Hijab news: The Independent becomes HuffPo, touting “modest wear” for Muslims that’s quite alluring; Marine Le Pen refuses to don hijab

February 22, 2017 • 10:00 am

If you saw the headline below on a website, you’d think it was from the Huffington Post, right? The combination of fashion news (with Muslim attire called “modest wear”), gratuitous editorializing, and fetishizing of the hijab and body covering are all characteristic of that liberal clickbait site.

But if you click on the headline, you’ll see that it goes to The Independent, which, like the Guardian, is converging on the HuffPo model. In fact, the author of this piece, Sana Sarwar, a Muslim woman who wears the hijab, used to write for HuffPo. Now she brings her osculation of faith to The Independent:


Sarwar first decries the plainness and ugliness she found in “modest” clothing:

Ten years ago, as a hijabi (headscarf wearer), I faced the constant battle to find clothing that looked good and didn’t compromise my religious beliefs. My wardrobe often consisted of plain, boring and oversized tops, straight leg denim jeans, neck scarfs that doubled as makeshift hijabs, and a mountain of maxi skirts I care not to count. I yearned for modest clothing that was easy to wear and didn’t require layering – a must for sheer fabrics. It’s fair to say I was a walking fashion disaster; even Trinny and Susannah would have refused to help me. However, since then, modest fashion has taken the industry by storm and is now becoming widely celebrated.

You might see a problem here: the religious beliefs that dictate the hijab do so for one reason—to keep women from calling attention to their looks by covering their hair—and often much of their body. Certainly Sarwar has a right to wear a headscarf up top and attractive and fashionable clothes below, but she shouldn’t pretend that wearing such clothes doesn’t compromise the very reasons that dictate hijabs: to prevent women from exciting the supposedly uncontrollable lust of men. Garments like the hijab aren’t just the symbol of oppression; they are oppression, for they’re dictated by male-dominated religious custom—a custom that holds women responsible for reducing the hormone titer of the dominant sex.

Sarwar then extols the UK’s “London Modest Fashion Week,” catering not just to Muslims but “anyone  from any faith looking for a more demure look.” She criticizes the burkini ban, notes that celebrities such as Adele have sometimes opted for less revealing clothing, and then says this:

Modesty is not to be forced on anyone and means different things to different people, but always remains a choice for women.

Well, modesty should be a choice for women, but somehow Sarwar fails to mention that it is forced on millions of women, not just in countries like Iran, Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan, where covering is legally required, but also on women in other Muslim countries and the West, who are forced by social, family, or peer pressure to cover themselves. Those who say that wearing hijabs is a “choice” fail to recognize that more often than we think it isn’t—not in the sense that in the absence of social pressure, many women wouldn’t wear one.

The article gives some examples of “modest” models during Modest Fashion Week, and I have to say that they don’t look either particularly modest or garbed in a way that avoids drawing attention to themselves. The clothes are loud, glittery, and the women plastered with makeup. Do these women exemplify the “empowering” modesty praised by Sarwar, who says this?:

There is no doubt that we are seeing more demure looks in today’s industry as the hijab and modest wear trend enter popular culture. They are a celebration of the inclusion of diversity in modern fashion. To see Muslim women and popular fashion brands leading the way to provide more choice for all women is truly inspiring.





As I said, women should certainly be free to choose what they want. And if they want, they can wear the hijab as a symbol of their faith while wearing flashy garb below the neck. But they shouldn’t pretend that there’s not a form of hypocrisy produced by the disparity between the religious reasons for wearing hijab and the secular reasons for wearing clothing like that on the models.

Finally, I object to the phrase “modest wear”. Does this mean that other clothing, like dresses or blouses that reveal a woman’s arms, are “immodest wear”? Perhaps those should be called “slutwear”!


