‘The hijab is a symbol of discrimination’

Shaparak Shajarizadeh was persecuted for joining Iran’s anti-hijab movement.



The White Wednesday movement began in 2017. Iranian women took to social media to post films of themselves wearing white and discarding their hijabs. Since the Iranian Revolution of 1979, women have been forced to cover their hair in line with strict Islamic modesty laws. Shaparak Shajarizadeh had been taking part in White Wednesdays before she was forced to flee to Canada. spiked caught up with her a few weeks ago to find out more about the movement and the Iranian regime’s treatment of dissenters.

spiked: What first led to you protesting against the compulsory hijab in Iran?

Shaparak Shajarizadeh: I was fed up and tired with the oppression. I was waiting for a movement, waiting for a sign to do something. When I got to know the White Wednesday movement, I felt like this was the moment I could finally do something and use my own voice. I had never believed in the hijab. The hijab is not a part of Iranian culture. For me, as a woman in the 21st century, the world is changing and people are changing. The hijab is a symbol of sex discrimination, so I never believed in it. I have never worn a hijab properly in my life.

spiked: Were you afraid of the consequences of protesting?

Shajarizadeh: Yes, I was afraid. But I also had no idea how cruel the authorities could be. I had some friends who wanted me to stop. Some of them had relatives who were arrested and warned me about what might happen. Even so, I couldn’t stop. Every time my husband asked me to stop, I could only say, ‘I can’t’. I knew it would be dangerous, but I had no idea that the police would charge me and accuse me of so many things that I hadn’t done.

I was sent to jail twice. The first time I was arrested, I tried to be honest with the investigators. I tried to reason with them. I started talking about women’s rights and the Suffragettes. I answered all of their questions. They sent me to a cell that night. But the next morning everything had changed. They accused me of being a spy. They accused me of acting against national security, of colluding against the country. They beat me up, too. Because they can only hold you for a few days for removing your hijab, they try to find other things that they can pin on you. They also tried to say I was an atheist and that I did not believe in Islam – the punishment for this is death.

spiked: What happened after that?

Shajarizadeh: The third time I was arrested, I was with my son. This was very scary. I realised they were not going to leave me alone so I decided to leave the country. I knew that if I went to the airport, they would try to arrest me. So I went to Turkey. From there, I went to Canada. I had a tourist visa for Canada in my passport. I had already planned to meet friends in Canada and my sisters in the US last summer before everything happened.

spiked: What has the international response been like?

Shajarizadeh: We had a lot of support from the media and from human-rights organisations. Some politicians have also started talking about the women’s-rights situation in Iran. But, at the same time, the human-rights situation gets buried whenever politicians want to negotiate or deal with Iran. The UN has even put Iran on its women’s-rights committee. Iran is one of the highest-ranking countries for women’s-rights violations. I was very disappointed to see that. I don’t think the UN has done anything for women’s rights in Iran.

spiked: Are you worried about the women still in Iran?

Shajarizadeh: I was one of the first women who got arrested during our campaign. I was lucky to have my friend as my lawyer. During my arrest and while I was in jail, I wasn’t allowed any access to her and she could not see me. But she did everything she could to get me out on bail. Sadly, a few days before my trial, after I had left for Canada, they arrested her. She is still in jail and she is still fighting for our cause. She is not wearing her hijab – even inside the prison. She faces many years in jail.

There are lots of other women, one of my closest friends is also in jail. Again, she was accused of collusion against national security. She hasn’t even been allowed out on bail. There are lots of women who have been put in jail alongside hardcore criminals. Their lives are in danger. The human-rights situation in Iran is the worst it has been in the past 40 years.

Shaparak Shajarizadeh was talking to Fraser Myers.

To enquire about republishing spiked’s content, a right to reply or to request a correction, please contact the managing editor, Viv Regan.


Gerry O’Connor

12th August 2019 at 10:17 pm

Why should she have to wear a hijab if she doesn’t want to? It harms no one if she doesn’t.

Hana Jinks

13th August 2019 at 8:43 am

You don’t wanna know. Trust me.

