INTERNATIONAL “WEAR YOUR KAFFIYEH WITH PRIDE” DAY - Friday, June 6th - A response to the removal of the Dunkin’ Donuts Ad & the derogatory stereotyping of Arabs and their culture.
Last week, the US chain Dunkin’ Donuts pulled an advert following complaints that the scarf worn by a celebrity chef offered symbolic support for Islamic extremism, as it resembled a kaffiyeh. Although this item of clothing is Arab in origin, it is worn by people from all walks of life, including several American models and celebrities, who have no affiliation with, or sympathy for, terrorists of any kind.
Response to this incident has been largely negative, with many consumers going so far as to even consider boycotting the popular food chain. However, a more positive approach to combating the false stereotype, initially propagated by a small group of right-wing bloggers, headed by Michelle Malkin, is the launch of International “Wear Your Kaffiyeh with Pride” Day, where participants are asked to wear a kaffiyeh on Friday 6th June. This peaceful form of visual protest aims to remind the World that this cultural icon - much like hats, coats, gloves and shoes - is simply a popular clothing accessory that should not be discriminated against, solely on the basis that it is included in the wardrobes of a particular brand of criminal.
The event was launched on the popular social networking site, Facebook, in the early hours of Sunday, June 1st - yet already, over seventeen thousand people have been invited to the protest, with the numbers growing every hour. This does not include those who have pledged their support via blogs and websites.
The protest has resonated with people from across both the religious and racial spectra, with one recent recruit stating: “from a Catholic Canadian Living in America… Bravo! I’m now frantically looking for a Kaffiyeh!“. In fact, the organiser of the event, a blogger who goes by the handle “iMuslim”, is herself a non-Arab PhD student, based in the United Kingdom. The famous British activist and journalist, Yvonne Ridley, has also lent her support to the campaign, urging her contacts to “wear the kaffiyeh with pride”.
A similar newsworthy, clothing-based protest took place last year in several Canadian schools, as part of an anti-bullying movement. A large number of students attended school donning various pink items of clothing, to display their solidarity with a fellow male pupil who had previously been harassed by school bullies for wearing a pink polo shirt.
At the end of the day, the significance of Kaffiyeh Day extends past the misrepresentation of an article of clothing, and the misguided actions of one of America’s many fast-food chains. It is about self-empowerment, justice, and a call to the end of derogatory stereotyping of all peoples, irrespective of race or religion. And though the inspiration for these types of protest varies, at their heart lies the same message: please, whatever you do, don’t judge a book by its cover - or even its kaffiyeh.
More information about International “Wear Your Kaffiyeh with Pride” Day can be found via the following links:
Facebook event page
Blog post of event organizer
Contact details for the organizer can be found on her blog