‘The “burqa edict” is not just an escalation in the oppression of women. It is a declaration of war against their basic humanity. And with it, the Taliban has exposed its true intentions. How we respond is essential not only to the women of Afghanistan but for women everywhere.’

Okay, but where are the op/eds from rafts of Western women intellectuals, and from jolly burqa wearers all over Europe, saying Well of course there shouldn’t be an edict, but burqas are beautiful empowering expressions of piety and selfhood and you’re all defaming them just as much as Johnny and Amber are defaming each other … ?

I mean, everyone’s dumping on the burqa lately… It’s almost as if people think there’s… something wrong… with a heavy agonizingly constraining black full body bag robbing wearers of sunlight and peripheral vision, and featuring a heavy cloth strip over the mouths of women and little girls as if I mean is there some sort of symbolic value there…? That mouth thing?

So where are its defenders? They’re noisy enough when countries begin voting for burqa bans. They organize big pro-burqa marches and they tell us we’re Islamophobes for objecting to burqas. Where is all that moral passion now that everyone’s acting as if burqas are obviously atrocious? I’m waiting.

Sing it.

How ya gonna keep em

Buried and choked

After they’ve learned

To breathe?


Aw hell. Since, post-Taliban burqa mandate, everyone’s got nasty shit to say about that garment (and where are all the British burqa’ed women who routinely show up on the telly to insist that the shroud is beautiful and empowering?), I think we should revisit Polly Toynbee on the subject. SOS says: She’s a hell of a writer.

The top-to-toe burka, with its sinister, airless little grille, is more than an instrument of persecution, it is a public tarring and feathering of female sexuality. It transforms any woman into an object of defilement too untouchably disgusting to be seen. It is a garment of lurid sexual suggestiveness: what rampant desire and desirability lurks and leers beneath its dark mysteries? In its objectifying of women, it turns them into cowering creatures demanding and expecting violence and victimisation. Forget cultural sensibilities.

More moderate versions of the garb – the dull, uniform coat to the ground and the plain headscarf – have much the same effect, inspiring the lascivious thoughts they are designed to stifle. What is it about a woman that is so repellently sexual that she must diminish herself into drab uniformity while strolling down Oxford Street one step behind a husband who is kitted out in razor-sharp Armani and gold, pomaded hair and tight bum exposed to lustful eyes? (No letters please from British women who have taken the veil and claim it’s liberating. It is their right in a tolerant society to wear anything including rubber fetishes – but that has nothing to do with the systematic cultural oppression of women with no choice.)

Yes, you’re starving. But at least you have to wear a burqa!

Campaign slogan, Afghan Supreme Leader Haibatullah Akhunzada.

His song:

A bag of bones under a full-body wrap!

Now tell me which leader can do better than that!


UPDATE: Comes now a charismatic young challenger to Akhunzada…

Campaign slogan: We CAN do better than that! I guarantee that that corpse will be a nine-year-old girl with no clitoris, just sold off to a seventy-year-old man!

Taliban Returns to the Burqa
To the tune of Clementine.

Tried the hijab, tried abaya
Tried to keep our peckers down
But your nostrils we espy - ed
And our stiffies went to town

Only burqa only burqa
Only burqa keeps us down
We are lost and gone forever
When you wear just half a gown

O you whorish godless creatures
How you make our wieners fizz
When you show your brazen features
All the streets are lined with jiz

Only burqa only burqa
Only burqa keeps us down
We are lost and gone forever
When you just wear half a gown
If you missed No Hijab Day yesterday…

… here’s some required reading on the subject.

Happy No Hijab…

Day! A wonderful opportunity not to toast the covering of sexually provocative women’s, girls’, and of course babies’ bodies the world over.

Another dishonest move in the defense of putting three year old girls under hijabs.

An opinion piece writer begins by noting the specific controversy – the act of putting toddlers under hijabs – and then, in response, says only that “donning the hijab is an intimate matter of choice for most Muslim women in the West.”

Even if I grant that this writer is in a position to know that most Muslim women in the West freely choose the hijab, this is irrelevant to the matter at hand, which is whether a three-year-old chooses to wear the hijab.

As UD often says, you are getting absolutely nowhere if you refuse to engage honestly in this issue. Big majorities of populations all over the world, when asked, tend to vote to outlaw burqas and restrict hijabs. That is clearly, empirically, their choice. It is at odds with the choice of many Muslim women. And as for the choice of three-year-old girls, I think it’s just as empirically clear that in this matter they don’t have any. These are the facts with which you must deal.

