Everybody’s jumping on the “Ban Hejab” bandwagon these days. For
The idea of banning hejab is a nasty, exclusionary, and downright ignorant political trick (especially if you read the news link for Germany). But here’s my real beef with the whole hejab ban: it’s being touted as a “religious issue” instead of a “women’s issue” or a “personal freedom issue”, where it belongs.
Filing “hejab bans” under religious discrimination isn’t fully incorrect, but neither is it fully correct. Making the hejab bans a religious issue implies that hejab is mandatory and part of Islamic belief. While many Muslim women see it as a mandatory obligation, many Muslim women do not: Islamic scholars still debate verses in the Holy Qur’an and ahadith that pertain to the idea of a woman covering herself. There are many devout Muslim women who don’t observe hejab for whatever reason, and decrying hejab bans on the pretext of religious freedom leaves these women (who are potential allies) out.
The issue of banning hejabs (or any other religious garb or symbols worn on the body) is really an issue of personal freedom, but banning the hejab specifically targets women. The reality of a hejab ban is that a government would (or does, in
Using hejab bans as a religious issue also complicates opposition. For example, the Council for American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) opposes discrimination based on hejabs, and would likely speak out on the issue if the American government ever decided to follow
Bias alert: I’m speaking from an American viewpoint here, so I’d love to hear any non-American reader’s perspective on this. But from an American standpoint, it seems silly that women can wear bikinis, mini-skirts, etc., but that people should get all riled up about a scarf on someone’s head. It’s legal for women to wear men’s clothing and for men to wear women’s clothing. It’s legal for people to wear clothing with political messages, images, or words that might offend others. And currently, it’s legal in the