Does it always have to be right-wingers who call out Islam for its oppression of women? I don’t like being in bed with these people, but occasionally they’re right. Marine Le Pen, the conservative French politician and National Front leader whose anti-immigrant stand and coddling of Syria’s President I find odious (she inherited her policies from her father Jean-Marie, but has tempered them a bit), just showed a resolve lacking in the Swedish politicians who visited Iran. While the women in the “feminist government” donned hijabs without a problem, Le Pen refused to wear a hijab when invited to meet the Grand Mufti of Lebanon. The requirement that she don the headscarf led her to cancel the meeting. As Reuters reported:

After meeting Christian President Michel Aoun – her first public handshake with a head of state – and Sunni Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri on Monday, she had been scheduled to meet the Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Latif Derian

He heads the Dar al-Fatwa, the top religious authority for Sunni Muslims in the multireligious country.

“I met the grand mufti of Al-Azhar,” she told reporters, referring to a visit in 2015 to Cairo’s 1,000-year-old center of Islamic learning. “The highest Sunni authority didn’t have this requirement, but it doesn’t matter.

“You can pass on my respects to the grand mufti, but I will not cover myself up,” she said.

The cleric’s press office said Le Pen’s aides had been informed beforehand that a headscarf was required for the meeting and had been “surprised by her refusal”.

It always irks me that many feminists—who would excoriate anyone who told them how to dress—will cave in when they’re dealing with religious authorities. I think it’s okay to bow to religious custom when entering a house of worship like a mosque or synagogue, but not when entering a country.

h/t: Orli

74 thoughts on “Hijab news: The Independent becomes HuffPo, touting “modest wear” for Muslims that’s quite alluring; Marine Le Pen refuses to don hijab

    1. Whatever we call them, it certainly shouldn’t be “modest” wear. That name disgusts me.

      If you read the requirements for hijab in the Qur’an and hadiths, these outfits wouldn’t make the cut and nor would the models. They are not supposed to draw attention to themselves with the use of fabric etc. They’re not even supposed to draw attention to the shape of their feet, which should be hidden. Even at home when males other than husband or son are around, they’re supposed to wear thick socks. I think Muhammad had a foot-fetish.

      And the models are parading, straight-backed, heads held high, with pride. A “modest” women is supposed to lower her eyes and take a posture I would describe as subservient.

      I would wear some of these outfits without the headscarf, but would bristle at the description of either modest or immodest. WTF does that mean anyway?

  1. I feel that the “Stockholm syndrome for everyday” or groupthink is the most denied social force at work in large, densely-packed societies. You will have little luck in pointing out any results stemming from such forces, I’m afraid.

    1. Yes. In my language, capitulation to one’s enemies is often described as “taking down one’s pants”. Here, it is putting on a rag on one’s head, but the principle is the same.

  2. In the interest of gender diversity and inclusion, would I, as an over six ft. white male, look modest in these garments?

    Scratch that… violation by cultural appropriation.

    But I would look stunning.

  3. I object the term ‘modest wear’ for the same reason I object to ‘honour killing’.

    It’s a euphemism for sexual repression, and to use it at all – especially in the Independent’s heading – is to accept Islamist terms for the debate.

    This isn’t about ‘modesty’ – who can think ‘modesty’ is, in itself, a bad thing? – any more than murder is ever about ‘honour’: it’s about control.

    1. Another thing about this that I think accentuates your point is that other than the sexual repression as modesty context the clothing being modeled isn’t modest. In the more general context of “modest” the clothing shown is too rich to qualify as modest. So what else could they mean if they don’t mean modest as in not flamboyant, not obviously higher end?

      See, you can still look flashy and high fashion without looking like a slut. Such modesty.

  4. Thanks again Jerry for keeping up on this extremely important topic. Love the term “slutwear,” and intend to start using it. It’s hard to have to agree with someone like Marine Le Pen, but as you’ve covered here, the reason real progressives are forced to do so on the issue of Islamic extremism, theocracy and oppression of women is that the left has largely abandoned its principles where this is concerned. I would say we have to advocate more, and more loudly, publicly and privately, in order to not to cede the true progressive stance on these issues to the right-wing.

