Source: Front Page Mag, By Danusha Goska , January 25, 2019
“Diversity” should include Muslimas who rebel against the hijab.
In a city I cannot name, on a date I cannot specify, an anonymous woman and I embarked on a risky drive to an institution whose address I cannot disclose. “Aisha” and I had eaten, gabbed, laughed, worked and dreamed together. I had met her family. They were lovely people. They planned to kill her. She had violated their Islamic expectations. Thus our drive to a remote safe house. In the United States. In the twentieth century.
In January, 2019, after Ilhan Omar [pictured above] was sworn in as a new congresswoman, my liberal Facebook friends celebrated her and Rashida Tlaib. They made three false claims: “First refugee elected to Congress! First Palestinian! We celebrate diversity!”
No, Omar was not the first refugee elected to Congress. Jewish refugees, and refugees from Communismpreceded her.
No, Tlaib was not the first Palestinian. Justin Amash, a male, Christian Republican, was. Newly sworn-in Donna Shalala, like Tlaib, is an Arab. She is a Catholic who supports Israel. None of the memes celebrating Tlaib celebrated Shalala or Amash.
The third lie is that celebrations of Omar and Tlaib were celebrations of diversity. At the same time that liberals were elevating Tlaib and Omar to meme stardom, they were maintaining complete radio silence about a story that was rocking the world. Rahaf Mohammed Alqunun is a Saudi teenager who, in early January, 2019, escaped from her family and was granted asylum in Canada. Alqunun described beatings, captivity, and the threat of death for abandoning Islam. She insisted that her case was not unique, and that women in Saudi Arabia “are treated like slaves.”
Also in January, 2019, the New York Times brought attention to Loujain al-Hathloul, who has “worked relentlessly to earn Saudi women the right to drive.” For her efforts, al-Hathloul has been tortured, water-boarded, and threatened with, and possibly, raped.
Narges Mohammadi and Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe are imprisoned in Iran for their human rights activism. In January, Mohammadi and Zaghari-Ratcliffe began a hunger strike. Iranian women activists like Masih Alinejad may be close to ending compulsory hijab. They’ve been protesting for decades. My liberal friends have never, as far as I know, mentioned any of these women.
If we pull the focus back and look at Arab and Muslim-born-and-raised women liberals don’t celebrate, we find Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Nonie Darwish, Wafa Sultan, Anni Cyrus, Sarah Haider, and Rifqa Bary. Islam’s defenders have not only not celebrated these women, some have made death threats against them, and liberal allies have prevented them from speaking publicly (see here and here). Hirsi Ali’s enemies prostitute otherwise honorable liberal causes to smear her and to guarantee that she will continue to require round-the-clock armed guards for the rest of her life. They accuse Hirsi Ali of being part of “patriarchy, misogyny, and white supremacy” guilty of “wars, invasion, and genocide” and associating with “white nationalists and far-right politicians” and “colonizers.” Finally, she is “not progressive.” Liberals have participated in the smearing of the Muslim-born-and-raised women mentioned above, and helped to ensure that these women and their allies, on university campuses and in much media, are non-persons. This is not diversity. It is totalitarian uniformity maintained by the threat of violence. Celebration of Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib was no celebration of diversity. It was a selective celebration of two women who align with anti-American, anti-Jewish rhetoric.
Ilhan Omar demanded that US law be changed so that she could wear hijab in Congress. Nancy Pelosi proposed the demanded rule change, in order to “ensure religious expression.” Liberals celebrated, the very same liberals who denounced Mitt Romney as a misogynist because, when asked how he would find female candidates for his cabinet, he replied, awkwardly but innocently, that he had “binders full of women.” I asked my liberal friends why they celebrated Congress’s first hijab. I received no answers. I thought of Aisha. I wondered if they know the following.
1.) Hateful stereotypes are deployed to prevent discussion of hijab.
It’s hard to talk about hijab. Stereotypes get in the way. Not stereotypes of Muslims. Stereotypes of non-Muslims. “You bigoted, racist, intolerant Americans are not allowed to talk about hjiab because you are all Islamophobes who want to harm me.”
