• Aysha Yasin

Politics & Hijab: How Islamophobia Dictates Our Lives

  • David Cameron once suggested that Muslim women who did not speak English had a part to play in the radicalisation of young Muslims.

  • Boris Johnson likened Muslim women to letterboxes and bank robbers whilst also deeming Islam is the problem.

  • In 2003, the French President decided that the law should forbid any students from wearing hijab or other religious wear in public schools.

  • And up until more recently, a court ruling in Belgium has banned the headscarf being worn in universities.

Politicians love conversations surrounding Muslim women. From deciding how we should look, to linking us to terrorist ideologies; Muslim women as a topic of debate for the government is something that has spanned across generations.

But there’s really one integral factor that all of them are missing: the actual Muslim women.

It’s funny to think that people who condemn our beliefs and islamophobes within governments worldwide truly believe that they are the right people to be making policies surrounding hijab in society...but unfortunately, this is the appalling truth.

And there’s one thing a the centre of it all: ignorance.

From not seeking out the opinions of the people most affected by policy changes, to the sheer belief that all Muslims are terrorists and threats to the state...ignorance is what has lead to this downward spiral in

which women are afraid to wear hijab in their own country.

Let’s change that.

By eliminating ignorance and actively seeking out knowledge to help us understand others, those boundaries and labels we’ve assigned as a society naturally dematerialise with what we learn.

Here are some misconceptions surrounding the hijab, finally fact-checked...

We wear hijab for men

No we wear it for God.

To please Him. Our beliefs in Islam instruct us to cover our bodies as our way to showing our submission to our religion.

For a lot of different women, this means different things and holds different sentiments to them. From reasons being that they don’t want their bodies sexualised to being a symbol of resistance...

...every hijabi has her own story and purpose for her headscarf.

In a lot of cultures covering of the head is an act of respect. This concept is present in other religions like nuns covering their bodies and hair (to show their devotion to God) and is also recognised in Sikhism, Hinduism and Judaism.

The concept of hijab invalidates and demoralises women who don’t choose to cover

This is not true.

Every woman has the right to wear what she wants, how she wants. Through hijab we are exercising that same right by choosing to cover our heads and bodies.

Even when we are young, Muslims have been taught that Allah is the best of judges. To interfere in other peoples’ lives by dictating what and how they should dress is simply not okay, full stop.

Any Muslim girl that doesn’t wear a hijab is a bad Muslim

Modesty means something different to everyone.

Once again, it isn’t right to judge anyone regardless of what they are wearing. This stereotype attached to Muslim women is completely unfair and definitely not true.

Men don’t have hijab

Yes they do! Hijab means covering and therefore, is applicable to both women and men.

Before womens’ bodies were even addressed in the Quran, men were told to lower their gaze first and foremost. Rather than objectifying women, it’s important to deal with the root of the problem in the first place - hence why men have been instructed to simply look away.

Hijab is forced onto girls

This isn’t allowed. The vice versa is true too. Women shouldn’t be forced to take off their hijab in public settings.

Unfortunately there have been incidents where police have forcefully removed headscarves off of Muslim women and then photographed them in handcuffs.

Whether you wear a hijab or not, choice is a right, not a privilege.

We should be respectful of one another, simple as, and in this day and age it should go without saying.

I really hope I’m the near future we see Muslim women centred in policymaking surrounding hijab and actually be included in conversations about ... well...ourselves.

We’ve always been spoken for and it’s high time we were spoken to.

Our headscarves encompass who we are, what we stand for and are integral to our identity.

And no white male politician should tell us otherwise.


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