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Hijab issue… April 27, 2017

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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I meant to say ages back that a month or so ago in passing outside the European Commission Offices down by the canal in Dublin I encountered a protest by Muslim women against the ECJ ruling on religious garb. Bar full face covering I can’t really see a strong case for not allowing people to wear pretty much what they like (indeed in Iran it is fascinating to see how the dress codes there are engaged with by women). But I’m curious what others think?

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1. alanmyler - April 27, 2017

It’s a difficult one. Personally the latent “Stalinist” in me (where in Mark P these days anyway??) leans towards banning religious garb in order to reinforce the collective project of secularising our society, even if that means that individual peferences lose out as a result. Organised religion has had such a stranglehold on society, as we continue to see with the likes of the NMH, that I don’t personally have any problem with the pendulum swinging perhaps even a bit too far in the other direction as a necessary transient phase in the development of our society. Obviously under full communism people will wear whatever they like in that glorious future, but in the meantime I don’t think it’s great to have people that they have to cover their heads when the origin of that practice is pretty regressive. But I don’t know, maybe I need to read the Guardian more to shake off these tendencies or something.

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fergal - April 27, 2017

What is the male equivalent of the hijab?

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Tomboktu - April 28, 2017

Not the same in a number of ways, but it’s worth noting that An Garda Síochána refuses to adopt a uniform turban.

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Occasional lurker - April 28, 2017

Amazingly enough there is not an equivalent for men.

Whenever a gender is lucky enough to have the free choice to get covered up its invariably women and not men. Funny that.

Given that this happens in some of the most patriarchal societies in the world maybe that’s a factor?

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2. GW - April 27, 2017

No problem here. Let women wear what they like.

This anti-hijab thing is just a placeholder for Islamophobia and racism. Don’t go there.

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Joe - April 27, 2017

100% agree.

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Alibaba - April 27, 2017

I’ll third that.

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Occasional lurker - April 28, 2017

Thats incredibly broad GW.

An Iranian friend of mine has all her Passport and Id documentation with full chador. If she sees an Iranian from their embassy she makes sure she wears a simple scarf which she normally wouldn’t be caught dead doing. She hates it but has no choice. Her freedom not to wear it vanishes when she moves back into an Iranian environment.

There are a lot of Iranians getting ostracized, jailed and beaten for their choice in clothing. It’s quite a big issue right now and at least for her it’s nothing to do with anti Iranian sympathies or anti a particular religion.

My freedom to take your position ended as soon as I became friends with people who were on the receiving end of this women only benefit.

Some might be bothered by that but who could be bothered with such silliness.

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WorldbyStorm - April 28, 2017

I hope I didn’t give the impression that I supported Iranian compulsory codes, Ive known Irish Iranian women who have told about how contingent and brutal enforcement is as well as broader issues if sexism too societally but I think in more pluralistic societies a degree of flexibility is reasonable. Again I think there are reasonable constraints too, full facial coverings I would have very significant problems with.

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Occasional lurker - April 28, 2017

But that’s the catch. If we recognize that it’s not a free choice in many of the countries it’s from (and interestingly those countries where it is acceptable to go unveiled often gained that perspective from socialists) then we have to recognize it’s likely that the same controls or negative perspectives are being replicated in the west in not a few cases.

But this is a plural society with freedom. It’s a very challenging question and an old question. The position can’t be it’s oppression over there but it’s free choice here. I am not so comfortable with that since it seems like having to deliberately choose not to question whether the repressive aspects of it are here also because that begs the question why should that be okay.

Even if i didn’t have friends whose background happen to be muslim women I confess I would still be uncomfortable with it since I don’t understand why I should be okay with a practice that singles out women and trains them to think it is a moral good to cover up while letting men achieve the same by wearing jeans and a t-shirt.

The timing of this is probably a factor since my revulsion at how the Catholic Church abused women in our society preloaded me to look at the religious devout who want a special place for women in the morality steaks as being the problem and not the solution.

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Occasional lurker - April 28, 2017

By the way I have no support for the type who would rip it off a ladies face. You don’t liberate women from oppression by assaulting them.

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Alibaba - April 28, 2017

I reject measures ruling out the wearing of religious clothing because for the most part, as in France, it is in fact a racist measure directed at stagmatising and isolating immigrants. You raise valid concerns about this issue. I suggest it is best answered by supporting the right of Muslim women to wear religious dress if they so desire, and for the right of women in Muslim areas and countries not to wear religious clothing, in a manner that releasing them from the legal, clerical or family pressures that some of them are clearly afflicted with.

