Muslim fashion shops in Germany linked to extremist Salafis
Deutsche Welle, Sep 15 2016
The Hijabi store in a central Frankfurt district sells niqabs, burqas and others kinds of veils for orthodox Muslim women. The outlet has several choices for women wanting to try out different versions of the Islamic garment, all of which are on display on the company’s website. These include long linen dresses with high collars in muted colors like brown, mauve and green. For festivities, women can choose between different designs in abayas, or robe-like dresses, some trimmed with brocade and some with high, frilled Edwardian-style collars. The store also offers a selection of veils and small decorative pins to secure them. Inside the veil, women often wear a tube-like stretchy collar, which keeps the hair from straying outside the headscarf. The Hijabi has made the headlines for its alleged links with Salafis. Earlier this week, Germany’s public broadcaster ARD ran a report on how stores like Hijabi and a similar one in Wuppertal, in the country’s west, helped women integrate into an orthodox Islamic way of living, eventually assimilating them into Salafism and subsequently, extremist Islam. DW tried contacting the owners of Hijabi and other Islamic clothes stores like the Hoor-al-ayn in Berlin. Unfortunately, there was no response to our requests for interviews. Susanne Schröter, expert on Islamist feminism and extremism at the University of Frankfurt, told DW:
Stores selling niqabs and burqas have sprouted in Germany only in the last 10 or 15 years. Nowadays, one sees more women wearing the niqab also because German women want to dress up in this manner. This shop in Frankfurt, Hijabi, is linked on the one hand to Salafi consumer culture. Salafism is not just a religious or political movement, it’s also a lifestyle. People who follow this ideology want their whole life to be shaped according to the Salafi utopia. Many Salafi women prefer organic products, because everything was organic when the prophet was alive. It includes soap, freshly pressed fruit juices and all kinds of things. There are even labels that offer Islamic clothing for men, including T-shirts with slogans. Wearing a burqa becomes a kind of rebellion in a country like Germany, where emotions are strong against the Muslim garment. Its wearers believe that obeying the laws of their God is much more important than the enemies they make because of their choice of clothing. A “typical” outfit in the Salafi subculture includes a long skirt, topped with a khimar, a loose, knee-length shawl with long arms. A pair of gloves and a headscarf completes the outfit. There is also a discussion about which colors are suitable for niqabs. These outfits are also available for children, even as young as two years. This is why these shops are so dangerous. They are part of a culture in which members want to express that they belong to this Islamist ideology. Patriarchy, anti-democratic thinking, support for violence, because they believe they live in a world which is anti-Muslim, are all part of this thinking. These shops could help people link up with groups that propagate such thoughts, also because they initiate buyers into Qur’an-reading and similar activities to influence their mindset. Hijabi’s owner, Latifa Rouali’s father Abd’el-Latif, is a well-known Salafi in the southern and south-western Rhine-Main-Sieg region. Rouali was a founder of the banned Dawa FFM, an organization that called on believers to follow the Qur’an. He is also known to have been closely linked with Pierre Vogel, who openly advocates the supremacy of Sharia over all earthly constitutions. In 2014, for example, Rouali set up a shop in Frankfurt’s central Stiftstrasse, called Mekka. But repeated complaints from neighbors forced him to shut shop. They closed the business because they found out that the ‘Mecca’ water he was selling was not from the holy city, but from Frankfurt’s water supply. But reports about Rouali’s connections to Islamic hate-preachers are no reason for the German government to stop him from undertaking other activities or jobs for a living. Just because Rouali was part of a banned organization does not mean the law can prohibit him from starting a business. Everyone can open a business as long as they are not selling or doing anything against the law.
German publican challenges niqab-wearer
Deutsche Welle, Sep 15 2016
Germany debated face-obscuring clothing further Thursday after a
publican innkeeper accused online of being racist replied that he had been exercising his rights as host in asking the niqab-wearer to show her face last Saturday evening. “Instead, she immediately began to rant,” and then left the grounds, said Schulz, who reportedly employs cooks from Nigeria, Ghana, Pakistan and Portugal. More than a thousand guests were visiting the “Seekrug,” a rural lakeside venue with outdoor catering, just north of Bielefeld in North Rhine-Westphalia. Schulz told regional newspapers, including Bielefeld’s Neue Westfälische and Düsseldorf’s Rheinische Post, that in the past he had also evicted guests wearing Thor Steinar clothing, worn within the neo-Nazi scene. “Massive” insults in social media, also directed at staff (presumably from Muslims – RB), followed Saturday’s incident, but there was also praise from regular guests for Schulz’ intervention. One wrote in a commentary:
The publican has personnel with migratory backgrounds and is being insulted. That’s not on at all.
The wearing of niqabs, leaving only the eyes visible, or burqas obscuring the face remains lawful in Germany, but controversial, and echoes debate in France, where municipal bans were recently reversed by a top court ruling that cited personal freedoms. Merkel, addressing a Berlin conference on religious freedoms attended by parliamentarians from 80 countries Wednesday, warned against bids to find “seemingly simplistic solutions to turn back the wheel” of time. Merkel warned against ‘simplistic solutions’ The burqa and niqab were, however, a “major obstacle to integration,” she said, adding that precise guidelines on wearing both were needed, for example, in public institutions or in courthouses.
Merkel also recalled how past religious differences had left scars in German history. Bielefeld lies in the region where in 1648 the Treaty of Westphalia was signed to end the Thirty Years’ War. The ARD public broadcaster on Wednesday carried a report on so-called niqab shops in Germany. Susanne Schröter, who heads the Center for Global Islam at Frankfurt am Main University, told ARD’s weekly investigative program “Report Mainz”:
Such shops are not just fashion outlets but also parts of a Salafi infrastructure. The scene is clearly extremist, it is alarming and it requires the need for action.
Late last month, the former chairperson of Germany’s combined Protestant churches, Margot Kässmann, said:
Europe’s current debate on burqas and “burkini” swimwear is hysterical. I can well remember the post-war period (sic – RB), when the bikini was seen as a threat to Western values. Back then, women were supposed to put on more clothes; now they are supposed to take more off. But I am sorry for women who feel they have to conceal themselves under cloth. As a Christian, it would never occur to me that that would please God. Luther, too, struggled for freedom.