The New York Times recently featured a story about a Michigan high school prom. But why would a national outlet feature a local prom? Because it had "everything, except for boys."
Meant to accommodate the religious beliefs of the school's females -- roughly 65% of whom would not have been able to go to a conventional prom, where boys and girls dance together -- the event was the product of seven months of feverish planning and fundraising led primarily by Tharima Ahmed, who describes herself as "outspoken."
The Times explains:
As organizer of Hamtramck High School’s first all-girl prom, which conforms to religious beliefs forbidding dating, dancing with boys or appearing without a head scarf in front of males, Tharima, 17, was forging a new rite of passage for every teenage Muslim girl who had ever spent prom night at home, wistfully watching the limousines roll by.
“Hi, guys — I mean girls!” Tharima, a Bangladeshi-American, exuded into the microphone as 100 girls — Yemeni-American, Polish-American, Palestinian-American, Bosnian-American and African-American — began pouring into the hall on Bangladesh Avenue.
The New York Times video, below, features an interview with Ahmed and the city's mayor on the event:
Describing the girls' excitement at seeing one another's dresses, the Times continued:
In this season of wobbly heels and cleavage, the bittersweet transformation of teenagers in jeans and T-shirts into elegant adults barely recognizable to their friends is an anticipated tradition.
But at the all-girl prom, there were double double-takes, as some of Tharima’s classmates, normally concealed in a chrysalis of hijab and abaya, the traditional Muslim cloak, literally let their hair down in public for the first time.
Eman Ashabi, a Yemeni-American who helped organize the event, arrived in a ruffled pink gown, her black hair falling in perfect waves, thanks to a curling iron. Like many here, she stunned her friends.
“It’s ‘Oh my god!’ ” said Simone Alhagri, a Yemeni-American junior who was wearing a tight shirred dress. “This is how you look underneath!”
The event was a resounding success, according to most of the girls. The music played all night, and they stopped dancing only for dinner and prayers.
“It was really fantastic to see all of the girls who were there having so much fun and really enjoying themselves and, you know, being able to just dance if they want to dance and talk to who they want to talk to,” the school's English teacher said. “They really had a great time. It was really wonderful because, otherwise, they really wouldn’t have been to a prom at all.”
And while everyone is happy that the girls were able to have a fun night out, others ask whether the school and the New York Times would have been equally supportive of accommodating Christian or Jewish religious beliefs? Still others ask whether this is part of what some have termed "creeping shariah," where Islamic law is slowly introduced to the American mainstream?
What do you think?