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Cover girls: Ridge designer makes demure clothes for Muslim women

Dream come true: Bay Ridgite Sherihan Moustafa started Urban Modesty in 2013 to give Muslim women fashionable, convenient, and modest clothing options.
Brooklyn Paper
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It’s a modest success.

A Bay Ridge woman has turned frustration into inspiration, starting a body-covering clothing line for Muslim women after struggling to find fashionable threads that still leave a little to the imagination. The Egyptian-born, Bensonhurst-raised founder of Urban Modesty said she got the idea because her only other options were donning stuffy traditional garb or cobbling together a hodgepodge of Western clothes.“Finding an outfit for any occasion is always a nightmare — my peers, friends, young women, older women, they all had the same problem,” said Sherihan Moustafa. “You either dress very traditionally, or you try to put something together by layering clothes from five different stores.”

Moustafa, a 29-year-old City College economics grad and self-described fashionista, stitched together Urban Modesty in 2013 after she took an entrepreneurial business class. She has no formal fashion training, but designs the pieces herself before sending patterns to China for production, she said. Moustafa hit the market with eight designs, but now offers more than 70 tops, bottoms, dresses, gowns, and cover-ups — in addition to kids’ digs and jewelry. Most pieces sell for $25–$70, but formal gowns can go for up to $230.

The store is a godsend, according to one shopper who picked up some threads at the Arab American Bazaar in Bay Ridge last weekend.

“I saw those long dresses that I do not see in stores, I always felt I should have a piece like that in my closet, but I did not know how to get it,” said Bay Ridgite Abeer Assad.Moustafa relied on word-of-mouth among friends and family in Bay Ridge to spread her brand early on. New Yorkers are still the biggest buyers, but frequent trips to Islamic conventions outside the city have helped spread the word nationally.

She recently made progress in the Great White North during a showcase in Toronto, she said.

“We walked in with six laundry bags full of clothes and walked out with one half-full,” she said.

Moustafa has carved out a niche in a growing industry — Muslims spent roughly $230 billion on clothing worldwide in 2014, and that figure could grow to $327 billion by the end of the decade, according to Dinar Standard’s Global Islamic Economy Report. Not all of that is on modest fashion, but the top brands Dinar Standard highlights in the report make demure duds.

Next, she’s taking on the major retailers, and hoping to expand her reach outside of the Muslim community, she said.

“We have cover-ups that you can throw over jeans or whatever you want, so [non-Muslims] have bought those too,” she said. “It’s cute and trendy and now if you look, Forever 21 sells a maxi dress cover-up as well, that’s who we are competing with.”

Reach reporter Dennis Lynch at (718) 260–2508 or e-mail him at dlynch@cnglocal.com.
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

HONEY Pooter from Williamsburg says:
Doesn't vanity defeat the purpose of modesty? Not that any of these clothes actually look good.
Just another paradox of this cult.
July 12, 2016, 9:15 am
Sean F from Bensonhurst says:
Why is it that Americans talk so much about freedom, and a woman's right to make her own decisions, and then denigrate any woman who chooses a traditional wardrobe? Ms. Moustafa is clearly an educated woman, with a good eye for a business opportunity, but bigots feel it's their right to decide what her customers should wear. One doesn't need to agree with the attitudes that created the type of clothing these women choose, but we should defend their right to wear what they want to wear, and not simply assume they are all ignorant people being subservient to their fathers and husbands
July 12, 2016, 9:44 am
Virginia says:
Sean F - pure speculation. I could look at her and wonder whether she has any choice or whether she (like a huge percentage of muslims in Brooklyn) lives bound by community and family rules and norms. Whether she fears punishment for not complying. Whether she is simply assisting the oppression of individual choice for other muslim girls.
You'd see the same reaction if French immigrants forced their daughters to wear berets (and enter forced marriages and have a constant subservient role to men, etc.). They don't. The muslim community of Brooklyn does so and more. In fact, people are loathe to criticize the obvious oppression in this community because it's not PC, or just easier to ignore it.
July 12, 2016, 10:02 am
Boris from Borough Park says:
@ Sean

If you think "modest" dress is truly a free choice for Muslim women you are delusional. It is a strict form of social control and oppression of women, one of the many ways in which Islam manifests its inherent misogyny.
July 12, 2016, 10:25 am
Me from Bay Ridge says:
There are more and more veils on the streets of Bay Ridge lately. Maybe they are not in Bensonhurst.
July 12, 2016, 10:35 am
Don from Bay Ridge says:
Great feel-good article on the subjugation of women by a patriarchal ideology!
July 12, 2016, 10:44 am
Sean F from Bensonhurst says:
I know a number of Muslim women who wear traditional garb. They are college educated, have drivers licenses, and do all sorts of things that hard-liners would insist were inappropriate. They all, without exception, say convincingly that they choose traditional garb because they are comfortable in it.

I have no doubt that many, if not most, Muslim women may be forced to wear it, but it's not for anyone to make assumptions that they are all forced into it. That's demeaning to the ones who have made a conscious choice to wear it. Unlike some older people I know, I also don't immediately think (or say) "slut" or "whore" when I see a young woman in a short skirt, halter top and heels. I credit them all with a mind of their own, and the right to decide their own wardrobe.
July 12, 2016, 12:49 pm
Boris from Borough Park says:
@ Sean
You are exhibiting some impressive verbal gymnastics to remain politically correct with respect to Islam.

Here's the point though; Muslims, or any other person in in this country, have a constitutional right to hold beliefs that are ignorant, repressive and/or backward. Any other person in this country has the right to point out that those beliefs are ignorant, repressive and/or backward. In fact, the free exchange of ideas is what permits societal progress and advancement. Muslim majority societies have NOT experienced the societal progress and advancement that we enjoy here because Islam ruthlessly represses any criticism (this is how Islam has survived).

So I say criticize away, and if you want to defend or attempt to explain away obvious misogyny, you have the right to do so.
July 12, 2016, 1:23 pm
Sean F from Bensonhurst says:
Boris, I don't do "politically correct". I do simple human courtesy. I don't pre-judge anyone, nor pretend to be able to read other people's minds. No society on Earth is fully homogeneous, and every society, religion and culture has individuals who act at both extremes of conservatism and liberalism, but most people fall in the middle - conservative on some subjects, and more liberal on others.

