Monday, 18 July 2016

The Problem With The Problem With Hijab

The sensitive little darlings, The Sun, subsequently deleted this tweet.

You may have seen The Sun's Kelvin MacKenzie protesting that UK Channel 4 TV's coverage of the Nice attack featured a young lady (Fatima Manji) wearing a hijab. I don't recommend you read it, but here it is in case you feel you have to.

As the Nice news broke, I was to be found shouting at the TV, infuriated by mainstream sources crowding each other in the rush to denounce terrorism, ISIS and Islamic terror in general. I was shouting because it seemed to me to be a lone wolf attack and I couldn't believe how fast ISIS came up, conflated with a senseless and barbaric killing with absolutely no reason whatsoever to suspect a link to 'Islamic' motivation of any sort. The Daily Mail led all the next day with ISIS Kills 84, a story that wasn't stood up on a single link to ISIS, a lone 'expert' trotted out to give any reason to draw a link or one - one - fact tying the perpetrator to ISIS or any other radical group.

It's only when ISIS itself claimed responsibility that anyone actually pulled themselves up and questioned the spurious and widespread claim of ISIS' involvement being made in our media.

And so now - belatedly - we start to explore whether this was, in fact, a lone wolf attack by a man who was clearly no practising Muslim. The idiocy of 'quickie radicalisation' was brought into play and, thankfully, quickly extinguished. He's emerging as a wife beating substance abuser with a range of issues that clearly bring his mental state into much starker linkages with relation to his motivations than Islam. But the damage has already been done.

And in the wake of the atrocity and the mischaracterisation of the killer's motives, we have the question of whether it is appropriate for a woman in hijab to cover such news. Because it was a Muslim attacker? Because he attacked in the name of Islam (which, it would appear, is highly unlikely to be his motivation) or because we don't want ladies in hijab on our TV screens?

MacKenzie makes the point: "Would the station have used an Orthodox Jew to cover the Israeli-Palestine conflict?" Which neatly plays into labelling Manji as somehow belonging to 'the other side' responsible for the carnage in this 'conflict' between two opposing forces.

The comments to Roy Greenslade's typically thoughtful piece on MacKenzie's Islamophobic rant show how fractured we have become in the West over the wearing of hijab. 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) and 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 to wear.

What constantly amazes me is to listen to Western Christians complaining about hijab. It's a Christian tradition, too, you know. Here. 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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