Rather unfair of the NYTto end its piece about the latest legal decision in favor of allowing employers, in very restricted circumstances, to ban the hijab in public work settings, with this dismissive statement from a lawyer for the hijabi who sued. And rather unwise tactically.
I mean, on the reasonable assumption that the NYT is appalled by burqa and hijab restrictions, it does its position no good by featuring the it’s all a tempest in an abaya line, which people are always doing. People are always telling us how risibly few female children and women wear the burqa, the abaya, the hijab, so why make a fuss?
Whereas numbers are actually going up in most places.
So to align yourself with people who dishonestly downplay a phenomenon which does in fact demoralize many citizens of secular countries (they tend to vote overwhelmingly in favor of restrictions) is to put yourself in a place which is itself subject to dismissal.
And as to the amusing pathetic crumbly fragility of a laicity which would fail to stand up to brave little Belgium’s little case — pshaw. Obviously it IS standing up to theocratic threats — by recognizing and managing them.
Yeah, yeah, the usual suspects are fussing up a storm, but France is adamant that its Olympics athletes will not wear that must-have Iranian fashion statement, the hijab.
Meanwhile, the world’s hardest working organization, CAIR, which must express outrage every day as hundreds of countries and regions all over the world (including, for instance, Egypt) outlaw public-sphere wearing of such things as burqas, hijabs, abayas, chadors, etcetcetc, is drawing itself up yet again this morning in high umbrage over a secular republic’s declaration that people representing that republic and its values to the world may not wear religious stuff while doing said representation.
France is not a theocracy, and women whose fanaticism burns so bright they refuse to take off a headscarf in public fit uneasily into seriously non-theocratic states. These women, like CAIR, are free to spend their lives in worldwide social and judicial combat over escalating and widening public-realm Islamic dress bans; or they can move to more blanketing-friendly places, like Malaysia (uh-oh). Hell, in England they’re erecting statues to the greatness of the hijab! (The monumentalized hijabi in question don’t look too happy, IMHO, but whatever.)
A week after the ban was implemented, the level of opposition has been low.
There have been some acts of defiance – 67 girls refused to change out of their abayas on the first day of the new term.
But of a mass movement of resistance there is no sign. No mass-donning of abayas, no sit-ins.
There never is. I mean, there never is a mass movement of resistance – to burqa bans, hijab bans, abaya bans – anywhere in the world. Wonder why not. Wonder where the masses of women who adore being fully, or mostly, covered are… Hmm… hmm…
Well let’s see. First of all, a lot of these girls and women come from subcultures where — I mean DUH. Why do you think they’ve been all covered up since they were five years old? The whole point is to make them invisible! So nu – you’re expecting them to mass on the Champs Elysees and get their picture in the paper? Not bloody likely.
As for secular, jeans-wearing Frenchwomen donning abayas for a day to express solidarity… I mean, look at the statistic in my headline, mes petites. I believe it’s finally gotten through to that demographic — along with virtually every other demographic — that abayas are an appalling constraint on young women, and no self-respecting liberal state should countenance them in its public secondary schools.
Okay, so then where’s the Muslim Brotherhood when you need them?
Er, not sure they’re too eager to be seen, en masse, in public either.
I think this only leaves that blithering idiot, Jean-Luc Melenchon.
A small handful of students at French public schools have refused to remove their full-body-swaddling abayas in response to a new government mandate. But even though it’s obvious that compliance is happening, people who think it’s fine to force veiling on children are squawking. Parents should be free to swaddle their ten-year-olds!
It’s such a grossly bad argument. Of course UD understands that some little girls who’ve been blanketed by their parents from birth because of their obscene female equipment must feel pretty shitty, pretty scared, at the prospect of anyone catching a glimpse of their ankle. I’m sure it makes them feel whorish and evil. But that feeling will pass; and after all they can still swaddle at will (at their parents’ will) outside of school hours.
No one ever said educating reactionaries in the principles of equality was easy. For some of them, you never will get there. But you can certainly educate their daughters.
And – go figure – France’s “socialists and communists have both welcomed [a new] ban” on the abaya in public schools. Throughout our long chronicle, on this blog, of some restrictions on girl-swaddling, we have needed again and again to correct the lazy claim that such restrictions are always about caving to conservative and reactionary pressures. While it’s true that those on the right in many countries tend to support such restrictions, it’s just as true that much of the left tends that way too.
You only have to look at the 77% figure up there to take on board the reality that some secular cultures really, really dislike overt religious constrictions on children and young women. Faith communities that believe conventionally clothed ten year old girls are seductresses whose sexual bodies must be severely hidden tend to offend modern, secular populations. Ol’ UD thinks they’re right to be offended: By definition, these girls and young women have no say as to whether they are swaddled; their invisibility cloaks are forced on them by their parents. Accessory to such dress is usually an insistence on gender segregation and the derogation of the female generally.
If you insist on swaddling your females from age 0 to 100, that’s your private business; but secular states like France are perfectly free to reject female-swaddling as a mode of self-display in various parts of the public realm.
Which France has now done: No student enrolled in a state school can hide her provocative eight year old curves under the copious folds of the modesty robe.
