Islamism and Hijabi Fashion

A model showcases designs by Hannie Hananto including hijab. (Photo by Robertus Pudyanto / Getty Images)
A model showcases designs by Hannie Hananto including hijab. (Photo by Robertus Pudyanto / Getty Images)

The word ‘fashion’ reminds us of modern day definitions of aesthetics and beauty, although the old school would say beauty is in the eye of beholder and one cannot put this genie in the bottle of the cosmetic and textile industry.

However, the world seems totally oblivious to the fact that some Islamists are already on the way to carving their impression on the modern fashion world by trying to present women wearing the hijab or veil as real women while introducing clothing lines and fashion events to glorify the attire, which is considered a symbol of female oppression in many Sharia-compliant states.

Somehow, behind the idea of presenting hijabi women as some kind of memes of piety, lurks the mindset of superiority which is at play here to promote the Islamist symbol as some kind of fashion statement or expression of modesty.

These conservatives are aiming at belittling modern women through the impression that the only honest and modest women that exist are hijabis.

They are trying to feed a false sense of pride to their girls through hijabism in order to compensate the absurdity, which surrounds the phenomenon.

This new hijab campaign is also designed to completely whitewash the fact that countless women are trying to free themselves from the same hijabs and veils in hardline states such as Saudi Arabia and Iran.

This dress code is very much not a choice in many conservative Muslim societies. Women are actually struggling to get rid of these obligations and face all kinds of tortures in so doing.

For example, leading chess players dropped out of last year’s women’s World Chess Championship which was being held in Iran. Women in Indonesia face strict punishments for breaches of the mandatory dress code as well.

Yet the emerging hijabi fashion industry now includes a music scene. Song lyrics for hijabis say things like “she got class, she don’t flirt, she don’t exchange numbers.”

These words were spoken in a recent music video featuring a girl wearing hijab and so-called Islamic dress-code. This totally ignores the fact that fundamental Islam thinks that music is altogether haram [forbidden].

All these efforts attempt to portray Muslim and non-Muslim women who don’t wear this archaic dress as promiscuous and loose.

But compare these attempts to frame the hijab as a positive choice to the actions of extremists who want to force it on family members.

Consider the case of Yasmin Seweid. Her father shaved her head for spending a night out with her Christian boyfriend without her hijab and then lying about it. She preferred to say she was attacked by the Trump supporters for wearing hijab and that’s why she wasn’t wearing one, than admit the truth.

The second incident concerns a teenage hijabi girl in Birmingham in the UK. She faced death threats and harassment after a video of her dancing friends, including a boy, went viral. She was forced to apologize publicly in an interview on a popular Islamist YouTube channel.

I believe in every woman’s right to wear what she will. It’s an individual right and no other man or woman should have any influence on an individual’s right.

But seeing this attire becoming simultaneously a symbol of modesty and fashion keeps me perturbed about exploitation of women.

Hardliners are now trying to convince women whom they would previously have forced to wear hijab that it’s actually something to be proud of and isn’t slavery.

Hijabism is in fact a collective propaganda attack mounted by ultraconservatives against modern liberal values.

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