“To me, the hijab means power, liberation, beauty and resistance.”-So says Ilhan Omar an American senator. According to the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, everyone has the rights to freedom of expression and freedom to manifest their religion or beliefs. Governments have an obligation to respect, protect and ensure every individual’s right to express their beliefs or personal convictions or identity. They must create an environment in which every person can make that choice, free of coercion.
To supporters of the hijab, it is their form of freedom, gives them an identity, empowers them, unites them and makes them feel themselves. Yet even with this law of freedom of expression, these women are still berated, because it is claimed that the hijab is symbolic of oppression and domination, and it is forced upon them. This claim, though, is simplistic and runs with an outdated idea of Islam and its cultures. However, has it ever been thought that maybe these women choose to wear it by choice? “I am not oppressed, I choose to wear my hijab every day! The choice was mine alone—my family did not pressure me, neither did society.” This was a statement made by Maheera Zubair in an interview done by the Bristol Cable. With freedom comes choice, a choice that many women around the world have made when wearing their hijab
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The hijab rejects the evaluation of women being valued by their sexual allure. Islamic feminists argue that traditional dress prevents them from becoming objectified by men and male society. This perspective is justified and is a strong point that gives women freedom from western commercialism and its obsession with images. For Muslim women, wearing a hijab offers a way for them to take control of their bodies and to claim a stance that challenges the ways in which they are marginalised by men. We may be asked whether the hijab covers and restricts womens’ liberty. Well yes, there is nothing liberating in covering up, however, I argue that there is also nothing inherently liberating in not covering up.
By assuming those who cover-up are oppressed is extremely belittling to those who WANT to wear it, who WANT to cover up and WANT to feel liberated. The fact is that being attractive does not mean baring all or being overtly sexual. Being overtly sexual is symptomatic of an inauthentic western society attempting to dominate and impose its values on others. I can easily understand why people are happy with themselves and their choice of covering, to reflect their culture and faith.
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Hijabs are Freedom, not Oppression.
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