What does Arab network Al Jazeera think about the issue of women's modesty, and religious mores versus secular ones? The answer appears to depend on which religion you are talking about.
Two reports aired by the channel this week show that as far as Jewish women in Israel are concerned, the Qatar-based channel – which has been a major supporter of the Islamist “Arab Spring” rebellions, and of the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas – is in favor of complete sexual freedom, in the face of alleged religious oppression.
As far as Muslim women in Europe are concerned, however, it is apparently favor of the opposite: freedom to wear modest clothes, in the face of alleged secular oppression.
On Sunday, the Al Jazeera Plus (AJ+) social media channel aired a report – which is not recommended for viewers who wish to avoid immodest content – on the so-called “Slut Walk” that was held in Jerusalem by radical feminists (also known as genderists). “Women in this conservative city are saying 'enough' to rape culture and sexism,” the channel's Facebook page wrote in the text accompanying the video, which was titled “Women Fight Sexism in Jerusalem.”
The video features extremely scantily clad Jewish female protesters chanting and demanding their right to dress as immodestly as they please, despite supposed "patriarchal" oppression. Echoing anti-religious genderist themes, the rhythmically edited clip also bemoans the fact that billboards bearing women's images are often defaced by haredi residents of Jerusalem.
It even draws a connection between “sexism” and Israel's supposed maltreatment of Palestinian Arabs. “In a city where Palestinians face daily harassment,” the clip proclaims, while showing the Border Police in action against rioters, “some see racism and sexism as part of the same problem.” A protester then explains that "the Palestinian struggle and the women's rights struggle is [sic] the same struggle."
Two days later…
On Tuesday, however, the same channel published a video with the opposite message: pro-religion, and pro-modesty. The text next to the video says: “First They Came for the Burqa: 30 Muslim schoolgirls were sent home in Belgium because they were wearing long skirts.”
It tells the story of female students at the De Mot-Couvreur school, who were refused entry because of dresses and tunics deemed “too long” and pants that were seen as “too large.” It also promoted the Twitter hashtag #IwearMySkirtAsILike, and featured a Tweet that labeled the school incident as “Islamophobia.” The video can be viewed by clicking on the image below.
Al Jazeera Plus is an all-digital English and Spanish language news and current events channel by Al Jazeera Media Network (AJMN). The service is available on its mobile app (iOS and Android), YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. An Arabic language version is under construction.
The channel was created in 2013 in response to increasing popularity of online news content among young people, and features mostly video clips with a bearing on current events.