When I was a kid, just the name "Boris" would have had the Army brats I knew calling you an ignorant Commie. Today, you're just a misguided person who prefers to demonize anyone different than you, rather than trust that many of them are intelligent, thinking beings who can choose for themselves.
July 12, 2016, 1:49 pm
joann says:
@ sean f- THANK YOU for being so level-headed. people like you restore my faith in humanity!

to the rest: why must you be so bigoted in your views of muslim women, and islam? it's about decency and self-respect. islam is a legitimate, major religion of the world. do you not think for a moment that beyond the cloth, veil, and/or garb we are individuals with our own journey and experiences?!

we are individuals with a free mind, freedom to choose, and free will. the qur'an doesn't tell us what to wear.

rather, it states we should be covered, what body parts to guard, and not to expose ourselves to unknown males. the dress should simply be moderate. it is one's own culture that interprets what that might look like; and to each his own!

in fact, there are many other religious traditions that abide by a modest dress, and no one seems to blink an eye.

for example, catholic nuns- their dress is similar to muslim women. orthodox jewish women- don't wear pants (and the married ones cover their hair). amish women- don't wear dresses above their calves (and cover their hair in public). why the double standard?

please don't sit here and try to convince us that you know how we, muslim women live; and that we are oppressed. that only tells me that you don't have a single muslim friend or acquaintance (except maybe sean f).

just to give you an idea about me (and perhaps so that you may open your mind): i have a graduate degree, solid work history, and am trilingual. can you say the same?

personally, i don't care much about fashion but i'm very proud to be muslim; and will defend that honor any day; and let me tell you, many of my sisters in islam share this sentiment!

i can wear an abaya (traditional dress- and i'm not arab or indian or asian or black) on occasion but mostly long tops, and jeans because they are comfortable. i'm proud to be an american muslim woman in NYC. :)

peace.
July 12, 2016, 3:28 pm
Boris from Borough Park says:
@ Sean

Your outrage is misguided. I am not demonizing individuals; rather I am criticizing an oppressive belief system, Islam for its repression of women, among other groups. A significant difference that appears to be lost on you.

Your reference to Communism was unintentionally prescient. When good people fail to "call out" and confront repressive belief systems, the human toll is enormous.
July 12, 2016, 3:30 pm
Boris from Borough Park says:
@ joaan

Islam's record of oppression and violence is unfortunately not only founded in painful fact, but it is re-established on a daily basis. If that is what you chose to believe in, you do have that choice. Don't expect it to be validated or applauded by society at large however.
July 12, 2016, 3:34 pm
Misty Waters from Brooklyn Heights says:
Sean - just the fact that you find it noteworthy and remarkable that a muslim woman wearing the enforced dress code could do a few normal things (and still probably only if her dad allows it) says it all. No one thinks that literally 100 percent of them are oppressed, only that too many of them are. This store is like a Stockholm Syndrome enabling business. It's like opening a make-up shop selling products to cover up signs of being beaten by your husband. It's not empowering, it's pathetic. Modesty is a weird word to describe submissive powerless-ness. The clothes are hardly the problem - they're just the tip of the iceberg. It's the oppression they signal and reflect, the lack of free will, the suppression of women, the adherence to religion.
July 12, 2016, 3:36 pm
joann says:
p.s. i'm not oppressed (in case you couldn't already tell)! :D
July 12, 2016, 3:36 pm
Fred from Bay Ridge says:
@ Misty and @ Boris

You are both very effective in exposing the BS Sean and Joann are throwing around.
July 12, 2016, 3:42 pm
Laura from Queens says:
For all those talking bad about Muslim women and their dress, it's none of your freaking goddamn business! Let them be for goodness sake! You just carry on showing your bodies to the world and being happy not being criticized for the injuries you do to mankind's eyesight. Sheesh.
July 12, 2016, 3:44 pm
Mary from Brooklyn says:
Yesss finally!!!! Loove thisss!!!!!! Need to go shopping in Bayridge!!!!
July 12, 2016, 3:48 pm
American muslim from Here says:
You men are oppressed because you can't see the Muslim women's body and beauty!!! We have the control and are freeeeee.
July 12, 2016, 4:10 pm
joann says:
@ misty waters- do you know what 1.6 billion muslims think? lol.

are you atheist? you have a problem with religion.

yet let's keep things in perspective: YOU have a problem with us choosing to follow our religious teachings; and YOU have a problem with us being afforded more modest clothing options; because YOU believe that this furthers our adherence to our teachings (which YOU hate). you have such extreme views!

presumably, you are a woman, yet you are of the oppressors.

what you don't know is there are five (5) pillars in islam (tenants of faith), which are what truly makes one 'muslim.' our dress (or attire) is not one of them... that's part of the lifestyle, which ours comes with responsibilities. :)
July 12, 2016, 4:13 pm
joann says:
@ boris- do we really want to discuss the history of world religions? this includes the crusades, spanish inquisition, reformation period, etc. we'll be here for days! however, this is not the platform for it; and whatever is happening on a 'daily basis,' according to you is but an extreme exaggeration of the truth; and you know it.

have a nice day.
July 12, 2016, 4:28 pm
Sean F from Bensonhurst says:
Misty Waters You don't seem to understand "free will". It means making a decision and living with the consequences. I'm sure many Muslim women make the conservative choice fostered by their male relatives. But many others choose to defy those strictures, and many others choose to abide by them for their own reasons. The latter two groups are equally in their right to do so, and shouldn't be demeaned for it. When you deny their free will to make this dress choice, you are being as misogynistic as the people you are condemning.

If you did some non-partisan research into Islam, and read a decent translation of the Q'uran (or even a good book on comparative religion), you'd learn that extremist dress codes are not derived from the religion. They are secular traditions that derive in cultures that pre-date Islam.
July 12, 2016, 4:42 pm
Boris from Borough Park says:
@joann

You cite events involving other religions that happened centuries ago (some in response to Islamic aggression, by the way). However, we live in the 21st century, and Islam is still, in conduct and in thought, in the Bronze Age. Why is it that only Islam has not matured and modernized? Why is it that majority Muslim societies are so backwards and violent?

