Don’t you just love sensationalist titles? I can just imagine the hot headed teenager rushing to open this link, only to be disappointed that I don’t have a photo gallery of what is now popularly referred to as “Erbil’s miniskirt schoolgirls”. Last week, we were all stuck on Ahlam al-Shamsi’s comment on the Kurdish contestant in the Arab idol singing competition, this week it seems our attention has been captivated by things more local, and closer to home.
Perhaps I should indulge the reader by giving some background information. A few days ago, the annual Festival of secondary schools was held in the city of Hewler. No one took notice, local media outlets barely took interest in the event – it happens every year, a bunch of schoolgirls walk around the stadium representing their school. It was never a big deal until, Lo and behold! A picture emerged of schoolgirls, wearing skirts that are just “too short” for the conservatives, and way to appealing for others.
Receiving dozens of shares, hundreds of likes, and thousands of comments – the picture has become a controversial topic. From Islamists criticising schools for allowing girls to be depicted in such a sexual way at a considerably young age, to liberals running to their defence in the name of freedom of expression. What intrigued me are not the skirts, it is a matter of personal choice, and since these girls are quite young, I believe it is a matter of parental guidance. However, the comments received are eye opening, and give an insight to Hewler.
Some people praised the young girls for defying what some see as the normative conservative attitude that is prevailing in this city; others were distasteful both in their comments and the delivery of such comments.
I found the comments shocking, someone replied to the picture posted by saying “They have no shame, I spit on them, how unfortunate for it to come to this” another said “And we criticised Silemani!” referring to another city which is often referred to as the most liberal out of the region. The comment that really got under my skin was “What is this, a school or whorehouse?”
It is unclear to me what the people were objecting to in the pictures – that girls can wear miniskirts or their own evil thoughts that prevailed upon seeing those pictures – all these children at the festival have guardians or parents, they did not leave their house without their parent’s consent, and their participation in the festival was consensual, therefore if the parents of these girls don’t object, why should other people, who have no relations to them whatsoever make a huge fuss?
It makes little sense for people to be overtly critical of something, in the most ill-mannered form possible when they are not even related to the incident.
My disappointment is with people who believe they are God-sent saviours of Hewler city, but unfortunately they are the worst examples of piety themselves. Once people follow the principles they want to shove down other people’s throats, then we will see a real change in our society.