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All right, let's look at it this way.

Reader comment on item: Hijabs on Western Public Women

Submitted by Dana (United States), Jun 7, 2009 at 10:41

If someone has already presented it to you like this, forgive me for the repeat. By the way, I'm not a Muslimah.

I was born in '74. My parents' generation is the Vietnam War generation; my grandparents are of the WWII generation. (My grandfather took part in the postwar occupation of Tokyo; his brother was a Cajun interpreter in France during the European theater, and died there.) *Their* parents were of the WWI generation, obviously. And standards of modest dress were very different back then.

My stepmother told me a story once about her grandmother (WWI again) seeing a woman in a bikini on the television and exclaiming, "That's indecent!" Very nice woman, never had a bad word to say to us kids about our choice of dress, but the point is, going around near-naked did not used to be an American habit, touted as "individual freedom."

And yet we still have a modesty standard, because you can be arrested for running around naked in public. I do not hear even neoconservatives and Zionists objecting to this.

In this spirit, Muslim-majority countries have a standard of dress. They may say it's religious expression or that the hijab is a religious garment, but that is quite beside the point. Even from a secular point of view, this is obviously about modesty standards. The entire point of wearing hijab is to obey a verse in the Qur'an calling for modest dress. I won't get into whether it specifically calls for veiling. You can read Arabic and I can't; you can tell the class whether the verse in question mentions khimars. Some Muslims claim it does. As such, that's the standard these countries live by.

So I don't view these non-Muslim women wearing hijab as being the same thing as a non-Jewish man wearing a scarf on his head. I view it as the same thing as women accustomed to topless sunning on the French Riviera, adapting to our modesty rules in the U.S. by wearing a full bikini instead.

Now if these women went around in prayer garments when they visit Saudi Arabia and Iran and so on, you would have an argument. They don't, so you don't.

And I don't understand why Westerners get all fired up about a piece of cloth. What's it to you if you don't see a woman's hair? You know Orthodox women wear wigs, right, for the same reasons Muslimahs wear hijab? Where's your objection to that as "oppressive"? It isn't just neocons complaining about this, either. I also hear it from liberals and "progressives." And none of it makes any sense, but I observed long ago that all liberal men really care about is women being willing to sleep with them personally, and all the liberal women care about is kissing up to liberal men. So while there will be a few pockets of compassion on the Left for women who've been harassed for daring to refuse to show an elbow, I doubt they will ever represent the majority.

Submitting....

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Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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