Last week I discussed an incident at the University of Central Florida in which a Muslim student invited another student to wear a hijab (headscarf) as part of the World Hijab Day (a day which is supposed to support the right of Muslim women to wear the hijab, and for women to wear the hijab, regardless of their religion — hence an embrace of multiculturalism). The offer was declined, and the Muslim student called for her to be expelled, despite there being no policy to do so.
The right of women to wear the hijab is a facade, because in Muslim countries (and in Muslim-dominated areas in the West), Muslim women do not have a choice if they want to wear the hijab. They are forced to do so by relatives, people in their neighborhood, and even the authorities. Penalties range from fines and jail time to being beaten or even killed. Here are some examples:
• Narges Hosseini was arrested in Tehran, Iran on January 29 after she posted a photo of herself on social media. The photo shows her standing on a public bench and removing her hijab, then waving it like a flag. This is the second incident to occur in Tehran in over a month, the first incident occurring when Vida Movahed did the same thing back in December.
• In Padua, Italy, a sixteen-year-old girl was prevented from going to school by her family because she did not want to wear her hijab. School officials intervened, and the girl’s family allowed her to return to school.
• Aqsa Parvez, a sixteen-year-old girl living in Mississauga, Ontario was killed by her father and brother in 2007 for refusing to wear her hijab.
Meanwhile, there has been a No Hijab Day on February 6, which began when Anoud Al Ali (a feminist from the United Arab Emirates but is now living in France), removed her hijab and set it on fire. She even made a video of her actions, which in turn have inspired other women throughout the Muslim world to follow suit, including Iran, where twenty-nine women have been arrested for not wearing their hijabs.
Ali described her actions as liberating. And that is exactly what it is.
Perhaps there will also be a No Burqa Day. And just to clarify, whereas the hijab (headscarf) covers up a woman’s hair, the burqa covers up the entire body (including the face), and wearing it is mandatory for women in some parts of the Muslim world by either their families or the authorities.