Photo credit: Houses of the Oireachtas

Irish senator: Hijab Day “should be a national celebration”

Make no mistake about it: If the upcoming Beijing Olympics had a contest for virtue signalling, Irish politicians would take the gold every time without fail.

And there was no better example of this than this week, when Independent Senator Eileen Flynn called for World Hijab Day to be made a “national celebration” in Irish society.

Note that this is a politician so trendy, that the Black Lives Matter logo in her profile picture is actually half covered over by a symbol proclaiming her vaccine status. If there’s a popular position she doesn’t loudly support, I don’t know if it.

Regardless speaking in the Seanad, the Senator said:

“Yesterday was World Hijab Day. I wish to celebrate my Muslim sisters all over the world. I know it was St. Brigid’s Day yesterday; we heard a lot about it in here. Today I want to celebrate the hijab. It should be a national celebration within Irish society.”

Short, sweet and to the point, in fairness to her. Though not too well received by some.

The clip elicited a response from the Alliance of Ex-Muslims Ireland – a group which represents Irish apostates and people in Ireland who have chosen to leave the Islamic religion. The group said:

“The hijab is designed to oppress women. It is a symbol of their status as property in Islam. It is thus appalling to see Senator Eileen Flynn calling for Hijab Day to be a national celebration. We call upon [Senator Flynn] to withdraw her remarks and engage with Ex-Muslim women.”

Now, there are no doubt some women who wear the hijab not out of oppression, but by choice. After all, modesty is a part of many faiths, and similar head coverings can be seen in religions like Catholicism, with nuns’ habits. There’s nothing at all wrong with choosing to wear such a garment – our society could probably do with a bit more modesty, truth be told.

The issue comes in when you think of all the women for whom wearing the hijab is not a choice.

All across the Islamic world, women can be severely punished for failing to wear a headscarf.

For example, according to Amnesty International, in Iran, three women have been sentenced to over 30 years in prison between them for not wearing their headscarves, after being charged with “inciting prostitution.”

Women in Iran who fail to wear the hijab, or who wear it loosely, can be subjected to prison time, massive fines, and also public lashing.

The Taliban, having conquered Afghanistan, have now said that the hijab is required for women by law.

Even in countries where the hijab is not legally mandated, it can be culturally mandated, and those who fail to adhere to the religious dress code can find themselves the victim of so-called “honour killing.”

For example, in Canada, there was the case of Muhammad Parvez, who murdered his own 16-year-old daughter by strangulation with the help of his 26 year old son, all because she wanted to wear Western clothes and reject the headscarf.

Such honour killings, while condemned by many Muslims, are sadly all too common throughout the Islamic world.

In the context of Ashling Murphy’s tragic death, and all the focus on male violence against women, is it not a little odd that we’d have politicians calling for a celebration of this garment which, in at least some parts of the world, represents a symbol of male force against women?

Again, that’s not all the hijab represents, and I’m sure in some contexts it is no different than a Catholic woman wearing a veil. But no Christian woman or nun is beaten to death if she decides to show her hair. Some Muslim women in certain countries are. So should we not at least acknowledge that dimension to this matter, and show some sensitivity to those women and girls?

If feminists want to talk about a patriarchy which promotes violence against women, there’s a prime target ready to act against: it’s called Sharia Law. Maybe it’s time they start addressing these genuine issues before lecturing our society about its attitudes towards women.

 

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