The grand hijab debate and being Muslim in the Western hemisphere


SHAFAQNA – Here we go again … Muslim women and their hijabs (headscarf) have become the source of yet another hot debate on freedom, male predominance, alleged submissiveness, and let’s just say it: Muslim women’s inability to choose for themselves.

Because let’s not fool ourselves here Muslim women could not possibly be strong enough, or smart enough, or intelligent enough to willingly put themselves through the horror, and infamy of wearing a head scarf. Apparently believing in God is synonymous to enslavement in the French dictionary.

Why would any decent woman allow for society to dictate what she should or should not wear?!! Right? That is mainly the argument everyone is making – that Muslim women are inherently stupid, or too enamoured with their own enslavement to be capable of making decision outside male supervision …. Or so French Minister Laurence Rossignol told the world this April.

I realise that coming from the mouth of a French official, racism, bigotry and despicable imperialism are to be expected; but still, one would demand a tad more decorum coming from the Minister for Family, Children and Women’s Rights. I’m almost certain the irony of the situation must have gone right over a head … in a flurry of feathers of course. Ok fine … that last comment was easy, but then again Minister Rossignol should have known better than to tweet, tweet, tweet insults at women. (note to readers, google translate Rossignol in French and you’ll get my bad joke lol)

Back to my lovely turkey … sorry Rossignol. Ok now I shall stop!!!

So according to France’s minister for Family, Children and Women’s Rights (May God have mercy on them all) Muslim women who choose to wear the hijab are like “Negroes who accept slavery.” She said: “Of course there are women who choose it (the veil) … There were American Negroes who were in favour of slavery.”

Well that’s nice … NOT!!! Let me just say this: for a minister to feel entitle to vomit such ethno-centric vitriol, laced with Xenophobic undertone, and one massive colonial complex, society must have reached rock bottom indeed. In which universe is it ok to label people, their beliefs, and customs with such bile and disgusting ignorance?

She also said retailers who design products for Muslim women and promote the hijab are fomenting “the confinement of women’s bodies.”

Seriously?! Body confinement … as oppose to what exactly? A Kim Kardashian naked selfie? Is that how freedom is now measured? By the amount of clothing a woman wears? Why would clothing define a person? EVER?! Why is it so difficult to understand that women, all women should be left to decide what, and how they want to dress?

May I also remind Minister Rossignol that Muslim women are not alone in wearing head scarves … even though Western ethno-centrists like herself would love to make you believe that only Muslim weirdos abide by such a barbaric and idiotic dress code, Muslim women are decidedly not alone in covering their hair. Most importantly why is it bothering people? What is so offensive that people feel obliged to debate the matter over and over and over again? I believe there are more pressing matters at hand. Like, oh I don’t know unemployment, or radicalisation. But noooo headscarves instead make the headlines.


Has Minister Rossignol ventured in Greece recently? Or Russia, or anywhere near an Eastern Orthodox church for that matter. News flash, Christian Orthodox women cover their hair during mass! Try to tell them that by doing so they are supporting slavery.

Jews orthodox women cover their hair too! And then of course nuns … I almost forgot one very important woman – one woman I would defy Minister Rossignol to say anything negative about. Mary, mother of Jesus. Isn’t she always depicted wearing a head scarf? Was she too playing into misogynist enslavement? I think not since she is the embodiment of piety and submission to the will of God.

Can we please stop defining people’s humanity through their clothing!

How can French officials speak the words Freedom and Equality? What Rossignol really meant is that the only freedom anyone can claim is that to be like her – to dress like her, and think like her, and hopefully have the same skin tone as her … otherwise you are just down weird and unworthy.

Minister Rossignol’s comments were not just offensive to Muslims but to all people. And while her attack targeted Muslim women, the message was that “others” will not be tolerated, that whoever stands outside France’s definition of “right” will be shamed.

She, of course also implied that Muslim women are by definition pathetic. Let me tell you about pathetic Muslim women … Pathetic Muslim women dress the way they do because they want to honour God’s command. Not for society, and not for men, but for themselves.

Muslim women want to keep themselves for themselves and keep a fashion which is respectful and modest, because they do not feel the need to advertise their assets … Assuming that Muslim women are not their own people is condescending and bias.

One last point I’d like to make: When Rossignol speaks of shackles and women confinement, she is NOT referencing Islam, but Wahhabism and Saudi Arabia. There, women are treated as commodities, there, women are indeed enslaved … Of course Rossignol would never dream of criticizing those Muslims … those Muslims buy her government’s weapons, and those Muslims she would only be too happy to entertain if it meant adding a few zeroes to her bank account.

Headscarf, no headscarf women …people express their piety in many different ways. Who are we to judge, and who are we to label?

By Catherine Shakdam for Shafaqna


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