The Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s slant on this issue was predictable, but not for that any more excusable. The real women who need “empowerment” are not those who wear the hijab, who are praised and hailed in article after article like this one, and celebrated in World Hijab Day, but those women who have been brutalized and even killed for not wearing the hijab. Would Aqsa Parvez agree that the hijab is “sensuous” and a “source of empowerment”? Her Muslim father and brother choked her to death with her hijab after she refused to wear it. Would Amina Muse Ali, a Christian woman in Somalia whom Muslims murdered because she wasn’t wearing a hijab?
Those who claim to be deeply concerned that hijab-wearing women are subjected to wholesale discrimination and harassment in the West, which isn’t even true, showed no concern for the 40 women who were murdered in Iraq in 2007 for not wearing the hijab; or for Alya Al-Safar, whose Muslim cousin threatened to kill her and harm her family because she stopped wearing the hijab in Britain; or for Amira Osman Hamid, who faced whipping in Sudan for refusing to wear the hijab; or for the Egyptian girl, also named Amira, who committed suicide after being brutalized by her family for refusing to wear the hijab; or for the Muslim and non-Muslim teachers at the Islamic College of South Australia who were told they had to wear the hijab or be fired; or for the women in Chechnya whom police shot with paintballs because they weren’t wearing hijab; or for the women in Chechnya who were threatened by men with automatic rifles for not wearing hijab; or for the elementary school teachers in Tunisia who were threatened with death for not wearing hijab; or for the Syrian schoolgirls who were forbidden to go to school unless they wore hijab; or for the women in Gaza whom Hamas has forced to wear hijab; or for the women in Iran who protested against the regime, even before the recent uprising, by daring to take off their hijabs; or for the women in London whom Muslim thugs threatened to murder if they didn’t wear hijab; or for the anonymous young Muslim woman who doffed her hijab outside her home and started living a double life in fear of her parents; or for the fifteen girls in Saudi Arabia who were killed when the religious police wouldn’t let them leave their burning school building because they had taken off their hijabs in their all-female environment; or for the girl in Italy whose mother shaved her head for not wearing hijab; or for all the other women and girls who have been killed or threatened, or who live in fear for daring not to wear the hijab.
Ask all those women, and the innumerable others who have suffered because of the hijab, how much of a “source of empowerment” they think it is.