Above a July 1, 2018 Vice article alleging that non-Muslims are violent thugs frothing at the mouth to destroy innocent Muslim lives, Vice ran an image of a sweet and lovely hijabi surrounded by evil, Islamophobic assailants. Nasty Americans and Brits ram their grocery carts into pregnant Muslim women’s bellies; they push hijabis in front of oncoming trains.
All decent people condemn real hate crimes. At the same time, one must be mindful of faked hate crimes. See here, here, here, here, here, and here. These crimes were faked to silence any discussion of gender apartheid. One can condemn hate crimes against Muslims and at the same time condemn crimes committed against Muslim women in the name of Islam.
Masih Alinejad, Rahaf Mohammed Alqunun, my friend Aisha, and the unknown others like her with no access to safe houses: we speak not for these Muslim women, but with them, Muslim women whom too many choose to erase in the name of political correctness.
2.) Honest discussion of hijab does not equal an attack on Muslim women.
Not all hijabis support compulsory hijab. The My Stealthy Freedom Facebook page features images of hijabis holding signs protesting compulsory hijab. On January 31, 2018, Tarek Fatah shared an incredibly poignant video. A short, stooped Iranian woman, slowed and bent by time, climbed up a small platform in a snowy landscape. Once on the platform, she removed her hijab, wrapped it around her cane, and waved it. She was imitating the image of Vida Movahed, aka “The Girl of Enghelab Street,” who gained fame through a viral photo of an anti-compulsory-hijab protest. Movahed was later imprisoned. Prison guards in Iran are alleged routinely to rape imprisoned activists. Those who oppose free speech about hijab want to force this choice on us: love Muslim women or hate Muslim women. Their choice is false. The choice is between freedom and totalitarianism. We who support freedom love Muslim women. We support free speech about hijab.
3.) Islam’s canonical documents define hijab as the establishment of two tiers of women, one superior, to be safe from sexual molestation, one inferior and subject to sexual molestation.
No doubt my friends who celebrated Omar see hijab as just another lifestyle choice. Their tolerant celebration of Omar’s hijab, they believe, will be reciprocated by Omar’s tolerance of their choices in attire – jeans and t-shirts, say.
Dr. Tawfik Hamid is an Egyptian-born, Arabic speaking, former member of an Islamist terrorist group. In his book Inside Jihad, Dr. Hamid quotes the Koran and authoritative interpretations of it. He states that hijab’s purpose “is not modesty or to encourage observers to focus on a Muslim woman’s personality. Its purpose, according to the most authentic hadiths and interpretations, is to create a society where superior free Muslim women are distinguished from inferior slave women … The hijab … encourages hatred for non-Muslim women who wear modern clothing.”
When Americans like Laura Bush and Nancy Pelosi wear hijab, Dr. Hamid writes, “The women seem to be operating under the false belief that the hijab is a neutral – or merely traditional – fashion statement … But the hijab is not simply a clothing accessory. It harbors deep Islamic doctrinal connections to slavery and discrimination. Western women who cover themselves are unwittingly endorsing an inhumane system.”
Dr. Hamid goes on to say that when he was an Islamist, he and his fellows despised women without hijab, and cursed them to eternal hellfire. They based this belief on the hadith that says, “The denizens of Hell … [include] the women who would be dressed but appear to be naked,” that is, women without hijab.
Hamid cites Koran 33:59, that is interpreted as dividing women into two classes: Muslim hijabis who are not enslaved, and who deserve respect from men, and non-Muslim women who don’t wear hijab. These enslaved kufars are acceptable as sexual prey for Muslim men. “The hijab … creates a feeling of superiority among the women who wear it (and their men).” Hamid cites Tafsir ibn Kathir, that interprets Koran 33:59 thus, as Hamid puts it: a hijabi would be safe from sexual harassment, “if a woman was seen without a veil, they marked her as a slave girl and could rape her without guilt … most Islamic authorities and scholars affirm this purpose of the hijab.” Hamid goes on to quote various hadiths that support the above interpretation of Koran 33:59.