You speak as if you are a convert to Islam and have an evident distaste for atheists. You would be well advised to really consider this. The answers to life's deepest questions aren't found in destructive myths.

Modern people criticize Islam because they understand how destructive it can be to ordinary people, both Muslims and non-Muslims.
July 12, 2016, 4:48 pm
joann says:
i'm only exposing your hypocrisy, double standards, and arrogance.

do you have the answer to solve all the world's problems? no. do you know what 1.6 billion muslims think? again, no so humble yourself for a moment!

why is it that you focus 100% of your attention on islam and muslims? is it to keep us well-informed and acquainted with the truth? no.

let's keep things in perspective.

TRUTH: one is more likely to die from natural causes, diseases, illnesses, and accidents, including, heart disease, injuries, intentional self-harm, firearms, walking, choking, fire, post-surgery complications, alcohol, lightning, etc than being attacked by muslims on any given day.

to be clear, i don't have a problem with atheists. actually, i applaud them for at least not associating partners with God and not believing in multiple gods. matter of fact, that is one-half of the declaration of faith for muslims: there is no God (la illah)...

however, i do have a problem with you attacking my religion, and all muslims simply because you believe it is violent (can be disproven), backwards (opinion), and a destructive myth (opinion). it just shows you're immaturity and inability to engage in meaningful, and peaceful dialogue.

finally, i say this: to me my religion, and to you yours (or lack thereof)... so live and let live!

thanks.
July 12, 2016, 5:25 pm
Fred from Bay Ridge says:
Joann really makes me sad.
July 12, 2016, 5:35 pm
joann says:
@ fred- don't be "sad."

what is truly sad is your inability to explain yourself in detail and/or form an articulate response to anything i've said (which is a lot).

all you've written is: "You are both very effective in exposing the BS Sean and Joann are throwing around." Followed by " Joann really makes me sad."

isn't that 'great'?!
July 12, 2016, 5:40 pm
JJ says:
I've Muslim friends who modestly dress, not according to these REVIVED oppressive rules. They decide to let their hair blow in the breeze, when they want.
July 12, 2016, 6:27 pm
Fred from Bay Ridge says:
Joann, what is sad is how eagerly you have drunk the Kool Aid and joined a cult.
July 12, 2016, 7:21 pm
joann says:
@ fred- layoff the hatorade! FACT: you don't have the slightest clue about me and my life or why i am a muslim.

you deceive none but yourself. islam is a major, world religion so get your facts straight.

you still sad, fred?
July 12, 2016, 8:26 pm
Sean F from Bensonhurst says:
Fred, what is sad is how eagerly you have drunk the Kool Aid and joined a right-wing Islamophobe cult. But, God will forgive you someday.
July 12, 2016, 8:29 pm
YA from Bay ridge says:
Why are there so many haters. Congratulations Sherry on being a successful business woman. Too many people want to feel high and mighty by berating others. Please get a life, as Muslim women we are tired of hearing your stupid —— talk. We choose to worship, we choose to dress modestly, our refusal to conform to your norms hurt - go deal with it- no one here cares. Rockin my hijab with style and grace because I can and I want to - go eat that
July 12, 2016, 8:40 pm
Fred from Bay Ridge says:
Joann, so being part of a "major world religion" makes all of Islam's faults disappear? Keep telling yourself that.

Sean,

Your comments are very predictable in their politically correct nature.
July 12, 2016, 8:42 pm
joann says:
@ fred- i got it. you hate us but that was not the point of this article. can't keep up with your rants.

what else is new?

i'm just a civilized human being. oh, wait. does that bother you too? lol.

i'm still your neighbor and sister in humanity! sleep on that.
July 12, 2016, 8:57 pm
Sean F from Bensonhurst says:
Fred, there is nothing politically correct in my statements. Political correctness has to do with not offending or disadvantaging anyone. I have no problem offending or disadvantaging people who use any religion or politics to subjugate other people - people like you, who can't be bothered to learn the facts about the people you hate.

I'd take issue with Islam's faults, if I could discern them from the faults of Christianity, Judiasm, Capitalism, Communism, etc. Every group has hard-liners who misinterpret and misapply the doctrines they espouse. That doesn't make those people representative of the doctrine in question.
July 12, 2016, 9 pm
Viki from Bensonhurst says:
Wow, the comments here are just ridiculous. Do you even know Sherry? No you don't! I, however, do. I can tell you that she is one of the nicest people that you will ever meet. She doesn't discriminate between Muslims and nonMuslims. She dresses modestly because she chooses to. She has a wonderful husband who treats her like a queen. If she wants to go around dressing modestly, what is it to you? If I wanted to walk around in a miniskirt, she would never even think to judge me. This is America! Let's wear whatever we what to. Who are you to judge?
July 12, 2016, 9:50 pm
Julia from Cobble Hill says:
The Muslim women I know do not cover themselves. They dress, as they choose. They live in NYC, Lahore, Karachi, Paris, Istanbul and so on.
July 12, 2016, 10:38 pm
InviteYouToThink from NYC says:
First off, let me address the most important issue here, and that is to congratulate you, Sherry!

You just keep on going, and shining bright,

'cause darkness can never put out light!

It just serves to let the light be seen,

Surely, if you have never been,

beneath a start-filled sky at night,

you've never seen a star, then,

because they shine not, in daylight!
July 12, 2016, 11:09 pm
HumanRightActivist from Bayridge says:
Fred, Jean, and all the loud mouths here-
Why do you even care about how Muslim women dress? I don't get it. How does it affect you or bother you? They don't need your "courtesy."
July 12, 2016, 11:47 pm
Mona from Bensonhurst says:
May I bring into question what attire the Virgin Mary had worn? She wore a veil! She was dressed modestly and is held as a respectable and modest individual to those who follow Christianity as well as Islam. Muslims love and believe in Jesus and Mary and the message which they preached which is what Islam is based on: There is no God but Allah. We are free to worship as we please as you are all free to worship as you please.
July 13, 2016, 12:36 am
Martin from Park Slope says:
@Joaan

A few counters to your angry posts

Joaan: "are you atheist? you have a problem with religion. "
- Unlike in Muslim countries, in this country people are free to be Atheists and to dislike religion. There is nothing inherently good about announcing your private beliefs to all and sundry and seperating yourself from society at large by wearing a costume on the streets.

