Avid Editor's Insights

Arab Women: Harassed and Hurt

Posted by Glezele Vayne on September 22, 2010

BS”D

by Dr. Phyllis Chesler

Arab women are being subjugated by the hijab. Obediently wearing the Islamic Veil does not protect Muslim women from being raped and beaten within their own families, harassed on the streets, sold into sexual slavery.

In Palestine, more specifically, in Gaza, the territory that is currently most adored by western artists, “free” thinkers, and flotilla “activists,” any woman who refuse to wear hijab, the headscarf, faces new punishments.

In the fall of 2010, Asmaa al-Ghoul, a Palestinian journalist whom I interviewed here, and who has written about honor killings among Palestinians, was literally arrested for not wearing hijab and for wearing jeans; perhaps she was also arrested due to her work which exposed honor killings. In any event, Asmaa now writes that a friend who “refuses to wear the hijab has not been allowed to graduate from university.”

It is not clear whether Asmaa is writing about the Islamic University of Gaza, about al-Azhar University in Cairo or about both universities.

In any event, in the past, women in Gaza, and for that matter, in Egypt, wore modern and western dress. Arab feminists fought for and won the right to be naked-faced, to feel the sun on their cheeks. With the rise of Khomeini in Iran, the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan, coupled with the increasing influence of both Khomeiniism and Saudi Wahhabism, worldwide, especially on Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon, freedom for women ended.

Asmaa writes: “In Gaza, you will come across repressive rules, hurtful comments, stupid words and contemptuous looks, and scorn for the women not wearing hijab. In the small world of Gaza, we need someone to defend the rights of women who don’t wear hijab, or the jilbab, or the niqab. It’s a system that establishes the idea that women should be treated as bodies.”

Asmaa goes on to explain that, in Gaza, Christian Arabs are required to wear hijab as well as Muslim Arabs.

Although the head of Al-Azhar University recently snatched the niqab from a girl’s face and said that face-covering is not religiously required by Islam—Asmaa decries the fact that the university still demands that female students wear the hijab, headscarf, if they are to graduate. And, they must take their official photo wearing hijab, not bare-headed, even if they are bare-headed in their daily lives.

Click here to continue reading….

From Glezele Vayne

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