Hana Jinks

13th August 2019 at 7:31 pm

…seing that you asked, l recently learnt how that if they reject the bag, they get razor-bladed and acided as a way of being convinced about it.

I must sound like Ameliorate Cant to the levt, except that what l say is true.

Claire D

10th August 2019 at 7:54 am

In my view, for what it’s worth, judging foreign societies by our own British standards is inappropriate and unhelpful. FGM and Child Marriage are happening all over Africa, the Middle East and parts of Asia. Child abuse is happening here, now in the UK.

I do not see it as a matter of men’s power over women, that is Feminist ideological analysis which is deeply flawed and distorting. I agree with Steve that what the evidence shows is much more complicated than that.

Hana Jinks

10th August 2019 at 11:59 am

Steve knows his politics and history, but is a bit confused when it comes to science. Wrong is wrong whether British or African’s are doing it.

Claire D

10th August 2019 at 2:10 pm

Obviously it should not be allowed to happen here in the UK and everything should be done to prevent it happening to a British citizen abroad, but I am not sure why, or whether, we should be imposing our Western views on societies across the world. It seems to hark back to British Imperialism, ” we know what’s best for you people, you must behave like us because that’s the correct way to behave, ” etc. I cannot adhere to that and I don’t think it’s a good idea.

Hana Jinks

10th August 2019 at 2:32 pm

These are Heavenly values, as opposed to earthly and corruptible one’s. It’s God that decides whether men should be marrying 6yr olds or not.

Claire D

10th August 2019 at 2:43 pm

It’s a bit like going back in time to the Celts or Anglo-Saxons and trying to drag them forward suddenly to 21st century modern Britain, without any of the intervening social and intellectual developments which have made us what we are today. It’s too much to expect.

Claire D

10th August 2019 at 2:49 pm

Hana, that’s a beautiful way of putting it and I agree.
Human beings break your heart sometimes with their behaviour.

Hana Jinks

10th August 2019 at 4:38 pm

Once again, the devil saw the Covenant made between God and Abraham, and deceived islam into pretty much the most sadistic thing imaginable. These aren’t baby boys having something cut off that God has ok’d anyway. From what l understand, they’re ten-year-olds. I don’t think that there’s anything more incomprehensible than hearing of parents standing around as their daughter’s genitals are cut out, and l can’t understand why western governments are indulging this backward, death-cult.

Winston Stanley

11th August 2019 at 2:05 pm

Hana, the age of marriage has increased through time. 12 was the legal age for a girl in the Bible times. The early sources all say that Mary was 12 when she married Joseph, as was normal back then. I do not think that any of us would excuse that in this day and age. God has not really got anything to do with it. The legal age for marriage in UK until 1929 was 12 for a girl and 14 for a boy.

Child mutilation should definitely be banned in any civilised country. It is no different to say that MGM is OK b/c “God allows it” and to say that FGM is OK b/c “God allows it”. Times and laws move on and religion should not be allowed to get in the way of that.

> Jewish maidens were considered marriageable at the age of twelve years and six months, though the actual age of the bride varied with circumstances. The marriage was preceded by the betrothal, after which the bride legally belonged to the bridegroom, though she did not live with him till about a year later, when the marriage used to be celebrated. (Catholic Encyclopedia.)

Hana Jinks

12th August 2019 at 4:14 am

I don’t make the rules.

Winston Stanley

12th August 2019 at 7:19 am

H, maybe you should make the laws, along with the rest of us. If we are created in the image of God the law giver, and we know the difference between good and evil, then we are naturally equipped, disposed and placed as law givers, to make the laws collectively and democratically in our God-given wisdom.

Nowhere in the Bible does God say that the laws apply to all peoples at all times. They are directions about how they might act in those primitive material and social conditions, when their knowledge and experience was limited. It says “Thou shalt”, nowhere does it say, “No one ever shall, in any future society and situation.” God fully understands that societies evolve and change and that they need new laws to reflect new circumstances.

As Paul says, you are under grace and not under the law. You have the gifts of the Spirit of wisdom and discernment and you are expected not to follow the old law, that giveth not life, but the new law of liberty from the old law. You are expected to craft laws wisely along with your fellow creatures.