The dichotomy of superior hijabis = respectable / inferior non-hijabis = sex slaves is not of the ancient past. Modern Islamic websites reinforce it with scripture and interpretation “The respectable women should not look like the slave-girls from their dress when they move out of their houses, with uncovered faces and loose hair;” “the people may know that they are not promiscuous women,” non-hijabis are “women of ill repute from whom some wicked person could cherish evil hopes,” reports Islamic Studies Info, quoting canonical scholars. “The hijab must not resemble the garments of the kuffar,” that is, non-Muslims, counsels the University of Essex Islamic Society.
4.) Hijab covers uniquely feminine evil.
Think about two features of Muslim culture that non-Muslims find it difficult to believe, never mind understand: honor killings and female genital mutilation. All three: honor killings, FGM, and hijab are linked by the same logic.
It is difficult to obtain accurate statistics on honor killings. The UN estimates that thousands occur every year, the vast majority among Muslims. In a typical honor killing, a girl is raped and her family kills her. Daniel Akbari, an Iranian-born lawyer and expert in sharia law, writes that honor killings are not random events, and honor killers are not lone wolves, acting on passion outside of society. Rather, in his book, Honor Killing: A Professional’s Guide, Akbari argues that honor killings are not just condoned, but are demanded by Islamic understandings of women.
Honor killers are often not brought to trial. If they are, sentences have often been lenient. As some courts, under international pressure, have become more strict, killers have found new approaches. One approach might be called “honor suicide.” The family informs the prospective victim that she must end her life. In 2006, a 17-year-old Turkish girl received a text to her phone from her uncle. He instructed her to kill herself. Some girls are locked in rooms with rat poison, a pistol, or a rope. Another approach is to assign the task to the youngest male in the family, on the assumption that courts are less willing to sentence young boys to lengthy prison terms. Families may be reluctant to kill, but the surrounding community’s “social pressure and incessant gossip” drive them to do it.
Not just families, but entire polities acting on sharia law punish women for being victims of sexual assault. In October, 2008, Aisha Ibrahim Duhulow, a 13-year-old Somali girl, was stoned to death for being raped by three armed men. A nineteen-year-old Saudi girl was raped fourteen times by seven men. In 2007, she was sentenced to 200 lashes and six months in jail. “Up to 80 per cent of women in Pakistan’s jails are charged under rules that penalize rape victims. But hardliners have vetoed an end to the Islamic laws,” Dan McDougall wrote in 2006.
Female genital mutilation is practiced by some, but not all, Muslims in the United States, Europe, the Middle East, India, and Southeast Asia. Various Islamic scriptures support FGM. The process, which ranges from nicks to the clitoris to its complete excision, and removal of labia and sewing up of a female’s external genital opening, astounds non-Muslims.
Approximately ninety percent of women in Egypt have undergone FGM. Egyptian physician Dr. Nawal El Saadawi described her own FGM in her book, The Hidden Face of Eve. She was six years old, in bed, when unknown persons broke into her room, grabbed her, threw her on a bathroom floor, spread her thighs apart, and mutilated her. The pain “was like a searing flame that went through my whole body … I saw a red pool of blood around my hips. I did not know what they had cut off from my body … I called out to my mother for help.” Little Nawal tried to summon her mother to rescue her from these fiends; she was horrified to recognize her mother among them. Later, Nawal saw them mutilate her four-year-old sister. “Now we know what it is. Now we know where lies our tragedy. We were born of a special sex, the female sex. We are destined in advance to taste of misery, and to have a part of our body torn away by cold, unfeeling cruel hands.”
Research shows that “religious justification is held to be the strongest argument in favor of FGM.” In other words, people practice FGM because they believe that their religion, Islam, demands it. Communities support FGM by stigmatizing women who have intact genitalia. Hirsi Ali reports that in her native Somalia’s madrassahs, “kinterleey,” “girl with a clitoris,” is a standard insult. “Severe stigmatization of girls and women who have not undergone FGM are well in place.” Any effort to stamp out FGM should focus on convincing Muslims clerics that FGM damages “reproductive health.” Note that this World Health Organization publication does not recommend that Muslim clerics be encouraged to consider how FGM hurts women and girls – only how it hurts potential breeders.