  5. I would wear a teapot on my head were it a required Mark of respect for someone’s god or place of worship but damned if I would wear anything (or refrain from wearing something) lest someone think lustful thoughts or be unable to keep their hands to themselves.

    1. Sounds a bit like Steven Weinberg.

      Of course these days there are ample examples that religion isn’t the only cause of wrong people being right while right people are wrong.

    2. Depressing that an extremist like Le Pen has the backbone to say No to this while today even the centre left and right pander to it.

    3. It has been difficult for liberals and the left to take a position criticizing Islam because they would be uncomfortable to end up on the same side of an issue as the right. This would legitimize the right and that’s the last thing they will allow. There are two other reasons why the left and its allies will not acknowledge the religion of Islam as being the root of terrorism and jihad. First, if they did acknowledge it, this would undercut their argument that terrorism is caused by American “imperialism” or by
      disaffected Muslims themselves. Second, it would weaken their claim that the U.S. is the greatest force for evil in the world. None of this embarrasses the loony left at all, which regards women’s rights as a trivial concern.
      Finally, and this may seem absurd, but much of the left thinks that if they support Islamism, eventually Muslims will see the light and join the global jihad for Socialism. Really! They really believe this!
      Unfortunately, Trump is now forcing Muslims, liberals and Democrats together, in common cause against him. This means Muslim oppression and stealth jihad and all of its other repressive practices will be shunted aside, Muslims will get MORE sympathy as they shout about “ISlamophobia”, and no one will pay attention to their oppression of women, anti Semitism and sharia law. Muslims will
      benefit from Trump’s mistakes and will take advantage of it to fend off quite legitimate criticism of Islam.

      1. +1 though a lot on the left also think the “real” Islam is both ultimately fairly liberal and oriented to economic social justice (according to Marx Islam had never had feudalism so wasn’t really a class society – ask Pakistanis for a refutation of this) Its only the evil imperialist west supporting evil people in Muslim countries thats made Muslims corrupt their religion into repressive theocracy.

      2. “It has been difficult for liberals and the left to take a position criticizing Islam because they would be uncomfortable to end up on the same side of an issue as the right.”

        Tribalistic Loyalty: screwing up human reasoning skills since the dawn of civilization.

    4. The right-wingers only stumble by accident on the enlightened position; they’re against the Muslim dress codes because they’re Muslim, not because they abhor the repression of women.

      Most right-wingers would likely be scandalized if they saw their wives or daughters go topless in public, or even show a lot of cleavage.

      1. “Most right-wingers would likely be scandalized if they saw their wives or daughters go topless in public…”

        To be fair, so would a lot of left-wingers… 😀

  6. The article gives some examples of “modest” models during Modest Fashion Week, and I have to say that they don’t look either particularly modest or garbed in a way that avoids drawing attention to themselves.

    Good. It’s hard to think of a fashion tradition more in need of a bit of western capitalist corruption. If we do it right, maybe in a few years Imams will be calling for women to stop wearing such things because they are a sign of materialistic and immodest western decadence. 🙂

    Yeah, I understand that in that situation, the religious sexists in charge will merely go back to recommending plain black cloth and not dispense with it altogether. But their message will be far less popular than it is now. As millions of nonwesterners in blue jeans shows, there’s pretty much no going back from the Gucci headscarf concept.

  7. There are instances where objects of subjugation are utilized as fashion (restraints, collars, ropes etc) but this is not the case. This is an attempt to normalize subjugation. The social pressure, intimidation and violence that accompanies these objects makes it evident.
    Not complaining, just thinking I’ll get out in front of the trend and come up with my own line of fashionable leg hobbles, jars for tossing acid, wearable scarlet letters ( now in varying shades of scarlet!)
    Why just throw a rock found on the ground like everyone else when you can toss a fashionable stone from our new collection!