That was the view of the True Levellers of England. All are created in the image of God and nowhere in the Beginning was it said that one person shall rule over another in authority and status. The law and rulers were given for a fallen race but we have been redeemed from any authority. The light that lighteth every person that cometh into the world dwells within you and shall lead you into all truth.

The Christian path is freedom from the OT, from given laws and from outward rulers. It is the freedom of grace to rule according to the Ruler that rules within every person to teach and to guide them in the paths of right and wrong. The Spirit dwells within us all to guide us as wise contributors to our collectively and democratically made laws. That freedom is the New Law of Righteousness. The old law is bondage and slavery and it giveth not life. Only the freedom of grace gives life.

Hana Jinks

12th August 2019 at 3:50 pm

Ever since Eve partook of the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, we’ve been able to delude ourselves that we’re able to discern between good and evil, even as we attempt to do this apart from God.

Hana Jinks

13th August 2019 at 6:05 am

What if what I’m sayimg is true?

The Lord showed me that first you need to believe to understand, Winston, as opposed to the other way around. I’d love to talk with you about your experience with The Bible.

Hana Jinks

13th August 2019 at 8:51 am

*the first thing is that..

steve moxon

10th August 2019 at 2:52 pm

Thanks, Claire.
Looking at FGMo through a Western prism is wrong, as you say, because it entails a feminist perspective, which so totally fails to understand what makes the sexes or society tick that any policy based on it cannot but fail.
Feminism anyway has no interest in helping women: it is all about hatred towards men, being the original core of the Leftist backlash that became ‘identity politics’. So feminists actively want women to be and to stay ‘victims’ in ways that can be thus mis-portrayed. The last thing they want is for women to give up FGMo.

Hana Jinks

10th August 2019 at 4:42 pm

Try a spiritual prism.

Hana Jinks

13th August 2019 at 6:12 am

Steve. You have every right to not trust me. I’d never, ever troll you. Ever again.

Claire D

9th August 2019 at 10:48 pm

There is a book called ‘ The Wandering Falcon ‘ by Jamil Ahmad, b. 1933. It gives an insight into the reality of desert life for men and women across Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran in the early 20th century.
It’s a beautiful, terrible book.

Claire D

9th August 2019 at 10:51 pm

terrible as in shocking.

Anuschka Frisco

9th August 2019 at 10:13 pm

White Wednesday? Isn’t that racist? White supremacist?

christopher barnard

9th August 2019 at 4:58 pm

This woman can expect little help from the type of person prepared to overlook things like Rochdale and Rotherham.

Jane 70

9th August 2019 at 4:54 pm



These stories reflect the dire conditions experienced by so many females in Afghanistan: note the courageous gynaecologist, who rescued a six year old with vaginal infection and trauma, from her 45 year old husband.

Note also that most decisions are still made by men, and that sick women and girls need the permission of male family members to see a doctor.

Hana Jinks

10th August 2019 at 3:35 am

So he was allowed to marry her, but they ended up being allowed to take her away from him. We barely even now we’re alive in the west, sometimes. Thanks so much for bringing these stories to light, Jane.

Claire D

9th August 2019 at 2:16 pm

I did’nt say it was an ‘ alien ‘ culture, perhaps a sub-culture though.
The position of Muslims has changed drastically since the 80s and 90s with the arrival of 2 million more is it ? I don’t know the figures, but substantially more. Perhaps when you are a relatively small minority you are more inclined to integrate. When a group becomes so much larger, they also become more powerful and there is more friction as a result of that.

Claire D

9th August 2019 at 2:17 pm

Jane, this is in reply to your response further down.

Claire D

9th August 2019 at 2:19 pm


Jane 70

9th August 2019 at 2:22 pm

Yes I do agree with your assessment, and frankly, this is what worries me: our society seems to have abandoned the self belief necessary to maintain and defend the secular way of life.

Claire D

9th August 2019 at 3:24 pm

I sympathise with you Jane. It’s one of the reasons why I am in favour of maintaining the House of Lords (though I think it should be reduced in size), and also the monarchy, as ballast.