Non-Muslims are confused. How could a father murder his own daughter? How could a mother participate in the mutilation of her daughter?
The answer may be found in one of the justifications for hijab. The sight of women causes men to sin. Women are required to disguise themselves. In the logic of hijab, women caused the rapist to rape. She should have covered herself.
Recently, a Muslim preacher described a Muslima who went out in public in a jilbab, that is a long, loose coat, but allowed her face and her high-heeled shoes to be visible. This exposure, he insisted, “tortured” men, because the sight of her face and her shoes forced those men to think about sex – “even though he didn’t want to…he has to struggle with himself not to look at this woman.” “All this would be in the book of deeds for this sister.” Allah “would give her a double portion of punishment” in the fires of hell for the thoughts that the men thought when they saw her face and shoes. “She is making these men seduced.” “She is purchasing a ticket for Jahannam,” or hell.
Sheikh Taj el-Din al-Hilali, the Grand Mufti of Australia and New Zealand, preached in a 2006 Ramadan sermon that Australian women raped by Muslim rape gangs are responsible for the rapes. “If you take out uncovered meat and place it outside on the street … and the cats come and eat it … whose fault is it, the cats or the uncovered meat? … The uncovered meat is the problem. … If she was in her room in her home, in her hijab, no problem would have occurred … the responsibility falls ninety per cent of the time on the woman. Why? Because she possesses the weapon of enticement.”
During the New Year’s celebrations of 2015/16, thousands of women and girls throughout Western Europe were sexually assaulted by Muslim men. A Cologne imam, Sami Abu-Yusuf, said that the sexually assaulted women were the guilty parties. “If they’re half-naked and wearing perfume, it’s not surprising that such things would happen … It’s not surprising that the men attacked them. Dressing up like that is like pouring oil into the fire.”
In citing perfume, the cleric echoes Mohammed himself, who said, “She is an adulteress, as she provokes the lusts of men with her perfume and compels them and whoever else to look at her.” Note the word “compel.” She, the woman, is responsible for men’s behavior. She forced men to sin by wearing perfume. These are not ancient ideas; they are the foundation of sharia law. Men, on the other hand, are allowed to wear strong scents.
Even little girls possess the weapon of enticement. In Iran, compulsory hijab begins at age 7. Hashim Almidini, an Iraqi-born Australian, featured a hijab tutorial created by an Australian cleric using his little daughter as a model. The silent, shamed daughter appears to be six years old. The cleric, though living in Australia, says that Western culture, lead by Satan, is “invading” Muslims. “Western norms” are Satan’s tool. Hijab is the key battleground between Muslims and hell. The cleric blasts his daughter for showing her neck, her earlobes, and her sock-less ankles.
In January, 2019 news broke of a Malaysian textbook that warns nine-year-old girls to wear hijab to protect the “modesty of their genitals” lest they be sexually assaulted, rejected by their friends, and bring shame onto their families. The textbook includes an image of a young girl seated in a chair, her head in her hands as she slumps in shame. Azrul Mohd Kalib posted this image from the textbook on twitter, and commented, “Not only does this put the responsibility of preventing sexual harassment solely on the shoulders of a girl, it also implies that she had it coming!” She had it coming: that’s the whole idea.
5.) In the logic of hijab, women without hijab are begging to be sexually assaulted.
If wearing hijab communicates that a woman is virtuous, godly, and chaste, lack of hijab communicates that a woman is begging to be sexually assaulted. Egyptian-born Dina Torkia is a successful Muslima fashion and beauty blogger. She lives in the UK with her Pakistani husband. In late 2018, she stopped wearing hijab. On January 1, 2019, she posted a video of herself reading social media messages she received in response to her decision. Reading the messages took forty-eight minutes. Again and again, one theme repeats: she removed hijab because she wants to be sexually assaulted. “Dina didn’t get banged enough when she was young. Now she’s opening up sexually.” “U took the hijab off next time sure would be cock riding or a porn star,” “YOU ARE A HOE,” “The choice you made is welcoming you to the cock carousel, slut.”
