Sunday, June 7, 2009

Women's Rights And The Hijab

This is a brief follow-up on my post concerning Obama’s remarks on a woman’s right to wear a hijab. At Legal Insurrection William Jacobson wrote on the same subject:

Obama really would have been brave if he told the Muslim world that just as we will fight for the right of Muslim women in the West to wear hair covering, we will stand up for the right of all women not to wear hair covering or other restrictive clothing. That would have been a truly historic statement, rather than politically correct nonsense:

And what's all this about head scarves? "I reject the view of some in the West that a woman who chooses to cover her hair is somehow less equal," Obama said. Talk about a straw man. Isn't the real wardrobe issue for many Muslim women that they must cover, smother and nearly blind themselves in burqas, whether that's their choice or not?

And Obama could break with the tradition, not unique to Obama or to any one political party, of refusing to have American women representing this country forced to wear head covering when visiting Muslim countries. Hillary Clinton, Laura Bush, Nancy Pelosi, and many other women who are successful and supportive of women's rights have engaged in this practice when traveling to Muslim countries.

President Obama, when ‘speaking out’ on women’s rights choose a subject that is the least of Muslim women’s worries and he did so without even acknowledging the oppression of women personified by the hijab and other restrictive clothing. Further, Obama was speaking to the right of women to were the hijab in the United States, not to the right of women not to wear restrictive clothing in Muslim countries. In other words, he wasn’t really saying anything.

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