Willie Penwright

9th August 2019 at 2:43 pm

The number of muslims is inflated by 100%. As it is an all-male organisation, it is incorrect to include those who are not members – the women.

Claire D

9th August 2019 at 2:57 pm

I think the women would want to be included and therefore they are included.

Amelia Cantor

9th August 2019 at 1:10 pm

Nobody is fooled when the Islamophobes at Spiked pretend to be on the side of Muslim wombyn. The Muslim community will continue to back social progress and racial justice by voting overwhelmingly for the Labour party. That means the Muslim community supports the right of wombyn to choose the hijab. Simultaneously, the Muslim community supports tougher laws against hate-speech and rejects the toxic notion of “free speech” for racists and Islamophobes.

But, as ever, don’t let reality impinge on your fantasies. Communities of colour don’t support your ideas and don’t back your politics, but you can continue to pretend that you’re on the side of communities of colour.

Cedar Grove

10th August 2019 at 3:26 am

It’s perfectly possible for A to support B even if B doesn’t support A.

But whether spiked supports Muslims or not has no bearing on whether it, or anyone, supports Islamic ideology. One can argue for social justice for everyone and still object to religious totalitarianism. And Islam’s ” complete system”, which dictates every action from the moment of waking, to sleeping , is precisely that.

People like me didn’t spend years involved in activism against racism, misogyny and homophobia just to say oh well, if it’s brown-skinned people who have those attitudes, they must be OK. They’re not. My people worked for 500 years for our imperfect secular democracy: I want to develop that, not have it dragged backwards.

Hana Jinks

10th August 2019 at 9:37 am

Homophobia doesn’t even exist.

H McLean

9th August 2019 at 10:29 am

It’s hard to imagine a more potent global symbol of female oppression than the hijab and it’s counterparts within different Islamic countries, such as the niqab, yashmak, etc. I had a couple of feminist friends who – amazingly – complained bitterly when France banned the wearing of the hijab in public spaces a few years ago. Seeing past their intersectionality is impossible for these people, even when they see stories of women tearing their head-coverings off and throwing them on the ground off when their theocratic governments are kicked out.

Jane 70

9th August 2019 at 1:17 pm

Quite correct; this is what infuriates me about the woke-feminists.

steve moxon

9th August 2019 at 4:21 pm

It is not. See my comments.

steve moxon

9th August 2019 at 7:59 am

False. All forms of ‘female cloistering’ — face/body veiling, female genital modification, foot-binding — are female-initiated modes of intra-sexual competition for high-mate-vale pair-bond partners. See: Only Male Genital Modification is a Form of Control; its Female Counterpart Originated as a Female-Initiated Competitive Ploy, Moxon SP (2017) New Male Studies 2017 6(2), 126-165. http://newmalestudies.com/OJS/index.php/nms/article/view/262/318
ABSTRACT Genital modification functions proximally in both sexes to denude sexual sensitivity, reducing propensity to engage in sex; impacting specifically extra-pair sex. Distal function diverges: male GMo is controlling (lowering young males’ competitiveness with high-status males for young females), whereas female GMo is ‘honest signalling’ of future fidelity (in contest for high-genetic-quality pair-bond partners). Only FGMo originated as a benefit for ‘cut’ individuals. FGMo is both performed and advocated overwhelmingly by females, and does not serve alpha males (in that they can have few concerns about partner fidelity), actually dis-benefiting them (because of impaired sexuality of current and potential pair-bond and extra-pair sex partners). With no basis for male imposition (‘male control’) to explain FGMo, it can only be intra-sexual. https://stevemoxon.co.uk/only-male-genital-modification-is-control-female-is-competitive-ploy/

Jane 70

9th August 2019 at 11:23 am

Nuns are cloistered; I don’t think they’re competing for male attention, nor that their cloistering is an ‘intra -sexual’ custom.

Secondly, the forms of mutilation which you mention are overwhelmingly indicative of societies where women are treated as little more than chattels, possessions.

Surely the crippling-bound feet; mutilated female genitalia-and the coverings are enforced in such a way as to deprive females of any autonomy, although misguided western feminist advocates for the hijab,niqab etc profess to see these as a sign of liberation and personal choice.

