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Sunday, February 17, 2008

Saudi women rush to ditch their hijab when abroad

From an op-ed in the Arab News:
Everyone knows that Saudi women not only remove their abayas once they leave the country, but they also compete in following the latest fashion trends when abroad. They spend a fortune on their outfits so that they don’t feel left out of the fashion parade that Saudi and Gulf women start during summer vacations in other Arab or European countries. The famous streets of London, Paris or Cairo are like carnivals displaying the latest in fashion trend worn by Saudi and Gulf women.

This proves that it’s impossible to impose a certain trend on people when it comes to dress codes or behavior. Threats and terrorizing make people have dual personalities. They become schizophrenic. They will rush at the first opportunity to ditch anything that’s been imposed on them when they’re sure that they are neither monitored nor supervised.

Prohibiting things that the scholars disagree upon and imposing traditions on people will lead to social hypocrisy. It will increase the number of people who secretly do things that they oppose publicly. We need to review many of our social habits that are practiced in the name of religion and are severely restricting Saudi society. We might at one point make peace with ourselves and manage to stand in the face of the changing world.

Unlike many right-wing bloggers, I sympathize with Muslim women who truly want to dress modestly (as long as it doesn't conflict with other human rights or security issues.) However, the Muslim world forcing all women to a certain dress code is nothing less than abuse, and this editorial neatly shows how it is destructive to the very society that pretends that it is acting "morally."