Joaan: "there are five (5) pillars in islam ... our dress (or attire) is not one of them"
- All the more reason to see this as a point for criticism, it's not needed to follow the religion. It is a regional custom connected to the oppression of women in the Middle East. Some people are not thrilled about importing this.

Joaan: "do you know what 1.6 billion muslims think?"
- We are only talking about our fellow Americans here in Brooklyn. I hope that they do not have to suffer the same oppression as the other Muslims in Saudia Arabia, and that they feel more connected to their fellow country-men than they do to foreign people of the same religion. Or are you implying that Muslims are Muslim first, and American second?

Joaan: "however, i do have a problem with you attacking my religion"
- I couldn't care less about the religion - it's the culture surrounding that robs women of their rights. These outfits are reflective of this culture int he same way that confederate flags are relfective of racism. Just as not everyone with a confederate flag is a recist, not every covered mulism women is oppressed. Just as people are offended by confederate flags and ask that they be taken down because of the clear connection between the two things, I ask that veiled women take it off.

Joaan: "i'm just a civilized human being"
- I don't know you, but from your comments you seem aggressive and impolite, which is the opposite of the dictionary definition of civilized. If by civilized you mean you are not a terrorist, well then the standards of civiliztion are in the toilet. At least seen from your perspective.
July 13, 2016, 4:30 am
Sean F from Bensonhurst says:
Martin,

So you would oppress Muslim women by forcing them to adhere to your ideas of appropriate dress ratherthan allow them their own free choice. That makes you more reprehensible than the hard-liners who force some women to dress modestly. It makes you worse because you are an American, and we believe people are freeto make choices.

Your statements about wearing costumes us simply foolish. Ripped jeans and a t-shirt, or a business suit, are costumes that separate people from society as a whole, as is traditional Hassidic, Hindu, Amish and Mennonite dress, but I don't see you railing against them.

Joann is not being aggressive or impolite to anyone who did already demean, belittle or attack her way of life. Any Muslim woman who walks the streets of America in traditional garb is far braver than any coward who would demean, belittle and attack them from the safety of their keyboard.
July 13, 2016, 9:24 am
Jose from Windsor Terrace says:
Sean, your posts are really frantic. Don't you get it, the women who dress in traditional Muslim garb aren't being vilified. The religion and culture that pressures them into doing so is what is being criticized. You tell Martin he is foolish, but you really need to calm down your hysteria and look at the big picture here. You talk about free choice, but choices aren't made of free will where a women is subjected to intense cultural and religious pressure to conform.
July 13, 2016, 10:05 am
Sean F from Bensonhurst says:
Jose

Nothing "frantic" here. I'm posting measured, factual statements. I've admitted several times that many (most) Muslim women are forced to wear these traditional outfits, and that is not good. But, those women have a choice to make - adhere to their customs (whether out of fear of retribution, or out of honest belief that those customs are appropriate), and that is their right to choose for their own reasons.

Any American (Muslim or not) who insists that these women (or any woman of any religion or culture) MUST adhere to said American's beliefs is acting in a very unAmerican manner. You can't tell women to stop bowing to a misogynistic cultural norm by denying their right to decide what garb makes them comfortable. You give them choice, and treat them as equals, and you respect their choice, even if you don't agree with it. It used to be possible to disagree and still respect other people, but that seems to no longer be the case.
July 13, 2016, 10:32 am
Jose from Windsor Terrace says:
Sean, again you have missed the point. None of the posters that have objected to the effect of Islamic cultural and religious pressure are arguing that these women must dress a certain way. In fact, they are arguing the opposite. If you want to delude yourself and think that Muslim women wearing an imposed uniform is somehow a free choice, go right ahead. It is analogous to the "happy slave" arguments made by southern slaveholders during the civil war.
July 13, 2016, 11:31 am
Sean F from Bensonhurst says:
Jose,

Several people here have said that these women must change their attire. Martin said "There is nothing inherently good about announcing your private beliefs to all and sundry and seperating yourself from society at large by wearing a costume on the streets." (though, to give him credit, he also notes that not every covered Muslim woman is oppressed). Others have said as much in their own ways - that Muslim women must throw away their traditions.

It's only an "imposed uniform" if it is being imposed. Slavery was imposed on every slave - they had no choice (save running away, and some did choose that). Muslim women also have a choice - obey those imposing, or make their own decision. For anyone to decide, from a Western perspective, that every one of them who chooses to remain traditional is doing so by coercion is to deny them the very right of free choice that the objectors claim to want for them. Everyone makes good or bad choices, and must live with the consequences. It's not for anyone to decide if this Muslim woman is being forced to wear hijab, or that Muslim woman is choosing to because she finds it comfortable to wear. If you want to delude yourself that there is no such thing as an independent, intelligent Muslim woman capable of free thought and personal agency, go right ahead.
July 13, 2016, 11:48 am
Trump Supporter from America says:
@Me from Bay Ridge says:
There are more and more veils on the streets of Bay Ridge lately. Maybe they are not in Bensonhurst.

