Hijabs on Western Political Women
by Daniel Pipes
For fun, how about collecting those instances when female political leaders, especially leftist ones, don the hijab (Islamic headscarf)?
To the argument that the women pictured below are doing nothing different from non-Jewish men donning a kippah (yarmulke, skullcap) in a synagogue, I have three replies:
(And for the opposite, I collected pictures of Muslim political woman who emphatically does not wear the hijab at "Glamorous Muslim Political Women.")
Oriana Fallaci, interviewing Ayatollah Khomeini in September 1979 in Qum, Iran. The interview lasted six hours and at one point, an indignant Fallaci removed her chador and threw it at Khomeini.
Princess Diana during a 1996 visit to a cancer hospital in Pakistan. .
Hilary Clinton, when she was still wife of the U.S. president in 1997, traveled to Eritrea and put on a headscarf. Interestingly, her daughter Chelsea, seen in the background, did not.
But on another occasion, Chelsea joined her in wearing a headscarf.
Interesting that Hilary and Clelsea should be wearing headcovers while with Yasir Arafat.
Mona Sahlin, elected just two days ago the leader of Sweden's Social Democratic Party, famously donned a head piece when visiting a mosque on September 14, 2001.
Prince Charles' wife, Camilla Parker Bowles, got into complete Egyptian Muslim garb, including hijab, on a visit to Al-Azhar.
Janet Napolitano, the governor of Arizona, put on a hijab to address Muslims in Sun Angel Stadium on the eid in February 2004, but I cannot find any pictures of her.
Antje Vollmer, Green Party member and vice-president of the German Bundestag, visiting Riyadh as part of Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's delegation in March 2005.
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice visiting a mosque in Dushanbe, Tajikistan in October 2005, wearing a black cover on her hair.
Diane Sawyer of ABC's "Good Morning America" television program interviewed Mahmoud Ahmadinejad wearing a hijab in February 2007.
Nancy Pelosi, speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, donned a headscarf when she visited Damascus in April 2007.
Elsebeth Gerner Nielsen, a former Danish minister of culture (and someone with whom I have argued), wore a hijab near the parliament in April 2007.
In June 2007, three senior Bush administration staffers wore makeshift hijabs as they listened to the president address an audience at Washington's Islamic Center.
On a trip to Saudi Arabia in October 2007, George W. Bush's wife Laura wore a particularly severe-looking hijab.
Angelina Jolie the actress also serves as a "Goodwill Ambassador" for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees; in the latter capacity, she visited a eathquake-struck village in Pakistan in August 2007.
Switzerland's Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey wore a full hijab in Tehran in March 2008 as she signed a natural gas deal with Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. (March 19, 2008) Switzerland's Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey meets with Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Tehran.
Switzerland's Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey meets with Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Tehran.
Comment: And what does one make of the male practice of holding hands, as George W. Bush did with Saudi king Abdullah?
Apr. 7, 2008 update: It's a bit off-topic, but the Stony Brook Muslim Student Association is sponsoring (along with the "wo/men's gender resource center") a "Scarves for Solidarity" day today. The announcement explains:
MSA then goes on to explain what the hijab is and how to wear it.
Comment: Note this, non-Muslim women! You don't have to go to a majority-Muslim country or a mosque to wear a hijab. You can wear one in your normal life.
May 15, 2008 update: Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom wore a headscarf while visiting the Green Mosque in Bursa, Turkey.
Oct. 11, 2008 update: Sandra Pupatello (Liberal Party), Ontario's International Minister of International Trade and Development, wears a hijab on a visit to Riyadh.
Jan. 15, 2009 update: The new Swiss ambassador to Tehran, Livia Leu Agosti, has stated she will observe Iran's Islamic dress code and wear a hijab during her mission.
May 26, 2009 update: Norway's Queen Sonja wore a headscarf as she visited the mosque of the Islamic Cultural Centre Norway in Oslo.
June 4, 2009 update: Hillary Clinton, now U.S. secretary of state, donned a hijab to tour the Sultan Hassan Mosque in Cairo along with Barack Obama. Her beatific look prompted CNN producers to post the picture and invite readers to submit captions for it, and 287 of them did so.
This official White House caption for the photograph below reads: "Secretary of State Hillary Clinton recounts a story to President Barack Obama, Senior Advisors David Axelrod and Valerie Jarrett, outside the Sultan Hassan Mosque in Cairo, Egypt.
Sep. 10, 2009 update: Livia Leu Agosti, Swiss ambassador to Iran, wears a yellow hijab while negotiating with Iranian foreign minister Manouchehr Mottaki (second from right)..
Oct. 29, 2009 update: Hillary Clinton, U.S. secretary of state, shown at the Iqbal Memorial in Lahore with Pakistan's Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi.
Oct. 30, 2009 update: Another hijab'd Hillary in Pakistan; is this also at the Iqbal Memorial?