  8. I would be careful citing Marine Le Pen here as an upholder of woman’s freedom. She and her likes are using feminist arguments as a lever to deepen the gulf between muslims and the west. It’s all a show with her, and I can’t believe you would fall for such obvious showwomanship… Needless to say, the worldview FN & other right wingers have in store for women isn’t all that far removed from the oppression in the Islamic world.

      1. I have to quibble a little: in Iran it is the law that women must wear the hijab. Lebanon is officially secular and women are not required to wear the hijab, so doing so in the presence of a particular person would be a “courtesy” (one that I agree LePen was right for refusing).

        The equivalent, then, would have been for the Swedes to not go to Iran at all. So the consequences of a principled stand are much different.

      2. Speaking of gratuitous, exactly what “worldview” have right wingers in store for women? What makes you think that conservatives have less respect for women than liberals? Regarding the topic being discussed here it would seem to be the other way around since it’s a conservative who is refusing to be subservient because a religion demands it. Frankly, from my vantage point conservatives look to be absolutely appalled by Islam’s subjugation of women while liberals continue to fall all over themselves defending Islam as if our concept of Freedom of Religion demands that any and all religious rules be tolerated. The most important part of Freedom of Religion is freedom from religion.

        1. I think you’re forgetting the Biblical teachings on male vs. female roles, and the way Catholics, fundamentalists, evangelicals, Mormons, etc., try to enforce them.

    1. She and her likes are using feminist arguments as a lever to deepen the gulf between muslims and the west. It’s all a show with her…

      That seems inconsistent with her meeting with the Sunni PM and the Grand Mufti of Al-Azhar in Cairo two years ago.

      Her track record seems to indicate that should would’ve been happy to meet with the Grand Mufti of Lebanon if he had not had the dress requirement.

      People are not all bad or all good. Sometimes people with nasty political views do good things (and vice versa). This IMO seems to be one of those times.

      1. If it’s true that Marine Le Pen is actually against women’s equality, and merely pretending to that belief, it doesn’t change the fact that she acted as any true progressive who *does* believe in women’s equality should–by refusing to put on a symbol of women’s oppression.

        If Le Pen is being hypocritical, that doesn’t make it any more acceptable that those who actually do believe in women’s equality would accept the subjugation of women by assenting to wear a hijab.

        All the more shame should be felt by people such as the women in the Swedish delegation who put on hijabs in Iran–for allowing the true progressive position to be upheld by someone from the far right.

        The left, in abandoning protection of women’s rights and ceding them to the right, are enabling the right to use it as a wedge between the West and Islam–if in fact that is what is going on in this instance.

        1. + 1. Besides, I think that bringing the West and Islam closer is appropriate only if the Islamic world is coming westwards; if, on the contrary, the West is required to walk the walk and make endless compromises to intolerant misogynist theocrats, as it is now, I’d prefer a wedge/gulf between them.

        2. If it’s true that Marine Le Pen is actually against women’s equality

          So if she meets with Muslim leaders while not wearing a hijab, she’s against women’s rights. If she doesn’t meet with a Muslim leader because he demands the hijab, she’s against women’s rights.

          Does the same logic hold true for liberal leaders, or only for right-wing leaders?

    2. I am curious, how would you compare the rights of women in Germany in the 1930s, and the rights of women in Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia today?

      Were women in Germany allowed to drive cars, divorce their husbands, were they allowed to inherit? Dress as they like, go out and have a cup of coffee with a man? Even worse, go out dancing with strange men? Would they be stoned to death if they did?

      This is of course a reductio, because I have a hard time squaring your claim with the reality.

      While there were many areas and many things women were not allowed to, or strongly discourage to do, it is (to my mind) a very large step indeed, to the situation in Afghanistan or Saudi Arabia today.

      I think it is very important not to lose track of the reality here, and this kind of hyperbole is (I think) very damaging.

