Twitter erupts after Iranian activist says Western hijab-wearing women support 'discriminatory law'
A prominent Iranian women’s rights activist has sparked heated debate online after she condemned Western women who wear the hijab when they visit Iran and slammed them for supporting a “discriminatory law.”
Masih Alinejad, who is the founder of the White Wednesdays movement, which encourages Iranian women to remove their headscarves in protest, said that calling the hijab part of Iranian "culture" and wearing it out of “respect” was really an "insult” which sends the wrong message to women activists fighting against the compulsory head-covering law.
.@AlinejadMasih believes the compulsory hijab is key to the Iranian regime’s hold on power. Through her campaigns #MyStealthyFreedom and #WhiteWednesdays, Iranian women have answered her call to bare their heads. https://t.co/2hlJdY1TNS— Afshin Jam Afshin (@itsmeafshin) March 31, 2019
She said that Western feminists were leaving Iranian women "on their own" in the fight and specifically called out female politicians from other countries who dutifully wore the hijab during their official visits to Iran.
It will be difficult for Western women who wore hijab on Hijab Day, at the Women’s March, or in NZ to watch this and not feel shameListen as @AlinejadMasih explains how you’ve betrayed womenWe all deserve freedom...not just youSTOP supporting our subjugation#FreeFromHijabpic.twitter.com/fzN5u5KfrO— Yasmine Mohammed (@ConfessionsExMu) March 24, 2019
“There were three female politicians from the Netherlands — they went to Iran the same day when one of the women of the White Wednesdays movement put her headscarf on a stick and waved it in public, she got arrested,” Alinejad said.
“The same day there were three female politicians from the Netherlands in Iran obeying compulsory hijab law without challenging it.”
The comments have invited both praise and criticism online, with many supporting Alinejad and calling Western women out for hypocrisy, while others have said her comments were insulting to women who wear the hijab by choice.
One Twitter user accused Western women of treating the hijab like “cultural haute couture.”
While women in the Middle East are fighting for their freedom from this religious tyranny. Westerners thinks hijab is a cultural haute couture.— الإيمان العقلاني (@al3abereen) March 24, 2019
Another female activist said it was “painful” to hear people say that the hijab was part of Iranian culture and urged people to look at photographs from Iran before the 1979 revolution when women were not forced to wear a head covering.
As a woman fighting against compulsory hijab in Iran, it’s more than painful to me when I hear people say compulsory hijab is our culture. IT IS NOT. Just look at the picture of Iran before the 1979 islamic revolution.— Anaik🌈 (@Annaiiik) March 24, 2019
Iran 1971, colour and freedom, so sad pic.twitter.com/ZJ07Kp45kf— Wendy Fisher (@wenfis) March 27, 2019
Others pointed out that some women “choose” to wear the headscarf and that not all women feel oppressed by it.
Tho I don't agree with it, some women CHOOSE to wear hijab and whether it is being forced on them or not, no one should face violence or verbal assault because of it.— Kate (@Kategivesup) March 29, 2019
One male commenter said that women activists fighting for the choice were “part of the problem” and “immoral” because they were judging what people chose to wear for religious reasons.
I have seen where not liking what people wear for religious reasons leads.You have seen where imposing your will on others lead.Both are evil and you are part of the problem.I will not get out of your way. You are immoral too.— John_Hempton (@John_Hempton) March 28, 2019
Some didn’t blame Western women for obeying the law while in Iran, saying they were probably just afraid of being turned away from the country or facing some kind of punishment.
If a western country asks our Muslim sisters to take off their hijab in order to get a visa, what would they do? They are just being “polite”? No, they stand for their values and they resist. So we have to stand for our own values and resist compulsory hijab as well.— Masih Alinejad 🏳️ (@AlinejadMasih) April 2, 2019
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern sparked similar debate recently when she wore a hijab to visit victims of the recent mosque shooting. Some praised Ardern as a “real leader” for the move, while others said that supporting “modesty culture” was not the way to show solidarity.
New Zealand Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, visiting a man who was severely injured in the New Zealand Mosque shooting. She enters using the Muslim greeting As-salāmu ʿalaykum "Peace be upon you" with a Hijab on her head. 😭THIS IS WHAT A LEADER LOOKS LIKE.Retweet ❤️ pic.twitter.com/k1SjRHP0Mq— StanceGrounded (@_SJPeace_) April 1, 2019
I understand that she wants to show support, and that’s admirable, but her method was incredibly wrong. One reason being that the hijab is not a universal symbol for ‘Muslim’-it’s a highly charged issue,in fact. Many Muslim woman are against modesty culture. And she should be too— Yasmine Mohammed (@ConfessionsExMu) March 24, 2019
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