The New York Times has recently emphasized the upside to stringent dress codes for Muslim women.
The New York Times appears to be on a campaign to show wearing the hijab/veiling in a positive light, at a time when France is extending its ban on religious clothing and the Netherlands has proposed its own burqa-ban. Yesterday, it posted an article complaining about France's "'preoccupation' with Muslim women's attire." It offered anecdotes and claims from mostly unnamed sources arguing that France's ban on religious symbols in public places is counter-productive of integration and disabling and alienating to Muslim women.
Today, it posted a collection of feedback from Muslim women expressing their views about covering. These two dozen, culled from over a thousand responses, mostly favored covering or veiling, while emphasizing that it was a matter of personal choice. The Times reports, "For almost all of these women, it was a matter of personal choice." Almost. The responses are eloquent in expressing the positive aspects, but counter-arguments are largely missing.
The Times' positive spin on Islamic practice is not new. On March 6, the Times posted a feature piece offering a sympathetic portrait of a Muslim public middle school student and her family. The article says about 10% of New York City public school students are Muslim, and that Muslim students are targeted by teasing/bullying, especially after recent class discussions about ISIS. The mother says she was harassed after starting to wear a hijab, and the girl says she was bullied after starting to wear one.
It's good that our "paper of record" is so objective.
Johanna Markind is associate counselor at the Middle East Forum