IT'S HALLOWEEN EVERYDAY FOR THESE PEOPLE!! MASQUERADE PARTY EVERYDAY FOR THEM. THEY LET THEIR IDIOTIC KIDS RUN AMUCK EVERYWHERE.
July 13, 2016, 12:34 pm
Me from Bay Ridge says:
It's hard to believe anyone would choose to go about swathed in black cloth head to toe in hot steamy Brooklyn summer weather while her husband wears shorts and a polo shirt -- a common site in this area.
July 13, 2016, 12:57 pm
Trump Supporter from America says:
I agree with @Me from Bay Ridge
July 13, 2016, 2:14 pm
Jane says:
Capitalizing on oppression is not uncommon. Spending power is real. Stop back peddling.
July 13, 2016, 2:43 pm
Jose from Windsor Terrace says:
@ Sean

Once again you miss the point completely. Islamic theology and culture, and the negative and coercive effects it has on Muslim women in particular, is what is being criticized. Not the individual Muslim women that are wearing hijabs. You seem determined to argue using straw men. The issue isn't a "choice" made by a Muslim woman, it is the religious and cultural misogyny that is present in Islam. Hijabs are just the tip of the iceberg.
July 13, 2016, 3:02 pm
Walter from Park Slope says:
Sean - they have the right to wear it, but it's offensive. Like you say, anyone can wear what they wish to. If a store opened selling clothes covered in nazi symbols it would be allowed to do so (technically) and people would have the right to wear. It would be offensive, not because of anything pertaining to clothes themselves, but the ideology they represent. In the same way that people find the ideology expressed by this clothing store's merchandise offensive.
As stated by a Muslim poster before - this way of dressing is not dictated by the Muslim faith - it's an Arabic cultural phenomenon part of a widerspread repression of women.
July 13, 2016, 3:31 pm
joann says:
@martin

first and foremost, i stand by everything i have written.

apparently, you were too lazy to read my commentary in full before launching your attack, and you conveniently misconstrued my words. grrreat!

i've cut and pasted my statements in response to your allegations below.

re: atheism- i did further state: "to be clear, i don't have a problem with atheists. actually, i applaud them for at least not associating partners with God and not believing in multiple gods. matter of fact, that is one-half of the declaration of faith for muslims: there is no God (la illah)..."

please spare me on your lecture about freedoms- the very same you wish to deny me! i'm American born and raised; and i find that you're simply a hypocrite.

re: the qur'an on our (muslim women's) attire- the first comment i made about this was: "the qur'an doesn't tell us what to wear. rather, it states we should be covered, what body parts to guard, and not to expose ourselves to unknown males." question: can't you see the writing on the wall?! lol. these are God's commands (not rules imposed by men) for us women. obviously then, an abaya (traditional islamic dress) for example, is a very appropriate article of clothing for us women to wear.

these are our needs, and any clothing items that fulfill this purpose is acceptable. indeed, i did further state: "the dress should simply be moderate. it is one's own culture that interprets what that might look like; and to each his own!"

did you miss the part about "to each his own"?! lol.

people like you don't accept us, muslim women for our dress because it doesn't conform to YOUR personal views about 'freedom.' sounds like a personal problem, and i can't help you there!

re: other american muslims- IF you mean what you say, then take my word for (it as an american muslim woman in brooklyn) and LET IT GO.

somehow though i have a feeling that's not enough for you so you must accept the comments of the other muslim women posting here from brooklyn. i know you missed this too but they are:

Mary from Brooklyn says:
"Yesss finally!!!! Loove thisss!!!!!! Need to go shopping in Bayridge!!!!"

American muslim from Here says:
"You men are oppressed because you can't see the Muslim women's body and beauty!!! We have the control and are freeeeee."

YA from Bay ridge says:
"...Please get a life, as Muslim women we are tired of hearing your stupid —— talk. We choose to worship, we choose to dress modestly, our refusal to conform to your norms hurt - go deal with it- no one here cares. Rockin my hijab with style and grace because I can and I want to - go eat that"

Mona from Bensonhurst says:
"May I bring into question what attire the Virgin Mary had worn? She wore a veil! She was dressed modestly... We are free to worship as we please as you are all free to worship as you please."

re: the veil which you want us to take off- first, i must admit this is the funniest line i've heard tonight (thanks for the laugh). now, what is your demand based on? YOUR culture?!

ROFL.

yeah, i'll take mine off when in FRANCE. oh wait, that's right! this is 'murica! ummm, weren't you lecturing earlier about exercising freedoms? LOL (you're such a hypocrite it's quite amusing).

finally, i'm not sorry you think i'm "aggressive and impolite." that is your opinion, yet i have proven that you're a hypocrite. add to that proof that YOU yourself are impolite:

martin says:
... "sundry and seperating yourself from society at large by wearing a costume on the streets."
(note: demeaning one's religious dress by calling it a "costume" )

..."I ask that veiled women take it off."
(note: making demands of another which go against their religious freedoms)

next time you want to attack someone realize that you better keep up and know what you're saying or you will be exposed as a fraud. i should literally bill you for my time now. oh well, if you made it this far CONGRATULATIONS.

the end.
July 14, 2016, 2:21 am
Martin from Park Slope says:
joaan - Short and sweet (something you seem unable to do)

- The Koran was written by people not God.
- Anyone has the right to do someting stupid, but they should also be able to deal with people pointing out the stupidity without having a coniption
- You talk about the US all the time, but insist on wearing the clothes of the middle east as an expression of this. Muslims around the world interpret the dresscodes differently - no matter how many times you write the word America these women are trying recreate the middle east with these outfits
- You say you have no problem with Atheists, but you used the word as a slur against someone before, so that seems unlikely
- Sarcasm, writting in all caps, snarkiness and arrogance are signs of rudeness and uncivilized discourse - and all common threads of your comments. You're a very rude person.
July 14, 2016, 4:45 am
Fred from Bay Ridge says:
Joann shows the blindness to reason and lack of logic of a recent convert. For her sake perhaps she will recover her senses and leave.
July 14, 2016, 6:58 am
joann says:
@ martin- good morning!

aww, did i just hit a nerve?

it is apparent you need some education in this matter. as well, more than once i've had to redirect your attention to what's actually been written herein.

1. "koran" is orientalist talk (= rude of YOU).

the qur'an speaks for itself. i doubt you've read it cover to cover. and, i've already exposed your hypocrisy so i'm not worried.

2. define "stupid."

if you mean what you say, then all groups of people who adhere to a religious dress code- be it muslims (1.6 billion), sikhs (30 million), jews (16 million), catholic nuns (50k), etc are "stupid." how do you wrap your brain around that one?

3. did you already forget that i'm an american citizen born and raised? OF COURSE, i'm going to talk about my country; and i don't need your stamp of approval to do so. :)

NEWSFLASH: the veil is not exclusive to islam and the middle east (shocking? nah, just takes a bit of research). early christians, and jews were also covering... and, let's not forget the roman, byzantine, and greek societies!

