One can only imagine the public outcry were a clothing retailer to announce, in the interests of cultural diversity, it was creating a new line of clothing to promote the Muslim practice of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). This practice, often performed upon young girls between the ages of 4-14, involves the partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or other cutting applied to the female genitalia organs.
The outcry would be heard, not only because the practice is painful and unnecessary but also because FGM serves but one purpose – male control of female sexuality.
But why, then, do clothing retailers, like Macy’s, eagerly become major retailers of a hijab-friendly fashion line? Just like FGM is an exercise in control by Muslim men over women, so too is wearing the hijab. Other clothing suppliers, such as Nike, have also jumped on this bandwagon. Sadly, however, Western retailers seem more focused on making money than on educating themselves as to what the hijab really represents.
Clothing companies attentive to the issue would note some events occurring over the past several months that are most revealing about what the hijab really represents to Muslim women in countries where they are forced to wear it.
We have borne witness in these countries to the courageous acts of defiant Muslim women rejecting the control exerted over them. Immediately after ISIS had been driven out of Raqqa, Syria, women there – following months in which ISIS had brutalized men, women and children – threw off their hijabs and burned them in a symbolic gesture of their independence. Similarly, in Iran, during recent anti-government protests, many women did the same thing.
Noting the sacrifices Muslim women are making to cast off the hijab, Somali-born ex-Muslim author Ayann Hirsi Ali wonders why Western feminism loudly defends a woman’s right to wear a hijab but is strangely quiet when it comes to supporting Muslim women who refuse to wear it.
More than two-dozen Iranian women have since been arrested and tortured for their act of defiance. One courageous woman, arrested and given the option to renounce her act or face 10 years in prison for “encouraging immorality or prostitution,” refused to do the former. She now is serving that sentence.
Many in the West fail to grasp why Islamists demand Muslim women wear the hijab. It is not for religious reasons. The requirement arose centuries after Islam’s founding because Muslim men simply lacked control over their sexual desires when observing a woman inadequately covered. Thus, should a woman be sexually attacked for failing to wear adequate clothing, she is the one responsible for the assault – not the male Muslim attacker. This is why the immigration of primarily young Muslim males to Europe has led to drastically increased rape rates there. Unbelievably, Sweden now is considered the rape capital of the West.
Neither FGM nor the wearing of a hijab is mandated anywhere in the Quran. Both practices evolved centuries later as as a means of male-over-female control. FGM seeks to deny women sexual enjoyment, making them less likely to be unfaithful to their Muslim husbands. Meanwhile, the husband not only has the right to marry several wives, he also can legally be unfaithful to them. Enjoying the benefit of a “temporary marriage,” he can engage in sexual relations with another woman and then immediately divorce her. This effectively is Islamic mumbo-jumbo to allow the practice of prostitution. (It is incredible that while prostitution is sanctioned for males, a woman simply choosing not to wear a hijab can be accused of encouraging it.)
Interestingly, February marked international awareness days for both the hijab and FGM – the former, unfortunately, to promote it; the latter, fortunately, to condemn it.
Feb. 1 was “World Hijab Day” – an annual expression of solidarity with “millions of Muslim women who choose to wear the hijab and live a life of modesty.” Organizers promoted the false belief wearing the hijab is one of choice – it is not. It is one mandated by Shariah in Muslim countries – thus Westerners embracing this day “choose” to ignore the bondage of Muslim women it symbolizes.
Recognized independently of World Hijab Day is the U.N.-sponsored “International Day for Zero Tolerance of Female Genital Mutilation” on Feb. 6, seeking to educate those in the West about this brutal practice.
Retailers need to open their eyes to recent acknowledgements by two countries – conservative champions of both Sunni and Shiite sects – suggesting they have come to recognize forcing women to wear the hijab is not religiously mandated but a requirement imposed upon them by males.
In Iran, polls conducted four times in 2006 and 2014 found waning support for hijabs and chadors (long cloaks) or abayas. It is odd the government waited several years to release this study but may have been prompted to do so by the recent street protests. Clearly, the mullahs would not have released it had there been a strong basis in the Quran for justifying a dress code for women. For a brutal theocracy to even consider “the peoples’ choice” on this issue is a strong indicator it recognizes the absence of religious authority for imposing such a mandate.
Meanwhile, in Saudi Arabia, a member of the Council of Senior Scholars – the highest religious body in the country responsible for advising the king on religious matters – has announced modest dress does not necessarily mean women bust wear an abaya. This is quite a step forward for women as Saudi law currently demands it be worn. Sheikh Abdullah al-Mutlaq noted, “More than 90 percent of pious Muslim women in the Muslim world do not wear abayas, so we should not force people to wear abayas.”
Clothing retailers normally have a nose for determining fashion trends, leading the way in setting them. U.S. retailers of the hijab, such as Macy’s, may believe this is exactly what they are doing. However, they are insensitive to the fact a centuries-old custom that symbolizes the bondage of Muslim women is in need simply of being allowed to die a quiet death on its own without the West pushing to jump-start it. It would be unconscionable for Macy’s to decide at this time to give the garment a new life.
Macy’s hijab parade rains upon a long struggle Muslim women have ahead of them to level the human-rights playing field.