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How many people do you personally know of whom this is true?  Where is the evidence that this is "quite common"?  Because I have still seen no actual evidence to back up this common claim.  I think many "Westerners" cannot imagine why someone would choose to wear the hijab, and thus prefer to belive that women wear it mainly because they're forced to.

The truth is that I don't doubt for a minute that some girls are made to wear the hijab by their families.  That no doubt happens here as well.  But there are also doubtless many who choose to wear it of their own free will.

And as I keep saying, there are other issues that are certainly affecting those girls much more seriously than their headcoverings.  Those are the issues that should be focused on, not a scrap of cloth.

Even in Iran, where the headscarf is compelled by law, women's rights activists have many many many things on their lists of action items ahead of eliminating the hijab.

The "West" is doing itself no favors by fixating on this issue.  It is also doing no favors to the women who are being forced to choose between their religious and national identities -- a demand that is not made of members of any other faith group.

by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Mon Jan 15th, 2007 at 06:46:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sorry, no time to xlate, but again, here is the web site from ni putes ni soumises, which is a feminist organization of maghrebi women and for maghrebi women.

Here is a blurb about them in english wikipedia:


The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill

by r------ on Mon Jan 15th, 2007 at 07:12:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think you are generalising from what is evidently the more tolerant view of the egyptian middleclass. I doubt they'll have the same view if the muslim brotherhood gain power.

However, the view of the islam from the west is more coloured by our view of the Saudis who would rather that girls were burned alive than be seen without a headscarf or the suffocation of mind, body soul afforded to afghani women in the name of islam.

Equally here in the UK we roiutinely hear the complaints of pakistani women speaking out against imprisonment and forced wearing of hijab.

In France, to gute from the wiki on ni poutaines ni soumaines

No more moralising: our condition has worsened. The media and politics have done nothing, or very little, for us.

No more wretchedness. We are fed up with people speaking for us, with being treated with contempt.

No more justifications of our oppression in the name of the right to be different and of respect toward those who force us to bow our heads.

No more silence in public debates about violence, poverty and discrimination

One of their four main headline demands is the end to the hijab. It matters in France. It is a matter of life and death in saudi Arabia and increasingly in Pakistan. It is a basic freedom in Afghanistan.

Yes, it is symbolic. There are worse things commended in the name of islam. But it is nevertheless symbolic, not of submission to god, but of utter submission to men. To challenge the hijab challenges the entire edifice of religious patriarchy.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Jan 16th, 2007 at 07:52:26 AM EST
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And by suppressing it you make it stronger. You can't fix the problem by attacking the symbols. You fix the problem by attacking the underlying causes. Non-muslims pushing against the headscarf makes it into more of a political and identity issue. It validates the words of the extremist loons in the way that interventions in the Middle East do. You can't force cultural change from the outside. You can only provide support for the conservatives.

Of course, the current ruling wisdom is that symbols are all that matter and actually spending money on things like education, improved economic agency and effective policing that can actually get into the community in question is all pinko-commie nonsense.

Did we improve the lot of women in Europe by banning skirts and high heels?

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Jan 16th, 2007 at 08:00:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm going to ignore your "Egyptian middle class" statement, which happens not to be true, and which I find rather insulting, because I'm fairly sure you didn't mean it that way.

If you are basing your entire understanding of this topic on Saudi Arabia, perhaps that explains why you seem to view it in such black-and-white terms.  The Islamic world is so much wider than that.  The OIC has 57 member states, which are tremendously culturally diverse.  By buying into the Saudi/Wahhabi frames of the issues, by not discussing the things that the extremists find uncomfortable but instead focusing on this issue, we allow the agenda to be set and defined by the wrong people.  Things that don't really matter in the larger scheme become the focus of the debate.  We must fight for a society where it really doesn't matter what a woman wears on her head or whether a man's name is Mohammed or Michael, and by allowing this issue to distract us, we are losing that battle.

Regardless, I think it is safe to say that a fair number of Muslims, regardless of the degree of their piety, view with some skepticism Westerners who say, "Trust me, I want to liberate you."

As I have said elsewhere, the platform of ni putes ni soumises appears to be an excellent one.  But I would advise everyone to pay attention to all of it, including the larger focus of violence, poverty and discrimination, rather than fixating on just a single issue that, for that group as for others, is only a small part of a very complex whole.

by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Tue Jan 16th, 2007 at 08:26:46 AM EST
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