Muslim jeans for worshippers cause a stir in Pakistan

From left: Dr. Fernando Im, Senior Country Economist for Sri Lanka and the Maldives, The World Bank, Hon. Eran Wickramaratne, State Minister, Ministry of Finance and Mass Media, Dr. W A Wijewardana, Former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka, Prof. Indralal de Silva, Former (Chair) of Demography, University of Colombo, Prof. Amala de Silva, Department of Economics, University of Colombo at the panel discussion on "Demographic Change in Sri Lanka" moderated by Dr. Ramani Gunatilaka, International Centre for Ethnic Studies.

KARACHI, May 19, 2006 (AFP) – A new line of jeans for Muslims who want to stay comfortable when they pray has drawn mixed reactions from religious hardliners in Pakistan, where the trousers are being made.

Designed by an Italian company and named after the Arabic term for Jerusalem, Al Quds Jeans are baggy with a high waist to allow freedom of movement during the repeated kneeling for Islamic worship.

They have extra large pockets for glasses, trinkets and prayer beads and also feature discreet green seams at the top of the belt loops, in honour of the faith’s sacred colour.

“The idea behind the jeans is not political, ideological or religious at all. It is a cultural act,” said Susanna Cavalli, chief of product development for Al Quds Jeans.

The Italian firm says it chose the volatile southern Pakistani city of Karachi as the site for its new one-million-euro factory so that Muslims would be manufacturing as well as wearing the trousers.

“We wanted the jeans to be sewed by Muslim hands — besides having considered the trade and cost viability,” Cavalli told AFP during a recent visit to the sprawling plant.

The jeans are not yet on sale in conservative Pakistan — where the