4. i did not "slur" anyone. let me redirect your attention to what was actually said.

misty said:
"It's the oppression they signal and reflect, the lack of free will, the suppression of women, the adherence to religion."
(note: "the adherence to religion" comment)

clearly, only a person who dislikes religion altogether would make such a remark; which i would argue is her main basis for saying the other stuff to begin with.

simply, i called it for what it is!

finally, you feel i'm a very "rude" person. actually, this is me being nice but firm in my defense. seriously, did you expect me to just sit here while you attempt to dishonor me and my faith?!

as they say: "don't dish it if you can't take it!" let that be today's lesson.

until next time, i remain...
July 14, 2016, 7:07 am
joann says:
@fred- good morning!

you're really not one to discuss logic or reason so i suggest you rethink what you're saying. plus, you don't know me or my life.

i'm more than fine. are you?
July 14, 2016, 7:14 am
Martin from Park Slope says:
Joaan

- The book is called "Koran" in English. It's a dictionary acceptable spelling. There's nothing rude about using one accepted spelling or another. Not reading the koran is not hipocrisy. I haven't read Mein Kampf, but I still disagree with Hitler - is that also hipocrasy?
- I don't use the word stupid, and yes, i believe all religious clothing is pointless. I believe Arabic-style covering women is more dangerous than other forms because of the wide-spread abuse of women in the middle east and among mulsims in Brooklyn.
- You can be born in the US but choose to wear the traditional costume of the Middle East. Your being American doesn't change that this is a Middle Eastern outfit and norm.
About your specious jump - 99.9 % of women with veils tied around their heads on the streets are muslim. This is a muslim clothing store. The same percentage of women who are forced by family memebers or husbands to wear scarves around their head are muslim. Therefore I am not at all concerned with the fact that another type of person may have done something similar 100s of years ago. I am talking about today.
- Firm is being unwavering in defending your point - you sarcastically insult other posters. You use all caps and go for "burn moments". I find your writting style rude, and believe that the many would as well.
- You did hit a nerve in me, because I find it awful that women in Islam are actively contributing to th subjugation of other muslim women. Instead of being a force for betterment, you just assist in holding down other muslim women to life of inferiority and lack of free will.
July 14, 2016, 8:15 am
Sean F from Bensonhurst says:
Jose, you miss the point. People here have specifically demeaned and attacked Muslim women who choose to wear these clothes for their own reasons. Some have attacked the ideology behind the issue, but most have simply attacked the women themselves.

Walter, now who wants everyone to be politically correct? You don't want to be offended by what other people wear, so they must change their ways? Nonsense. Jewish people find tattoos oppressive because of how the Nazis used them. Are they going around telling people they must cover up their tattoos, or get them lasered off? The American flag is oppressive to many people, in and outside of this country, but no one is saying it shouldn't fly on our public buildings or homes. And I was one of the people who noted that modest dress is not derived from Islam, but is secular in nature. That doesn't mean any woman has to throw it away if they find it comfortable.

Me from Bay Ridge, in case you hadn't noticed, layered heavy clothing is the norm for men and women in many desert cultures. The layers add insulating air that keep them cool.

Martin, all the other nonsense you wrote this morning aside, you want to deny Muslim women free will, and make their choices inferior to your own. You insist they do as you say, instead of deciding for themselves. As I noted earlier, this is even more reprehensible than what any Muslim man may do in demanding modest dress in "his women". You are an American, who is supposed to respect women and everyone's freedom. I can't take anything you say seriously from here on because you are seriously dangerous to women.
July 14, 2016, 9:26 am
Me from Bay Ridge says:
Desert air is dry. Brooklyn air is humid and sticky.
July 14, 2016, 9:49 am
Me from Bay Ridge says:
If the attire is cool and insulating, why don't the men wear the same?
July 14, 2016, 9:50 am
Sean F from Bensonhurst says:
In desert countries, they do wear the same. I can't speak for their choices here in the States. I notice many Indian men here wear long sleeve shirts and sweaters in the summer. That has nothing to do with respecting the choices made by women.
July 14, 2016, 10:05 am
Me from Bay Ridge says:
They don't wear it here because it's TOO HOT to wear here.
July 14, 2016, 10:08 am
Jose from Windsor Terrace says:
Sean, you are a broken record, and you are putting words in other people's mouths in your attempt to defend an indefensible position. In you view "free will" means the right to make "choices" that aren't truly free, all in order to submit to an oppressive, culturally and religiously imposed misogyny. Your example of "desert dress" really makes it very clear how ridiculous your arguments are.

Keep trying to explain away the real issues here though.
July 14, 2016, 10:15 am
Sean F from Bensonhurst says:
Jose,

I'm a broken record because you keep deflecting the issue. Your assumption that every Muslim woman who elects to wear traditional dress is doing so out of fear and ignorance is arrogant, particularly when several such Muslim women have come here to let you know that has nothing to do with their reasons for wearing it. You cannot read their minds, and have no reason not to take them at their word, other than your own need to feel superior to them. You are in the wrong, and sadly, can't see the light. Perhaps someday, someone will rob the women you love of their free will, and you'll understand.
July 14, 2016, 11:01 am
Jose from Windsor Terrace says:
Sean, Brooklyn's defender of the freedom for Muslim women to be oppressed. Again, the issue at hand is Islam's repression of its women, and how the pressure to conform and dress is a demeaning and subordinate way (subordinate to Muslim males) is subject to very legitimate criticism by people who value true freedom of choice.

Your arguments are a classic example of circular reasoning.
July 14, 2016, 12:03 pm
Sean F from Bensonhurst says:
Jose, Brooklyn's misogynistic dweeb. True freedom of choice means freedom to make bad choices for the wrong reasons, as well as good choices for personal reasons. Your arrogance in thinking you know why these women are making this choice is abominable.
July 14, 2016, 12:30 pm
Jose from Windsor Terrace says:
Sean, the tenor of your response makes the weakness of your arguments painfully clear.
July 14, 2016, 12:51 pm
Maggie from Sunset Park says:
Baby making machines. This woman is no different from the Chinese who sell polyester lingerie to conservative Muslims of upper Egypt.
July 14, 2016, 1:23 pm
Sean F from Bensonhurst says:
Jose, the tenor of your response makes the strength of your hatred for women painfully clear. Adios.
July 14, 2016, 1:23 pm
joann says:
@ martin- who's the rude one that didn't respond to my greeting?! who's the rude one that continually belittles another's religious dress? who's the rude one that doesn't know my life or my faith but insists on attacking us?

