Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Religion in the News

While all of us were still celebrating the Eid, news began to surface of a new attack on Muslims - the banning of the hijab at the airport. I was due to be interviewed on the religion report that night and asked if they could find out about it. Sky News and other news channels had been reporting on it - but fortunately, the story did not 'get legs'. Without a strong media presence there would no point in continuing the ban, considering how complicated and difficult it might be to implement. I mean, would you then legislate against hats? How about beanies? Turbans? If the problem was the covering to the neck, then what about a tie? Would that be banned too ? And what about a combination hat and tie? Surely that would land the fashionista in trouble with Border Security!

The Religion Report went well, although I fear I had a very poor start by talking about the biological difficulties women would have in being available to lead the prayer in the local mosque. The issue became sidetracked into why women had these biological differences, and whether they should be taken into account at all Fortunately, the focus shifted to the current conflict between more liberal or feminist Christians, and those who relied on a more literal interpretation of the texts such as the 'Equal but Different' group. For once, Muslims were not the subject of ridicule and intrigue, although the issue of the role of women within the broader range of leadership and decision making of the Muslim community will continue to be a topic that is increasingly challenged and debated.

On the topic of religion and its application within society, a fascinating series of films have been associated with the role of leadership under the title of 'Why Democracy?' Information about this can be found at www.whydemocracy.net - check it out and watch the films as they are shown on SBS.

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