Monday, 19 September 2016

Islam chose me: Susan Carland on religion, love and the hijab

Susan Carland. Make-up: Peter Beard. Styling: Penny McCarthy and Nichhia Wippell. Dress by Sportsmax.
"But if your intention is sincerely, 'I don't particularly enjoy being in magazines but I have the intention of trying to create a more cohesive society or a society that has some nuance in this conversation about Islam...' I don't think I'm particularly good at public speaking, but if people say, 'Please come and talk to us,' I feel uneasy about saying no and then complaining about the level of public conversation."
Carland and I meet at a Sydney photographic studio in the week that controversy is boiling over the short-lived burkini ban in France, where police were photographed forcing a woman to remove her long-sleeved top on a beach.
For Carland this is "that old thing of women's bodies being used as a battleground for - generally men's - political conquests. I see the other side of women being forced to cover up in some countries as just as problematic." She was pleased by the reactions of disbelief and outrage from many Australians, "a reassuring sign of how generally Australia accommodates or champions multiculturalism".
Carland pays a price for her public profile, attracting abuse on Twitter that she deals with by pledging a dollar to UNICEF for every hateful comment - about $4800 so far, with half donated by supporters. But with a daughter, Aisha, 13, and son, Zayd, 9, she is as likely to tweet about children's games or snot-eating as about refugees or racism.

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