      1. The idea and attitude that other cultures haven’t often been imperialist and that everything wrong with the world is because of Western imperialism and western culture is dangerous. Whilst we should be aware and ashamed of western imperialism, we still need to uphold the many strengths in western culture. Because of the jihadist streak and overall anti western bent of Islam too much of the Left have made it their cause celebre. Thus some white leftists explain everything wrong in Muslim countries or in Islam in terms of western colonialism and they encourage Muslims to do so too – which the latter do with hearty alacrity. The rest of us are afraid to challenge such muslims and to accept their take that Islam is really quite moderate and compatible with liberal democracy for fear of being seen to be “racist” because the environment has been set. Even the idea of reforming Islam is disparaged with the idea that reform equals Protestant reformation – described as a return to fundamentalism which was not its longer term effect on Western societies that were very different from Muslim societies now and then. The regressive part of the left and most Muslims Islamic “science” is placed on a footing with modern science. The fact is the pivotal role of revelation over reason in Islam stymied this a very long time ago. Even the Islamic universities were nothing like Medieval universities – institutions not privately funded schools that were fora for vigorous debate with their legal autonomy and no requirement (as in Muslim lands) to not transgress religious law. Theories on workings of the natural world were a mandatory part of all university education, although this was never taught with mathematics until much later.

        1. “The idea and attitude that other cultures haven’t often been imperialist and that everything wrong with the world is because of Western imperialism and western culture is dangerous…”

          Yes. These beliefs are ridiculous and perverse, and flies in the face of raw historical and anthropological facts.

          What bothers me, is also that the arguments are so black and white, and the lack of nuance and perspective.

          When you point out anything that contravenes this narrative, you often find yourself in a barrage of intellectual obscenities.

          I find it hilarious that the same category of people, who have so soundly and so resolutely over the years disdained facts and objectivity, now have started to be deeply concerned about “fake-news” or post truth and what not.

          This is a spear that will come back to haunt the (regressive) left for decades to come.

          In many ways, the regressive left created Trump and even forged his most devilish weapons now used against them.

  9. It is essential to remember that we live in a society with a broad set of common shared values, even as we frequently have differences over particulars.

    And this means that there are things that almost everybody can agree on.

    It also means that there are many instances of competing ideas that find acceptance in somewhat homogeneous groups.

    As such, it is not merely possible, but to be expected that those who stand in firm opposition to us on one issue will be our staunchest allies on another. The ACLU and the Klan joined hands to protect the First Amendment, even as they disagree just as resolutely on the Thirteenth.

    Even the most ardent T-Party supporter is still a living, breathing human being with real hopes and fears — as was, yes, Hitler himself. We are none of us villains in our own minds; we all are heroes in our autobiographies.

    Maturity comes in part from recognizing that the only person you’ll ever be in complete agreement with is yourself — and maybe not even then. Once you recognize that, a wise person will work with others on points of agreement and engage in non-violent persuasion on points of disagreement.

    It would be productive for everybody to read, perhaps for the first time, the official Nazi party platform from Hitler’s time. There’s the expected horrific stuff in there, especially in light of what came next. But there’s also stuff in there that we all can and should agree with, such as:

    The State must raise the level of national health by means of mother-
    care, the banning of juvenile labor, achievement of physical fitness through
    legislation for compulsory gymnastics and sports, and maximum support for all
    organizations providing physical training for young people.

    So, if even Hitler’s stopped clock can be right about something as basic as this, why should it be surprising that modern-day nationalist socialists should be right about something-or-other on occasion as well?

    And should we not work with them on issues we agree upon, even as we continue to attempt to thwart them on issues we do not agree upon? Even if the disagreement is much more substantial than the agreement?



    1. … we all are heroes in our autobiographies.

      Mebbe so, but “il n’y avoit point de héros pour les valets de chambre,” as some French lady said. (Not that I’ve ever encountered an actual valet before, outside of lit, movies, and “Mr. French” on Family Affair.)

