World Hijab Day is nothing to celebrate

The headscarf is a tool of women’s oppression.

Khadija Khan

Topics Politics World

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The hijab, a type of head covering, is used by Islamic regimes around the world as a tool to subjugate women. From Saudi Arabia and Pakistan to Afghanistan and Iran, the hijab symbolises women’s oppression. It represents a misogynistic ideology in which women are conceived as sexual objects to be concealed from men.

So you might think that Western progressives would be more than a little critical of the hijab. But incredibly, that isn’t the case. On the contrary, today many are eagerly celebrating World Hijab Day. No doubt they will even present wearing the hijab as a form of female ‘empowerment’.

This is liberal hypocrisy at its cruellest. Hijab laws and customs sustain a gender-based hierarchy. That’s why so many brave women in Iran have been trying to challenge their own nation’s hijab law. But rather than support their struggle for freedom, Western liberals have largely kept quiet.

Do they not see what’s happening in much of the Islamic world, where the hijab is mandatory? In Iran, women are whipped, tortured, incarcerated and sometimes killed for violating the hijab rules. Just this month, an Iranian woman called Roya Heshmati was incarcerated for 11 days, flogged 74 times and fined the equivalent of $300 after she was pictured on social media without a headscarf. Nearly a year and half after Mahsa Amini was killed by Iran’s religious police after failing to wear the veil properly, Iran is continuing to punish women for offending ‘religious morality’.

Afghanistan’s hijab laws are similarly oppressive. Since the Taliban seized power in August 2021, women and girls can be arrested, detained and lashed for not complying with the government’s hijab rules. This month, the Guardian told the grim story of one 16-year-old Afghan girl who was arrested for wearing ‘improper’ attire. She was detained for two days, beaten severely and forced to sign a document promising not to leave her house without the compulsory head covering.

Yet these stories and many others like them have been met with silence by Western progressives. These people claim to be on the side of female victims of male oppression – except, it seems, when the perpetrators are Islamists. They call out all manner of male behaviours in the West as sexist – from ‘manspreading’ to ‘mansplaining’ – yet they are silent when it comes to the most egregious examples of violent misogyny in Islamic societies. The double standards here are off the charts.

A much-needed conversation about women’s rights in Islamic regimes is being brushed under the carpet. Indeed, self-described progressives appear to be more concerned with not upsetting Islamist bigots in the West than they are with the plight of the women living under Sharia law. In the eyes of the politically correct left, those women in Iran fighting to liberate themselves from religious fanaticism are unworthy of solidarity.

Worst of all, those Westerners who do speak out against this misogyny are routinely shouted down. Non-Muslims and even ex-Muslims will be told that they have no right to speak out against Islam. Invariably, they will be accused of being ‘racist’ and ‘Islamophobic’.

Western liberals need to get their priorities straight. Out of cowardice and ignorance, they are effectively appeasing the oppressors of women. They are caving in to the will of fanatics. They are allowing those who routinely violate women’s dignity to get away with it.

World Hijab Day trivialises the suffering of those who have tried to be free of the oppressive veil. All those right-on liberals celebrating it ought to be ashamed.

Khadija Khan is a journalist and commentator, originally from Pakistan and now based in the UK.

Picture by: Getty.

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Topics Politics World


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