1. saying that the qur'an was "written by people not God" when in fact you haven't read it IS indeed hypocrisy (can't believe i have to reiterate that)!

FACT: there are 660 pages within the qur'an but you have NO IDEA what it says. does that make sense to you???

FACT: you need some education in this matter.

FACT: here are some recurring themes and topics you will find in the qur'an:

- stories about the nations before us;
- stories of prophets (as you would find in bible stories- abraham, adam, david, moses, jesus, muhammad, etc);
- explanations of the origin of man/ creation/ earth/ life;
- descriptions about Allah (arabic for God);
- scientific miracles;
- admonitions;
- doing good deeds;
- establishing prayer/ worship;
- fasting;
- charity;
- islamic law (marriage, divorce, business, inheritance, etc)/ legal penalties and retribution/ justice;
- mercy and forgiveness;
- dealing with sin;
- descriptions about heaven and hell/ angels/ devil;
- judgment day;
- the after life;
... and so much more!

2. you claim not to use the word "stupid." FACT: you can't even keep up with your own statements.

let me redirect you to your own comments:

FACT: martin says:
"Anyone has the right to do someting stupid, but they should also be able to deal with people pointing out the stupidity without having a coniption"
(note: no 'stupid' talk? rrright! keep telling yourself that.)

3. FACT: as this is AMERICA (land of the 'free'), we, muslim women too living in america, including brooklyn are free to wear traditional dress irrespective of your opinion or beliefs.

indeed, the U.S. is a pluralistic society wherein many religious groups have found protections and freedoms not afforded to them elsewhere! sleep on that.

it baffles me why you're so OBSESSED with our traditional dress?!

our religion comes with responsibility. and, it's our right, our choice, our life! not your business!

worry about the women in your own personal life (frankly, i feel bad they have to deal with you). i honestly think you're a paranoid individual, and i suggest you seek help.

further, making blanket statements about the "oppression" of muslim women absent factual evidence is ABSURD.

4. thanks for complimenting my writing style. i'm glad you agree i effectively defended myself and my faith!

finally, as you don't know me or my life; as you will never agree with me until i do what you want; as it is only God's pleasure we seek not yours; as God has elevated our status in islam and honored us; that is all that matters to me!

have the last word if you must. -"A LION DOESN'T CONCERN HIMSELF WITH THE OPINIONS OF SHEEP."
July 14, 2016, 11:23 pm
Martin from Park Slope says:
To make it clear - I am not aiming to forbid anyone from wearing what they chose to wear - be it a Nazi uniform, an Arabic costume, or any other legal item of clothing. The government already limits our freedom of choice in matters (you cannot entirely cover your face in public, you cannot sell yourself into slavery even if you want to, you cannot beat your wife even if you are both ok with it, etc.).
I am saying that I find this store and the clothing it sells something to be condemned and not celebrated. What these clothes symbolize, and the fact that the majority of people in them are not wearing them because of their own free will is a problem. This can in no way been seen as a good thing.
They are elements of an oppressive foreign culture, that I would hate to see become more widespread over here (though unfortunately they are becoming more and more common). Presenting this as giving women more choices is a farce. Yes, in a world disconnected from the reality we live in this could be possible. In the true situation we inhabit it is nothing more than enabling and continuing the oppression and subjugation of muslim women in Brooklyn. As I said before, the clothing is the tip of the iceberg when addressing the problems women in this community face. It is, however, the most glaring and obvious representation of it. It is brazenly announcing to the world that these women are in need of covering and controlling. It is physically unpleasant and placed out there for the world to see.
I don't care if people claim that the owner is nice - I don't know here, and she could be mean or nice for all I care. I don't like that she is furthering the oppression of other women in her own community.
July 15, 2016, 4:30 am
Henry from Park Slope says:
Joann appears to be an obsessive and deluded convert to Islam. I have read the Koran, and all Americans should do so to better understand the theological basis for the modern day fascists of the Islamic State, who follow the example of Mohammed and the other creators of Islam very precisely. The Islamic State shows us the true nature of Islam, and we as a civilization need to under that.
July 15, 2016, 8:09 am
Cindy from Queens says:
Most muslim women are very hairy, and when you bury fur under polyester in the summer sun you're going stink.
July 15, 2016, 8:20 am
Cindy from Queens says:
And Joaan sound like a nut! Maybe she's going crazy from the heat in her hairy tent? Pent up sexual frustration?
July 15, 2016, 8:24 am
Martin from Park Slope says:
Joaan - I missed your comment earlier

By stupid I mean : not intelligent, not sensible or logical, not able to think normally.

I wouldn't say you've done a good job arguing your point as you seem not to have convinced anyone of anything. You have certainly only made me more hostile to it than I was previously, and brought up points I was unaware of that only make me dislike more aspects of it. So if your goal was to make me like it less, then I would say you have done so.

I wouldn't say I'm obsessed with your Arabic costumes, i would say I find them offensive and reflective of a culture that hurts many women. What can I say, I care about freedom and rights for my fellow man (women too - a concept that perhaps is difficult to understand with your particular cultural interpretation of islam).

I'm neither a sheep nor a lion. I imagine that you're no lion either in real life. I've never seen a lion hide it's mane under a veil. I can't imagine that anyone objective would describe these forcibly covered woman as lions. Maybe lemmings? Scared mice? Mistreated pets? I don't know for sure.
July 15, 2016, 8:40 am
Sean F from Bensonhurst says:
There you go with the misogyny again, Martin. Calling ALL Muslim women "Lemmings? Scared mice? Mistreated pets?" You honestly believe that no Muslim woman is capable of rational thought or of making up her own mind about what to wear. You are an absolutely despicable... thing (because you are clearly not a human being).
July 15, 2016, 9:34 am
Henry from Park Slope says:
Sean keeps claiming that those who argue against misogyny are misogynistic themselves. Deflection, obfuscation and circular reasoning seem to be Sean's primary purpose for posting on this board.

