People are perfectly entitled to wear whatever they like, within the generally-accepted bounds of decency – and as hijab isn’t generally considered indecent.
But in the circumstances… what do you think?
Kelvin MacKenzie’s controversial column in the Sun about Fatima Manji wearing a hijab while presenting Channel 4 News has, unsurprisingly, come in for criticism.Her colleagues and bosses were less than impressed with the attack and, at the time of writing, are preparing to issue a statement to that effect.
Although the Sun deleted a tweet that promoted the column it did so on the grounds that it failed to make it clear that it was MacKenzie’s viewpoint and not that of the newspaper.
But I very much doubt that MacKenzie was alone in his views. A woman friend (Irish, lapsed Catholic, now atheist) told me yesterday she strongly objected to Manji wearing the hijab on the grounds that she was representing the subjugation of women.
The only possible reason for a woman to cover her hair, she argued, was to conform to a male interpretation of Islam, a dress code without a specific basis in the Qur’an.
I protested that she had a right to wear what she liked. Among several, and possibly overlapping reasons, she might have done so out of dedication to her faith, or as a political statement, or even to express feminist empowerment (yes, see Nadiya Takolia’s argument). It might simply be a favoured fashion accessory.
Whatever the reason for her mode of dress, it is intolerant to demand that she dress as others would wish. That said, I know Muslim women are far from united on the virtues of the wearing of the hijab, as Yasmin Alibhai- Brown explored in an excellent piece last year.
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