Thanks to the repeated requests for me to publish this trailer. So here it is. Enjoy!

Montreal designer creates sleek sports hijab

MONTREAL–First, a Muslim girl was barred from a soccer match for wearing a hijab. Then, five Muslim girls were ejected from a tae kwon do tournament for the same reason.
It was 2007, at a time when Quebecers were preoccupied with how far they should go to "accommodate" the religious and cultural differences of immigrants in a secular and multicultural society.
While soccer and martial arts officials cited safety concerns, many called the ejections racist, and the incidents became part of the larger controversy.
Fast forward two years, and industrial designer Elham Seyed Javad has taken up the cause.
"I was so distressed when I learned about it," Seyed Javad said. "Your beliefs shouldn't prevent you from playing sports."
So, the 26-year-old University of Montreal graduate designed a sleek sports hijab, which fits tightly around the head and is part of a sports shirt underneath.
They were tested by some Muslim athletes at a martial arts tournament last weekend and passed with flying colours, Seyed Javad said.
Her innovation comes as the question of "reasonable accommodation" on the integration of immigrants into society is surging back into the public domain.
An Angus Reid Strategies poll from last month suggests the vast majority of Quebecers think there is too much accommodation going on. Seventy-six per cent say the wearing of religious symbols in school should be barred.
And yet, "accommodations" continue under the radar.
For example, at the all-girls public high school École Marguerite-De Lajemmerais in east Montreal, where all students must wear a uniform, the school decided to provide a hijab, complete with the school's logo stitched into the fabric.
Montreal's French school board said it was looking to see if other schools were doing the same.
"We find it worrying," said Alain Perron, spokesperson for the Commission scolaire de Montréal.
The debate over "reasonable accommodation" exploded in 2007 when numerous reports came to light of religious minorities making requests ranging from opting out of music classes to obscuring a fitness club's windows to hide the scantily-clad women inside.
Then the small town of Hérouxville stirred things up by publishing a "code" for new immigrants, reminding them that stoning or burning women was prohibited, and that veils weren't welcome, except on Halloween.
The problem of headscarves in sports is that sometimes the ends come untucked, even though athletes try to pin them inside a shirt.
Seyed Javad, who is Muslim but doesn't wear a hijab herself, emphasizes that her "Resport" is more than a hijab. It can be used by anyone, male or female, who needs to keep their hair in check during their activities.
"Even men in American football," she explained. "They sometimes have long hair."
The Resport is being shopped around to manufacturers by Univalor, which commercializes University of Montreal inventions.
It "helps to integrate, rather than exclude certain communities in society," Seyed Javad said.
École Marguerite-De Lajemmerais principal Alain Guillemette defended his school's hijabs, saying they conformed to the school's uniforms in colour and fabric.
"It's from the point of view of uniformity that this was put in place," he explained.
Salam Elmenyawi, president of the Muslim Council of Montreal, said he was surprised by the school's actions in such a volatile atmosphere, but found it encouraging. "I think it's a normalization of wearing the hijab by having the institution offer it," he said.
That very idea of normalization is what worries Louise Mailloux, spokesperson for the Citizen Collective for Equality and Secularism, which believes the hijab is inherently a symbol of inequality, especially where women are pressured to wear it.
"A secular school must be neutral," Mailloux argued
Source: http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/article/724677--montreal-designer-creates-sleek-sports-hijab