As with France’s burqa ban ten years ago, this one will generate a spot of outrage (and lots of support) and then disappear as an issue. You can’t fight city hall when city hall represents the will of a very strong secular majority (think also of Quebec).
One can only hope that, liberated to move through her school day without her male-inflaming face and body fully covered, this or that young girl will grow up with the conviction that she represents a free and equal member of a modern society.
An administrative court in Germany has ruled against her complaint about not being able to drive like this, but she’ll probably appeal to a higher court blah blah. ‘The judges do not think the ban violates the German Constitution, as it does not “severely restrict religious freedom.” Instead, the practice of religion is “only restricted in a narrowly limited life situation that is typically not essential for freedom of religion,” the verdict continues.’
Well but that assumes a woman not ruled by a man who will kill her if anyone gets a glimpse of her nose.
BTW: UD can’t help but notice that this woman’s hands are uncovered!
Philippe Guibert gets it said. And why hasn’t there been much backlash?
Because many people agree with him.
Because many people on the other side, who wear/promote the hijab, routinely call it a modesty garment and – like the embattled Iranian government – routinely identify women who don’t wear it as prostitutes.
An Iranian chess player who moved to Spain in January after she competed without a hijab and had an arrest warrant issued against her at home has been granted Spanish citizenship, Spain said on Wednesday.
Something very strange and interesting happened at the hair salon today. A woman came in with head scarves and shawls for sale. One of the salon’s stylists jokingly told her that people don’t buy scarves anymore, that it is no longer profitable and that she should change her job. In response, the woman said that was not true and that certain people are trying to promote secularism and prostitution in society. We were all stunned, but nobody said anything to her.
One officer told a teenage girl to move and stand somewhere else. The young girl looked at him coldly and said, “Are we bothering you?” Another guy came and said to the policeman, “Reza, let it go,” and took him away. I looked at the young girl and blew her a kiss. She blew a kiss back.
Now we can eat in restaurants without wearing the hijab, and not a single person says, “Madam, put your hijab back on.” The university security no longer pesters students about their attire. People don’t defend this regime in classes anymore. It doesn’t matter that we don’t protest in the streets. People are kinder and look out for one another every day. If a guard or a security person bothers a student, everyone will come to the rescue. I think it’s beautiful.
There was one beautiful girl with short blond hair. At the start of the uprising, women were cutting off their hair as an act of protest and a sign of mourning. Seeing her got me emotional. For years we had fantasized about the day we would take off our scarves and let the wind blow through our hair. But now that we can be unveiled, we no longer have our long hair. We cut it for that very basic freedom. Our dreams are always one step ahead of us.
Today I was talking to my family about how much people check you out in Iran and how much time you spend thinking about what to wear. It feels like you’re under constant surveillance. But I’ve noticed a change in attitude among men. Before this movement, if I went out with my red hair showing or wearing a cool outfit, some men would follow or harass me. Cars would slow down and honk their horns. Now we go out without hijab, we wear what we want and men don’t say anything. They nod in approval. They smile.
THEOCRATS NEVER LEARN
A Twitter friend posted something interesting. Until four or five years ago, he wrote, he never missed a single prayer, but now every time he hears the call to prayer, he starts cursing. Many people around me are turning away from Islam. Some religious families have stopped practicing and even asked the women in their families to take off their hijabs. What will happen to those who no longer pray and are irritated by the call to prayer? Or those who even make fun of religion? How are they going to feel once their anger has subsided? What will happen when people are no longer humiliated and threatened in the name of Islam? When religion is merely a matter of the heart?
… Never in my life have I been so eager for a day to come. The government has announced that as of tomorrow, women cannot appear in public without a hijab, and those who do will be dealt with brutally. The problem is that they cannot force us anymore. I can’t wait for tomorrow.
… The number of hijabless women is increasing by the day. Boys are coming out with shorts now, too. People boycott stores that don’t offer services to unveiled women. The shawls that women used to have around their necks in case they were spotted by security forces are now in the back of wardrobes. Short shirts are replacing long coats. Skirts are replacing pants. Short pants are replacing long ones. There is more and more unity. People have the upper hand. The other side is nothing but bluffs.
… A few teenage girls with long hair hanging over their shoulders were standing [near me,] taking selfies in the mirror, without the hijab. It made me laugh. I rejoiced at their beauty and courage, in their simple and harmless way of exclaiming, “I exist!” The government is not afraid of women’s hair or the length of their skirts. They are afraid of our existence.
A feminist activist, who has been arrested since the protests began but is out on bail, told the BBC: “From what I have seen in the past few months, women will not surrender. Women seem to be unfazed by these new threats.”
[Iran’s theocrats intend to] double down on their efforts to force women to comply with a law that the vast majority of Iranians either despise or simply do not support... [A]s long as authorities insist on enforcing such unpopular laws, public order and civil unrest can be called into question over a few strands of a woman’s hair, potentially undermining one of the Islamic Republic’s last remaining—and increasingly defining—achievements: security… [T]he profoundly reluctant Iranian armed forces will ultimately be] called upon to restore public order by brutally cracking down on protests spurred by the stubbornness, indecision, and ineptitude of a hardline ruling elite that is both detached from the realities of Iranian society and feels shielded from the ramifications of social unrest.