Today, February 1, is World Hijab Day. Ironically, the date coincides with the day in 1979 when Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini returned to Tehran and became the country’s Supreme Leader, helping turn Iran into a theocracy.
Part of the theocratic change involved laws forcing women to wear the hijab. The women of Iran didn’t like that. They took to the streets, demonstrating against the regulation, but it was to no avail. Now women in Iran are being jailed, even for years, for simply removing their hijab in public (see my posts here and here, and the collection here). It’s not optional, but mandatory, and it might as well be mandatory in Afghanistan, where social pressure and the morality police mean that virtually every woman covers their head.
In other places where hijab isn’t mandatory, social pressure and parental and peer pressure mean that even young girls are forced to wear it, and the notion that it’s always a woman’s “free choice” is ludicrous. When someone tells you that wearing a hijab is “their choice”, it behooves you to take that with a grain of salt until you know about their upbringing.
We all know about the origin of the hijab. Although it’s not specifically mandated in the Qur’an, covering the head (and often other parts of a woman’s body) is a religiously-inspired dictate designed to keep men—seen as giant, slavering testicles—from attacking women if they glimpse a head of hair or a bare arm. The headscarf for Muslims is (and I don’t often use this word) patriarchal, reflecting a sexist view that men cannot control themselves and, worse, that the onus is on women to stifle this uncontrollable lust of men. In the meantime, men can dress pretty much as they want.
When I’m in overseas airports I often see Middle Eastern men dressed in Western clothing, with a covered woman (often in burqa) pushing a baby carriage and trotting along behind. It’s the very symbol of women’s oppression, for really, how many women would dress like that if they weren’t compelled by law or custom? We already know the answer: almost none, for women in Iran before 1979 were rarely veiled.
Nevertheless, Western Control Leftists, and, worse, left-wing feminists, celebrate hijabis, seeing them as oppressed minorities, for the hijab is a symbol of Islam, and Muslims are considered people of color. It’s ironic, though, that the very garment that marks these women as oppressed minorities is itself a sign of oppression. Such is the hypocrisy of the Authoritarian Left.
My own view, which I’ve repeated ad nauseam, is that of course women should be able to wear a hijab if they wish, but should never be compelled to do so—not by their government, not by their parents, and not by their peers. Further, I don’t think there should be any laws in the West banning it, or banning any other Muslim garment unless uncovering is required by society in some circumstances (e.g., courts, banks, and the like). Finally, I agree with the take of Alishba Zaremeen, an ex-Muslim activist and feminist (she’s also married to Muslim apostate Ali Rizvi):
So it’s ironic that Khomeini Arrival Day coincides with World Hijab Day, described by its advocates at the official website (click on screenshot below):
Note that it touts “unity”, though of course the hijab is divisive, and the hashtag #EmpoweredInHijab is ludicrous—pure Orwellian doublethink. I see no reason to celebrate a garment designed as a tool of women’s oppression, even if some women wear it “voluntarily”.
It becomes a bit more ironic when you realize that, just last month, Iran’s only female Olympic medalist, Kimia Alizdeh, defected to Europe because she couldn’t take Iranian oppression any longer. The bronze medalist in taekwondo issued a long statement on Instagram that refers to the hijab; here’s part of it:
How do I start? With a hello, a goodbye or to offer my condolences? Hello to the oppressed people of Iran, goodbye to the noble people of Iran, and my condolences to the perpetually mourning people of Iran. How well do you know me? Have you only seen me in sports matches, on television, or in the presence of government leaders?
Allow me to now freely and without censorship introduce myself. They will say after this I will amount to nothing. I myself believe that even before this I was nothing. I am Kimia Alizadeh; I am not a historian nor a champion nor a flag-bearing representative of Iran. I am one of millions of oppressed Iranian women who has been a pawn of the regime for years.
They have taken me wherever they have wanted. They dictated the way I should dress and every sentence that they asked me to say, I repeated. At any time they wanted, they paraded me around. They even sacrificed my medals and victories for their oppressive dress code and hijab. I was not important to them. None of us were. We were just tools.
Further, several sources (e.g., here) reveal that Iranian chess grandmaster Mitra Hejazipour was fired by the Iranian team, also in January, because she took off her hijab when playing in Moscow. Apparently if you’re representing Iran anywhere, you have to keep covered. Again, she spoke out against the hijab:
The Iranian female chess grandmaster Mitra Hejazipour who was sacked from the national team for boldly removing her headscarf (hijab) during the World Rapid & Blitz Chess Championship in Moscow, has said that hijab is “limitation” not “protection” as official regime propaganda claims.
In an Instagram post on January 28, the 27-year old grandmaster said the hijab is a clear symbol of an ideology in which women are “the second sex”. “It creates many limitations for women and deprives them of their basic rights. Is this protection? I say definitely not, it is solely and merely a limitation,” she wrote.
