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A Canadian Shia TV station, Ahlulbayt, that promotes World Hijab Day runs a similar project called “Global Hijab Awareness”. “Why does Islam encourage hijab?” asks its homepage Q&A. Answer: “It not only makes a woman feel confident and liberated but encourages society to not see women as objects of desire.” Women who haven’t yet worn the hijab should “get on the train of repentance, my sister, before it passes by your station”.

Our well-intentioned Foreign Office celebrated World Hijab Day in February, and is reported to have offered free headscarves to women, inviting them to its Walk-In event — just to feel the power of its “liberation, respect and security”. Muslim women are often quoted as saying the hijab does indeed “empower” them. But how, exactly? By providing a deterrent to ogling men because they’re left with less to look at? How exactly does that represent empowerment of women? It seems to me that by encouraging women in the West to wear the hijab, the Foreign Office is disempowering those of their sisters in the East who have been arrested, threatened and even killed for not wearing it. “Kill her and throw her corpse to the dogs,” was one outraged response in 2016 to a young Saudi woman who posted a picture of herself on social media in public without wearing a hijab.

Of course, British Muslims are not alone in worrying about where a liberal permissive society might take their children. Equally, there is concern about how the hijab is being used by Islamist organisations to position conservative Islam in the mainstream.

Quite why a branch of the British government should be willing to help them do this in a country increasingly segregated by faith and culture is puzzling. Not to Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon though: “Women should be able to observe their faith — and wear what they choose,” she says on the World Hijab Day website. Sure, they should. Is there some suggestion that they cannot? The case made by Amanda Spielman and Neena Lall is not about the right of British Muslim girls who have reached puberty to wear the hijab: it is whether it is right for the state to collude in its imposition on 4-7-year olds, long before they reach puberty, instead of giving them the freedom to choose at puberty.

Some British Muslim leaders seem to want to reduce that choice. The Greater Council of Mosques in Greater Manchester insist that the hijab becomes a “religious obligation” at puberty and parents who put it on their pre-pubescent daughters “do so to accustom them to wear it in later life”. Mend boss Sufyan Ismail gives the game away when he says: “Our view was that if a girl does not wear the hijab before puberty then she won’t wear it afterwards.” So much for Mend’s claim that the right to wear the hijab in schools is about religious freedom. It also suggests scant parental regard for the famously quoted Koranic verse that there should be no compulsion in religion.

To Asra Nomani, co-founder of the US-based Muslim Reform Movement, the likes of Sturgeon and the Foreign Office “stand on the wrong side of a lethal war of ideas that sexually objectifies women as vessels for honour and temptation, absolving men of personal responsibility. This purity culture covers, segregates, subordinates, silences, jails, and kills women and girls around the world.”
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May 17th, 2018
7:05 PM
Iftikhar Ahmad`s comment is a perfect example of unreasoning.

May 13th, 2018
7:05 PM
Why does the government not support the more liberal British Muslims in this noble cause?

Iftikhar Ahmad
May 5th, 2018
7:05 PM
Hijab Why is it that we always have these conversations about girls? I never read articles about what boys should or should not wear. I have never read articles about what boys should be allowed to do, only girls. Maybe that is more the issue. Why? It would only be a good idea if you planned to make the families feel so unwelcome that they end up removing their children to be educated at home. But don't then be surprised at the number of home educated Muslim children rising. Maybe that's the overall agenda to make Muslims as outcasts? Muslim girls who wear the hijab to primary school will be asked why they wear it by inspectors. The reasons given will then be recorded in school reports, amid concerns girls are being forced to wear the headscarf by their parents. Amanda Spielman, the chief inspector of schools, announced the move on Sunday. This is none of Ofsted's business. In fact it is discrimination. Ofsted should be instructed to back off. Can you please focus on the primary children/girls who are dressed like grown women with short skirts and such which would be deemed as sexualisation of girls. And is this about sexualisition Ms Spielamn or Fundamentalism? I think your a little confused and need to make up your mind because I would say its about Islamophobia. Imagine being questioned about why you dress the way your parents tell you at 8 years of age!? What do you say? “Sorry, I’ll tell them they are wrong”? Looks like Ofsted are now so busy with combating Islam that they will have no time to deal with education? The problem is, before they start the quizzing, they're making public exactly what the girls should get prepared to reply (by their family) to be allowed to keep the hijab. With all the time to rehearse. Any child asked by an inspector why she’s covering her hair should reply.. 'its a free country I can wear what I effing want''!! We do not need inspectors chasing Muslims just because we hate them. Looks like Ofsted are now so busy with combating Islam that they will have no time to deal with education? What is the role of the Government can any of the hijab haters answer This? Or do we need another PREVENT policy to target certain group of people? I bet all the readers who have kids have forced their kids to go to sleep, brush their teeth, wake them out of bed, eat dinner etc, wear a helmet whilst riding bike and so on...So what is wrong with telling your kid to cover the head to if one wants to. There is nothing wrong with this as long as its achieved peacefully and through education. Of course they are forced or at least required to wear hijabs by parents because it is the parents who bring up children according to their tradition, religion or both. Freedom of religion is imperial . One can choose what to believe in an practise it , it' not the government' job to dictate what you should eat, how you should dress ,when you should pray only has the power to coerce it' civilians but it should just focusing on providing services and infrastructure and education and so on. So they need to send inspectors instead of assuming that it's the parents brainwashing the kids. Interesting. Maybe they expect to find some 7 years old girls who will give them a detailed report of all the faiths they thoroughly researched before choosing Islam because it's the one they believe provides the answers to all their existential and philosophical questions. Parents are free to teach their children what they want as long as it' not harming them physically or mentally. Its called education not force. I guess every parent has the right to educate their child into doing something which they believe is good (as long as its not a crime etc). It's the parents that they should be questioning, not the children. No good asking the girls. If they are made to wear it, they will be made to say they aren’t, since that’s what the Inspectors want to hear. Everybody knows who the Inspectors spoke to. How nice of them. Huge swathes of children in Birmingham leave school without 5 GCSE but that doesn't seem to concern Ofsted too much. In fact they label schools Outstanding when they cannot even get half their pupils to this benchmark! We, as parents want to raise our girls. It is our responsibility, no one else's , even Ofsted. Ofsted should be looking at the reasons why children &young people are suffering an epidemic of mental illness, clue: it’s not because they lack resilience. Instead they are joining in with the rights obsession over what women and girl wear and bashing Muslims

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