Females in the societies which practise such deliberate injuries are doubly stricken, subject to such draconian punishments as stoning, beating , mandatory rape and child marriage.

Yes, many of the practices are carried out and enforced by older women, but the ensuing morbidity, lack of basic autonomy and access to adequate medical treatment and to education and simple justice,means that the males in these societies are the unchallenged arbiters and power brokers.

I have no time for the nonsensical cognitive contortions of the modern feminist movement,with its apparent double standards, but I’m appalled by the systematic subjugation of the unfortunates who have to undergo such torments, intra-sexual or not.

Practices which offend basic common sense and decency are is becoming increasingly divisive and regressive ,while sheltering under the multicultural umbrella : secretive parallel societies are spreading.

steve moxon

9th August 2019 at 11:59 am

You’re quite wrong. Read my paper.
The many converging lines of evidence are overwhelming that all types of ‘traditional’ restrictions on women cross-culturally, whether FGMo, foot-binding or veiling, are all female intra-sexual phenomena. they are nothing whatsoever to do with supposed male imposition.

Hana Jinks

9th August 2019 at 4:23 pm

Circumcision is covenant between God and Abraham, and anything outside of this is a diabolical perversion of it.

Jane 70

9th August 2019 at 1:14 pm


We’ll have to agree to differ.The paper referenced here is worth reading, as it considers the cultural/social inertia which underpins the support for ,and practice of, fgm by older women .

It’s always been done; it’s an important rite of passage; it confers marriageability on young girls.

The fact remains that societies which inflict these torments are essentially ruled and controlled by men: female autonomy and sexuality are seen as potentially disruptive,subversive and against the natural order.

They are characterised by poverty, ignorance, lack of education,strictly conservative social norms and rejection of new ways of thinking.

As mentioned in my previous comment, morbidity is significant, similar to that persisting in societies where abortion is illegal: infection, chronic pain, incontinence,frigidity-hardly surprising! and premature death.

Yes, the practice is maintained and carried out by senior women, but it reflects the norms of male dominated societies,and as I wrote previously, I’m no card carrying feminist, just an ordinary supporter of the secular western society-with all its shortcomings, and a firm believer in male-female equality.

steve moxon

9th August 2019 at 4:19 pm

False again. Women’s affairs are NOT ruled over by men. They are ruled over by senior women. Men have no say. And there is nothing somehow reflective of male socialty of supposed ‘control’. On the very contrary. All forms of ‘female cloistering’ actually are against the interests of high-mate-value (high status) men — the very men a naive ignorant politicised view deems to be those in charge. These men actually want young women to be sexualised: they are looking for additional young wives, and/or concubines, and/or young extra-pair sex partners! The very last thing they want is for young females to be denuded of their sexual sensitivity by FGMo, partitioned away from male society by foot-binding or veiling. If men had any say they would never have allowed any of these practices to have become established in the first place, never mind to become ubiquitous and to persist for thousands of years. Sociality in all cultures essentially is intra-sexual.

Julie Smith

9th August 2019 at 5:21 pm

How fascinating Steve. You present ‘false’ as if researched fully – ‘purely’? By which I mean without agenda or bias?

As I read your comments, I’m struck by how separate you see things. ‘Womens affairs’ where men have no presence – “no say”. Is this truly so? The world of men and the world of women are this separate?

Why if this is so, is it men throwing the women in jail? When men disagree with what women are doing, I tend to observe them simply having ‘no time for it’.

You don’t mention ownership at all either. I agree men “actually want young women to be sexualised”. Indeed they do, and at the same time they want said young women to be unavailable to other men. Think of many of the acts of violence against girlfriends and wives here in the UK. They’re mixed-up in part with ownership are they not?

