Why, instead of celebrating female beauty and freedom, is the Obama administration supporting enforced coverings for Muslim women?
In his June 5 Cairo speech, President Obama stated that the United States has litigated cases "to protect the right of women and girls to wear the hijab and punish those who would deny it." However, Mr. Obama did not tell the Muslim world what they needed to hear, and should have heard from the leader of the Free world. He had a moral obligation to add that we need to protect the right of Muslim women not to wear the hijab and punish those who force them to do so.
No one has prevented Muslim women from covering up. Even in France, the law only prevents Muslim women from covering their faces, which is very important for security reasons, to say the least, and also in schools for reasons of integration. But Obama wanted to score political points against Sarkozy, the French President. He also wanted to win favor with Muslim radicals in Egypt who rioted against France. In the process, the President forgot to say what should have been said in defense of women’s freedoms and human rights. That part of his speech was probably written by his head-covered Islamic adviser, Dalia Mogahed, who supports Sharia, Islamic Law.
Many Muslim governments do not force the Islamic outfit on women. Egypt is one such country, and the problem for the majority of Egyptian women is not being forced by their government to wear the hijab, but rather, they are forced by radical Islamists and their families. Mr. Obama should have known that the Egyptian government itself often discourages women from covering up and actually forbids the wives of Egyptian diplomats from wearing the hijab and even head covering. The reason I know that is because my brother is an Egyptian diplomat. The social and religious pressure on Egyptian women is huge and tyranny does not necessarily come from the top but often from Islamist Sharia enforcers on the streets who often want to take matters in their own hands. They use ridicule, pressure, intimidation, humiliation, and even throwing acid on women who do not wear the Islamic garb. Going with his Islamic advisor’s suggestion, Ms. Mogahed, President Obama chose to please the radical tyrants in his statement on the hijab. He should have known and should have mentioned how many women in the Muslim world suffer from Islamist tyranny, even the Egyptian Christian women who often choose to cover the Islamic way so as to avoid social stigma and physical violence.
Pleasing Islamist tyrants is not difficult to do. Just agree with all their demands, confine women to a life of imprisonment in a Burka and in the home, hand them Israel on a silver platter and allow the spread of Islam in your country, preferably to such a degree that it will finally be taken over by Sharia. That is all that Islamists really want. Being true to goals of political and religious freedom and to human and women’s rights will only get you in trouble with Islamists. Why bother with that if you want them to love you and to stop their terrorism? It is not difficult or brave to try to please Islamists and to ignore Muslim reformists who, after all, form the minority.
Coincidentally, it is President George W. Bush who actually liberated Muslim women in Afghanistan and who stood up to the Islamists like a hawk. He destroyed the Taliban, who treated women like cattle on the street, prevented them from going to school or work. Now Obama has set a standard of appeasement with Muslim countries which will be hard to change for the next administration, which will be viewed as anti-Islamic if they stand up for freedom in the Muslim world.
Our brilliant media has constantly tries to portray the opposite image of the two presidents. Obama became the progressive pro-women liberator and Bush was the conservative oppressor. Nothing is further from the truth when it comes to the Muslim world.
Unlike many Muslim leaders, President Obama associates Islam with wearing the hijab, when that is completely unnecessary, especially when Muslim immigrants should be embracing Western culture and seeking to assimilate. Otherwise, why are they here? The Islamic head cover was never the way ordinary Muslim women dressed, until recently. It has been a fashion statement that started in the late 70’s early 80’s and Egyptian University graduation photos reveal that reality.
The trend in Egypt is gradually changing and several celebrities have taken off their Burkas. Even in Pakistan and Afghanistan, as shown in the photos below, college women photos in the 60’s showed no Burkas, but in the 90’s that blue Burka has become the norm.
The symbolism of radical Islam is encapsulated in the covering up of women and that trend needs to be exposed and rejected. Muslim women have been led to believe they are the champions of Islamic law by wearing the Sharia flag, the Burka. I have been told by a head covered Muslim college professor once: “Off the record, I wear the Islamic head cover for political reasons, the ethnic look always win in America.”
I and many Americans of Arab and Muslim origin are very troubled by the kind of influence Dalia Mogahed could have on our administration and policies regarding Islam in America. In her help in writing Obama’s Cairo speech, she catered to pleasing her friends, the Muslim Brotherhood rather than the anti-Sharia progressives of Egypt.
Wearing of the hijab outside of a Muslim country is very important to Sharia lovers, like Ms. Mogahed. Incidentally, the literal meaning of her name, Mogahed, is ‘the jihadist.’ Wearing the hijab in the West is a statement that says: “My loyalty is for Sharia first, I even support laws that oppress women and here I am as the example.” Mogahed herself never speaks against Muslim laws that allow men to beat women and never shows any sympathy for the women who suffer stonings or floggings in the name of Allah.
Just for comparison’s sake, below are the photos of Ms. Mogahed and the wives of the Egyptian president, the Syrian president, and the king of Jordan, no hijab.
Here is a photo of Miss Egypt:
Defying a trend of liberation for Muslim women, is, once again, an individual such as Dalia Mogahed, whose photo we saw above.
And guess who works for the White House?
In some circles in the Muslim world, the hijab has become a laughing stock and jokes tell stories of women cheating on their husbands with visiting men who hide under a woman’s Burka. Some Arab belly dancers put the Burka on as a sexy lure, as seen in the photos below.
But, only in America we must respect the Burka as sacred and must preserve it and never joke about how oppressive (and silly) it is – and has become in the 21st century. American female journalists often find it fun and perhaps a sexy novelty to wear the head cover when reporting from an Arab country. To them I say, it is unnecessary, since the first lady of that country often does not ever wear a head cover.
By hiring Dalia Mogahed, a Sharia supporter and defender, as an advisor on Islam in the White House, the Obama administration is choosing the radical side of Islam over reformist Muslims who chose to assimilate in the US. Obama is not supporting the side of the reformists, freedom lovers and women’s rights advocates in the Muslim world whose lives are threatened everyday. America is simply telling us not to assimilate and to wear the Burka, a symbol of women’s oppression which many of us escaped from.
The Burka, especially that covers the face, takes away women’s identity, physical freedom. It is unhealthy, unfriendly and sets Muslim women to a lonely isolated existence. Muslim women in America are very diverse and Mogahed should never represent them. It is a disgrace to bring Mogahed to the White House to represent American Muslim views.
Nonie Darwish is the author of Cruel and Usual Punishment: the Terrifying Global Implications of Islamic Law.