Residents of Finland, Germany, and Russia awoke on March 7 to a disturbing sight: local statues wrapped in burqa-like garments. Timed to coincide with International Women's Day, the protest sought to highlight the oppression suffered by women under Shari'a law and to remind Europeans of the freedoms often taken for granted in the West.
A coalition calling itself the Anonymous Group of Democratic and Free Thinking did not merely veil statues in eight cities; they also fitted them with armbands reading "Gender Equality!" and signboards contrasting two passages on the treatment of women — one from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and another from the Koran.
The group clarified its purpose in a press release:
The aim of the campaign is to refer to the creeping Islamization endangering the European idea of unity in diversity and other similar cultural achievements of the liberal-thinking world. Particularly, the phenomenon that Muslim women wear increasingly burqas or headscarves is a visible expression of the challenge and threat to our liberal societies with their values such as women's rights, democracy, [and] liberal and secular thinking.
With this campaign, we would like to increase public awareness of our liberal values and to advocate them. The liberal achievements such as equal rights of men and women, individual freedom, human rights, and the dignity of each individual are no negotiable values! We would like to point out that substantial and partly irreconcilable differences exist between the Muslim and the liberal-thinking world.
Phyllis Chesler offers a poignant reflection on the protest:
I am in complete agreement with this goal and have staked my reputation on it. I am saddened that people can no longer safely use their own names or the name of their group to express their ideas — lest they be mocked as "racists," stalked, exiled, imprisoned, and murdered for them. This is now the case for so many Muslim dissidents in the Muslim world — and for civilians everywhere who are at the mercy of terrorist intimidation.
Anonymous or not, last week's silent action spoke volumes: statues wore veils in the hope that women will never be forced to.