HIJAB BAN PROTECTS WOMEN'S RIGHTS
Hassan is the President of the MCC (Muslim Canadian Congress),
and the author of Prophecy
and the Fundamentalist Quest. Please visit
her website at: www.farzanahassan.com
Muslims are welcoming the decision of the Constitutional Court
of Turkey to disallow the lifting of the ban on hijabs as a
significant triumph for secularism over repressive Islamist
practices. The court recently ruled that amendments to the constitution
by the ruling AKP to permit hijabs in universities, would amount
to rendering “nonfunctional the basic features of the
the core of this decision is the realization that the hijab
continues to be a tool of oppression for Muslim women, severely
restricting their right to express their faith in their own
unique and personal way.
and its expression must be a matter of personal choice rather
than a “categorical imperative” handed down through
a system of belief that might be deemed by some as repressive
and outmoded in its various manifestations.
the decision of the Constitutional Court of Turkey might restrict
the rights of women claiming to have adopted the hijab of their
own free will, one must question the authenticity of such claims
through a process of unearthing some of the religious undercurrents
of such decisions. In the same suspicion over the validity of
such claims, European lawmakers have chosen to restrict the
use of religious headgear in public institutions.
would need assurances for example, that women who rejected the
hijab would not be subjected to coercion in the matter; simply
because the orthodoxy considers it a religious requirement.
The lifting of the ban in Turkey would have empowered the fundamentalist
Islamic forces, resulting in the almost certain marginalization
and oppression of women, reducing their role in society to one
of subservience and subjugation. This would be tantamount to
providing leverage to the religious right in their ceaseless
attempts to enforce compliance for the practice where it is
Muslims often bristle at such criticism by downplaying the societal
pressures faced by women who reject the hijab This, however,
is a gross misrepresentation of reality. Even women who supposedly
choose it, do so because they are rarely if ever exposed to
an alternative analysis on the issue, which does not consider
the hijab a religious requirement.
“choice” in the matter can be considered authentic
only if they are exposed to alternative narratives on modesty,
which do not prescribe the covering of the hair or face.
as a modern state and last bastion of secular Islam, must continue
to uphold its tradition of the separation of religion and state.
The headgear or hijab is a political tool and a threat to Turkey’s
long secular tradition. Currently, there is tremendous pressure
on secular women to cover up according to orthodox requirements,
even in large cities. The present government has also attempted
to eliminate the secular dress code in government offices. It
has taken a slower, steadier path, careful not to jolt the establishment
too quickly while at the same time floating an occasional trial
balloon for social reforms to advance the Islamist agenda.
quite distinct from Islam, is a fascist ideology that needs
to be countered with equal force at each step of its numerous
incursions into civil society. It strikes at the foundational
principles of liberal and secular democracies such as Canada
as well, seeking eventually to undermine cherished values of
freedom, pluralism and egalitarianism.
the same time the Islamists are brandishing the pluralism card
to advance their religious agenda, they are making plans eventually
to suppress any competing worldview.
it is important to mention here that left-wing dalliance with
multiculturalism as a social construct allowing the spread of
Islamism is misguided to say the least. These people are barely
aware of the Islamists’s long-term agenda to establish
a radical form of Islam which will ultimately allow no inter-religious
ore intra-religious dissent.
of multiculturalism must recognize that the two philosophies
are mutually contradictory at practically every step of the
game, and cannot possibly forge a genuine relationship based
on universal humanistic principles.
Ali: Letter to a Muslim
Manji: Faith Without Fear
Islam on the Rise
Hage's Long Day's Journey into Secularism
Shape of Rape in Pakistan: Muhktaran Mai
Woman in Iraq: Judy Rebick
Edward Said: Chronicle of an Infitada Foretold
Hitchens Tariq Ali Debate