Is the mainstream media trying to mitigate the impact of religiously-motivated attacks by ignoring the plight of women who choose to not wear the hijab?
Canadian police found that an 11 year-old Muslim girl lied about being attacked and having her hijab being torn from her.
As a result of the alleged incident, which widely circulated in the media, she and her family won a great deal of attention and sympathy from the public before police discovered that the family had fabricated the story.
Khawlah Noman’s school administration spared no time in holding a press conference over the hijab snatching incident and garnered much public support for her and for their own humane stance in defence of the ‘victim’.Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was quick to arrive at the scene to posture and wax eloquent at how sad he felt over the ‘attack’ on the poor girl:
‘My heart goes out to Khawlah Noman following this morning’s cowardly attack on her in Toronto. Canada is an open and welcoming country, and incidents like this cannot be tolerated.’
Women who say No
The same humanity, however, was lacking last year when a Canadian Muslim man was caught beating his daughter for taking off her hijab after leaving home. The father was accused of physically torturing his daughter for more than a year over the issue. But the Canadian Prime Minister offered no public sympathy in response to the incident.
‘The same humanity…was lacking last year when a Canadian Muslim man was caught beating his daughter for taking off her hijab after leaving home’
The public never heard her side of the story, and the incident passed without spectacle or fanfare. The girl sought refuge in the police and revealed that her father had attacked her with a weapon for exercising her choice to not wear the religious modesty garment.
Prime Minister Trudeau, despite posturing as a feminist, never condemned the father nor gave any statement defending the girl’s right to not wear religious gender-based dress. Nor did any champion of women’s rights come forward to support the victim. Instead, there was resounding pin-drop silence over the incident–no ‘Motion 103’ tabled in the Canadian Parliament in favour of her right to say no to the hijab or any other religious practice.
Evidently, this is not the first example of duplicity brought on by a desire to parade one’s victimhood.
The press and public responded with a similar outpouring of support for a Muslim girl from New York who was later found guilty of fabricating a similar story about her hijab being attacked in a subway. After reporting and amplifying her side of the story, journalists and activists were reluctant to defend cases in which parents were accused of torturing or suppressing their own children, or forcing them to comply with their conservative lifestyles.
‘Journalists and activists were reluctant to defend cases in which parents were accused of torturing or suppressing their own children, or forcing them to comply with their conservative lifestyles’
Meanwhile in the UK, the public downplayed serious death threats and harassment of a British hijabi girl who was captured on video dancing outside a market in Birmingham, UK. For her alleged transgression against the hijab (a symbol of Islamic modesty that her twerking had allegedly blemished, according to her accusers), the video was posted on social media. After it went viral, the girl was subjected to online harassment, vitriol, and threats. Eventually she was compelled to make a public apology for ‘dishonouring’ the hijab.
Are we unwittingly helping extremism?
Religious extremists use violence and death threats to keep women under control and, in some extreme cases, do not abstain from killing those who dare to challenge their tyranny.
A Canadian father killed his teenage daughter Aqsa Parvez in 2007 for refusing to wear the hijab.
Given the circumstances, the possibility that many girls might be suffering in the hands of their extremist family members is hard to rule out. Granting exceptions to people in the name of religious sensitivity only encourages criminals to further commit violent atrocities upon women.
‘Granting exceptions to people in the name of religious sensitivity only encourages criminals to further commit violent atrocities upon women’
The media should likewise be held responsible for reporting lies about incidents of religiously motivated attacks. They spare no time making claimants defending the hijab into celebrities, which allows mischievous extremists to cash in on the situation. These incidents show the ways in which extremists keep public sympathy and public opinion on their side.
Incidents of domestic violence and suppression, especially of women and girls, is often downplayed in the name consideration for ‘religious feelings’. The mainstream media seem to have a bias towards mitigating the impact of religiously-motivated attacks while keeping incidents of its own violence low profile, even as they are on the rise.
Honour-based violence and ‘choice’For many Muslim women, religious dress is mandatory, not voluntary. The Iranian and Kurdish Women’s Rights Organisation (Ikwro) found that police forces across the UK had recorded at least 2,823 ‘honour’ attacks over 2010. Some statistics showed a jump of nearly 50 percent in such cases from 2009.
As recently as 2015, London’s Crown Prosecution Service reported the highest ever number of cases of honour-based violence against women and girls (VaWG ) being prosecuted and convicted in England and Wales. Despite this, a 2015 review conducted by HMIC into the effectiveness of police responses to honour-based violence (HBV) found that only three out of the 43 forces across England and Wales are prepared in all essential areas to deal with such crimes. This is the backdrop against which we must set the claim that wearing the burqa or hijab is a choice.
It is sad to see false claims of attacks on hijabi girls at a time when many Europeans already seem fed up with ultra-conservative cultural practices and some of the extreme measures used to prevent dissent from them.
The modern world’s poisonous hypocrisy in defence of modesty culture in the guise of women’s ’empowerment’ actually empowers the oppressors who want to continue their inhumane treatment of women.
A father, a husband, or a brother who tortures a woman and then gets away with a minor reprimand only learns that he doesn’t have to pay a heavy price for keeping the women in his family under the shadow of fear.
What lies behind these lies?
In the case of the Canada hijab hoax, a young girl either made up the story or was forced to give a false account of an attack.
On one side, there are those who would suggest we take this incident lightly, since kids make up stories all the time. The other side, however, would say that brushing such incidents aside would jeopardise the credibility of the ‘Muslim community’ across the globe, leading to scepticism and mistrust in the face of real incidents of religiously or racially motivated abuse.
It is therefore imperative to study the reasons behind these fabrications in order to understand the psychological factors that lead people to think they can achieve something by telling a lie.
The government should realise that falsehoods of this nature are potentially hazardous to the larger society. Wasting police time is a criminal offence. Moreover, these parents might also be tried for putting their children in harm’s way. Encouraging, or even coercing them to lie on such a huge scale ignores the possibility that the child might have to live her life with the consequences of this incident and might even face bullying for having invented such an explosive story.
The lies related to Islamists’ ultra-conservative dress code continue to expose the fact that this attire is nothing but a political statement on behalf of extremists.
Perhaps lurking behind these lies is a sense of insecurity that children could one day renounce religious indoctrination?