  10. I have recently visited Iran, and of course, as a guest in that country, I abided by their rules (much smaller price to pay for a man of course), even though I firmly reject and decry the principles behind these rules; just as I, say, take off the shoes in a friend’s house if asked to, even though I absolutely hate it when grown ups have to walk in socks, or just as I take off my hat in a catholic church or cover my head in a jewish cemetery. What is more important? Being able to connect with a foreign culture or to uphold one’s principles, even in such small matters as a scarf one puts on for a couple of hours? I can say for me that I (and presumably also my Iranian counterparts) gained much more from the former…
    PS.: I loved also how the hip Iranian women always tried to push the scarf to the minimum and managed to ooze an elegance and style the tracksuit wearing men and women in the west seem to have long lost…

    1. This isn’t merely a traveler visiting a guest; it’s international diplomacy.

      Were Emperor Akihito and Pope Francis to meet, should the Pope insist that the Emperor must kiss his ring, and the Emperor insist that the Pope must bow before him?

      When you understand the absurdities in that question, you will understand why it is equally absurd that the Mufti should demand that a French politician must dress herself like a member of his harem as a condition of meeting.

      Would he refuse to visit her in France knowing she’d raise a glass of fine Burgundy to him in honor of his visit? If so, would you still side with him over her, or must she always submit to him? And if the latter, is it because she’s a woman or because all must submit to the religion of submission?



        1. As well it should!

          The respective positions are consistent and informative.

          Neither will accept demands from others to behave in a certain way, but the French will tolerate Muslim foibles whilst the Muslims will not tolerate French foibles.

          A French diplomat visiting a Muslim counterpart would not insist that her hosts must drink wine with her, nor insist that Muslim women be dressed in French style. Yet the Muslim diplomats insist that their French women guests be veiled and would forbid their French hosts from drinking their own wine.

          For a culture with such a reputation for “hospitality” to have it so backwards is, again, informative.



          1. Yes. I don’t think we should be insisting that a Swedish political delegation should be refusing to wear the hijab in a country where it’s the law. That would be inappropriate. If they were meeting in Sweden and the Iranians requested the women wear hijab, that would be different.

            Marine Le Pen did the right thing here. Her party though does not stand for equal rights for women.

            And her situation is not the same as the Swedish politicians, who are in government, representing their country, and were following the law of another country while they were in it.

            Politicians who are not be in office, especially those who probably never will be, have a freedom to do and say things those in government don’t.

            1. Heather,

              “Her party though does not stand for equal rights for women”

              Out of curiosity, what rights is it that the Front National want to deny women?

              1. anti-choice? Abortion?

                But that can for obvious biological reasons (in my opinion) not be an equal right?!?

                Or do you mean that the father also should have the right to terminate a pregnancy, or force the women to not abort, if he would like to?

            2. But you would agree that the Swedish are hypocrites by trumpeting that theirs is the most feminist government on Earth. Wouldn’t you?
              You can’t have both ways: voluntarily abide to medieval mysoginist laws and be an outspoken feminist!

              1. I think they are more feminist than at least most others. That doesn’t mean that they still don’t have stuff to learn. There are multiple areas in which a government and a country can show their feminism, and I’m sure than in some ways there are other countries that are their equal or better.

      1. Yes, but it is amazing whither the search for trade deals goes. In early 2016 at a state dinner by the Italian Government for President Rouhani of Iran wine was not served at the request of Rouhani. Also, statuary in a museum visited by the Iranian party had the genitalia covered.
        Fortunately, Hollande of France refused to accede to any such unFrench ideas on hospitality.

    2. The scarf is not a “small matter”. It represents the subjugation of women. To me, as a woman, that is a “large” matter.

  11. Repetition and awareness is important.

    The hijab represents oppression of women.

    Any hijab wearer can plagiarize their belief system to think this is what they would want. It is the antithesis of freedom. Of course, maybe hijab wearers do not want freedom.

