Why is Ottawa Honouring the Hijab?
by Tarek Fatah
The Toronto Sun
February 23, 2016
While liberal Muslim women around the world are fighting against Islamists, both on the battlefield like the Kurds, and on the ideological front, like Sun Media columnist Farzana Hassan, many feminists in Canada and the West are backing their enemies by saluting the symbols of the Islamist cult.
This Thursday, the City of Ottawa will be holding a public event celebrating the Islamist hijab; an article of cloth that many Muslim women consider akin to the medieval chastity belt.
To understand the phenomenon of the hijab, which has nothing to do with Islam, other than men's desires to shackle women, one has to go back to Iran in 1979.
Hengameh Golestan was in her 20s when the Islamists stole the Iranian Revolution and imposed their never-ending era of oppression over the people of Iran, especially women. On March 7, 1979 the Islamic Republic declared that henceforth all Iranian women would not be allowed to step outside their homes if they did not have their heads covered by a chador (a black, blanket-like shawl) or a hijab.
Many Iranians first thought of this decree as a joke, but when it became clear the ayatollahs meant business and would imprison any woman found "naked" with her head not wrapped in cloth, there were spontaneous protests across the country.
The next day, Golestan joined many people in Tehran who went on strike and took to the streets. Recalling that day 35 years later, she told the UK Guardian newspaper last year: "It was a huge demonstration with women – and men – from all professions there, students, doctors, lawyers. We were fighting for freedom: political and religious, but also individual."
But that march turned out to be the last day women walked the streets of Tehran without their heads covered. Said Golestan: "It was our first disappointment with the new post-revolution rulers of Iran."
The hijab had come to stay, and over the years spread its tentacles across the globe as a political statement, hated by many Iranian women, but loved by Islamist followers of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood and Pakistan's Jamat-e-Islami in North America.
This Friday, Iranians will go to the polls to elect a new parliament. Not up for discussion or a vote in this election is the oppressive hijab that many Iranian Muslim women have been fighting against, risking arrest -- and even lashings. If it were, few doubt the law of the hijab would die an instant death. But no opponent of the hijab is permitted to stand for election.
With the advent of social media, however, the fight against the hijab has taken a new form.
Iranian journalist Masih Alinejad created a Facebook page "My Stealthy Freedom" where thousands of Iranian women are posting videos and pictures of themselves, without the mandatory head covering. The page has garnered more than 750,000 likes and has drawn the ire of the Iranian government.
But while Masih Alinejad and Hengameh Golestan fight the good fight, many of their sisters in Ottawa have decided to be on the side of the ayatollahs.
The Sun's Farzana Hassan expressed her frustration in a sarcastic message to the organizers of the Ottawa "Hijab Solidarity Day" celebration.
As she put it: "Why don't you girls just hand over Canada to the Taliban so we can get over with the formalities and go back to more self flagellation? That would surely please the Mullahs of Iran and Saudi Arabia as well."
Tarek Fatah, a founder of the Muslim Canadian Congress and columnist at the Toronto Sun, is a Robert J. and Abby B. Levine Fellow at the Middle East Forum.
Related Topics: Iran, Muslims in Canada, Sex and gender relations | Tarek Fatah
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