Thursday, 29 May 2008
The keffiyeh kerfuffle
This article from the Sydney Morning Herald just leaves me shaking my head.
May 29, 2008 - 1:15PM
The US Dunkin' Donuts chain has pulled an online advertisement featuring celebrity chef Rachael Ray after critics argued that a scarf she wore in the ad offers symbolic support for terrorism.
Dunkin' Donuts said today it pulled the ad over the weekend because of what it calls a "misperception" about the scarf that detracted from its original intent to promote its iced coffee.
Critics, including conservative commentator Michelle Malkin, complained that the scarf appeared to be traditional garb worn by Arab men. The ad's critics say such scarves have come to symbolise Muslim extremism and terrorism. According to Malkin's syndicated column (which in the UAE is blocked, possibly on the grounds of terminal idiocy), Ray is wearing a scarf that resembles a kiffiyeh. Malkin said the garment was "popularized by Yasser Arafat and a regular adornment of Muslim terrorists appearing in beheading and hostage-taking videos,".
(If you follow Ms Malkin's logic then the following assumptions must also be true:
1. The Yorkshire Ripper wears trousers.
2. Most men wear trousers.
3. Therefore most men support the Yorkshire Ripper?)
Dunkin' Donuts, based in Canton, Massachusetts, says the black-and-white scarf that Ray wore had a paisley design, and was selected by a stylist for the advertising shoot. The chain said no symbolism was intended.
On her blog, Malkin said Ray's decision to wear the scarf was "clueless sporting of a jihadi chic keffiyeh".
"I'm hoping her hate couture choice was spurred more by ignorance than ideology," Malkin wrote last week.
Acknowledging the "keffiyeh kerfuffle" that had since erupted, Malkin yesterday explained her stance further.
"Anti-American fashion designers abroad and at home have mainstreamed and adapted the scarves as generic pro-Palestinian jihad or anti-war statements.
"Yet many folks out there remain completely oblivious to the apparel's violent symbolism and anti-Israel overtones."
Shevonne Hunt, a freelance journalist, has reported on the popularity of the keffiyeh in Australia.
She said the so-called "dessert scarf" (maybe she's means 'desert') had become a recent fashion craze in Australia, following a similar trend in the US about a year ago that started after celebrities including Jude Law and the Mary Kate Olsen were seen wearing one.
In Australia, versions of the keffiyeh were available at popular fashion retailers, including General Pants, Cotton On and Tree of Life, Hunt said. But retailers said they often sold out of the scarf, she said.
But the keffiyeh's recent popularity as a fashion item is disappointing to many who understand its history, she said.
"Some people used to wear the keffiyeh as a symbol of solidarity with the Palestinian people. But now, the people wearing it often have absolutely no idea what it means or its background," she said.
"Many Palestinians are now actually annoyed because it's lost its power, it's lost its impact."