Women flock to see first female football game in West Bank

Al Ram, West Bank (CNN) -- The Faisal al Husseini football stadium was packed, two hours before kick off, with a noisy sea of Palestinian flags and white hijabs.
Football matches are always a big deal in the West Bank, but this game was more significant than most. 10,000 women had flocked to the stadium, on the outskirts of East Jerusalem and a mere few meters from the separation barrier that snakes around the West Bank, to watch a historic football match few would have believed possible just a few years ago: the Palestinian women's national team were to play Jordan in their first ever home international.
Both teams gave laps of honor before the start of the game to mark an occasion that is rare in the Middle East. Football is hugely popular amongst women in the region but the development of the game has largely been held back by a social conservatism that disapproves of women playing what are deemed 'men's' sports.
In Kuwait, attempts to set up a women's national team was met with outrage in the country's parliament. The move was halted after Waleed al Tabtabae, a hard line Islamist MP who chairs a committee charged with weeding out 'phenomena strange to society' decided that a women's football team was 'un-Islamic'.
"Committee members expressed their indignation...and total rejection of the idea of the women's football team on the grounds that football is not suitable for women," Tabtabae told the Kuwait Times.
The UAE has only this year launched its own national team. A handful of teams exist in Saudi Arabia, although they are confined to the more liberal university campuses and have to be played in front of small, women-only crowds. In Iran women are banned from attending football matches and have to wear the hijab when they play, even in tournaments abroad.
The Palestinian team has had its own, unique problems to deal with. Set up in 2003 at Bethlehem University, Israeli movement restrictions meant it was impossible to practice on the West Bank's sole grass pitch in Jericho. Instead, they had to train on a concrete handball court and play against local boy's teams.
The only way the national team could play was to travel to nearby Jordan, but that created its own problems as it was difficult for players from Gaza to get permission to leave. Since the 2007 Hamas takeover of the Gaza Strip, it became even harder for women to take part.
But the hardest part was convincing the families, both Christian and Muslim, in conservative strongholds like Nablus and Jenin to allow their daughters to play football.
"At first it seemed weird, women playing football in our society because it has a male mentality," said Honey Thaljieh, the team's 25-year-old captain when I interviewed her in 2007. "Some families had problems sending their daughters to play football, some still face problems."
Yet two years on they have a Futsal league (an indoor version of the game), a national stadium to play in and a string of international tournaments to attend. The team even attempted to qualify for the 2011 World Cup, but narrowly missed out on reaching the second round.
"We go to the villages now and tell them [the parents] that it is not forbidden to play. Most of the team is now Muslim," explained Rouqaya Takrouri, the 45-year-old national team manager, who hoped the Jordan match would spur a new recruitment drive, inspiring some of the thousands of female spectators to believe they could play football too. "We are talking to every woman now. We send out letters that say: 'Now is your time.' Last year we had six clubs, now we have 14."
For Thaljieh the match was particularly poignant. Since captaining the team she has fought for recognition within her own community, dedicating her life to the women's game by vowing not to get married or start a family until she retires, a controversial move in Palestinian society.
As the game has grown, Thaljieh has become something of a symbol for women's rights in the region and has been feted by everyone from Cristiano Ronaldo to FIFA president Sepp Blatter who presented Thaljieh with FIFA's inaugural development award at the FIFA World Player Gala earlier this year.
Standing pitch side, she couldn't hide her smile when asked just how far she thought the game had come in two years.
"It is still difficult sometimes," she admitted. "But this has broken all the rules for women here. This was a big event to get both women and men together in Palestinian society. In a way, today was like a marriage between the Palestinians."
To put the match in context, as many as 16,000 people crammed in to watch Palestine and Jordan play. When the US women's team last played at home, a 1-0 victory over Canada in New York last July, just 8,433 fans turned up. But not everyone in attendance was there for football. Outside several thousand men who couldn't get in clambered on to surrounding rooftops, others scrambled up nearby wire fences, whilst some even crowded on top of a parked bus. Although a different type of union was on their minds. "All these men are here to see the women and I'm here to see the chicks too," admitted Abdullah Alawad, a 20 year old architecture student. "Maybe the girls are here to see the guys too," he added rather hopefully.
The game itself was a surprisingly tetchy affair, with two players stretchered off after being on the receiving end of several crunching tackles, much to the anger of the Jordanian team's (male) coach. His mood wasn't helped when Palestine won two dubious penalties.
A late Jordanian equalizer secured the 2-2 draw they deserved. But for the women watching, the result was less important than the game itself. After the final whistle both sets of players hugged and embarked on another lap of honor in front of an ecstatic crowd.
"We want to prove that we are better than the men at football," explained Asala el Wazeer, an 18 year old student who stood with her friends in the crowd. "It has taken us years to get to this point. We are very proud of the [Palestinian] team."
In a way, she was right. Palestine had played Jordan in the first ever men's international exactly one year previously. They only managed to score once. But for Thaljieh, held aloft on the shoulders of her team mates in front of a crowd that included the Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Dr. Salam Fayyad, the match sent a powerful message to the outside world.
"This is important and shows the world that we don't care about the barriers and the checkpoints," Thaljieh shouted over the noise. "We have shown the world that we can fight, but that when we fight, we fight through peaceful play."
Source: http://edition.cnn.com/2009/SPORT/football/11/06/palestinian.womens.football.westbank/


National Palestinian women's soccer team takes field

The Faisal Husseini International Stadium in the West Bank city of Ramallah on Sunday was the scene of the first ever international soccer match between the Jordanian women's soccer team and its Palestinian counterpart.
The 22 women making up both teams marched onto the field wearing hijabs, the traditional head covering for Muslim women, and were greeted by an enthusiastic, roaring crowd, made up of tens of thousands of Palestinian women.
The Palestinian Women's Soccer League was formed by Jibril Rajoub, head of the Palestine Sports Association and former National Security Advisor to late Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat.
The idea, he said, was a hard sell: "One I took office I knew I wanted to form a women's soccer club, but as traditional as Palestinian society is, many sheikhs and clerics were appalled by the notion."
The VIP section of the stadium was adorned with posters of Arafat, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and King Abdulla II of Jordan. Rajoub, along with Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad and various Palestinian ministers were treated to a front row seat, as were Knesset Member Ahmad Tibi (United Arab List-Ta'al) and a representative of FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association).
As customary in soccer games, the captains of both teams shook hands, flags were exchanged and as soon as the referee blew his whistle, the 22 women began a fevered dash across the field.
"The Palestinian society is still struggling with women's liberation, so for me, soccer is a challenge, Honey Thaljieh, captain of the Palestinian National Women Soccer Team, said.
Thaljieh also played the political angle: "We live in a difficult reality and as a Palestinian woman living under occupation I want to use this to communicate the message that we all just want to live. For me, soccer is a message of life, love and peace."
When peace is achieved with Israel, she added, her team will gladly play against its Israeli counterpart.
The captain of the Jordanian soccer team added that her team will play against Israel when there is full normalization between Amman and Jerusalem.
Soccer has always been popular among Palestinian men and is widely considered a focal point of Palestinian solidarity. Ismail Haniyeh, Hamas' prime minister in Gaza, was an avid soccer player in his youth.
Though women's soccer is a relatively new sport in the West Bank, the Palestinian Women's Soccer League – formed only one year ago – has 40 teams. According to Rajoub, every Palestinian university has a team and even east Jerusalem has one.
The game against Jordan, which ended in a 2:2 draw, was the Palestinian National Women Soccer Team's first public game in the West Bank, since all of its games until now were played abroad.
Jordan's team is considered one of the top women's soccer teams in the world.
Source: http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3796080,00.html