Samin, an Iranian activist, created an animation to support those resisting compulsory hijab. “Girls are forced to be liars … you censor yourself when you put it on” but, “If you don’t wear hijab, they think you are a whore.”
Mostly Muslim grooming gangs have been raping, torturing, and sexually enslaving British girls for several decades. One asks how grown men, husbands and fathers themselves, could commit such hideous crimes against little girls, some of whom they killed. Daniel Akbari explains. “For their entire lives these men have been taught that the women who do not wear a hijab and show skin are like whores … They also assume that only Muslim women who follow sharia rules for women’s dress and conduct, wear a hijab, lower their gaze, do not laugh or eat in public, and do not go out of the house without their unmarriageable kin men escorting them deserve respect.”
Indeed, a girl who was abused by a grooming gang said that hijab was used as justification for their abuse of her. “As a teenager, I was taken to various houses and flats above takeaways in the north of England, to be beaten, tortured and raped over one hundred times. I was called a ‘white slag’ and ‘white c- – -‘ as they beat me. They made it clear that because I was a non-Muslim, and not a virgin, and because I didn’t dress ‘modestly’, that they believed I deserved to be ‘punished’.”
6.) Hijab limits women’s entire lives, not just what they wear.
Islam demands that “hijab of the clothes should be accompanied by hijab of the eyes, hijab of the heart, hijab of thought and hijab of intention. It also includes the way a person walks, the way a person talks, the way he/she behaves, etc.”
Many Muslims interpret hijab as including the command that women not leave their homes. Koran 33:33 commands, “stay in your homes and do not go about displaying your allurements.” Islamic Studies Info teaches, “woman’s real sphere of activity is her home … she should come out of the house only in case of a genuine need.”
In her book, In the Land of the Blue Burkas, author Kate McCord describes her life lived in intimate contact with Afghan women who wear sky-blue burqas that cover them from head to foot. Afghanistan is frequently cited as one of the worst countries on earth to be a woman. The suicide rate for women is shockingly high. Some families raise their daughters as sons, until puberty forces them to assume female roles. And, of course, some desperate boys are groomed to be girls, to serve as male prostitutes.
One Afghan woman described to McCord why she would not dare to sing, even within the confines of her own home, surrounded not only by the house walls, but also courtyard walls. “‘If a woman sings and a man hears her, he will think her voice is beautiful and will lust after her. Maybe he will be on the street separated by the wall or in a neighbor’s aouli [courtyard]. Maybe he will never see the woman who sings, but he hears her voice. If that happens, he will want her. The sin is hers. She will be punished. That’s why a woman should never sing, even in her own aouli.’ The women in that gathering agreed unanimously. It’s a great sin for a woman to allow a man to hear her sing.”
The conviction that women’s voices engender sin is not a “long ago, far away” concept. Modern Muslims living in the West discuss, online, the female voice as a source of fitna. Linda Sarsour’s voice is allowed to be heard only as long as she is bashing the kufar. Were Sarsour’s voice ever used to support the White Wednesday activists in Iran, or potential victims of honor killings, Sarsour would face the same death threats as Ayaan Hirsi Ali.
7.) Many Muslims understand hijab’s secondary function as proselytizing for Islam.
Hijab is assessed as an effective way to carry out the Allah-given mission: to spread Islam to all people until no deity is worshipped save Allah (al-Bukhari 8:387). Islam is spread through jihad, but also through “da’wah,” or proselytizing. In the article aptly titled, “Hijab Activism,” Shaema Imam writes that, “With Hijab, every public moment becomes Dawa.” Clothing is used “to demonstrate what groups they belong to … The Ummah must cultivate a distinct identity.”
