A new video from the BBC features slang-talking, hijab and niqab-clad women waxing lyrical on how empowered they feel as a result of obscuring their identities from the outside world.
The BBC Three clip — titled “Things Not to Say to Someone Who Wears a Burqa” — gives an insight into the Jafaican speakers’ mindsets, as they declare fealty towards Allah as a reason for covering up, despite protestations from Islamic sources that head coverings are “cultural” rather than religious.
The women in the video proceed to ridicule questions that articulate concerns about coercion over the wearing of the garment, and oppressive practices within Islam. At one point early in the video, one woman sardonically comments: “Ninja is not the trend at the moment, it’s more of the terrorist one.”
The ladies laugh amongst one another, occasionally pausing to lecture the viewer.
“I like curiosity, that’s a nice thing, but the element of ignorance just really winds me up,” one says, when reflecting upon an oft-heard question regarding forced veil-wearing.
Another “common” comment provided to the women by the BBC (it is unclear if they wrote these or acquired them elsewhere) was: “Go back to your country.”
The women laugh, stating they are from Britain. But one counter-intuitively responds: “I’m Pakistani, but I’ve never been to Pakistan.”
Blurring the lines between religious and cultural imports, and nearly touching upon subjects perhaps too dark for a cheerful BBC Three clip aimed at teenagers, one said: “Yes there are some cultural practices that maybe, oppresses women, but it’s cultural. This has never been Islamic.”
On the other hand, the piece establishes the Islamic credentials of the coverings, with one woman robotically reciting: “I am wearing it for God… it’s an act of worship. I love doing it.”
The short video is part of a series of discussions published by the BBC aiming to set the boundaries around where conversation surrounding particular minorities should, and should not, be allowed to go. Others in the series include: ‘Things Not to Say to a Non-Binary Person’, ‘Things Not to Say to Someone of Mixed Race’, and ‘Things Not to Say to Someone Who’s HIV Positive’.
The video comes after a number of other shows from the channel working to normalise imported cultural practices, including the July programme Should I Marry My Cousin?, in which an “18-year-old Bradford-born Hiba explores the controversial but legal custom of first-cousin marriage”.