Netherlands: Make the Burka hip

Why does Muslim headwear evoke such strong emotions among Dutch nationals?

On Sunday November 23 a Dutch experimental artist and a fashion designer are due to discuss this and related topics at a special event in the Van Abbe Museum in Eindhoven.

Both will also present their respective work, which they have each used to integrate their opinion about the headscarf and burqa, the latter being the traditional Muslim garment that covers the entire body, leaving only a slit for the eyes.

"Design always has the capacity to provoke emotions among people," experimental artist Joep Koenigs told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa on Wednesday.

But the strong feelings Muslim headwear evokes among Dutch nationals surprised even Koenigs.

"The garment is automatically associated with a culture that many people fear. People respond very instinctively when they see a burqa or Muslim headscarf," Koenigs says.

Koenigs, who says he is not an advocate of any garments that cover the face, is convinced that a more relaxed and rational approach by the Dutch would contribute to the debate about Muslim headwear.

"Muslim headscarves should be depoliticized," he says.

On Sunday, he will present his painting "Make the burqa hip" which, by depicting a denim burqa, compares the social position of burqa with that of jeans.

"I am convinced the burqa can undergo a process of democratization no less than jeans did," Koenigs says.

"Initially, jeans were not socially accepted either. But today they are worn worldwide, even in the Muslim world. Who would have thought that?"

Following Koenig's presentation, fashion designer Cindy van den Bremen will discuss her collection of fashionable Muslim headwear, originally her graduation project at the Eindhoven design academy in 1999.

At the time, Van den Bremen wanted to provide Muslim girls and their gym teachers an alternative to the traditional Muslim garments to wear during weekly gym classes.

Working closely with Muslim girls and a muslim cleric, she developed a first prototype of Muslim sports wear.

The project attracted broad media attention and she quickly launched her own collection of Muslim headwear for various occasions.

The work is sold internationally by her company Capsters.


Source: eNews 2.0 (English), h/t NRP

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