In her article, “The Hijab as Da’wah,” Dr. Aisha Hamdan writes, “Many scholars agree that the only reason a Muslim may live in a non-Muslim country is to conduct dawah and bring people to the true religion … In America, where Islam is the fastest growing religion (alhumdullilah), many people are coming to know what this head covering really signifies … The hijab, in effect, is an amazingly powerful tool for dawah … Once a woman begins to wear hijab she completes a large portion of her responsibility for dawah … Each time that she goes to the grocery store, the library, to work, to school, or to any other public place, she is spreading the magnificent message of Islam.” One must do this because non-Muslims “are being deluded by Satan and following paths to destruction.”
A recent convert to Islam wrote that hijabis “are a walking billboard for your religion … You could be helping open someone’s mind to submitting.”
In a March 8, 2018 post asking, “Why do Muslim Women Actually Wear the Hijab?” Saulat Pervez wrote, “Conspicuous in their head-coverings, these women have become ambassadors of the Islamic faith.”
Misbah Awan wrote in the Huffington Post that “wearing the hijab is a form of dawah … They are targeting … especially youth … It helps to avoid linking Muslims with 9/11 and terrorism. It provides a way of bringing light and warm-hearted thoughts into young minds.”
8.) Hijab is kept in place with violence, terror, and intimidation.
Many hijabis insist, stridently, that they don’t need to be liberated by anyone, and that hijab is their personal choice. This is no doubt true. What is also true is that hijab is kept in place through violence, terror, and intimidation. No one can ever know if any given hijabi is a hijabi because of her own choice.
Hijab is mandated by law in Saudi Arabia and Iran. In other countries, hijab is kept in place with varying degrees of social pressure, always culminating in death. In Egypt, street harassment of women is routine. In Iran, there have been numerous acid attacks in the midst of calls for punishment of “badly veiled” women.
Aqsa Parvez’s father killed her over hijab in Canada in 2007. She was sixteen. Bina, a 21-year-old wife, mother, and Iranian immigrant to Sweden, was killed in 2016 by her husband because she stopped wearing hijab. “‘He thought that other people were making fun of him – it was a matter of honor,’ said a close friend … a family member said, ‘We came here far from oppression, but some people have difficulty living freely.’ After he murdered her, Bina’s husband put a hijab on her face and neck.” In 2017, a fifteen-year-old Iraqi victim of an honor killing was beheaded. A hijab was wrapped around her decapitated head, which had been thrown into a garbage can.
Turkish-born, 23-year-old Hatun Surucu, the mother of a little boy, once in Berlin, Germany, “discarded her Islamic head scarf.” To her family, “such behavior represented the ultimate shame – the embrace of ‘corrupt’ Western ways.” Hatun was murdered by family members who conspired in her murder, and who said of her, “The whore lived like a German.” Her youngest brother, 18, bragged of the murder.
In 2009, in Kingston, Ontario, Canada, Mohammad Shafia murdered his three daughters Zainab, Sahar, Geeti – all teens – and Rona, one of his wives. As Michael Friscolanti put it, “the Shafia sisters were caught in the ultimate culture clash, living in Canada but not allowed to be Canadian. They were expected to behave like good Muslim daughters, to wear the hijab and marry a fellow Afghan. And when they rebelled against their father’s ‘traditions’ and ‘customs’ – covertly at first, then for all the community to see – the shame became too much to bear. Only a mass execution … could wash away the stain of their secret boyfriends and revealing clothes.”
All of these murders, and thousands of others like them, are part of a cultural pattern: honor killings justified with reference to a woman’s refusal to wear hijab. For every such honor killing that occurs, there are millions that never happen, but that are hinted at to rebellious daughters, sisters, and wives. You don’t want to end up like so-and-so.
9.) Hijab is not intended to, nor does it, create a worldview where women’s individuality is valued apart from their physical attractiveness, or where women are seen as anything other than wives, mothers, and whores, all designed to please men, but capable of damning men.
