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Fri Oct 24, 2014, 03:26 PM

Wearing the hijab: 'It's a choice'

Probably should add the caveat that it is not a choice everywhere

"Are you hiding bombs in your skirts?" a stranger yelled from a car window as 12-year-old Radiya Ali walked down a Hamilton street in the mid-2000s. She had arrived to New Zealand as a refugee from Yemen, four years after 9/11 - an innocent among hicks and alarmists who saw young girls wearing the hijab and thought it stood for terrorist.

"Did you steal those curtains you wear?" people hollered at her as they passed. "Why are you wearing sheets on your head?"

Salma Salat came from Kenya 17 years ago, when she was 4.

"I don't remember it, but my mum found it tough adjusting and raising kids in a time when people were shouting things out from the streets."

In the days post 9/11, a man approached Salma as she was walking with her sister. She remembers him yelling at them, "terrorists". She was 7 and didn't know what it meant.

Radiya and Salma are 21 now, and they are friends. They tell these stories with wide eyes, in the can you believe it way adults recall their traumas from childhood. You won't find gentler, or stronger, young women. They are innocent in many ways, but they have seen.

They report things are different now on Hamilton streets.

"There's more discussion," says Salma. She gets approached by people asking why she wears the hijab, but it's a conversation she doesn't mind having.

Waikato Interfaith Council figures from last year state 1395 Muslim women live in the Waikato. In 2001, there were 687. Salma is studying nursing and observes "at the hospital, every fourth/fifth female is wearing a scarf". It's no longer remarkable to see a Muslim woman, in fact, the colours of the hijab illuminate our streets.


http://www.stuff.co.nz/life-style/life/62660607/Wearing-the-hijab-Its-a-choice


I found this interesting as I work with a large muslim population, I never ask if they "choose" the hijab, it would be disrespectful for a casual acquaintance. My good Muslim friend-- the one I can ask anything--is a male, and has an excellent working knowledge of Islam as well as Islamic politics and the Quran. I think we've taked about the Burka, but not the hijab. It should be an interesting discussion

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Reply Wearing the hijab: 'It's a choice' (Original post)
ismnotwasm Oct 2014 OP
riqster Oct 2014 #1
Scootaloo Oct 2014 #2
riqster Oct 2014 #3
ismnotwasm Oct 2014 #4
Scootaloo Oct 2014 #5
ismnotwasm Oct 2014 #6
etherealtruth Oct 2014 #7
Scootaloo Oct 2014 #8
etherealtruth Oct 2014 #9
Scootaloo Oct 2014 #10
etherealtruth Oct 2014 #11

Response to ismnotwasm (Original post)

Fri Oct 24, 2014, 03:53 PM

1. A dear friend converted to Islam. For her, it was definitely a choice.

I'd add that a fair few cultures and religions involve covering hair: the Amish, certain Fundagelical Christian sects, etc.

Islam isn't unique. (Hope this doesn't hijack your thread. )

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Response to ismnotwasm (Original post)

Fri Oct 24, 2014, 03:55 PM

2. No, it's not a choice EVERYWHERE

 

But that's not especially relevant, as the people screaming about the garments... aren't screaming about them being worn in Saudi Arabia or Iran, but are instead having a raging panic over their being worn in the UK, or Australia, or France.

The Hijab hysteria in western nations is, IMO, an example of a place where feminism fails, and fails hard - in that it supposes that these women are inferior, incapable of their own decisions, because they aren't "like us" and so need a guiding white, Judeo-christian hand to tell them how to think, how to feel, and yes, how to dress. That this belief happens to synch perfectly with standard Islamophobic garbage should be a clue, but... it never seems to be. It's basically the same mentality that leads to women of color often being treated as footnotes, or "oh yeah them" in feminism. Sadly, western feminism, like pretty much everything else in the west, seems to assume a white, Judeo-Christian, Anglo-centric view as "the standard."

In the west, hijab is a choice, consciously decided by the woman in question. In those cases where she's somehow forced to dress a way by someone else, it's that person's fault, not the woman's, nor the other women who choose to dress themselves. Trying to control how Muslim women express their faith isn't just islamophobia, it's straight-up misogyny as well.