    Men, 1
    Women, 0

  12. I am reminded of the late, fearless Italian journalist Oriana Fallaci. In order to interview Iran’s Khomeini, she was required to wear a head scarf. But partway through the interview, she tore it off, calling it a symbol of oppression.

  13. Where I come from “modest wear” means sweat pants and a pullover, when a woman can’t be arsed. (Even so, some women can rock that look, bless their hearts — or maybe I should just take the hint to chill my concupiscence.) 🙂

  14. Even for modest wear, those are some pretty unflattering designs. All of the decorative bits seem tacked on to terribly designed pieces as if to distract from the poor fit and lack of imagination. It’s amateurish work. None of this is groundbreaking, and even if these become popular they’d hardly offer the author fashion and modestly sewn together in a way that makes them worth wearing. Was this an actual fashion show put on by professionals?

  15. Maybe I just don’t get it about this subject, but why is it always the woman who has to protect the males needs and who has to cover up and the men get to dress as they want and be horny old goats. I think a female should come up with a religion where the men have to cover up, be demure, and obey the woman, any woman. Females will be allowed to have multiple husbands who have to obey her whims. She would be the head of the household and they all must follow her rules. Men would have to have a female escort them everywhere even if it was only a young prepubescent girl, the men would have to listen to her instructions no matter how silly it seems. I could go on but I think I made the point. I was not kidding, I don’t get this gender discrimination and sexism. Be well. Hugs

    1. Thank you, Scottie. It really is as simple as that. Reminds me of some rule or other…silver? platinum? palladium?…

  16. Iranian woman Dorsa Derakhshani thrown out of chess team for not wearing a hijab.

    In Gibraltar! Which is a British territory…..

    Remember, a hijab is a symbol of a woman’s right to choose.

    She just forgot to make the right choice,which is to do what Islam tells her to or face the consequences.

    Even if she is in a British terrority.

  17. Please correct me if I’m wrong, but a mufti is, as far as I know, a religious and not a government figure. So it would seem that the reasoning to apply would be the one that Jerry invokes for churches and other religious places?

  18. What always gets me is how some muslim women brag about being so modest and humble because they’re wearing a hijab (unlike us arrogant and promiscuous heathen women). Many state that they don’t want to draw male attention towards themselves.
    At the same time, their hijabs are often far more colourful and expensive looking than anything most western women wear daily. So much for being humble and invisible. ^_^

    1. I have encountered women here in Ottawa who wear a lot of the clothing and accessories that are supposedly the opposite (tight, high heels, etc., makeup, etc.) *with* the hijab. What is one supposed to make of *that*? I can only assume that “modesty” is either not the goal, in which case some of these pronouncements are wrong, or somehow hair is the deal …

  19. Article with pics of various western women VIPs wearing (or not) head coverings in Islamic countries:


    I just can’t see how, say, a US Secretary of State can negotiate on an equal footing with her Muslim-state peers when she’s wearing an article of restrictive clothing (yes, even scarves can be restricting!) dictated by their misogynistic religion. To me it’s an immediate loss of power.

    And here are a few more satisfying shots of notable women choosing not to cover in Saudi Arabia:


    1. Unfortunately I think this is almost a perfect example of a “Hobson’s Choice”. If women refuse the hijab when meeting with Islamically informed officials from other countries, they might be required to miss the opportunity to negotiate important topics, which might well include things which also profoundly affect (e.g.) women’s lives. But if one *does* wear, one then is giving into oppression, etc.

      I think sometimes there is a difference between the political figures (and Michelle Obama would have been at the fringe: the US tradition of the “first lady” is almost a cabinet position by now) and (say) the chess players. But then I think of how people’s careers and livilihoods (in both directions, mind you) are at stake, and I wonder …

      What I *do* think makes sense to say is that officials should decide on their own what to do (and without fear), not have their president or prime minster decide for them.

      1. I agree with you, esp. about the Hobson’s Choice part. Perhaps someday some woman will figure out how to wear half a hajib, just to cover all bases…

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