Parallel with this is an international situation where many Muslims – rightly or wrongly – feel they are under siege from the west and respond to it, as a form of self-defence, through a re-assertion of supposedly traditional “Islamic values”. In reality, some of these values may not be as traditional as people imagine but they tend to be highly visible, and strict enforcement of male and female hijab is one of them.
In communities that feel themselves under threat, this might be called “solidarity hijab” – the sartorial equivalent of patriotic flag-waving – where anyone who doesn’t conform is regarded as betraying the cause.
A variation on this, and usually more voluntary in nature, is hijab as a way of asserting identity. It can be found in areas where Muslims form a minority, and so the niqab – a highly practical form of dress if you’re caught in a desert sandstorm – turns into a religious/political statement when worn on the streets of Britain. It happens in Muslim countries too, though. Saudi salafis, for example, use “indentity hijab” to distinguish themselves from other Muslims and in countries where political dissent is restricted styles of dress become an important way of expressing opposition to the government.
Despite the invocations of Islamic tradition, all this seems far removed from the original concept of hijab: that Muslims should simply assume a modest appearance. In extreme cases, it also reflects an extraordinarily superficial approach to religion where there’s more concern over a man who is “improperly” dressed than a one who takes bribes at work and beats his wife at home.
Really?… well… it’s not what is shown in the pic above (Made by Boushra Al-Muttawakil) but I am sure someone, sometime, thought:
“If we convinced women to get through this freely… why not trying it on men?”
Because control is everything ladies and sirs!