Simon Heffer, in The Daily Telegraph:
A worthy guest in the Kate Moss slot this week is Hammasa Kohistani, who a year ago became the first Muslim Miss England and is now doing her A-levels. As an example of integration, Miss Kohistani cannot be faulted, and it is marvellous that she does not feel the need to conceal herself beneath the garb often favoured by women of her religion. However, it might be better for Miss Kohistani to avoid politics: she has just blamed the Prime Minister for creating a “huge stereotype” of her community by asking Muslims to sort out the extremists among them. As the recent alleged foiled plots have shown, this is a Muslim problem, and it is much better that the solution comes from within that community rather than being divisively imposed on it from outside.
Well, I somehow doubt that the extremely articulate and able Miss Kohistani, the daughter of Tajik refugees from Afghanistan who fled the Taliban, or her family and friends, have much to do with Muslim extremists, some of whom have apparently sent her death threats. She seems to have won golden opinions of all sorts of people, including the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Shaukat Aziz, who, she told the Indy,
“told me it was women like me that would make the world aware that there are so many more kinds of Muslim women out there than the stereotype that the Western media has of them in a burqa,” she said. “Whenever we see images of Afghan women, they are in a burqa but there are so many women who don’t look like this.
“My own grandmother never wore a burqa. When people see me, they can’t believe I’m from Afghanistan because I’m not covered up.”
“Many have said they see me as giving Muslims a voice. I received a card that some women in Afghanistan had made me which had a large pair of eyes and my image in the middle of the iris, saying I was ‘the eyes of Afghan women’ which I found so touching. But it can be difficult as well. In interviews, people always ask me questions about being a Muslim and about politics. At first it was quite rewarding and I enjoyed it. But after the first 200 interviews, I realised that it was all about me being Muslim. I won a beauty contest, not a politics degree.”
Well, yes, I can see how she’d get a bit fed up. I mean, Kate Moss or David Beckham don’t get interrogated about their views on British policy in the Middle East every time they open their mouths — though this time last year Jade Goodey was memorably asked
Islamic terrorism is on the rise. If someone came into your salon preaching religious hatred what would you do?
Oh my God, I don’t know. I’d probably rugby tackle them to the floor and say: ‘Get out of my salon.’
Meanwhile, Ruth Kelly’s lot
The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) rejected her [Hammasa Kohistani, that is, not Jade Goodey] criticism, arguing that it was committed to “building strong, positive relationships” with Muslims. A spokeswoman said: “We need to be honest in recognising that we all have a responsibility to do more to tackle the threat of extremism and face down dangerous messages that circulate in local communities. In meetings with ministers in recent weeks, Muslim organisations themselves have acknowledged that they must do more.”
Right, well what more, perzactly, would Ruth Kelly have Ms Kohistani do ‘to tackle the threat of extremism and face down dangerous messages that circulate in local communities’? Here we’ve got someone who seems very intelligent and thoughtful, who’s clearly out of sympathy with these extremists and who would well placed to help Ms Kelly out; I’d have thought she deserves more than just tutting at.
Come to think of it, since Ruth Kelly says ‘ we all have a responsibility to do more…’, what does she want Jade Goodey to do to this end?