The Blog

Your Bigotry Enslaves You


Dear Rossignol

With all due respect who gave you the right to speak on my behalf when you said

There are women who choose [to wear headscarves], there were also American negroes who were for slavery

You were commenting on the modest lines designed by some fashion retailers and by making this comparison you were making an assumption that Muslim women are enslaved. I never saw a petition by Muslim women worldwide who choose to cover explaining that they are enslaved and asking for their cause to be championed.

The logic behind these comments is even more offensive; comparing covered Muslim women to centuries of barbaric slavery that African people faced at the hands of Europe and America is not only stupid and illogical but downright arrogant of you. You should apologise to the progenies of those African slaves. The enslaved African people fought hard for decades to be freed from that slavery. I don't see any such uprising by Muslim women worldwide proclaiming "we are enslaved in our hijab and we want to be free from it." Are you implying that Muslim women are so stupid that they do not know themselves to be enslaved? Does the idea that intelligent, empowered women make a decision about the way in which they dress which is different from your own really such a threat to your own world view?

You have made an assumption about a large group of women based on their appearance. This is neither morally nor ethically right. Who decided that women covering themselves or dressed up modestly are enslaved? Some might say women who are not covered are enslaved. It could be argued that they are slaves to fashion, slaves to a materialist outward view of beauty. Harsh isn't it? Well yes, if hurt then you will know that's how much it hurt me when I read your comments. No one has the right to tell any woman what to wear, it is a matter of choice and conscience and my religion does nothing more than guide my conscience.

Items of clothing do not represent freedom or slavery. A woman can be controlled, oppressed or enslaved whatever clothing she wears. If you wanted to pick a cause you should have focused on overall gender equality, women's education and empowerment, domestic violence or sexual abuse. Or perhaps something closer to home like gender pay gap.

The anti-Islamic sentiments and tone are evident in your comments. So let me make it clear for you, that same Islam that guides me to look after my beauty and modesty has also given me many rights and has liberated me as a result.

Islam which some people in western politics describe as a medieval religion, gave rights of education, divorce , inheritance and freedom of speech to women in the "Medieval times" when the first world was asleep in the dark ages. Unlike the modern day world, where a man and a woman can do the same job but the woman can be paid less than the man, the Quran says that I should get the same reward as my husband for doing the same deed. Perhaps the world should learn a lesson or two from the Quran!

As a Muslim woman I was given the freedom to choose or to say no to whom I want to marry 1400 years ago, my parents were told that if they educated me and raised me well they would go to paradise 1400 years ago, I was given a choice to work or not to work as my husband was made responsible to look after my financial needs 1400 years ago, in other words his money is mine and my money is mine.

Please do not make your judgements based on the actions of those who despite being Muslim do not represent Islam. Make your judgement based on the teachings, open the Quran and read for yourself.

If you think the independence and empowerment of a woman is judged by measuring the length of her clothing I disagree with you and to be honest many, many sensible people will disagree with you too. I know many non Muslim women who like to dress modestly. The two Jewish women who have released their Mimu Maxi range of modest clothing demonstrate that the idea of modest dress is shared by many women.

On one hand feminists around the world have fought tooth and nail to abolish the naked depiction of women in newspapers , or women portrayed as sexual objects (and rightly so) on the other hand some in the west cannot bear the fact that some women choose to cover their heads and bodies modestly. Why the double standard? Just like I do not object to M&S selling bikinis you do not have a right to object when they sell burkinis. It's a free country after all and everyone has a right to choose what they buy and wear.

Please if you have power and you can do something focus your time and energy on women who really need your help and are really and truly enslaved despite being twenty first century citizens of a modern day world. We are happy, liberated and empowered in our hijabs and modest clothing.

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