In a January 7, 2016 Daily Show appearance, Muslim activist Dalia Moghed insisted that hijab teaches Muslim women to focus on their own individuality beyond their ability sexually to attract men. That is not the purpose for hijab stated in foundational scriptures. Koran 24:31 advises women wearing hijab not to allow their ornaments to make noise as they walk. That is, it is assumed that a woman in hijab is fully bejeweled underneath her cover. Anyone who has spent any time with hijabis knows that they enter the gender-mixed rooms of parties cloaked in shapeless black from head to foot, but once they are in the area reserved for women, they remove their hijabs to reveal that underneath they are dressed in fashions worthy of the hottest runway. At such parties, women dance competitively with and for other women. The dances are undeniably erotic. YouTube features endless tutorials for hijabis on how to look hot even in hijab. These videos have millions of eager fans who lavish praise on hot hijabi YouTube stars. See for example here, here, here, and here. Linda Sarsour, America’s most famous hijabi, is never seen without a full face of makeup.
Hijab manufacturers do not market their products as promoting women’s gender-free individuality, but rather as beautiful complements to their physical appearance. One hijab manufacturer says, “In order to build a world where women have beautiful options for every occasion, we’ve designed the standard of luxury for hijab. Crafted from the finest pure silk, tulle and lace opulently adorned with bespoke embellishments, this collection channels timeless elegance.” Hijab customers praise their hijabs based on how attractive they are. “Navy is a color I always need with my floral dresses and patterned shirts,” and “Beautiful color – Perfect for Fall/Winter!! It goes wonderfully with my dark skin tone and adds elegance to any outfit,” and “Such a chic sophisticated color.”
Too, Muslim men are quite capable of objectifying women in complete hijab. Dancers at Arab parties may be covered from head to foot, but still required to perform what some call “Arab twerking,” a dance that involves highly suggestive movements with the hips and buttocks. Women in full, state-mandated cover have been sexually harassed in Saudi Arabia, including by men who follow them on the street and grab their breasts, buttocks, and groin. Videos of this harassment has been posted to YouTube and sparked public discussion. The Mosque Me Too movement has generated hundreds of accounts of Muslimas being groped, fondled, and violated in the most sacred of spaces, including during the haj. One survivor wrote, “When I visited the Jama Masjid in Delhi, the man lending modest robes to women touched my breasts.” Another, “I was ten years old and I thought my sister was gripping my hips as not to lose me in the huge crowd after jumaa prayer. But my sister was next to me and those turned out not to be my sister’s hands.” Another, “It’s a terrible situation when you are in a mosque, in front of the kaaba, where you should feel the closest to God, and the worst thing happens.”
Hijab has not solved the problem of the sexual objectification and exploitation of women. It was not designed to.
10.) Hijab’s defenders deploy cultural relativism selectively and inaccurately to shield hijab from critique.
“It’s just like a nun’s habit,” they say. No, it’s not. Any given nun, from any era, violates several of the criteria for hijab. One can see her face and her hands, one can discern the outline of her form, and one can not only hear her voice, but her voice steers her church. Hildegard von Bingen, Teresa of Avila, Mothers Teresa and Angelica, and Wendy Beckett clearly did not obey hijab’s dictates about remaining silently at home, submissive to their earthly spouse. Too, there is no Catholic analog to acid attacks to force women to become nuns.
“It’s just a piece of cloth,” they say. The Confederate flag is also just a piece of cloth. We must bring the same awareness, honesty, and courage to discussion of hijab that we bring to discussion of the Confederate flag. This discussion is not Islamophobic, any more than discussion of the Confederate flag is “Confederacy-phobic.” I speak not for, but with, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Masih Alinejad, and my beloved friend Aisha, who, in spite of the safe house that gave her temporary shelter, in the end, ended up losing so very much that she has never redeemed. The heartbreak – and love – I feel for this rebellious Muslima informs every word of this article. To my liberal friends I say, please expand your concept of “diversity” to include invisible, silenced women you will never meet – the nameless fifteen-year-old Iraqi girl whose head, wrapped in a hijab, was tossed in a garbage can, Hatun Surucu, the Turkish mother whose relatives called her a whore, and my beloved friend Aisha.