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We are often told that wearing the hijab is a matter of personal choice for women. However, when Ofsted’s Chief Inspector Amanda Spielman suggested that parents who expect their children to wear the hijab before puberty might be sexualising them, the Greater Manchester mosques condemned her comments as “abhorrent”. Why?

If the hijab really is a matter of personal choice — and not widely regarded by Muslims as a sexual modesty garment — what explains the 2017 slut-shaming and terrorising of a 17-year-old hijab-wearing girl in Birmingham filmed twerking in the street? After the film was uploaded (receiving a million views), one Muslim wrote: “That’s so disrespectful is you [sic] are wearing hijab you are representing Islam dignity so how to act like a fool is a big disrespect.” Another: “She should be shot!!!!!!!!”. Another wrote: “Killing her oughta teach her!”. Two self-appointed male modesty guardians are reported to have been contacted by the girl’s family. So intimidated was the girl by the “community” opprobrium heaped on her for being immodest (“This is the work of the devil”) that she was recorded sobbing and begging forgiveness. “To all the girls that wear the hijab and wear abaya (Islamic cloak) I’m sorry for disrespecting it,” she wailed.

Others, like Dr Siema Iqbal, a GP who was until recently Mend’s Manchester co-ordinator, say many young Muslim girls simply wish to imitate their mother, or a relative. Perhaps. It’s also true that some mothers in highly-segregated areas worry what their neighbours might say “about their daughter being immodest or slutty” as one Muslim friend raised in such an environment told me.

To suggest that the hijab has not been adopted primarily as a religious symbol of sexual modesty ignores its evolution. While there are no specific references to the term hijab in the Koran, verse 24:31 does refer to the Prophet telling “believing women” to “lower their gaze and be modest”, to “wrap (a portion) of their headcovers” over their bosoms and not to “display their beauty” except to close male relatives.

By the 1950s, however, the hijab had become something of a museum piece in parts of the Arab world. A video of Egypt’s President Nasser at a mass rally in 1958 shows him mocking the hijab after the Muslim Brotherhood demanded he make it compulsory:

Nasser: And I met the head of the Muslim Brotherhood and he sat with me and made his requests. What were his requests? The first thing he asked for was to make the wearing of a hijab mandatory in Egypt. And demand that every woman walking in the street wear a large scarf.

Crowd: (Laughter.)

Nasser: Every woman walking —

Crowd: (More laughter.)

Man: Let him wear it! (Loud laughter and applause.)
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amcdonald
May 17th, 2018
7:05 PM
Iftikhar Ahmad`s comment is a perfect example of unreasoning.

Anon
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 ..it 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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