The women who support and even administer much of it are fascinating and I find them difficult to understand. I’d guess there are many and complex reasons why such women exist. An absolute man-focus (some women kill their own off-spring or perpetrate pedophilia at the behest of their man), a need for a status quo, a religious zeal (many of these things are attached to religion I’m sorry to say), the strange relationship which can manaifest between hostage and abductor.. are but a few possible scenarios.

steve moxon

9th August 2019 at 5:51 pm

I HAVE researched fully — exhaustively. Read my paper on FGMo & MGMo.
The usual last refuge is ‘projection’ of a mirror of own ideology and sure enough that’s what you do here: presuming disagreement is through some ideological difference.
I used to be a feminist, then I read up, and got into actual research and publishing it.
Not a single tenet of any sort of feminism withstands scrutiny — nor least your unthinking acceptance of the notion that intimate partner violence is essentially male-perpetrated. It’s essentially FEMALE-perpetrated. Taking the biscuit is your assertion that men are throwing women in jail. Where?! Your assertion is the very opposite of the truth. It’s very difficult to get yourself in jail if you’re female. And in the unusual case you ever get time, it will be a lot shorter sentence than if you were male. Sooner or later the absurd notions about the sexes stemming from extreme ideology will be a laughing stock, and people like you will stop uncritically buying them.

Julie Smith

10th August 2019 at 9:32 pm

Are you incensed (angry) that I should question the logic of your comments, Steve? You’d rather just state things as fact and not be questioned?

I was looking at the logic of your comment. If the logic doesn’t hang together then either your research (on which the comments are based) is erronous in some way or you’ve misinterpreted it. Rather than a ‘last refuge’, it’s a first fair question to ask: on what foundations has this research been conducted? A short list of actions designed to ensure neutrality would have sufficed as an answer, summarising dilligence. If I were to research into male abuse by women for example, I would need to work hard to ensure any bias I might have (say a predisposition to see women as victim for example) did not end up shaping the research. It would not matter how exhaustively the research were carried out, if it was not sound.

…”your unthinking acceptance of the notion that intimate partner violence is essentially male-perpetrated. It’s essentially FEMALE-perpetrated.”
— So a man using his dumbell to smash his girlfriends head-in is perpetrated by her? Please explain, I genuinely don’t understand how she could perpetrate such injuries on herself. Some might assert she asked for it and therefore deserved it. I can’t imagine you’re going to suggest that, even in a veiled way, so I’m genuinely intrigued what your take is. Rather than say “read the research”, a short reasoned simple summary would be a great response and I anticipate it with interest.

“Taking the biscuit is your assertion that men are throwing women in jail. Where?!”
— Did you not read this article? Again, the women walk themselves into the jail while the men stand by?

Is there something whereby the physical action is… er… what…. forced by some non physical energy, by brainwashing (of men)… or by some other means you’ve uncovered? Or is it in some way irrelevant… a distraction from some other thing/stuff that’s at work on men?

I really am genuinely intrigued and if your response is at all reasoned and resonable, I may well “go read the research”.

Cedar Grove

10th August 2019 at 3:04 am

As usual, you have the issue back to front.

Fortunately, Nigerians at least have recognised that stopping male demand for cut wives ismthe essential step.


And two men in Kenya are challenging the regressive masculine mindset that forces women to mutilate their daughters if they are to find local husbands:


Pity you can’t be as rational, or take responsibility for the negative legacies of patriarchy as well as claiming its successes.

steve moxon

10th August 2019 at 11:08 am

Utter nonsense. The research on FGMo shows overwhelmingly that it is a purely female intra-sexual phenomenon in its origination, development and current maintenance; and that it came about because of its female intra-sexual competitive advantage. Men are not involved at all.
Just flailing about with feminist ideological fervour is not only hardly constructive, but serves to undermine women in any attempt to end the practices. If you fail to understand a phenomenon — and to willfully fail in this — then you’re hardly in a position to engage with it.

H McLean

10th August 2019 at 8:59 am

Steve, your paper is irrelevant. It doesn’t matter if it’s men or women who push these control issues – the fact remains that they ARE STILL highly oppressive to women the world over. THAT is the only thing that counts.

steve moxon

10th August 2019 at 11:14 am

On the very contrary, my paper could not be more relevant; and FGMo is nothing to do with ‘oppression of women’: it is a collective mode for women to compete with each other for high-mate-value marriage partners. Actually understanding a phenomenon is the only way to engage with it. With the basis of FGMo in female-female competitive advantage, and its maintenance as a ‘negative benefit’ of incurring costs in being exceptional in not partaking, then you have a starting point to help women to get together to end the practce if that is what they would prefer to do.

