The problem with the problem with hijab

Funny (not funny) to see comments about Aleppo and the ‘Muslims’ fleeing. There’s a huge Armenian Orthodox community in Aleppo, many of the people suffering there are Christians. And you’ll find older Orthodox ladies, like older Catholics in Southern Europe, cover their heads in scarves. Same as Muslims.

I have worked and socialised extensively with women who wear hijab for much of my adult life. As far as I can see, they do so out of choice, not a ‘subtle social pressure’; I know many devout Muslim women who have chosen not to wear it and many who wear it as a conscious choice with no pressure to do so, who have previously not done so. Many would point out that, as women, if they chose to wear a Micky Mouse t-shirt, hijab or a yellow polka dot bikini that is their choice and they would very much prefer if men would stop telling them what the hell to wear in the first place.

I’ve had arguments with people moaning about the culture of the Gulf where, for instance, TV stops in Saudi Arabia for prayer time. Well, there’s a country in Europe where TV stops for prayer, too (I might be a couple of years out of date on this one, I haven’t watched TV there in a while), where people fast for 30 days a year and where women can still be seen covering their heads for church, while men remove any head wear. It’s Ireland — which is, my argument notwithstanding, headed down the road to Secular City faster than you can say Estonia (which is the EU’s most secular country and proud of it. Most of its churches are Irish pubs or community centres now).

I can’t work out why people have such a problem with hijab. It’s part of Christian tradition in the most fundamental way and yet because we’re all newly, freshly minted secularists we seem to see it as offensive if other cultures have other ways of doing things based on their faith. We’re like reformed smokers offended by the sight of the poor, ignorant fools still drawing in the cancer we used to enjoy ourselves so much until we saw the light. And those still practising the faith of Christianity are no less intolerant of ‘the other’ because they choose to cover their heads.

Well, try this. Do a Google Image Search for ‘Virgin Mary’. Fill yer boots.

Shocking, isn’t it? A woman in hijab covering your screen. The mother of the man you hold to be the Son of God, the core of your Trinity.

Quick. Fetch the religious police…

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