Clarion’s Meira Svirsky looks at the phenomenon of solidarity hijabs…
The outpouring of sympathy for the New Zealand Muslim community in their devastating loss is a testament to the West and its core values of peace, tolerance and freedom of religion.
Despite being hounded for years with the scourge of Islamist terrorism, save the remarks of one Australian politician, mainstream reaction was one of appropriate feelings of sadness over the loss of so many loved ones and horror that a member of our common human race could perpetrate such a calculated and cold-blooded massacre.
Solidarity in the face of such unadulterated evil reminds us that, as people, our commonality has more manifestations than our differences.
Yet something less functional was at play in the way that many chose to express their solidarity with the Muslim community of New Zealand – the donning of hijabs by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern as well as New Zealand policewomen and ordinary female citizens.
On the one hand, it is understandable as the hijab is a recognizable Muslim symbol. What better way to instantly and conclusively show one’s true sympathy for the slaughter of so many people who were killed simply because they were Muslims?
Yet, the hijab is also a significant sign of oppression – specifically Islam’s past and current subjugation of women through sharia law to the status of second-class citizens. It has long been used by Islamists who, in their pursuit of world domination, are particularly misogynistic and use veiling of women to relegate women to the ranks of sex objects to be used and abused.
As Muslim reformer Asra Nomani commented on Twitter:
This is exactly how wound collectors exploit a tragedy to press their agenda, in this case to put a hijab on every woman in New Zealand. This is a terrible idea. #freefromhijab @freefromhijab https://t.co/Dg72pQYU0T
— Asra Q. Nomani, PI (@AsraNomani) March 20, 2019
This sentiment was echoed by those replying to Nomani’s tweet, such as the following from a young Iranian woman:
I and all Iranian girls from the age of 7, were forced to wear a Hijab to go to school, This compulsion was imposed on us by the Islamic dictatorship. these are my personal experience of 18 years of wearing the veil was compulsive (grief, humiliation and hatred).#FreefromHijab
— samar1990 (@samar19906) March 20, 2019
In sum, other followers expressed these sentiments with eloquence:
Empathy is not giving up your own religion & beliefs just so someone can feel better
— Be Unique (@beseenbeheard2) March 20, 2019
Showing support by asking women to wear symbols of oppression? Too many women around the world are fighting for the right not to wear it. Intention is good, idea is bad. #headscarfforharmony. #nohijab
— Queen Maureen (@SullivanSellsTO) March 20, 2019