As the Hijab row rages on, it is probably a good time to take a look at how what came to be considered a symbol of oppression and suppression by women in Muslim societies leading them to run the ‘free the Hijab’ movement is now being used as a political tool in ‘secular’ Bharat. With Pakistan jumping aboard the bandwagon, there appears to be a concerted effort to rerun the ‘minorities aren’t safe in Modi’s Hindu Bharat’ template and defame the nation once again.
Women oppression through compulsory Hijab
In 2019, three women were sentenced to 55 years and 6 months in prison in totality for ‘disrespecting compulsory Hijab’. The gravity of the issue can be understood from the charges leveled against the three for simply making a choice to do away with the Islamic dress code. The three had been charged with “assembly and collusion to act against national security,” “propaganda against the regime,” as well as “encouraging and preparing the grounds for corruption and prostitution.”
Even more important is the point that none of the lawyers representing the women were permitted to put forward their points either during the interrogation and trial or when the verdict was being delivered. In other words, the women were given no chance to defend themselves and were accused of ‘threatening national security’ and ‘inciting corruption and prostitution’ because they had merely protested against the enforcement of the Hijab.
Similarly, in 2020 Iranian authorities arrested a woman for ‘insulting the Islamic Hijab’ after a video went viral on social media where she was seen riding the bicycle without a veil. Iran’s Islamic law, that came into force during the 1979 revolution, mandates women to compulsorily wear a hijab that covers their head and neck and conceals their hair.
The Taliban that grabbed power in Afghanistan put up posters across Kabul ordering women to cover up. “According to Sharia law, Muslim women must wear the hijab”, says the poster that is the latest in a series of diktats against women and girls issued by the Taliban. “What they’re trying to do is to spread fear among the people”, AFP quotes an anonymous university student and women’s rights advocate as saying.
Muslim women oppose imposition of Hijab
Islamic nations mandate their women to cover up using different types of headgear. While Hijab is a term that is used to describe modest dressing of a Muslimah, it also refers to a headscarf covering the hair and neck and at times even the shoulders and chest. The burka is a long, voluminous outer garment covering the entire body, with a grille covering the face.
The niqab is a veil,usually black in color, covering the face. The ‘full niqab’ covers the face and head completely with a place cut out for eyes. The ‘half niqab’, on the other hand, includes a veil covering the lower half of the face up to the bridge of the nose, leaving the eyes and forehead clear.
The ‘World Hijab Day’ was founded in 2013 by American Muslim woman Nazma Khan who interestingly chose February 1 which coincides with Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s return to Iran on this very date in 1979 from his exile in France to start the Islamic revolution.
The irony is hard to miss when a Muslimah enjoying freedom in a democratic nation wants non-Muslim women to ‘experience the Hijab’ while women in Islamic nations of Iran and Saudi Arabia have defied their male counterparts to assert their freedom of choice against the compulsory imposition of the Islamic dress code. It is apparent that fundamentalists started ‘World Hijab Day’ only to counter growing assertion of Muslim women against its imposition.
As rightly pointed out Muslim fundamentalists and supporters of Islamic dress code have displayed their hypocrisy by turning a symbol of Muslim women’s oppression by Muslim men into a symbol of protest against ‘Islamophobia’. ‘The hijab is not a symbol of Islam but of its more belligerent cousin Islamism writes Canadian Faranza Hassan who originally hails from Iran.
“Even when adopted through individual choice, it is the religious-conservative assumption, this modesty theology, that women who do not wear headscarves are somehow sinful, less modest and not pious, that we liberals must critique. For at the root, it is this same attitude that is invoked in honor killings, and heinous acid attacks”, says Maajid Nawaz.
Maryam Namazie of Council of Ex-Muslims calls for a ban on both child veiling and burqa. “It is not enough to say that a burka ban is ‘counter-productive and seen as an onslaught on Muslims’. This can be said about any position regarding Islam and Islamism. One can say the same about those opposing child veiling and sharia law and its discrimination against Muslim women and so on. Firstly, it disregards the reality that Islamism and its rule target Muslims first and foremost”, she says.
Yasmine Mohammad, a Canadian writer and women’s rights activist who started No Hijab Day on February 1 in the year 2019, says “They don’t even want to acknowledge the fact that women are thrown in prison, getting their faces disfigured, losing their families, friends and communities, and being threatened with death or actually being killed over hijab” while adding that it is being presented as a symbol of freedom by Islamist propagandists.
There is reason to believe that the hijab is being used by Islamists to keep women in check when a believing Muslim woman highlights how false analogies are drawn to present it as a symbol of empowerment. Unfortunately, such sane voices would never be heard in the secular Republic of Bharat where Islamo-leftists are out to politicize every issue in their hatred for Bharatiya culture and Hindu Dharma that they see symbolized by the current central dispensation led by PM Modi.
(Featured Image Source: Bored Panda)