing his own experiences alongside those of his mother and children, contrasting the lives of three generations of a minority community in the UK.

She writes that growing up, Pocahontas was her role model because no other character or children’s doll was made to look like her. She later shines the spotlight on today’s Nigerian artist Haneefah Adam, who creates dolls that Muslim women can relate to, inspired by such figures as Olympic athlete Ibtihaj Muhammad and American politician Ilhan. Omar and Haute Hijab Founder Melanie Elturk.

The hijab is a subject Khan discusses throughout his memoirs.

One chapter explores the concept of the veil in different Muslim communities and how Muslim women interpret modesty in different ways, while another deals with bans on the hijab in countries across Europe.

My hair is pink under this veil was released after the onset of Covid-19, and Khan discusses the hypocrisies of pandemic politics, such as the fact that in some places in Europe, where face masks are mandatory, niqabs are still banned. In fact, an entire chapter is called The Niqab Covid.

“For a long time, I felt that the mainstream media, politicians and society in general had blind views on Muslim women and believed in outdated stereotypes, not appreciating the untapped talent and enormous contribution that we can make the UK economy and the difference we can make to people’s lives, ”says Khan.

I felt that the media, politicians and society had blind views on Muslim women and believed in stereotypes

She sprinkles the pages of her book with advice and words of wisdom, while drawing attention to how issues of representation and racism have affected immigrants in Britain.

“Muslims are not just part of mainstream society; they make a huge contribution to it, ”she writes, citing the booming modest fashion market as an example. “A new generation of Muslim fashion designers, stylists, beauty bloggers and makeup artists from around the world has emerged and is exerting its influence. “

She also says that younger generations of Muslims tend to be more educated than their elders, whose views are more culturally related. Khan has observed first-hand the evolution of Muslim women in Britain, who are increasingly emerging from the traditional mold of the housewife.

However, even when visibly Muslim women are successful personally or professionally, they always seem to be defined by the fabric on their head.

“As Muslim women, we are often seen as having only opinions and views about faith and race,” Khan explains.

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“I have often felt this burden of representation. Yet my active work on the campaign for a greener and more sustainable economy is a huge passion; from the advocacy for investment in life sciences in the UK’s post-Brexit era to the call on how climate change must include diverse communities to bring about global climate change.

Being a visibly Muslim woman of color in politics is no small feat in the UK, where politicians are predominantly white men.

“They wanted me to disappear into the dark,” she writes of her opponents. Still, his memoirs bear witness to his tenacity.

“Muslim women are quickly becoming the narrators of their own stories and have become independent and empowered to play an active and rewarding role in society,” she writes.

While there is more books by and about Muslim women, Khan says it’s not quite.

“Muslim women have diverse interests just like anyone else, regardless of their religion, be it fashion, art, politics, law, medicine or any other subject, but this still has not been widely recognized by the publishing world. ”

She believes that Muslim women writers are classified in the realm of religion.

“Just because my book was published doesn’t mean another Muslim woman doesn’t have a story to tell, nor does that mean I don’t have another topic to cover. We Muslim women are more than the veil that is often associated with us. “

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