The Neonate Niqab; the Bouncing Baby Burqa…

… covering your girl child – girl infant – from the moment she pops out, in all her blasphemous sexiness – is big business around the world. The burgeoning popularity of female-blanketing means more and more stores in virtually every location are getting in on the trend. UD’s post title anticipates some product line names…

… And children’s songs… If you’re happy and hijabi clap your hands! If you’re…

Now we all know (if we read UD) that Quebec is in all kinds of trouble in the larger, uh, Canadian entity, because that province passed a law restricting public employees from wearing hijabs while on the job. We also know that everyone dumped on the French when their Senate passed a law (it went no further than the Senate) banning hijabs in public settings on people younger than eighteen. Yet when one of Canada’s most prominent pediatric physicians – the director of pediatric surgery at McGill – writes a shocked and angry response to a recent cover image on the Canadian Medical Association Journal, UD thinks it might be worth your while to read what he says.

“As a pediatric surgeon, I admit I would not typically have gravitated toward the excellent article in CMAJ by Drs. Bloch and Rozmovits if it wasn’t for the image that accompanied it — a picture of 2 girls, probably about 3 or 4 years old, reading together. One of them is covered in a hijab.

The image shocked and infuriated many. Yasmine Mohammed, a Vancouver activist who has championed equality for Muslim women, tweeted, “The cover of @CMAJ features a little girl in hijab. How disheartening to see my so-called liberal society condone something that is only happening in the most extremist of religious homes.” Another Muslim woman, a surgical trainee who wishes to remain anonymous, messaged me to express her horror at seeing the image, which triggered painful childhood memories of growing up in a fundamentalist Islamic society, where she was forced to wear the hijab from early childhood and taught that her body was desired by the opposite sex and should be covered. She later shared her perspective in a private conversation with the CMAJ interim editor-in-chief and publisher.

It has become “liberal” to see the hijab as a symbol of equity, diversity and inclusion. Out of the best intentions, the CMAJ editors probably chose this picture to accompany an article on the application of such principles in medical care.

I work in an urban tertiary academic children’s hospital embedded in an extremely multicultural environment. Many of my trainees, colleagues and patients’ parents (and some adolescent patients) wear the hijab. I respect each woman I interact with, as well as any woman’s choice to express her identity as she desires. Some women face harassment and discrimination for their choice to wear the hijab. That is real, and it is also wrong.

But respect does not alter the fact that the hijab, the niqab and the burka are also instruments of oppression for millions of girls and women around the world who are not allowed to make a choice. We are currently being reminded of this daily, as we see the tragic return of the Taliban in Afghanistan, and its effect on the subjugation of women and girls. Girls as old as those in the picture are being sold into marriage to old men — institutionalized child rape. The mentality that allows this to happen shares much with the one that leads to covering up a toddler. But even in so-called moderate Islamic countries, such as the one I grew up in, societal pressures heavily marginalize women who choose not to wear the hijab. In addition, women in these countries who are not Muslim and do not wear the hijab are often subject to intense harassment and discrimination. I know that, because some of these women are in my family. I respect the women who see the hijab as liberating. But we must also remember the women and girls who find it oppressive and misogynistic.

Ironically, the article explores evaluating interventions to address social risks to health. A young girl such as the one depicted in the image is typically also banned from riding a bike, swimming or participating in other activities that characterize a healthy childhood. She is taught, directly or indirectly, from an early age that she is a sexual object, and it is her responsibility to hide her features from the opposite sex, lest she attract them. A heavy burden for modesty is placed squarely on her shoulders. So many women have been traumatized by such an upbringing, which, I believe, frankly borders on child abuse. Is that not a social risk to health? Are these children not a vulnerable population?”


What will it take for you, and many other well-meaning people, acting “out of the best intentions,” to see what some subcultures are doing to their girls? Do you think that legitimizing bordering-on-child-abuse by featuring it on the covers of medical journals is a good idea?


UPDATE: After complaints, the letter has been retracted, with cringing apologies from the editor, along with her pledge never again to trespass onto the truth. A commenter at Retraction Watch gets it said:

‘Could someone explain exactly what is so terrible about the author’s claim: “Some women face harassment and discrimination for their choice to wear the hijab. That is real, and it is also wrong. But respect does not alter the fact that the hijab, the niqab and the burka are also instruments of oppression for millions of girls and women around the world who are not allowed to make a choice.”

Is that such a fundamentally unreasonable statement? Is the author incorrect that the hijab, niqab, and burka have—for many girls and women—associations with oppression? I expect that for many people the hijab is a harmless symbol, or even a mere fashion statement—but can’t the same be said of the Confederate battle flag, which is certainly a symbol of oppression to many people?

