Alicia Keys Glamorizes Niqab

Grammy-wining singer-songwriter Alicia Keys has caused controversy for tweeting a picture of a woman in a niqab and abaya that appears to glamorize the oppressive garments. She later deleted the tweet following heavy pushback. Her tweet showed the woman exposing a leg wearing a ballet shoe from beneath the full-length robe.

“Our strength is in our differences. Our power is in our diversity. We are so beautiful. All of us. When we see each other we see ourselves” was the caption to the image.

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Ali Al Sharji, the artist who set up the original picture, defended his work as a piece of conceptual photography aimed at provoking a conversation about the role of the Arab woman.

“My image was [meant] to portray the freedom an Arab woman has to pursue [for] a passion that is out of the ordinary,” Al Sharji, who is from Oman, told StepFeed.

“I feature Arab women as symbols in many of my art pieces to revolutionize the traditional thinking of women not being able to follow their dreams.”

Social media users found his explanation unconvincing and excoriated Keys for the tweet, which they said belittled the struggle of women living in countries like Saudi Arabia, Iran or ISIS-held territory where such dress codes are mandatory for women, with severe penalties for even slight infractions.

(Photos: Truth Revolt)

Foremost among the critics was Muslim reformist and activist Shireen Qudosi, who noted, “If you lived in a niqab-wearing society, and showed that leg, you’d be severely beaten. Signed, a Muslim woman.”

(Photo: Faithwire)

“I’m a Muslim woman who holds on to what’s beautiful about my Eastern heritage, while also forging a new American Muslim identity,” Qudosi told Faithwire. “When Alicia Keys romanticizes the niqab under the banner of diversity, she promotes the most savage and barbaric Arab tribalism that sees women as something to be possessed and contained. When I see good-intentioned people call primitivism beautiful, that’s as offensive as someone saying American slave history was ‘beautiful and diverse.’”

Clarion Project regularly speaks out against the glamorization of hijab in American culture without explaining the patriarchal context of the custom.

Write your comments about the oppressive nature of forced veiling in Muslim majority countries and we will send it to leading feminist organizations. (Please refrain from foul language and hate speech.)