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Response to Scootaloo (Reply #2)

Fri Oct 24, 2014, 04:06 PM

3. Thanks. Good stuff, thought-provoking.

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Response to Scootaloo (Reply #2)

Fri Oct 24, 2014, 04:53 PM

4. When I went to a VDay-- A feminist celebration

There were women from everywhere. Women from Somalia taught us a traditional dance, expressed their pain at war and rape and genocide through spoken poetry. All wore the hijab. My caveat was aimed at the perversions of sharia law, not against women of Islamic faith. And the reason I posted the article. So I get you.

In the book "Running with the Wolves" (you hardly ever hear about it anymore) there is a chapter about veiling, she discusses long hair as a form of veiling--amount other things in western culture. since the author is a Jungian analyst, it's quite facinating

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Response to ismnotwasm (Reply #4)

Fri Oct 24, 2014, 04:59 PM

5. I figured you'd get me

 

I wasn't "pointing fingers" at anyone - though come to think of it, the number of DU'ers who use "feminism" as an excuse for bigotry against this that or the other group is kind of astounding - but just making an observation of one of the more obvious flaws ,in an otherwise solid idea. And it's a flaw of practice, and not the idea itself, so it is of course utterly correctable

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Response to Scootaloo (Reply #5)

Fri Oct 24, 2014, 05:20 PM

6. ..

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Response to Scootaloo (Reply #2)

Fri Oct 24, 2014, 08:27 PM

7. In the west, hijab MAY or MAY NOT be a choice ....

.... consciously decided by the woman in question, her family or her community. Attributing the wearing of the hajib, the niqab or burqa solely to the choice of the woman in question is very naive.

I have extremely bifurcated feelings about this .... on one hand I respect a woman's right to self determination (and all the choices that come with it) and I would like to protect women from misogynistic/ subjugating choices/ desires of others being imposed upon them.

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Response to etherealtruth (Reply #7)

Fri Oct 24, 2014, 08:37 PM

8. As I said, that's an issue with whoever might be trying to coerce her

 

They're the wrongdoer; she's not, and the garment isn't to blame. That's like banning women from wearing skirts because some assholes keep sneaking "upskirt" footage with shoe cameras.

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Response to Scootaloo (Reply #8)

Fri Oct 24, 2014, 08:54 PM

9. Obviously she is not the person in the wrong; however,

laws (some of them, though I admit in this country there is simply a good deal of xenophobia) have been enacted to with the idea of removing the power of "others" from imposing their will or coercing her.

Obviously, harassing or in any way attempting to diminish a woman wearing this garb is always unacceptable!

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Response to etherealtruth (Reply #9)

Fri Oct 24, 2014, 09:27 PM

10. But that's what those laws do. They criminalize the woman.

 

not only is she the criminal, but the laws criminalizing her assume that she has no control over her self-expression, and is the victim of coercion. So right out the bat, the laws exist to criminalize those they claims are the victims! What's more, it's a suite of laws that control how Muslim women dress, under the assumption that it's wrong to control how they dress.

But of course, the "coercion" aspect of these laws is simply a fig-leaf, a self-justifying selling point for a generally open-minded public. The real reason for the laws, is to drive expressions of Islamic faith underground, to erase it from the public eye, to forbid it from sight. To accomplish this is plays off latent and bigoted assumptions about Muslims laced throughout western culture. Namely that Muslims hate women and Muslim women are all victims of oppression.

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Response to Scootaloo (Reply #10)

Fri Oct 24, 2014, 10:51 PM

11. I would love to continue this conversation, but am too tired tonight

I think I am a better person for having been a part of the Muslim community (in the US). Though I did not convert when I married I was an active participant in many parts of the community.

Under Sharia both men and women required to dress simply and modestly ... burqas, hijabs, and niqabs are cultural interpretations ... these interpretations very often closely linked to the roles and freedoms extended to individuals within the culture of origin.

Sorry I have a point but am just too tired to express it coherently....




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