Mar. 22, 2010 update: Lene Espersen, the foreign minister of Denmark, donned a hijab and various scarves on paying a visit to her Afghan counterpart in Kabul, Zalmai Rassoul. That Rassoul wore a well-appointed Western suit to meet her meant that each official wore the other's clothing. The accompanying news report indicates that while President Hamid Karzai appreciates her gesture, she need not wear a hijab when she meets him, suggesting that Espersen took this initiative of her own accord.
Apr. 20, 2010 update: Claudia Roth, leader of the German Green Party, looks radiant in a pink hijab on a visit to Iran.
Oct. 26, 2010 update: Bettina Wulff, wife of Germany's President Christian Wulff, donned the hijab during a trip to Turkey.
Nov. 10, 2010 update: Michelle Obama, wife of Barack, donned a beige animal-print hijab on a visit to the Istiqlal Mosque in Jakarta – and looked none to pleased about having to wear it.
Nov. 25, 2010 update: Here's a two-fer of British women in Abu Dhabi. The lesser example is Ffion Hague, wife of Williami Hague, the foreign minister, done up in a fairly standard hijab.
And then there is Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, in head gear that makes her look like the royal beekeeper. Who came up with this preposterous thing? For more pictures of them both, see today's Daily Mail.
Sep. 12, 2011 update: Ann Curry, co-anchor of NBC's morning television program Today, got herself bundled up to follow Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the president of Iran, around for the day and pepper him with puff-ball questions.
Sep. 21, 2011 update: Livia Leu Agosti, Swiss ambassador to Iran, helped negotiate the release of American hostages and then mugged for the cameras with them under a fetching pale blue hijab.
Jan. 8, 2012 update: Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands and Crown Princess Máxima put on headscarves and long gowns during a visit to the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates.
May 6, 2012 update: She's not a famous political woman but Cheryl Borman, a civilian, non-Muslim defense attorney (paid by the American taxpayer) representing accused 9/11 co-conspirator Walid bin Attash, not only wears a hijab at "all times" when she in the presence of her client "out of respect" for his beliefs; she also calls for other women in the legal process to wear "appropriate" clothing.
Sep. 13, 2012 update: Princess Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, donned a hijab to visit Assyakirin Mosque in Kuala, the biggest in Malaysia.
Sep. 23, 2012 update: Tammy Duckworth, the Democratic Party candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives in an Illinois district, wore a hijab while speaking at an Islamic cultural center in Villa Park.
Nov. 26, 2012 update: Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the United Nations Convention on Climate Change, wore a headscarf when addressing the 18th United Nations Convention on Climate Change in Doha, Qatar.
Feb. 25, 2013 update: A new blog of mine, "Islamist Media Digitally Cover Up Prominent Western Women," reports on those cases where women don't cover up enough for Islamist taste, so the censors do the job for them via Photoshop.
Apr. 22, 2013 update: She's not your typical political woman but Edwina Storie, Australian soft-porn actress turned Press TV reporter, does deserve note. Here she is in the old days:
And here she is now, working for the Islamic Republic of Iran:
May 4, 2013 update: Western political women don't have to wear hijabs. Here's an example: Queen Sylvia of Sweden and another woman visiting the Fittja Grand Mosque in Stockholm as part of the 40th anniversary celebrations of King Carl XVI Gustaf's accession to the throne. Neither has put on a hjiab.
July 4, 2013 update: The singer Madonna, an honorary political woman, posted a photo from the forthcoming Harper's Bazaar magazine showing herself in a chainmail mask in niqab style. The words "The Revolution of Love is on…Inshallah" accompany the picture. Perhaps this harks back to her frustrated intent to appear in a Muslim bridal dress in a music video. Perhaps it refers in some way to the breakup with her devout Muslim boyfriend, Brahim Zaibat.
Oct. 20, 2013 update: Rihanna is a pop star, not a political woman, but she has an impact. Here she is in her usual format, on the cover of GQ magazine:
And here she is in front of the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi:
Mar. 10, 2014 update: High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy for the European Union Catherine Ashton and all her female colleagues (one of whom is pictured below) wore hijabs while conducting formal negotiations with the Islamic Republic of Iran. Note that the aide appears to be wearing a European Union hijab.
Apr. 7, 2014 update: Betsy Hodges, the mayor of Minneapolis, wore a hijab when she traveled to a Somali mall in the south of the city to talk to business owners and community leaders. Last October, Hodges declared and tweeted: "I wore the Hijab and it changed me."
May 3, 2014 update: The Iranians have gone one better and actually designed and gifted Ashton with an Iranian dress for use in future meetings. According to its designer, Mitra Tamjidi, Ashton "has received it and warmly welcomed its design. Her chief of staff has called for designing another dress for her."
June 24, 2014 update: For the second time (see July 4, 2013), the entertainer Madonna has posted a picture of herself in pseudo-Islamic garb, this time in a niqab-like outfit on her Instagram account.
June 25, 2014 update: Sue Southern, head of the UK's West Midlands Counter Terrorism Unit, wore a hijab at the Birmingham Central Mosque as she made a statement warning Muslim parents about their children going off to fight as jihadis.
Reader comments (470) on this item
Comment on this item
You can help support Daniel Pipes' work by making a tax-deductible donation to the Middle East Forum. Daniel J. Pipes