2015-12-27 20:09:38 UTC
non-Muslim American women to wear a headscarf in public to show
solidarity with Muslim women who believe their religion requires them to
wear a scarf or veil in public. Yesterday a couple of Muslim women with
non-standard views about hijab wrote an article objecting to this
movement. That article was published in the Washington Post, here:
A Muslim woman who wears hijab (Saba Syed, who is usually called Umm
Reem) responded to this article here:
I responded to the second article for two reasons. First, everything
that I have learned about Islam here and elsewhere in the past 25 years
tells me that Umm Reem's response is solidly grounded in majority
Islamic beliefs and thinking. It's also unusually well written.
Second and more important to me, as a non-Muslim American woman I've
been watching with horror at growing anti-Islamic bigotry in America.
Too many Americans confuse Islam with the extremist beliefs of
terrorists. They are conflating ordinary Muslims and extremist terrorism
supporters into a single undifferentiated group.
In other words, many Americans now are ignorant, scared, and are acting
as Americans often have in the past when ignorant and scared -- turning
on scapegoats. :/ This behavior is a threat not just to Muslims, but to
This was what I posted in response to the second article, with a couple
of fixes for skipped words and typos (I hit "post" too fast) :):
Iâm not Muslim; Iâm Orthodox Christian. Iâm tolerably familiar with
Islam and Muslims after 20+ years moderating a forum about Islam,
though. This is a *very* well written, mainstream response to a
non-orthodox (small âoâ) Islamic view on the obligation of Muslim women
to wear a head covering. Iâd urge my fellow Christians and other
American women to pay attention, especially if you have considered
wearing a headscarf in solidarity with American Muslim women.
In my opinion, the value of a non-Muslim American wearing a headscarf
goes beyond signaling solidarity with Muslim women who believe they are
obligated to do so. It signals our agreement as Americans with the First
Amendment to the US Constitution, which guarantees religious liberty and
provides the foundation for separating the roles of religion and
government. It signals that we do not confuse Islam with terrorism, or
approve of blaming all members of a religion because a few members of
that religion are murderous bigots. For Christians, it signals our own
awareness that we too have murderous bigots among us and donât want to
be judged with them simply because we are Christian.
The degree of hatred that political figures and many ordinary Americans
have expressed recently against normal, garden-variety Muslims is
terrible, and terrifying to those who recognize it for what it is. Itâs
the ugly counterexample that shows up any time normal Americans feel
threatened by outsiders. In the past, this fear has led to segregation
and hatred of indigenous Americans (âAmerican Indiansâ), the descendants
of African slaves, and immigrants ranging from the Irish during the
potato famine, Italians and eastern Europeans (many of them Jews) in the
early 20th century, and Japanese Americans during the second World War.
This ignorance- and fear-generated bigotry is a threat not just to
Muslim women, and not just to all Muslims, but to the American
experiment. Through it we have alienated and driven from this country
people who would otherwise have made significant, valuable contributions
to our society and culture. One of those was W. E. B. DuBois, the first
African American graduate of Harvard University and one of Americaâs
great authors and philosophers. DuBois ended his life as an exile in
Africa, having left the country of his birth and greatest achievements
in despair because so many Americans could not find it in their minds or
hearts to accept him as an equal â a fellow citizen and human being.
Youâd think we would learn from our mistakes. Youâd think people would
see the same pattern when dealing with fellow Americans and immigrants
whose ancestors came from China, Japan, south Asia and the Middle East.
Some of us seem to lack that ability. :/
I donât urge all of my fellow non-Muslim American women to wear
headscarves in public. That might not be your role or how you express
your support for people under siege. But I do urge you to realize the
importance of speaking up and being counted.
Catherine Jefferson <***@ergosphere.net>
Catherine Jefferson <***@ergosphere.net>