Sunday, December 03, 2006

Twisting (Over) Hijab

[Posted by reader_iam]

Cathy Young of the Y Files brings together excellent points (terrific to see her back blogging, by the way):
But if the vast majority of European Muslim women do not wear the niqab or the burqa, why is the ban an attack on them? In fact, a recent column in the Middle Eastern English-language daily The Arab News argues that niqab-wearing women promote negative stereotypes of Islam in the West.

This debate offers a curious role reversal, with conservatives in The Weekly Standard backing the feminist attack on cultural traditions that oppress women (and even the argument that government power should be used to help dismantle such traditions!), and liberals (some liberals, at least) defending a viciously misogynist custom. And viciously misogynist, by the way, it is. See this essay for an excellent critique of the idea that veiling is somehow feminist-friendly or even feminist-compatible. And here, in case you missed it, is the story of the Australian Islamic cleric who preached in a sermon that women who walk around without proper covering are to blame for rape and compared them to "uncovered meat" inciting the appetite of cats.
For Western liberals to defend misogynist practices in Islam on the grounds of multicultural tolerance is not a good way to support Islamic feminist reforms.

The issue of bans is controversial, and rightly so: It's worthy of debate, and there are serious, competing interests and values here, especially for those within Islam and in particular for Muslim women.

But for the Western "liberals," most particularly feminists, to whom Young refers?

Not so much. The way ought to be more clear-cut for them.