In preparation for The Big Adventure I decided to invest in a versatile but attractive scarf and I was browsing my local Army surplus when I decided to plump for a Keffiyeh; very much like the one sported by the gentlemen above.
For those of you that don't know, the Keffiyeh (كوفية) is a traditional Arab headdress but one I'll mostly be sporting as a device to keep my neck warm and little did I realise that it is a heavily politicised garment. Don't get me wrong, I'm not naive enough to assume that it doesn't carry certain connotations but when browsing the selection in the Army Surplus store I wished I'd known that the garment has just had something of a revival as an icon of the Palestinian struggle against Zionist oppression.
For example, the black-and-white one is associated with the PLO and Fateh, while the Green one is associated with Islamism, (and also with Islamic Jihad) while the colour I opted for, Red, is often associated with socialism (that I can handle) and also the colour often worn by civilian supporters of Hamas.
It has already drawn some interesting responses, whether it be from some Jewish pupils I teach (which in turn led to a fruitful discussion on Middle Eastern politics), or at the airport on the way to Brussels where it was presumed by staff that I was waiting for a flight to Lebanon, or an elderly chap who asked me whose side I was on in the current Gulf War, or some youths who shouted racist abuse at me (it was a bizarre feeling to be called a "Paki") and another set of England's future who thought it meant I was a Muslim and proceeded to make jokes about Allah.
This got me thinking about what if I actually was Arabian and actually was a Muslim and what kind of abuse I'd get?
Like I said some time ago: We Got Ourselves a New Nigger.