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30 June 2012


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It always just sort of struck me as common sense that a country that forces people to wear a certain kind of head covering is wrong, just as a country that forbids people from wearing a certain kind of head covering is wrong.

If anything was never any of the government's business, it's hat regulations.

Allen Thomson

I will note that here in San Antonio, in the great state of Texas, I almost never go into the local supermarket without seeing hijabs, jilbabs frequently, abayas (I think: robes either plain or colorful, usually worn with head scarfs) and once or twice a year the full black abaya and niqab.) Of course, the supermarket is next to a major medical complex that hires lots of people from the Middle East and stocks Texas Halal chicken.

The beaver

Brigadier Ali

McGill University med school has quite a few pediatricians and surgeons amongst its alumni who wear the hijab and who are well respected in its hospitals. Unfortunately, the french hospitals in Québec are as bad as the policies of the current govt on Parliament Hill :(


In America, if you insist on wearing something, most likely your children will refuse to do the same. If not your children, your grandchildren will. You certainly have the right to make yourself separate in the US but don't expect it to be widely accepted, nor universally admired.

Over time, the visual aspects of Islam will be rearranged, reordered, rejected and receding. It is the American Way.

K. Hussan Zia

It would seem logical for people who call for a ban on hijab should also demand the removal of all the classical paintings from churches, museums and art galleries that show Mary wearing what looks very much like hijab.


Did anyone complain that Roman Catholic nuns wore the hijab? What about women at weddings? What about Jackie at JFK's funeral?

Oh but, you say, they weren't forced to, except maybe the nuns.

Women in most Arab countries aren't forced to wear the hijab, either. It's a matter of choice, just like brides and mourners wear veils in the West.

This whole hijab kerfuffle is a product of conservative culture wars, designed to make people so angry that they don't notice what banksters, military contractors, Big Oil and Big Pharma are doing.

Babak Makkinejad

I think some sort of hijab was a common attire of women all over the world during (European) Medieval times.

The large peiece of cloth in sari was used for that purpose; covering a woman from head to toe.

I also noticed something like that in photographs from Korea during the late 19-th and early 20-th centuries.

The paintings relected common clothing of European women; which was similar to hijab as you observed.

I think that over time the people in Middle East kept to the "hijab"-style for women while the rest of the world moved on.

The habits of the Catholic nuns (before Vatican II), I think, is the one of the few vestiges left of the time when women dressed themselves in that manner both in Europe and in the Near East (as well as in India - I should think.)

Medicine Man

I wouldn't be so quick to lay it all at the feet of cultural conservatives. There's a healthy coterie on the left who are quick to pick those fights based entirely on what they feel is demeaning to women, regardless of what the woman in question may think.

Medicine Man

Thank you for the post Brigadier Ali. Wafa Dabbagh sounds like she was a worthy woman.


In the 40s and 50s in New England many married women always covered their hair in public with headscarfs. As I recall, it was mostly Irish and Sicilian ladies. My mother and aunts did the same, but they were protestant farmgirls from Maine.


Amen, MM. It's a pleasure to get quirky snippets of good news.


What male in the West hasn't been culturally coerced if not forced to wear the western suit and tie uniform on occasion. I'd guess enforcing clothing customs and rebelling against them has been going on since we all wore leaves.

I don't have a problem with cultural agreement on certain uniforms in certain situations as long as the penalty for rebellion is not threatening to life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, or employment.


r whitman

Yesterday afternoon in Houston I went to the opening of a new Fiesta supermarket that caters to the Mexican and Mexican-American community. The greeter at the door was a young woman of obvious middle eastern ancestry wearing a hijab. Nobody thought this was unusual, just a slice of life in immigrant America.

Are we making too much of this??



The "issue" of whether or not women in various parts of the world wore "covered" clothing is truly irrelevent. That was then. This is now. Catholic nuns very rarely wear the medieval garb that I remember them wearing as my schoolteachers. While insisting that it is their right to wear such apparel, I also insist that a deliberate decision to wear such dress, whether it is called a hijab, burqa or whatever is indicative of a mindset that resists integration into modernity whether that is in .the Islamic World or on the streets of Toronto. I worked for a long time with a Muslim of western education and mixed sentiments whose wife told me she wanted to be "covered" but that he would not allow it because of what it would say about him. As for Lt Cmdr, Wafa, I find it difficult to visualize how a woman in Hijab could function as a medical officer in a modern army. Did she deploy to Afghanistan? Did she treat male parients? pl

Babak Makkinejad

If the issue were irrelevant, we would not be talking about it.