To be clear, the author did not argue that women shouldn’t wear hijabs. In fact, he explicitly said women should be able to dress however they please without being subjected to discrimination or harassment. What the author argued is that showing a toddler in a hijab isn’t a good way to represent cultural diversity. Perhaps the author is wrong about that—but if he is, then isn’t the appropriate course of action to present a counterargument pointing out the flaws in the author’s statements? Instead we get a retraction and a generic, uninformative statement from the editor apologizing for hurt feelings.’

Kabul on the Jordan…

… continues to deface images of women in the public square. Under increasingly serious court pressure, the city of Jerusalem has announced it will hire workers dedicated to responding to such incidents. Yet even with years of similar court pressure about forced gender segregation on public transportation and posted female modesty rules in several neighborhoods, things don’t change much in that rapidly theocratizing country.

Yeah, I know a new more secular government was recently voted in. So what.

Nobel Prize Recipient Fails to Make the Cut at Canadian School Board.

The Toronto superintendent explains:

“We disinvited Nadia Murad from our speaker series because of what she went through to get the prize. Torture, rape, sexual slavery: It’s not Canada Nice. We can’t have our teenage girls asking questions about ugly things; our job is to protect them from the sort of stuff that comes from unpleasant parts of the world. Under our new guidelines, invitees will be drawn from women who have created tasty new tea brews and/or monetized their cat videos.”

Till human voices wake us…

… and we drown.

‘Netflix’s hit show ‘AlRawabi School for Girls’ reveals … total rule by men.’

And that’s Jordan, kiddies.

Scathing Online Schoolmarm Scathes Through an Al Jazeera Article about England’s New Culture Secretary.

The United Kingdom’s new culture secretary has been accused of Islamophobia over her views on Muslim women and description of the burqa as a “medieval” dress code.

Accused by whom? The article doesn’t say. By the author of the article I guess, and one or two others. But since totally covering up women is way pre-medieval, the secretary is certainly guilty of medievophobia.

[Nadine] Dorries [has] called for a ban on the full-face veil.

This is added to the article to signify that, like the following miscreants, Dorries is Islamophobic:

“The following nations have introduced full or partial ban of the burqa: Austria, France, Belgium, Denmark, Bulgaria, the Netherlands (in public schools, hospitals and on public transport), Germany (partial bans in some states), Italy (in some localities), Spain (in some localities of Catalonia), Russia (in the Stavropol Krai),[4][5][6]Luxembourg,[7]Switzerland,[8]Norway (in nurseries, public schools and universities),[9]Canada (in the public workplace in Quebec),[10]Gabon, Chad, Senegal, the Republic of the Congo, Cameroon (in some localities), Niger (in some localities),[11][12]Sri Lanka,[13]Tajikistan,[14]Uzbekistan (ban on all personal religious symbols),[15]Azerbaijan (in public schools),[16]Turkey (in the judiciary, military and police),[17]Kosovo (in public schools),[18]Bosnia and Herzegovina (in courts and other legal institutions),[19]Morocco (ban on manufacturing, marketing and sale),[20]Tunisia (in public institutions),[21]Egypt (in universities), Algeria (in the public workplace),[22] and China (in Xinjiang).[23][24]

“Many [Islamic women] aren’t even allowed to keep their genitals,” [Dorries has written], referring to female genital mutilation (FGM), an outlawed practice in the UK. FGM predates Islam and Christianity, but is carried out by a minority of adherents to several faiths.

That’s so cute that the Al Jazeera writer puts it that way! FGM is overwhelmingly Islamic, and is practically universal in, among other places, Egypt. Check out all them 90%s, babe! Or how ’bout that 200 million? How Islamophobic to dismiss a deeply rooted, insanely popular practice that in Luxor, for instance, is carried out on newborns! Never too soon to keep a female chaste, and we know all about infantile sexuality from Freud.

Of the about three million Muslims in Britain, it is widely understood very few women wear the full-face veil, though there are no official statistics.

As with FGM, it would behoove Al Jazeera‘s writer to do a tad of research. As far back as 2007, the NYT reported that “the number of women [in England] wearing the niqab has increased in the past several years,” and the trend has continued. With England one of the last countries in Europe or Asia with no restrictions on the burqa, the place has made itself a magnet for tourists and residents who wear the burqa/niqab.

The burqa, the writer continues, only “captures the national attention when politicians or public figures comment on it.” No, the burqa captures the public attention all the time, because most citizens of liberal democracies object to it, whether or not they favor bans. The thunderous silence that has followed Dorries’ comment, and many others like it from public figures, conveys the profound unpopularity of female invisibility cloaks, abundantly on view of late in that most Islamic of places, Afghanistan.

Truman Capote’s Black and White…

Ball today, at Shaheed Rabbani Education University.

Image: Aamir Qureshi / AFP

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