The latest Hijab controversy has opened a can of worms regarding the rationale behind the need for women to wear such repressive Islamic attires. The controversy surrounding Hijab is not a new one. The fundamental Islamic societies have imposed the Sharia law in their respective states and have subjugated Muslim women, thus making the latter the silent observers of the Islamic laws. There is no choice for women in these societies.
In multi-cultural societies, the debate is much broader. The arguments, both for and against the rationale behind wearing such attire, appear to give a more nuanced approach to it. However, with modernity, societies are evolving, and the repressive Islamic rules are facing scrutiny. The same patterns have appeared in India recently, with citizens of the country questioning the arrogance of the Muslim community to discard the secular ethos of the country to insist on wearing hijab or burqa.
In these relevant times, an old speech of Iranian-American journalist and anti-crusader Masih Alinejad gains relevance. Being one of the most vocal critics of Islamic attires, Masih has taken a strong position against Islamic societies forcing Muslim women to wear the oppressive burqa.
In a panel in European Parliament, Masih Alinejad challenged the female politicians who legitimised the Islamic Republic of Iran’s barbaric laws by wearing hijab.
Speaking at the European Parliament, Alinejad said, “I cannot see any women wearing a hijab here, but we are talking on behalf of them and supporting them, which is fantastic. But you never have this conversation in my own country. So supporting those women who do not wear hijab is important; I have to say I am not a western woman. I grew up in a traditional family in a village all the females in my family wear hijab.
In her speech, the Iranian-American journalist Masih Alinejad noted that all the females she knew at the age of seven, the age when she was forced to wear hijab, wore the Islamic attire. My dream is to be with my mother in France, Belgium, walking shoulder-to-shoulder without any bad judgement those who have Islamophobia and to walk with her in my own country without getting arrested,” she noted in her presentation.
The anti-Hijab crusader also pointed out that she needs to clarify that one should not identify her as a westerner as she talked about the compulsory hijab.
Masih Alinejad, who was forced to go on an exile for speaking against the Islamic fundamentalists in the Islamic Republic of Iran, said her presentation is to expose the hypocrisy of European female politicians who look at two similar issues – Burqini ban in France and the issue of compulsory hijab Iran as different issues.
“Why the burqini ban has been suspended less than a month, but the hijabs remained compulsory for 38 years? It is because our struggles and protests against the compulsory hijab are just our own; women of Iran are alone in fighting against compulsory hijab have met many female politicians around the world. I sent a lot of letters to female politicians around the world who visit Iran,” she noted.
Narrating the personal experience about the lack of interest shown by the western politicians in addressing the hijab issue, Alinejad said she found that the European female politicians come up with four arguments to avoid taking a position against Iran’s diktat to wear compulsory hijab also noted how European female politicians have appropriated the Islamic culture to appease Iran.
“Recently, I saw an image of Segolene Royal, the French Environment Minister, who went to Iran with a smile, wearing the compulsory hijab challenging it, without protesting against compulsory hijab the world was screaming, challenging burqini ban. But, she was there without any challenge, she obeyed the compulsory law”.
The first argument, according to Masih Alinejad, “They say the compulsory hijab required by law inside Iran, the Burqini ban was a law in France. But all of us protested against it, and they say it is a law we have to respect the law. Slavery used to be legal, if no one objected against slavery, Africans and Americans would be slaves. And they say the law should be respected. Women protested against bad laws, to make them respectable laws, to get the right to vote.”
She continued, “Secondly, they say the hijab is a cultural issue, and we wear it because we want to respect the culture of Iranian people. No, here we are talking about compulsion. How could compulsion be a part of our culture? You are forcing a seven-year girl to wear Hijhijabnd you call it a cultural issue. You respected the culture that violated women’s rights.”
The third argument, Masih adds that the European politicians say the compulsory hijab is a domestic issue and internal matter. Alinejad says it was wrong because it is not about Iranian women as the government of Iran forces all the female tourists, female politicians, all the Iranian women who live outside Iran if they want to any embassy outside Iran to wear compulsory hijhijabHow can it be a domestic matter?” she questioned the western politicians.
“The burqini issue was a domestic issue in France. The world was protesting and interfering in the domestic affairs of France and not in Iran. So as far as the government of Iran, force all the women around the world who go to my country and force Iran to wear Hijab. This is a hijab when we have to stand together, all women around the world and have one voice against compulsory hijab,” she noted in her presentation.
According to Masih, the female politicians suggest that the Middle East has got bigger problems than the hijab issue. Exposing the dubiousness of the western-liberal political class, Alinejad said, “I left Iran just because I was fighting against bigger problems and hijab expelled from the Iranian parliament. I was the one to say I could wear compulsory hijab and expose corruption in politics. I was thinking of bigger problems; I was the one who exposed the news of 57 people who got killed after demonstrations in Iran. I was talking to those mothers who lost their beloved ones. They executed their sons, wives, husbands, daughters; I know that we do not have freedom of speech, freedom of expression, freedom of choice, freedom of religion. I never called the west, the land of freedom, never at all.”
Continuing, “I know we can not find freedom everywhere, and we have to fight for it. I don’t know about bigger problems, but who said hijab is a small issue. We are fighting just for a piece of cloth. No, we are fighting about human dignity. We are fighting about our identity because when you want to go out in public, you have to be someone else. Be honest with me, each of you, every morning when you go out, you think about bigger problems in the world. No, you think about your appearance and your think about the dress. You think about what you can wear. This is your identity. Who said this is a small issue in Iran and female politicians has many bigger problems to solve.”
Questioning the silence of the west, Masih Alinejad said, “The government of Iran deports you from the airport of Iran, hijab say you will not wear the compulsory hijab, you want to be allowed to fix bigger problems in Iran just because of a small issue. Whose said that hijab is a small issue? The govt of Iran arrested 3.6 million women within a year because of not having proper hijab, 18,000 women were sent to court, and 40,000 cars were impounded in public just because female drivers were not wearing the correct Islamic Hijab.
“If Hijab is a small issue, why do they spend millions of dollars to keep this wall? To me, Hijab is a wall, and it is not an internal matter. We have to stand altogether and bring the wall down. The rest will get easier, and the first step towards equality,” the award-winning journalist and anti-hijab crusader noted.
“That is why I call all female politicians. I never call them to come and liberate Iranian women or save and rescue me because Iranian women occupy more than 60 per cent places of the universities is strong enough for their own rights. I ask female politicians, all of you around the world, to stand for your own dignity because of our government to visit Europe, and you ask the female politician to remove Hijab, they will protest. They will not say that this is a law, we have to respect the law or this is a culture and respect the culture.”
Concluding her presentation, the Iranian-American journalist attacked the European female politicians by referring to them are hypocrites as they stood up with the French Muslim women and condemned the burqini ban stating compulsion is bad, however, when it happens to Iran, they just cared about money.
Masih Alinejad said Hijab is the most visible symbol of oppression, and we have to stand altogether and bring this wall down.