Sarah Haider on World Hijab Day

February 2, 2022 • 3:19 pm

Yesterday was World Hijab Day, a day to celebrate a symbol of misogyny and oppression. In its honor(?) we have a thoughtful 15-minute video by Sarah Haider, Executive Director of the Ex-Muslims of North America, about the hijab. Needless to say, she’s almost entirely critical of reasons for wearing the headscarf.

My own view about it has been given many times (e.g., here): to see whether it’s a “choice” or a “mandate,” remove all social, religious. and political pressures to wear it, and see how many women still wear the headscarf.

That’s not an impossible experiment because it’s pretty much what Iran and Afghanistan were like in the 1970s. And most women let their hair fly free.  Sure enough, when the theocracy began in Iran in 1979, a mandatory hijab law was enacted, and women protested by the thousands. It was of no use. They were forced to wear it, and violators were beaten or even jailed for long periods.

Further, if it’s a “choice”, why would you need “morality police” in Iran and Afghanistan to beat women whose hijab doesn’t fully cover there hair? What kind of monstrous culture dictates the beating of women who, exposing a wisp of hair, are supposed to excite the libido of men?

To tell the truth, I think that women who say that their wearing the hijab is a “choice”, a sign of modesty, are largely dissimulating. Many are wearing it to make it obvious that they are in the class of the victimized, a point articulated clearly in Haider’s video by the odious Linda Sarsour, who says “Before wearing a hijab, I was just an ordinary white girl from New York City” (12:57). Now she’s a public victim as a Person of Color. Sarah doesn’t make this point, because she’s too nice to, but listen again to Sarsour.

Many have been forced to wear the veil since they were little girls, and it’s now a habit—no more of a choice than Amish wearing suspenders and black clothes. A sure sign that it’s bogus is shown by those who wear hijabs and then tons of makeup and other fancy garments. How is that supposed to be modest?

It is a sad irony that Western women, including feminists seem to valorize the hijab, for they are valorizing oppression. For that’s where the garment came from: the misogynistic idea that women must cover their hair (and bodies) to avoid exciting the uncontrollable lusts of men. Why shouldn’t the men control their own damn lusts? Again it’s an instance of MacPherson’s Law: when two “progressive” tenets collide—in this case feminism versus Muslim dictates (the culture of the Oppressed)—the women always lose.

My favorite take on the hijab comes from Alishba Zarmeen:

And now the estimable Sarah Haider, who makes a number of good points, many of them related to Zarmeen’s remark above. BTW, I just discovered that Haider has just started a Substack site, “Hold that Thought” that will be a repository of her essays and thoughts.

21 thoughts on “Sarah Haider on World Hijab Day

  1. Good information and so well delivered. I am very glad you posted this.
    I hope lots of people watch.

    1. Thanks Debra. I got very much behind in today’s schedule … Jerry gathers resources, reads AND writes faster than I can simply gather resources and read…but with your unsolicited encouragement, will certainly watch later tonight or early in the morning.

  2. “Before wearing a hijab, I was just an ordinary white girl from New York City.” We owe thanks to Linda Sarsour for summing up so perfectly the contemporary fashion of victim impersonation. It is odd, isn’t it, the way some of our noisiest fakers reveal their aims outright? Donald Trump is the most conspicuous example, but he is obviously not alone. Maybe admissions of this sort constitute another symptom of
    narcissistic/histrionic personality disorder, a malady which has reached startling levels on both Left
    and Right. I wonder if this is a new pandemic, or something that is not new but just better reported.

  3. Very interesting read! There seems to be a current wave in the western media that romanticizes the enforcement of hijab on Muslim women, silencing feminist activists like Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Irshad Manji and many others. I’ve written a few articles about that too:

  4. I love World Hijab Day!

    A day when the world can share stories about what a Y-chromosome entitles its holder to – to make sure its female children cover up to show modesty. When we share how important it is to change our selves to accommodate this trifle of clothing that has to be worn on a timescale and compliance equal only to underwear.

    The only days better, really, have got to be World Burqua day and World Niqab day, when pro tips for eating spaghetti, keeping cool at the beach, and getting adequate oxygen show how modest females can be compelled to be by their husbands, and to remind ourselves it all has nothing to do with religion.

  5. Excellent video. And it brings up the political rationale for secular liberals to support the religious, conservative hijab: it’s disliked by a religious, conservative group they deal with on a more regular basis — Christian fundamentalists. It’s a simple heuristic. If Trump fans are against it, be for it; if Trump fans are for it, be against it.

    Our analysis has got to go deeper than that.

  6. So … World Hijab Day id the day when men, (of all genders and identities) can wear the Hijab and refuse to remove it to male police officers. Particularly in “Islamic” countries.
    Or would that be considered “provocative”?

  7. I’ve followed Sarah H. for years now and I admire her very much. I think I learned about her on Sam Harris’ podcast.
    She has REAL courage, unlike Western virtue signalers who have NO IDEA they’re encouraging religious nonsense and gender oppression in the Islamosphere.

    And Linda Sasour always makes me want to puke. She might be the NYer I’m most ashamed of (in the female category anyway….)


  8. Any good argument focuses on both sides of the story. Next time, if there ever will be one where you trash hijab based on the notions of one person and a few stereotypes you picked up from social media, why don’t you do us all a courtesy to quote the opinions of the happy muslim women who are strong, independent and educated but still treasure their hijab even if they were given the option of going without it.

    1. Aha! Yes! In Germany I once saw a woman wearing besides a hijab a copper plate that covered her entire face below her eyes. She was enjoying a sandwich that she was squeezing between her cheek and the copper plate.

    2. “… even if they were given the option of going without it.”


      You know, there’s nothing to add to that – I just want to write that again :

      “… even if they were given the option of going without it.”

      Once more because three allows for beautiful music :

      “… even if they were given the option of going without it.”


    3. The video included plenty of clips of “happy muslim women” and addressed the issue of strong, independent and educated hijabis.

      1. But it came from “social media”.

        I suppose the distinction being with “lived experience”.

        … not that I admire antisocial media (my preferred term for it), as it degrades our moment-to-moment in-person experience.

  9. If you think that evolution is true then you must accept the political incorrect consequence, which is that genes want to spread, and that rape is a strategy for those genes to do that. Societies invent social rules to reduce the harm done, and they fall in two basic categories, which are (1) men should control themselves and (2) women should protect themselves. The headscarf falls into the latter. Also in modern liberal societies women are still traded and abused in large numbers. Everyone knows it is wrong, but social rules go only that far (for many men, the urge is simply too strong). Sadly, men are the way they are (grab ’em by the pussy). Deal with it.

    1. “… rape is a strategy for those genes to [ spread ].”

      Is that a fact? I don’t remember that appearing here…

      “(2) women should protect themselves. The headscarf falls into the latter.”

      Piece of cloth as a display? From younger than age 13? A display of male harem ownership?

      I think there needs to be more to this theory, because I don’t get it.

      1. Whatever. It is a rather obvious inference. And very true (sadly). But liberals, like anyone else, do not like facts that do not fit their ideology. How Arabs dealt with the issue 14 centuries ago, defines Islam today.

        1. What’s with the smug personal remarks?

          Is the truth claim that rape genes are regulated by pieces of cloth that males attach to females?

          Any of that is unclear to me, so sue me.

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