Hana Jinks

10th August 2019 at 11:54 am

Dunno where you get that, Steve, but it’s utter hogwash. Circumcision is covenant between God and Abraham; nothing more, and nothing less. Islamic circumcision could not be more diabolical, in that it’s completely unnecessary and a perversion of God’s will.

Hana Jinks

9th August 2019 at 6:54 am

Chris. You’d be embarrassed to be a leftist if you saw some the things that they merde out.

Jane 70

9th August 2019 at 5:25 am

One of the youngest opticians at my local practice wears one. I cannot understand why professional graduates are now wearing these things.

To me the hijab represents a divisive and regressive symbol of identitarianism but one cannot safely voice an objection nowadays.

We should be proclaiming our support for the courageous women like Shajarizadeh and her fellow protestors, rather than meekly accepting this trend.


Claire D

9th August 2019 at 1:22 pm

do you not think that perhaps young female graduates (and others) wear hijabs out of defiance at British disapproval ?
Personally I don’t like them, but I do understand, and sympathise with, youthful rebelliousness. If the culture you live in is not yet really your’s, and emotionally you are embedded in a different culture peopled with those you love and who love you, the hijab becomes a symbol of rebellion not oppression.

Jane 70

9th August 2019 at 1:47 pm

I don’t honestly see how a qualified professional like the optician in question, who was born and educated here, could realistically or fairly be said to be living in an alien culture, not really hers.

When I was at Surrey in the late 80s- early 90s, I knew several moslems personally who dressed as we do, did not seem to have the overweening sense of grievance so predominant today, and were successful and moderate.

What has happened to change this formerly relaxed way of thinking and integrating?

Look at the early feminists of the 70s in Egypt and elsewhere, who wore western dress and expected full equality. They were admirable; where are they now?

Cedar Grove

10th August 2019 at 3:15 am

If the culture of the country in which you’re born is considered “not really yours”, perhaps it’s because your own group disapproves of that culture, and inculcates a negative attitude from the beginning.

Being ostracised is very hard for people who are accustomed to a collectivist culture, & the ever-present threat of honour killings when girls or women are perceived to be getting too Western ensures compliance, as does the custom of bringing illiterate village spouses over for marriage.

But this isn’t a phenomenon arising from individual decisions. The spread of the black abaya & niqab is a marker of the extent to which Britain’s Islamic communities are influenced by Wahhabism. Previously, Muslim women of Pakistani ethnicity wore colourful, loosely wrapped headscarfs, as did Turkish women. The black uniform is a political development: the conformity creates cohesion and allows the movement to claim power in public space.

steve moxon

9th August 2019 at 4:05 pm

It’s an ossified practice, certainly. Where formerly it gave women a competitive advantage in marriage markets, as it gradually descended from noble-women to encompass more and more women, this became less and less so. The advantage became a negative one: instead of something to be gained, partaking in the practice served only to avoid a cost in being in the minority of women who don’t partake. They merely lose out in competing over prospective high-mate-value pair-bond partners to women who’ve retained the practice, because the senior women in charge of arranging marriage continue to refuse to arrange marriages for women who don’t partake. This is why efforts to end the practice in ‘traditional’ societies not only fail but produce actually more conformity to it. In a non-‘traditional’ context, providing senior women are not still in charge, then it’s more a cultural hangover, which a concerted effort by women to get together should put an end to.

Hana Jinks

9th August 2019 at 5:08 am

Dim Hack is a proponent of Iran.


Very confused orifice at Piked.

Hana Jinks

9th August 2019 at 5:10 am

That it’s a phem-nazi friendly orifice says a lot, too.

Hana Jinks

9th August 2019 at 6:49 am


Because of that free-speech banner, and the confusion surrounding the mods, I’ve decided to step it up.

Hana Jinks

9th August 2019 at 6:52 am

Feel free to bail at any time.

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