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3. GW - April 27, 2017

The best use of the tight scarf I see is women with their phones jammed inside against their ears chatting away.

So a scarf saves on earphones. I’m thinking of getting one.

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4. Occasional lurker - April 27, 2017

If you can separate the social pressure to behave appropriately out from the right to wear whatever you want I am with you.

The former needs to be destroyed, the latter is just part of the color of human life.

Iran is a very informative reference and it’s clear there is a dimension to this question where it’s not an option to choose freely.

I have little love for the religious – in hijabs or habits.

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5. Dermot O Connor - April 27, 2017

https://aeon.co/essays/ban-the-burqa-scrap-the-sari-why-women-s-clothing-matters

quote: So why the particular focus on saving native women?

Do women, their freedom, their clothes and their marriages provide some crucial avenue into establishing hegemony, a method of representing the foreign invaders as good? The most compelling reason for this enquiry is that South Asian and Afghan feminisms are tainted by an imagined complicity with colonialism and imperialism. Making explicit just how aspects of women’s lives – their clothes and marriages – have been put into the service of Anglo-American imperial projects of domination, and how little these projects have had to do with those actual women, is a step towards lifting the weight of imperial complicity on Afghan feminism.

Women’s clothing is a powerful shorthand for all that is wrong with native culture and all that must be corrected by the empire

Women’s freedom, when it comes to the burqa, means wearing what ‘the empire’ wants. Other commentators such as Maureen Dowd, writing in The New York Times Magazine in November 2001, express skepticism about the promotion of women’s rights as a pretext for war, saying: ‘it’s a freebie, an easy way to please [American] feminists who got mad when the administration ended funding for international family planning groups that support abortion’. But Dowd also stops short of actually cautioning against the use of supposedly feminist imperatives as a means to couch the desires of domination that undergird empire. She draws attention to the continued subjugation of Saudi women, a regime that the US is unwilling to criticise for sins similar to those of the Taliban, and instead ends with a line that seems to argue for its expansion: ‘Millions of Muslim women are still considered property. The first lady might think about extending her campaign beyond Afghanistan.’ Dowd’s qualm, then, is not the sly misuse of women’s causes as pretexts for war, but a wider use of them informed unapologetically by what the West thinks is best for the rest.

Whether it is the covering of breasts in Southern India or the wearing of burqas in Afghanistan, women’s comportment and clothing have offered an emotionally powerful shorthand for all that is wrong with native culture and all that must be corrected by the empire. Just as the covering or uncovering of breasts carried significance beyond what it meant to British imperial officials, the burqa was actually a fixture of Afghan life long before the Taliban. Afghan women’s rights activists have criticised the West’s obsession with the burqa. In 2001, the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan stated that the end of the mandatory burqa ‘was in no way an indication of women’s rights and liberties in Afghanistan’. However, the thoughts of Afghan women about their lives have been less important in the West than burqa as a symbolic moral justification of war and imperial control.

For a colonising mission to have moral weight, it must appear to ‘better’ the lives of the colonised. The agents of empire, whether they are the officers of the British East India Company or US soldiers in Afghanistan, must believe in the incontrovertible rightness of their cause. Representing sati as emblematic of Indian society was tantamount to depicting Hindu men as barbaric and evil. What other kind of men would burn a widow? Hence, colonisation becomes a kind of moral vision protecting vulnerable Hindu women against evil Hindu men.

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6. Tomboktu - April 28, 2017

For those interested in a human rights assessment of the EU court’s ruling, Strasbourg Observers has a blog post on the ruling:

https://strasbourgobservers.com/2017/03/27/european-court-of-justice-keeps-the-door-to-religious-discrimination-in-the-private-workplace-opened-the-european-court-of-human-rights-could-close-it/

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7. sonofstan - April 28, 2017

Anyone who thinks Muslim women are automatically ‘oppressed’ because they’re wearing a scarf really needs to meet some.

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8. FergusD - April 29, 2017

The problem in the “west” is how do we know if a woman is wearing the burqa of her “free will” or not? If it is banned and it is of their “free will” then we are imposing a dress code on them. In some cases I think a ban is justified (doctors, nurses and possibly public servants in positions of authority) but otherwise doesn’t it have to be persuasion? After all the Penal Laws only seemed to have strengthened a reactionary RC church in Ireland.

Obviously help for women seeking to escape this kind of sexism must be provided.

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ar scáth a chéile - April 29, 2017

Whatever about the burqa, banning the hijab is nuts and those ECHR judgements look well dodgy. Strasbourg is going too easy on states these days – the “margin of appreciation” is becoming a chasm.

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