Recently Swedish women have been wearing the hijab in public in order to declare their “solidarity” with Muslim women. This action is to declare their “sisterhood” with Muslim women who are facing increasing “discrimination” in Swedish society. Hijab is also given a more politically neutral label, “head scarf”, and an increasing number of retailers, such as H&M, are using this opportunity to sell the hijab to the public. Further, social media has followed this trend and it has created an important discussion about the hijab on numerous Facebook pages and on twitter. In these discussion many arguments are made in favour of wearing the hijab such as arguing that it is about “choice” and “empowering women”. Wikipedia also spreads this view, stating “wear the hijab allows (women) to retain their modesty, morals and freedom of choice. They choose to cover because they believe it is liberating and allows them to avoid harassment.” Meanwhile, the traditional left in the West has taken a cultural relativist position and has actively avoided criticizing Islam or political Islam.
The pseudo feminists that are the flag bearers of wearing hijab in solidarity with Muslim women have a distorted, or at the least a misunderstanding of what hijab or the “head scarf” really is. In a world where political Islam was defeated and a head scarf was just a head scarf, then it would not matter who wore it. But we are not living in that world today. Political Islam is infamously misogynistic. The social signature of Islam is the hijab. Political Islam has a penchant for eliminating women’s social and economic footprint from society in order to ossify its patriarchal hegemony. The Hijab is one of the many tools used by political Islam as a means to that end. Hijab, as the Western pseudo feminists like to assume, is not politically neutral at all, it is in fact heavily politically charged.
The hijab represents the social and political harm against women. The act of wearing the hijab in the West, where the person has a choice not to do so, is not a show of “sisterhood” or “solidarity”: it is essentially the act of committing political and social self-harm. Further, this is also a slap in the face to the millions of women who are trapped in Islamic stricken countries, and in the West, that are facing daily harassment by the state, by the community, and by their family. Also, the act of wearing the hijab by a Western women, in a twisted way of “showing solidarity”, also dangerously normalizes the hijab in the West and further extends the reach of political Islam in the life of those who have fled Islam stricken countries: it normalizes the social and economic oppression of women. The task for all feminists and humanists everywhere is the opposite of this. The task is to find ways to remove social and economic pressures exerted by the state (such as Islamic regimes), community, and families of Muslim women to wear hijab. The task is also to find safe spaces for women to find support when they are being attacked and harassed by family members and their larger communities to wear hijab.
There is a group that wishes to separate “hijab” from Islam and political Islam. The argument is that the Quran says nothing about hijab and it is in fact the governments that have imposed it. It is also interesting how this group selectively forgets that there are in fact numerous misogynistic quotes in the Quran, everything from controlling a women’s sexuality to how a man should discipline his wife! At the crux of this, it is a gross misunderstanding of patriarchy and political Islam. What it fails to understand is that political Islam is a movement with the objective of gaining hegemonic political, social and economic control of society. If Islam was a group of people with their heads stuck in the sands of superstition in the privacy of their homes, it would be different. Political Islam is a very active and dangerous movement that is targeting fundamental human values, rights and freedoms. Hijab has a central political role in this movement. The enslavement of women is the signature of political Islam. It is with such tools that these political movements exert their patriarchal domination and suppress a population!
By Chia Barsen