Modernity is Godless - that is its salient feature ergo the (weak) Catholic critique of Modernity.

The issue is an adequate response to Modernity - everywhere.


"While insisting that it is their right to wear such apparel, I also insist that a deliberate decision to wear such dress, whether it is called a hijab, burqa or whatever is indicative of a mindset that resists integration into modernity whether that is in the Islamic World or on the streets of Toronto."

I respectfully disagree. One of my colleagues in my immigration law practice is a Pakistani-American family law attorney in her 40s who wears a hijab. When I first met her a couple of years ago I wondered about the scarf and what it meant about the person. But, we started to work together on immigration cases because she had the client contacts in the community and I knew the law in this area.

Two years later I am amazed at how thoroughly AMERICAN this woman is, particularly in relation to my initial perception. We've talked extensively about the role of Islam and religious-based dress in her life, and since much of our joint practice is family immigration based, I've had an opportunity to see her reactions to many situations where male-dominated Islamic religious prejudice has played a role in family dysfunction.

I haven't been disappointed or shocked once by the stealth emergence of a "traditional" Islamic mentality in this lady, whose uniform reaction to spousal abuse emphasizes the client's duties and rights under American law, regardless of personal religious beliefs.

My colleague tells me that she adheres to a very liberal version of Islam. Even so, I don't think she's an anomaly in a scarf.



You Canadians never disappoint. You have an "army" that is smaller than the Boy Scouts of America and you cite it as evidence of things. pl


Why do you think modernity is Godless?



"her subservience to authority, her submission of her individual expression, and her loyalty to rigid hierarchy. The Hijab, considering, is entirely, and poignantly, relevant"

Yes, the soldiers here fit that description, offered in a snide manner.

We fit it exactly. pl.



Yes, you did. You are by self-definition a self-centered, self indulgent twit. You are something like the legion of selfish children like Bill Clinton who had something better to do than be ruled by people like me. You were probably right to make that decision. I have ruled many who didn't want to suffer the indignity of service to others. pl

FB Ali

Col Lang,

I did not know Lt Cmdr Wafa personally, but she wore a skirt as part of her normal uniform. She wasn't deployed to Afghanistan but she did treat male patients as part of her normal military duties.

Your statement regarding such coverings implying a deliberate resistance to modernity may well apply to the burqa or suchlike, but I doubt if it applies to all those who wear the hijab. What it does signify for many of them is an unwillingness to become fully 'Westernized', but that is not the same thing as 'modernity'.

The discussion here on this subject appears to be heavily influenced by the situation in Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries of the ME where women's role is fairly circumscribed. A very different situation prevails in other Muslim countries such as Pakistan, Malaysia and Indonesia. In them the total coverup was comparatively rare, though the traditional head-covering by women persisted much longer than it did in the West. Even this was given up by 'modern' women in the first half of the last century. It is their grand-daughters who are now reverting to the hijab in the West, very often as a symbol of their refusal to become full Westernized and their wish to retain their own culture.

Babak Makkinejad

(Western) Modernity rejects teleology on both empirical and philosophical grounds.

It also denies the Here-After and emphasizes Here-and-Now.

It can neither concieve of nor comprehend the existence of societies that are predicated on the Word of God.

Its political theories reject such an order as illegitimate.

Lately it has created 3 gods in lieu of God: a god of Liberty/Freedom, a god of Human Rights, and a god of Shoah/Holocaust.

When you go to Western people, you have to humor them in those things lest they think you are beyon the pale.

Modernity is an interesting religion....


Wafa was exceptional and bold. Here is an excerpt of the interview on her first appointment in the Navy. "The commanding officer sat me down and said I don’t know what to do with you, Dabbagh recalled. “He had called every branch of the forces and no one had a covered Muslim woman in their ranks. I told him, ‘What you see is what you get, sir. I don’t drink alcohol, I don’t eat pork, but I can do everything else.’”. And she proved herself to her words.

The problem is not the philosophy of hijab but "who" is veiling behind it.

r whitman

You should be concentrating on the quality, taste and price of the food, not the ancestry of the owners. Do not let your prejudices get in the way of a good meal.


Well, they did repel an American invasion and burn down our capital city, which should probably earn our friendly neighbor to the north a bit of martial respect.

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