This past Tuesday an EU court ruled that employers can ban Muslim women to wear the Hijab in the workplace
According to the Guardian “In its first decision on the issue of women wearing Islamic headscarves at work, the European court of justice in Luxembourg ruled the garments could be banned, but only as part of a general policy barring all religious and political symbols”
Nor can customers simply demand workers remove headscarves if the company has no policy barring religious symbols, the court ruled on Tuesday.
This rule includes every religious symbol from every religion but in reality, mainly Sikh men and Muslim women would be mostly affected by it, because wearing a turban,a Dastaar, being mandatory for the men and women to never to take it off and a hijab the headscarf for the Muslim women, which although is not compulsory, is part of the way that they represent themselves and their religion.
This is I believe a complete attack on the freedom of religious choice to millions of women in Europe that wear the Hijab, simply because is part of who they are, is part of their religion and wearing a headscarf is how they choose to live.
I worked with hundreds of Muslim women for the past 10 years of me living in the UK and some became my friends, work colleagues, study colleagues. I have nothing but respect for Islam even though I am an Atheist, how one chooses to worship God is none of my business, if it makes them happy is cool with me.
Not one woman that I met, was wearing the Hijab because they were forced to. All of them was wearing the Hijab because they wanted to. They owned the headscarf, styling it in the most various fabulous way, with the most glorious outfits.
I have so many stories some funny some out of pure bravery about the trials and tribulations of some of the women that I met because of their Hijab.
One of my staff after wearing the hijab for a while decided to wear the niqab. The whole family was against it. Not even most women in her family wore the Hijab, they said that she wasn’t ready, that she was too young, only 19, and that she needed to study the Quran more. She goes a full year wearing the Niqab, meanwhile, the family always advising her to take it off and after one year she finally realises that she wasn’t ready and that she does need to further her studies in the Quran, she then decided not to even wear the hijab for a while, just to have a break from it all, with full support from the family. Another of my staff would say that she often would wear the niqab when she couldn’t the bothered to get dressed to go down to the nearest 7/11 often leaving the house in her pyjamas and that most of the time while at work she would have a deep treatment under the Hijab that she would wash it off when she gets home, she loved how practical it was. Having a bad hair day? nobody would know. Some of them would say that their husbands preferred them without the Hijab, but they would still wear it because they felt good about it. Most of the stories were also pure bravery, because they just refused to take it off, even after being verbally attacked not only by customers but just by walking down the street, they would get stared at, they would get comments and questions thinking that they were some sort of oppressed person, but Nevertheless they persisted. If this is not feminism and fighting for their rights, I don’t know what it is.
Sometimes their mums and older women in their family, wouldn’t even be wearing the headscarf but they would because they wanted to bring a new stylish way of being a British Muslim and dispel any misconceptions that the society might have, they felt proud of wearing it and being a Muslim. Wearing the hijab for some, was a way of being a feminist.The idea that all Muslim women are wearing the Hijab because they are forced to do it, is just utterly rubbish. It is a mass media fear propaganda, that leads people to believe that for example all Muslims are terrorists, that all Muslim women are oppressed, that all Muslim women are forced to go into arranged marriages, that all Muslim women will just stay home after marriage, that any Muslim can at any point blow up your local Greggs.
So you really believe that in a religion with 2.2 billion people, that being 31% of the world population all of them have terrorist tendencies and are oppressed?
Muslims these days are more likely to have second “random” searches when traveling by car, plane, train…walking to the local chippy, to have more difficulty in the job market because of their Muslim sounding names, to receive racist attacks, to be victims of hate speech, to have their religion questioned and dragged down the mud, to be attacked in the streets randomly especially when a terrorist attack occurs somewhere in the world.
People seem to take Islam extremists as a part of 2.2 billion, forgetting that every religion, especially Catholics and Christians, has always had extremists and people that would take God’s name to push their own agendas.
I am also in complete disbelieve that so far I have not seen any Feminist group come forward to defend our Muslim sisters.Where are the protests? Where is the outrage?
To defend their right to wear what they want, how they want it, where they want it. Isn’t the right for women to wear what she wants, without being questioned one of the feminist values?
Many Muslim women would not feel comfortable going out in the streets or workplace without a Hijab, because simply it is not how they want to represent themselves. This EU court rule would prevent them to apply to the jobs they want, stay in their jobs in case the employer asks them to remove their headscarf, or even get a job if a condition to the successful of the job and be able to work would be for her to take off her Hijab.
what will happen now? Would employers will change their policies banning religious symbols at work? Who will protect the women that might be discriminated against?
Feminism to me seems to be a western white women’s only club, or so it seems that when it comes to discriminatory issues, such as race and religion. They would fight for general issues such as abortion, equal pay, tax on sanitary products, violence against women. All valid crucial fights, that I would fight also and will protest to bring much-needed rights to ALL women.
However, I notice that there is a complete silence when it comes to issues that are not general, such as the way black women are represented in the media or in this case the way Muslim women are stripped of their rights and choices because of their religion.
Kimberlé William Crenshaw, professor of law at UCLA and Columbia and an authority on Critical Race Theory and Civil Rights, explain in this video , that discrimination can happen to one person, with several different factors at the same time. In my case, I am a woman, I am Black and in this post- Brexit Era in the UK I am an European, so more often than I wish, I get xenophobic, sexist and racist comments based on the different stereotypes that people can have on the black women and Europeans.
Muslim women would have the same depending on her name, heritage, what she chooses to wear, that being with or without the Hijab, the Niqab or the burka, and top of that she still faces all the same sexism that ALL women face.
My question still remains why is feminism in 2017 is still not inter-sectionalized? Why feminists have an issue to reach out and help a sister out when it is clear that she is being a victim of discrimination? Why I still feel the need to label myself as a Black Feminist and not just a Feminist, because the feminist groups don’t seem to represent ALL women?
Feminism women need a wake-up call and be more vocal on inter-sectionalized issues, especially if they would like more support from all the billions of women that don’t get their support. Together we can be stronger ladies.