Scholar Decries ‘Farce’ of World Hijab Day

hijab iran

Middle East scholar A. J. Caschetta has denounced the hypocrisy of “World Hijab Day”, saying that the holiday dishonours the countless Muslim women who are forced to wear the hijab against their will.

World Hijab Day (WHD) was invented in the United States in 2013 by Bronx resident Nazma Khan as a chance to “foster religious tolerance and understanding by inviting women (non-Hijabi Muslims/non-Muslims) to experience the hijab” every February 1st.

While ostensibly supporting a woman’s right to choose what she wears on her head, the event perpetuates the myth that women in countries such as Iran wear the hijab by choice rather than by imposition, Caschetta suggests in his January 30th essay in National Review.

As a result, Westerners who have no idea what it is like to live under an Islamist regime celebrate the hijab as if it were a clever fashion statement rather than the symbol of the oppression many Muslim women face, he notes.

Just last month, Iran’s female chess Grandmaster, Mitra Hejazipour, decided to take off her hijab during a chess tournament in Moscow and was immediately removed from the national chess team.

The Iran Chess Federation expelled the 27-year-old Hejazipour on January 2nd after she removed her hijab during the World Rapid & Blitz Chess Championship in Moscow, an act considered as defiant of the compulsory Islamic dress code.

“She has no place in the Islamic Republic’s national team anymore,” said Mehrdad Pahlavanzadeh, the president of Iran’s Chess Federation.

For her part, Hejazipour said that she had decided “not to have a share in this horrendous lie and not to play the game of ‘We love the hijab and have no problem with it’ anymore.”

“It creates many limitations for women and deprives them of their basic rights. Is this protection? I say definitely not, it is solely and merely a limitation,” Hejazipour said.

Later that month, on January 20, Iran’s sole female Olympic medalist, Kimia Alizadeh, defected from Iran, saying she was “one of the millions of oppressed women in Iran whom they’ve been playing for years.”

“I wore whatever they told me and repeated whatever they ordered. Every sentence they ordered I repeated. None of us matter for them, we are just tools,” she said.

The 21-year-old posted on social media that she had decided to defect from Iran because she didn’t want to be part of “hypocrisy, lies, injustice and flattery.”

A number of Muslim women have joined in publicly opposing the western celebration of the hijab.

“As an Iranian who was beaten & jailed for opposing mandatory Hijab, I’m appalled to see Hijab celebrated in the West,” wrote Maryam Shariatmadari on social media.

“I have a dream for all women to be free one day. Free to choose what to wear, how to live, and what to think. Celebrating hijab destroys that dream,” she said.

In his essay, Caschetta notes the irony of the date chosen for World Hijab Day — February 1 — since this coincides with the day that Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini returned to Iran in 1979 to inaugurate the Islamic Revolution that would enforce “the separation, seclusion, and covering of women.”

While “enlightened” Westerners commemorate WHD as a chance to stand up for women’s right to choose “what they want to wear — whenever, wherever, and however,” they dishonour the millions of women living in the Muslim world forced to cover themselves, Caschetta observes.

“It might be easier to support WHD if it had a reciprocal component encouraging women throughout the Muslim world to really wear what they choose,” he concludes.


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