Sophie the Burkha Rapper, by Ruhani Kaur

March 7, 2010 § Leave a comment

21 year old Sophie Ashraf is an artiste of her times, a creative force informed by the post 9/11 world, a daring new voice like no other.

It’s like when you really like a band, you wear T-shirts of that band… Well we really, really like Islam, so we wear the burkha. I rap because I can’t sing. But I love music, so it had to be rap. Soon, the burkha and the rap formed an identity, and people started recognising me as The Burkha Rapper.

The Justice Rocks Concert was the first platform where I felt the setting and the timing was right to talk about Islam. The Mumbai attack had just happened and everyone was waiting for a proactive Muslim to come out and say what Islam was about. I was just blown away by the response.

People tend to think that someone who tries to be different and someone who breaks the rules are the same. I work within the rules, but I find those little loopholes that allow me to do my thing.

There are those who are not convinced about the burkha, sure. Now that we wear it, we feel empty, naked without it. There is a line in the Quran that says: “To you, your religion, and to me mine.” And so they are letting me express myself the way I want to.”

Ruhani Kaur is a photojournalist based in New Delhi. Her documentary work on environmental issues has been published in Down to Earth Magazine. She works with UN agencies on health issues, and on the subject of women rights with Voices Unabridged. She was awarded a fellowship to produce work on the subject of female foeticide in India, the results of which won her first prize at the Days Japan Photojournalism Award in 2006. She is currently with the Indian Express.

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*In the run up to the opening of BLINDBOYS WIDEYED on 12th March, we are blogging about each of the Blindboys photographers and the work they have sent us for the exhibition.

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