London, 17 Dzulhijjah 1436/30 September 2015 (MINA) – A hijabi Muslim semi-finalist in Great British Bake Off TV show has praised the positive response she got after appearing at the BBC1 cookery program, saying that it has shown how tolerant and accepting British society is.
“The feedback I have had reveals how accepting people are of different cultures and religions,” the Great British Bake Off contestant, Nadiya Jamir Hussain said, On Islam quoted by Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA) as reporting.
“Now people know who I am, I can see how tolerant and accepting British society is.”
The Muslim hijabi woman feared being dismissed by viewers because of not being a stereotypical British person.
Reaching the semi-final, she will compete on Wednesday’s show for a place in the final.
“Originally, I was a bit nervous that perhaps people would look at me, a Muslim in a headscarf, and wonder if I could bake,” Hussain said.
“But I hope that, week by week, people have realized that I can bake – and just because I’m not a stereotypical British person, it doesn’t mean that I am not into bunting, cake and tea.
“I’m just as British as anyone else, and I hope I have proved that. I think the show is a fantastic representation of British society today.”
Islam sees hijab as an obligatory code of dress, not a religious symbol displaying one’s affiliations.
Last May, an American Muslim woman became the first ever veiled female chef to appear on an American primetime cooking show after joining this season’s Masterchef contest on Fox, breaking down negative stereotypes on veiled women.
The participation of the veiled contestant came as the BBC has faced pressure to increase diversity.
“I want BBC1 to continue to move with the times and bring audiences a range of distinctive, high-quality programs that feel relevant and reflect the diversity of modern Britain,” Charlotte Moore, BBC1’s controller, said.
Meanwhile, a spokeswoman for program-maker Love Productions, said: “We are looking for Britain’s best amateur bakers and the 12 contestants were chosen on the basis of baking ability. They reflect modern Britain.”
Other contestants, whose families originally came from Lithuania, the Caribbean, and the Philippines, as well as fellow semi-finalist Tamal Ray, whose parents moved to the UK from India in the 1960s, are participating in the cookery program too.
“I’m a Hindu, and I prayed quite a lot,” Ray, a senior house officer in intensive care at a hospital in Manchester, said.
“I suppose there is a god of food, but I didn’t pray to him. I just prayed in a general sense and sent it out there.”
On Wednesday semi-final, Hussain will be competing with fellow bakers Tamal Ray, Ian Cumming and Flora Shedden.
“My family is from Bangladesh, and we don’t really have desserts in our culture,” the 30-year-old mother of three, who is studying for an Open University degree in childhood and youth studies, said.
“If there are sweet things to eat, they are eaten as a snack beforehand. But once I started to make desserts, crumbles and pies at home, it caught on. Now my family always expect one.”
Islam is the second largest religion with results from the United Kingdom Census 2011 giving the UK Muslim population in 2011 as 2,786,635, 4.4% of the total population. (T/P006/R03)
Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA)