Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Office Playground

My assistant is going through a spot of bother at work at the moment. Her three best friends have all turned on her and she is absolutely fuming!

Last week she came in to work wearing her headscarf but also wearing a long t-shirt style dress (on top of jeans and a long sleeved white top). The dress itself was a bright pink colour. Her three best friends are all very strict Muslims who wear the full hijab to work. (See "bedouin hijab" in picture above).

They were extremely disgusted to see my assistant in the bright pink dress (although she wears Western clothes with her headscarf every day, this particular outfit was not to their taste and considered inappropriate, even though it was not tight or revealing in any way). Anyway, she was very unhappy with their behaviour towards her and decided that they were no longer her friends. (But she assured me I am her sister, not her friend – had to love that!)

One of the other Libyan secretaries who speaks English came to explain the situation to me and told me very proudly that there are 3 types of women in Libya.

1. Those who dress like me – western style dress (albeit modest) with hair uncovered.
2. Those who dress like her and my assistant – with the headscarf but with modest western clothing.
3. Those who dress completely covered in the full hijab.

Passionately she proceeded to explain that although you may be No. 1, inside you might be a good person and No. 3 might be a bad person. So therefore, my assistants friends had no right to judge her, as inside, she is a good person (despite the language barrier, I can already tell this). A great statement for life in general, regardless of being a Muslim country, it brings to mind the term, clothes do not make a person, it is a person who makes the clothes.

Well, today, to really accentuate the whole argument, my assistant received a package which was delivered to the office. There was a letter and a booklet. (All in Arabic so my translation may be vague). The letter basically compared her to a Libyan woman within the company who had a very bad reputation (in other words, the office hussy) and the booklet served as a guide as to the do’s and don’ts of how one should dress!

She was crying and shouting (completely the norm in Libyan offices anyway) and I feel so angry for her, this girl is a 30 year old virgin who blares out the quaran everyday in my office!

I know a good 'un when I see a good 'un and this one is a good 'un!