You are not convincing anyone. And the repeated ad hominen attacks on those who disagree with you really expose you.
July 15, 2016, 10:27 am
Sean F from Bensonhurst says:
Henry, please explain to me how it is not misogynistic for Martin to say "I can't imagine that anyone objective would describe these forcibly covered woman as lions. Maybe lemmings? Scared mice? Mistreated pets?" He has said in this, and previously, that Muslim women can't possibly make up their own minds about what to wear. How is that not misogynistic?

I don't do circular or obfuscation. I state simple straight forward facts and statements. Any statement that includes the concepts of "all", "every", or "none" are automatically suspect, especially when they are derogatory.

I really don't care about changing anyone's mind because the people here aren't capable of independent thought, or stepping back from their bigotry, but the Muslim women being attacked need to know that some white, male Americans are on their side, and will defend their freedom.
July 15, 2016, 10:43 am
Sean F from Bensonhurst says:
Henry, follow up question: how is it that the constant ad-hominen attacks on the Muslim women don't expose those posters? Stating that they are all hairy? Calling them all sorts of animal name? Calling them stupid? Statements like "IT'S HALLOWEEN EVERYDAY FOR THESE PEOPLE!! MASQUERADE PARTY EVERYDAY FOR THEM. THEY LET THEIR IDIOTIC KIDS RUN AMUCK EVERYWHERE."

Joann and I clearly were goaded into personal invective. I admit we should have held the high road, but I'm a Brooklynite, and I fight back.
July 15, 2016, 10:57 am
Henry from Park Slope says:
I'll explain it to you Sean, since you clearly don't understand what Martin wrote. His characterization was in reference to a prior posters reference to herself or other Muslim women as lions, and he referred specifically to "forcibly covered women"; clearly he was discussing what the vast majority of posters on this board have been discussing -- the misogyny of Islam. He is not saying that Muslim women can't make up their minds about what to wear; rather he is saying that Islam exerts negative religious and cultural pressure on these women to conform to a subservient status to male Muslims, and that the enforced mode of dress is symbolic of that. That is where the misogyny exists, with Islam itself. You don't agree with that conclusion, but your arguments against Martin's conclusion are laughable.
July 15, 2016, 11:01 am
Sean F from Bensonhurst says:
If that's what's been argued here, it's been badly argued. Martin simply said, "these forcibly covered women." But neither he, nor any other poster on that side has acknowledged that these women do have a choice, and sometimes that choice is to flaunt tradition and accept the consequences, which some do, as well as to elect to dress as they feel comfortable, but with no coercion forcing them to do so (and at the same time potentially face the consequences from misogynistic people who don't like their choice). Plenty of other orthodox religious groups and cultures have the same sort of strictures and pressures, and I don't see vast outrage about it, except against Muslim women.
July 15, 2016, 11:06 am
Henry from Park Slope says:
Sean, has it escaped your attention that the article that is being discussed was about a clothing line for Muslim women, created by a Muslim women? That is why we are discussing Islam's mistreatment of women.

I don't believe that the problem lies with how clearly Martin has posed his arguments (they were quite clear). You simply are grasping at straws in an effort to try to counter his conclusions.
July 15, 2016, 11:29 am
Sean F from Bensonhurst says:
I'm not grasping at straws. I'm addressing a pervasive tone throughout this debate. I don't argue that hard-line Muslims/Middle Easterns don't mistreat their women - it is clear that that happens a lot, and it is wrong.

The statements being made against this business have been misogynistic. Check with any of the classic feminist writers, and you'll see that it is unacceptable to "protect" women by telling them what to do. Their decisions must be respected. The statements made against Muslim women have been abusive and ad-hominen, and were met in kind.

There is nothing wrong with a Muslim woman creating a line of clothing for women who feel comfortable in those clothing. Just as it is not inappropriate for a Western woman to create a line of bikinis or lingerie for women who want to display their bodies. I'd argue just as strenuously against any conservative who claimed the right to tell women they can't display their bodies as I would against those who say they must.

In any event, you've avoided both of my direct and simple questions, so you clearly have no defense for the abuse the other posters have heaped on these women. I have to assume you are also a man who thinks he must control women's minds and bodies. Time to move on because you've done a terrible job of making your ludicrous point.
July 15, 2016, 12:46 pm
Henry from Park Slope says:
Sean, as your arguments fail you shift to misstatements about what other posters have said, and they attack people that have been making articulate and very reasonable arguments about Islam's mistreatment of women as somehow being misogynistic themselves. While you are clearly in way over your head on this, it's appears that you are determined to have the last word hear, as illogical as that "last word" from you will undoubtedly be.

So go ahead, have the last word. I am certain that you will be incapable of resisting the compulsion to repeat yourself once more.

I'm done with you and this discussion.
July 15, 2016, 12:56 pm
Jack from Borough Park says:
Henry seems to want his last words too. See if you are cable of resisting in responding to me.
July 15, 2016, 1:23 pm
Bashak from Williamsburg says:
YA from Bay Ridge, You've been conditioned to think you are choosing to wear the hijab.
July 15, 2016, 7:35 pm
Me from Bay Ridge says:
Sean F has trouble seeing that any person of color of color could do anything wrong. Check out his prevous cause: http://www.brooklynpaper.com/stories/38/28/br-stoop-shrimp-2015-07-10-bk.htmle
July 16, 2016, 7:16 am
Me from Bay Ridge says:
*-of color
July 16, 2016, 7:17 am
Hafeeza Noor says:
I've been shopping for my Islamic clothing for eastessence.com since now and I even love them totally. But going through this article, I'd love to give it a try too.
July 18, 2016, 2:29 am
Sean F from Bensonhurst says:
Me,

Thanks for the shout-out, but I've never said anything at all about any people (of, or lacking, color) never doing anything wrong. All people do something wrong at one time or another (as several times in this thread I have criticized the Middle Eastern men who created a world in which women are forced to wear modest clothing). In the stoop-shrimp thread I was just pointing out the hypocrisy of the double-standard to which many of our neighbors hold the newer immigrants, as I've tried to do here.
July 18, 2016, 9:26 am

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