The #MeToo Coverup

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Iranian women at a conservative coalition meeting for parliamentary elections (Photo: ATTA KENARE/AFP/Getty Images)
Iranian women at a conservative coalition meeting for parliamentary elections (Photo: ATTA KENARE/AFP/Getty Images)

The Supreme Leader of Iran has cynically used the #MeToo movement to promote the wearing of hijabs by women.

On his Twitter account @Khamenei_ir,  Ayatollah Ali Khamenei posted a video a featuring a number of prominent women from America who were sexually assaulted. The video was accompanied by the tweet: “The disaster of countless sexual assaults on Western women – including incidents leading to #MeToo campaign – and Islam’s proposal to resolve it.”

Khamenei’s video begins with American gymnast Aly Raisman testifying about her abuse at the hands of Olympic team doctor Larry Nassar. Raisman is followed by clips of other prominent women reporting their sexual abuse as part of the #MeToo movement. It’s all accompanied by sinister music until Kahmenei steps in to save the day for women:

“By introducing the hijab, Islam has shut the door on a path that would pull women towards such deviation. Islam dies not allow this [sexual abuse or violence],” he says. The video ends with the slogan “Hijab gives women freedom and identity.”

Ironically, the video then cuts to women dressed identically in all black – from their hijabs to their long cloaks covering their entire bodies.

Equally disturbing is how the video ends – with a woman wearing a hijab reading to a young girl implying this is the time to educate children about hijabs — and possibly the time for a girl to begin wearing them.

Yet Khamenei, in his zeal, forgot to look at the real statistics regarding sexual harassment in conservative Muslim counties. Women in these countries say wearing a hijab and dressing modestly  makes no difference. They still get sexually harassed.

In Egypt, for example, 99 percent of women report they experienced some form of sexual harassment –at work, at home or on the street and ranging from verbal assaults to rape. (Ironically, they also reported that two years after the “Arab Spring” revolution that ousted dictator Hosni Mubarak, life became worse for them as women in terms of harassment.)

Khamenei should get his facts straight before promoting a garment that viewed by many women in his country (and around the world where it is mandatory) as an oppressive reminder that they live in a sexist society. It is in this environment that men feel free to sexually harass women – regardless of whether or not their hair is covered.



A Ban on the Hijab Is Consistent With Liberalism

Sexual Harassment Keeps Egyptian Women Out of Politics

Choosing Oppression is NOT Freedom


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Meira Svirsky

Meira Svirsky is the editor of ClarionProject.org

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