• 28 January 2009
  • Posted By NIAC
  • Culture, Iranian Youth, Uncategorized

Jihadi chic couture

keffiyeh2What common thread ties together celebrities such as Rachel Ray, the Jonas Brothers and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad?

In May of last year, a Dunkin Donuts coffee ad, featuring “EVOO” and “yummo” originator Rachel Ray, was pulled from circulation after Fox News commentator Michelle Malkin wrote in her blog that the keffiyeh (pronounced chafiyeh in Farsi) scarf Rachel was wearing “has come to symbolize murderous Palestinian jihad. ”

Just a few weeks after Rachel Ray’s donning of “jihad” gear, Kevin Jonas aka “The Romantic One” of The Jonas Brothers heart-throb boy band was spotted wearing a keffiyeh in a Disney photo shoot. In a blog post, former McCain campaign advisor and present-day blogger Martin Eisenstadt protested the fashion faux pas. Though he gives himself a buffer, just by mentioning the idea that “The Romantic One” attempted to “seduce America’s young girls into being the next generation of Hamas sympathizers,” Eisenstadt attempts to promote an association between deplorable acts of violence and a scarf.

And the problems aren’t just in the US. Last week, supervisors of De Lijm, a Flemish bus company, “caught” an immigrant driver wearing a keffiyeh and removed him from his bus.

But what’s behind all this commotion?

The keffiyeh represents more than one ideology, movement or struggle.

The keffiyeh started as a traditional headdress for Arab men. The checkered pattern originated from the ancient Mesopotamian representation of fishing nets of grain and used in arid climates to protect against the sun, dust and sand. During the Arab Revolt of the 1930s, the keffiyeh became a symbol of Palestinian nationalism and later became a trademark of Yasser Arafat who arranged it to in the shape of a triangle to resemble the outlines of the Palestinian territory.

Leila Khaled, a female member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, wore the keffiyeh, a symbol often coupled with Arab masculinity, to express her equality with men in the Palestinian struggle.

In Iran, the keffiyeh has been worn by President Mahmoud Ahmadinjad and his supporters as a symbol “of the sacred defence,” the official name for the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war effort. During the war, Iranian soldiers used the black-and-white checkered scarf as prayer mats, to protect their faces during chemical attacks, as burial shrouds and to even at times to tie enemy hands.

Ayatollah Ali Khamanei, Iran’s supreme leader, dresses in the keffiyeh for all appearances and members of the hardline Basij militia are regularly seen wearing the scarf. Ironically, the keffiyeh has also become a trend amongst youth in favor of western pop culture. Jahan News, a website considered close to Iran’s intelligence ministry, has reported that Iranian underground rap artists often wear the scarf in concerts and videos and even young women have been seen wearing the scarf.

In the United States, keffiyehs emerged in the 1980s at the start of the First Intifada, when bohemian girls wore keffiyehs as scarves. Recently keffiyehs have experienced a resurgence in popularity among Pro-Palestinian and Pro-Israel activists, world-music aficionados and hipsters alike.

The keffiyeh has been worn by extremists and leaders of disreputable organizations, but it has also been worn by women as a part of feminist fashion statements; Iranian youth in opposition to the current hard-line regime; and members of both sides of the Israel-Palestine issue. Therefore I think it is erroneous to speculate that each person who wears a keffiyeh is a “potentially aggressive person.”

Just because Rachel Ray and Kevin Jonas were told to wear keffiyehs by their stylists does not mean that they are or endorse any terrorists—such preposterous notions only add to the fear and hateful sentiment that has been swirling throughout the world.

Posted By NIAC

    One Response to “Jihadi chic couture”

  1. Master P says:

    I have keffiyeh PJs. Houndstooth. YEAH!

    I am

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Sign the Petition


7,350 signatures

Tell Google: Stop playing Persian Gulf name games!

May 14, 2012
Larry Page
Chief Executive Officer
Google Inc.
1600 Amphitheatre Parkway
Mountain View, California 94043

Dear Mr. Page:

It has come to our attention that Google has begun omitting the title of the Persian Gulf from its Google Maps application. This is a disconcerting development given the undisputed historic and geographic precedent of the name Persian Gulf, and the more recent history of opening up the name to political, ethnic, and territorial disputes. However unintentionally, in adopting this practice, Google is participating in a dangerous effort to foment tensions and ethnic divisions in the Middle East by politicizing the region’s geographic nomenclature. Members of the Iranian-American community are overwhelmingly opposed to such efforts, particularly at a time when regional tensions already have been pushed to the brink and threaten to spill over into conflict. As the largest grassroots organization in the Iranian-American community, the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) calls on Google to not allow its products to become propaganda tools and to immediately reinstate the historically accurate, apolitical title of “Persian Gulf” in all of its informational products, including Google Maps.

Historically, the name “Persian Gulf” is undisputed. The Greek geographer and astronomer Ptolemy referencing in his writings the “Aquarius Persico.” The Romans referred to the "Mare Persicum." The Arabs historically call the body of water, "Bahr al-Farsia." The legal precedent of this nomenclature is also indisputable, with both the United Nations and the United States Board of Geographic Names confirming the sole legitimacy of the term “Persian Gulf.” Agreement on this matter has also been codified by the signatures of all six bordering Arab countries on United Nations directives declaring this body of water to be the Persian Gulf.

But in the past century, and particularly at times of escalating tensions, there have been efforts to exploit the name of the Persian Gulf as a political tool to foment ethnic division. From colonial interests to Arab interests to Iranian interests, the opening of debate regarding the name of the Persian Gulf has been a recent phenomenon that has been exploited for political gain by all sides. Google should not enable these politicized efforts.

In the 1930s, British adviser to Bahrain Sir Charles Belgrave proposed to rename the Persian Gulf, “Arabian Gulf,” a proposal that was rejected by the British Colonial and Foreign offices. Two decades later, the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company resurrected the term during its dispute with Mohammad Mossadegh, the Iranian Prime Minister whose battle with British oil interests would end in a U.S.-sponsored coup d'état that continues to haunt U.S.-Iran relations. In the 1960s, the title “Arabian Gulf” became central to propaganda efforts during the Pan-Arabism era aimed at exploiting ethnic divisions in the region to unite Arabs against non-Arabs, namely Iranians and Israelis. The term was later employed by Saddam Hussein to justify his aims at territorial expansion. Osama Bin Laden even adopted the phrase in an attempt to rally Arab populations by emphasizing ethnic rivalries in the Middle East.

We have serious concerns that Google is now playing into these efforts of geographic politicization. Unfortunately, this is not the first time Google has stirred controversy on this topic. In 2008, Google Earth began including the term “Arabian Gulf” in addition to Persian Gulf as the name for the body of water. NIAC and others called on you then to stop using this ethnically divisive propaganda term, but to no avail. Instead of following the example of organizations like the National Geographic Society, which in 2004 used term “Arabian Gulf” in its maps but recognized the error and corrected it, Google has apparently decided to allow its informational products to become politicized.

Google should rectify this situation and immediately include the proper name for the Persian Gulf in Google Maps and all of its informational products. The exclusion of the title of the Persian Gulf diminishes your applications as informational tools, and raises questions about the integrity and accuracy of information provided by Google.

We strongly urge you to stay true to Google’s mission – “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful” – without distorting or politicizing that information. We look forward to an explanation from you regarding the recent removal of the Persian Gulf name from Google Maps and call on you to immediately correct this mistake.



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