In the wake of the Chapel Hill tragedy, the world is suddenly demonising the Muslim identity. Muslim women, in particular, have become the subjects of much hate. Women wearing the veil have always been taken to be ones who have internalised patriarchy; now their dressing choice has been caught in the Islamophobic whirlwind.
Majority of the new world believes in women’s right to wear whatever they please. A country like Saudi Arabia has rigid rules that are perceived to be anti-feminist, but perhaps, one country should not be the focal point of attention when judging more than a billion lives.
Many women who have embraced the hijab have strictly opposed the fact that they are oppressed. Empowerment comes from the ability of a human being to choose, not from how they look. In an age when women are portrayed as objects, many women don the veil for social reasons as well.
It is completely relevant to consider freedom of expression on a humanitarian basis for evaluating a certain group. This is what true liberalism is about. Freedom of expression should not be used to spew hatred against a community. After all, it is ‘choice’ that is empowering, not a piece of garment. That is the sole reason why no woman should be questioned on why she is wearing a veil. Being forced to do something goes against basic human rights, and the society we live in today makes sure we cannot be forced to wear anything we do not want to. This should be extended to those who wear the veil too.
While presenting arguments regarding rigid states, people tend to forget countries like Malaysia and Indonesia, where the question of a woman’s veil is never the point of discussion. In fact, this trend of secularism is often accepted in these countries, while a country as ‘forward-thinking’ as France has banned the donning of the veil in public.
So clearly, France can be considered a more backward country than many of the states practicing Islam. The public perception regarding the veil has been damaged by the global media.
This hypocritical concept of ‘freedom’, which has been subconsciously embedded in our minds, has ruined any sort of difference that goes against what First World countries portray as a human right.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 23rd, 2015.