Hejazipour who says she was bullied by a relative at the age of six to wear a headscarf, even at home, now insists after years of wearing the hijab at all times and being “an example to others”, she has decided “not to have a share in this horrendous lie and not to play the game of ‘We love the hijab and have no problem with it’ anymore”.
That’s really empowering, isn’t it? I doubt that Hejazipour will be going back to Iran after saying something like that, but I can’t find any information about where she is. If she’s in Iran, it’s likely she’s in jail. (Readers are welcome to find her.)
A final irony: The Swedish edition of Elle magazine, in conjunction with L’Oréal Paris, voted a hijabi, Imane Asry, as having the “look of the year”. Although she wears tons of makeup, which will surely make men go wild and commit unspeakable acts that overcome the purpose of her headscarf (see below), Asry touts her wearing of “modest fashion” in the interview (translated by Google from the Swedish):
Big and warm congratulations! How does it feel?
– It means so much to me, as a little I dared not dream of anything nearby. I was absolutely convinced that someone who looked like I could not be awarded such an award. In addition, being a visible Muslim woman has an influence in fashion Sweden feels almost unreal! It makes me so happy to see such changes in an otherwise very superficial and homogeneous industry.
You have been voted in tough competition by several other cool women, what do you think made you win?
– I think my style reaches out and inspires so many, not just Muslim women. But also that many can identify with my work. This is a confirmation that it is more than time for us to start normalizing the hijab in the fashion industry. Fashion is for everyone.
Describe your style!
– Scandi-modest-chic. . . .
. . . .What is modest fashion, for those unfamiliar with the concept?
– It is a term for fashion that includes less tight clothing, very common among Muslim women (including men) who want to dress in a way that meets their spiritual and stylistic requirements because of religious beliefs or personal preferences.
Her makeup, laid on with a trowel, isn’t very modest, but so be it. We don’t know whether Asry was ever compelled to wear hijab, but voting this the “look of the year” is clearly approbation of the hijab. The irony becomes thicker if you accept the report of the Gatestone Institute (yes, it’s conservative, but you can check the statements for yourself) that even in Sweden, wearing the hijab is not always a voluntary choice for women (or let me rephrase that since I’m a determinist: women are often compelled by their families and peers to wear the hijab). Their report:
As previously reported by Gatestone Institute, a 2018 study commissioned by the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency and written by researchers at the Centre for Societal Security (CTSS) at the Swedish Defence University, showed that radical Islam had spread to several Swedish cities and that this meant that in some areas, “There are parents…who put veils on their three-year-olds”. The authors of the study also mentioned that schools and other local authorities did not know how to deal with the challenges created by the radical Islamists.
One example was when a Muslim schoolgirl wanted to take off her headscarf to play hairdresser with the other children, the Swedish school staff did not allow it out of respect for her parents’ wishes. In an example from a Swedish preschool, a little girl did not want to wear her headscarf but the Swedish personnel forced it on her, “even though it felt wrong”, because it was the parents’ wish.
These are not the only examples of Swedish teachers appearing unbothered by considerations about little girls’ rights not to have the hijab forced upon them. In the city of Skurup, municipal authorities recently prohibited wearing of headscarves in the city’s schools. At one school, Prästmosseskolan, six female non-Muslim teachers wore hijabs to protest the decision. The headmaster said that he would never make a student remove their veil; that he considered the decision discriminatory and in contravention of the Swedish constitution, which guarantees freedom of religion. Around 250 Muslims demonstrated against the decision to ban the veil. “The ban is about taking Muslim women’s rights to their bodies away and removing their democratic rights and choices. It is a racist policy”, said Tasnim Raoof, chairman of the organization Malmö’s Young Muslims.
Swedes have always been eager to glorify the hijab; see for example my post from 2017: “‘Feminist government’ of Sweden dons hijabs and body-covering coats in Iran.”
The upshot: Knowing what the hijab means and how it originated, the idea of glorifying the headscarf, celebrating a Hijab Day, and “normalizing” the garment as “empowering” by the media, is something that makes me ill. But I also feel that women should be able to wear one if they’re not compelled to, that there should be no laws in the West against wearing one, and that nobody should discriminate against a woman because she’s wearing one. But let’s not glorify the equivalent of a ball and chain worn on the head.
I give the final word to Iranian activist and journalist Masih Alinejad, who founded the My Stealthy Freedom campaign that supports women in Iran who want to remove their hijabs. She’s sort of a hero of mine, as is Ayaan Hirsi Ali, but of course both of these women have been either ignored or demonized by the Left because they’re considered “Islamophobic.” They should be heroes to all feminists, for they were in fact Muslims and are now tireless campaigners against Islam’s oppression of women. As I wrote when I posted this before:
This is a brave and heartfelt plea, and at 8:20 Alinejad waxes particularly eloquent, calling European female politicians “hypocrites” for bowing to hijab laws. At least listen to the last minute, and if you like that video, watch this one on the My Stealthy Freedom campaign.