The Southern Cross : July 2010
Page 8 July 2010 The Southern Cross www.adelaide.catholic.org.au news By Rebecca DiGirolamo Some Muslim school girls have been told by their parents not to wear a head scar f on Adelaide streets for fear of harassment. Sisters Zahra, 15, and Shazeia Ali, 14, arrived in Adelaide with their parents from war-torn Afghanistan shor tly before the September 11 attack in the United States in 2002. Zahra said her mother was taunted for wearing a hijab (head scar f). The Year 10 St Aloysius College student said her parents had decided the family should, for safety reasons, avoid wearing the head covering traditionally worn by Muslim women. "It was difficult on her," said Zahra of her mother's post-9/11 experience in Adelaide. More than 60 students from a Muslim background attend St Aloysius College -- an all-girls R-12 Catholic school in the city. The Southern Cross recently spoke to several of the school's Muslim students following controversial public debate over calls for the banning of the burqa by South Australian Senator Cor y Bernardi. Year 11 student Nargis Rahimi said there needed to be more compassion and understanding. "I understand why some people would want to ban the head scar f, but they should be more respectful," she said. "I used to get hassled on the bus a lot, but not anymore," the 16-year- old said. Year 9 student Shabnam Jafari, also from Afghanistan, said she did not cover her head during school as she was in the presence of all girls, however as soon as she left school grounds, the scar f came back on. She said she had not felt intimidated or received abuse because of her appearance. Shabnam, 13, said there were some families with a strict interpretation of the head-dress rule, while others were more liberal. Sr Janet Lowe, suppor t teacher for indigenous and refugee students at St Aloysius, said the Muslim students took par t in Religious Education lessons and were aware of the Catholic ethos of the school. She said students were encouraged to share their Muslim faith and traditions in the school's spirit of inclusion and diversity. Acting principal John Konopka said the school suppor ted students wearing the hijab. "We all understand the needs for security...but as a general issue to be saying that female Muslims shouldn't be wearing the headdress is sad in an Australian society that prides itself on tolerance and multiculturalism," said Mr Konopka. Head scarf close to the heart MUSLIM STUDENTS: (back) Saadia Hussaini, Mahgol Atai, Nargis Rahimi, Zahra Ali and (front) Shabnam Jafari, Shazeia Ali, Sr Janet Lowe, Mansoureh Sarvari. Fact file A burqa is an outer garment worn by women in some Islamic traditions for the purpose of hiding a female's body when in public. It is worn over the usual daily clothing and removed when the woman returns to the sanctuary of the household, out of the view of men that are not their husbands, fathers, brothers, uncles, sons and grandsons. The burqa is usually understood to be the woman's loose body- covering plus the head-covering (or hijab), plus the face-veil (niqab or purdah). The face-veil portion is usually a rectangular piece of semi-transparent cloth whose top side is sewn to corresponding portion of the head-scarf, so that the veil hangs down loose from the scarf, and it can be turned up if the woman wishes to reveal her face. In other cases, the niq b part can be a side-attached cloth which covers the face below the eyes' region. (Source: Wikipedia) When 16 Filipino women and three men found their way to Border town to work at the local meat market, they came with nothing. Having left many of their par tners in Albany while they awaited visa clearance from immigration, the men, women and children were left to fend for themselves. They were sleeping in ver y basic workers' accommodation without furniture, bedding and kitchen utensils. But a call to Lifeline led to the hasty assembly of an armada of St Vincent de Paul volunteers from as far as Adelaide. The Filipino migrants today make up 48 families heavily involved in the Border town Parish. "Since arriving, the Filipino families have been getting quite active in the church," said Annie O'Neill, fundraising and communications coordinator for the St Vincent de Paul Society. "Some are par ticipating in the readings, some have joined committees, and they have a choir, which really helps during Mass," she said. "The Filipino families have made an enormous boost to the Parish at Border town...They are here on four-year visas working at Tatiara Meat Company, and hopefully the majority of them will be able to apply for permanent residence in due course, and will choose to stay here." The immediate turnaround of food, clothing, beds, chairs, tables, toys, lounges and donations was credited to Lifeline SE, St Vincent de Paul Border town, the Tatiara Meat Company, St Vinnies Kidman Park Warehouse and Police Sergeant Michael Hutchison, who lent his own shed for storage. "Overall, the community supplied all the basic household items and furniture for 50 families, including one Sri Lankan, one Indian and 48 Filipino families, amounting to about 150 people including about 50 children," said Ms O'Neill. Migrant boost to SE HELPING HANDS: Some of the migrants from the Bordertown Parish who have helped transform Mass after some help from the locals.