Wearing a hijab is neither virtuous, courageous, nor heroic

Let me begin by saying two things. First, yes, in Islam wearing a hijab (the head covering) is a sign of virtue, designed to prevent men who cannot control their raging lust from seeing your salacious hair. It is a garment of modesty. But by “virtuous” above, I mean, this: you’re not a better person because you wear a hijab. All you are doing is displaying your adherence to one of the world’s many forms of superstition.

Second, this post is not meant to encourage bigotry against Muslims. Those women who wear a hijab have every right to do so, and are not bad people because they do so, although the hijab is probably a sign of coercion far more often than we think. Nevertheless, it’s laudable for people to fight bigotry: the unwarranted prejudice against someone on the basis of ethnicity or adherence to a religion.

But in these days of Regressive Leftism and Virtue Twerking (see Grania’s earlier post), people often seem to post not to reduce bigotry or improve society, but to congratulate themselves for not being bigots. Often these posts center on hijabs, and, to me, boil down to this statement “I am awesome for not being a racist. I am not a racist because I don’t hate women who wear headscarves.” (For one blatant example, see here.)

I became aware of another example from the Twi**ter feed of Sarah Haider, once a Shia Muslim and now, a nonbeliever, a co-founder and outreach director of Ex-Muslims of North America:

Here Haider is talking about Ibtihaj Muhammad, the American Olympic fencer who wore a hijab under her headpiece during competition. For this Muhammad has been lauded as a role model, as having made history, and for showing exemplary courage. But Muslim women athletes who don’t wear the hijab are no less courageous—in fact, they could be seen are more courageous by bucking the social pressure to cover your hair. What is being celebrated seems to be not Muhammad herself, but her hijab, and I’m not wholly comfortable with that.  (I do recognize that it’s also a self-congratulatory gesture by the U.S. on our supposed liberality.)

Yes, Muhammad has reported sporadic cases of bigotry against her, as has surely every black athlete on Team U.S.A., but I don’t see that as heroic. Persistent, yes, determined, yes, and tenacious, yes, but an American hero? Not to me. Sarah Haider, who speaks openly of her apostasy, thereby risking death or injury, is a greater hero. As is Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who travels with an armed bodyguard in the face of many death threats—all for speaking up against the oppression of Islam. Wearing a headscarf in the U.S. is simply not a gesture worthy of the term “heroic.” You want heroic? How about not wearing a headscarf in Saudi Arabia?

The article cited by Haider was by W. Kamau Bell on CNN, and was a plea to Michael Phelps (written as a letter to him) to make a “noble gesture,” stepping aside as the U.S. flag-bearer in favor of Muhammad in the opening ceremonies of the Olympics. (He was voted flag bearer by his fellow athletes on the basis of his amazing performances, with Muhammad coming in second. And he ultimately carried the flag on the day Bell wrote his piece.) But why this plea? To show how open and liberal America is, of course—for making a hijab-wearer a symbol of our country. And, of course, to publicly denigrate Donald Trump and his bigotry. As Bell notes in his plea to Phelps:
Your stepping back will allow this moment to become something bigger than just another opening ceremony. No offense, but right now America has enough tall, successful, rich white guys hogging the spotlight trying to make America great … again.
No offense, indeed! Except, perhaps, to Mr. Phelps, who won more gold medals than any other American Olympian.
But why Muhammad instead of, say, a yarmulke-wearing Jew (if there are any on Team USA)? After all, on a per capita basis American Jews suffer twice as many hate crimes as do Muslims. Can you even imagine CNN asking Phelps to step aside in favor of a Jew sporting a skullcap? Of course not. But why not?
Or why not a black athlete who doesn’t wear a hijab? After all, the greatest social unrest in the U.S. today is based not on religion but on race.
And why not an athlete who doesn’t have Muhammad’s history of anti-Israel tweets, as you can see here? Below I’ve put a few, which at the very least are distortions and, for the first two, outright lies (there are many more).
Screen Shot 2016-08-11 at 9.18.42 AM
Screen Shot 2016-08-11 at 9.18.08 AM Screen Shot 2016-08-11 at 9.18.23 AM

Is this the kind of comity we want our flag-bearer to instantiate? Is this what we want as our symbol of America? Did Hillary Clinton know about this when she paraded her own virtue?:

I doubt you’ll find anything close to Muhammad’s lies and hatred on the Twi**er feed of Michael Phelps. Muhammad is simply a dupe for false stories about the nonexistent Israeli dam and the distorted story of birth control drugs (women asked for them and then lied when their husbands found out); and Israel does not, of course, practice apartheid. Muhammad has simply used those lies to gin up public hatred of Israel. Some hero!

So kudos to Muhammad for following her dream. But no kudos to those who, as Haider says, want to use her as a symbol to feel better about themselves. We all agree that people should be able to wear whatever clothes they damn well want, but perhaps what’s in order is a little less self-congratulation about our open-mindedness, and a little less celebration of a garment that, in the end, is a sign of anti-Enlightenment values.


  1. Alan GE
    Posted August 11, 2016 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

    How about a sombrero.

    • Dominic
      Posted August 12, 2016 at 3:48 am | Permalink

      …there might be fallout!

  2. Posted August 11, 2016 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

    I wonder if a Mormon gymnast would be similarly praised for wearing their special underwear where it can be clearly seen in Olympic competition.

    • Posted August 12, 2016 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

      I wish to see it🙂.

      • somer
        Posted August 12, 2016 at 11:06 pm | Permalink

        Me too!

  3. devoutbuddhist
    Posted August 11, 2016 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

    Excellent article, WEiT

    • Randall Schenck
      Posted August 11, 2016 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

      I have to second that. Fine article putting everything in proper perspective.

      • somer
        Posted August 11, 2016 at 8:03 pm | Permalink


    • Posted August 12, 2016 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

      + 1

  4. Heather Hastie
    Posted August 11, 2016 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

    I agree with Jerry’s and Sarah Haider’s take on this 100%.

    Michael Phelps is not just the best US athlete, he’s the best of all time. If he was a country his medal tally would feature in the top 40 of medals awarded for all time. That is unbelievably impressive.

    The Olympics is about sport, and we’re supposed to be ignoring the other stuff. Having Muhammed carry the flag would have been a political statement and it should be a sporting one. If/when she achieves great success it will be her turn.

    And if Muhammed’s racist tweets were anything other than anti-Israel, I suspect she wouldn’t be as personally celebrated (though that wouldn’t take away from her sporting achievements).

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted August 11, 2016 at 6:03 pm | Permalink

      Yeah that note to him was really rude. It suggested he got his position by being a white rich guy. I once had a friend of my dad’s say to me that the only reason I got into university was because I was a female (his son didn’t make the cut) which amused me because the applications hid your gender as you were only a number. So, having experienced that kind of unfair reduction of one’s hard work to your gender is something I am sensitive to.

      • Heather Hastie
        Posted August 11, 2016 at 6:14 pm | Permalink

        It’s a fault of the far left imo. You can’t achieve equality by bashing those who already have the rights, and it’s not about taking revenge on demographic groups who’ve had more in the past. That makes us no better than they were when they dismissed others.

    • somer
      Posted August 11, 2016 at 8:08 pm | Permalink

      I agree its ludicrous = a case of Regressive Western Whiteitude’s virtue signalling. Predictable to see Hilary jump on board to woo another political audience, not that I would recommend her opponent for the presidency!

  5. Craw
    Posted August 11, 2016 at 12:43 pm | Permalink


  6. Malgorzata
    Posted August 11, 2016 at 12:44 pm | Permalink


  7. Alexander
    Posted August 11, 2016 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

    The woman wearing a headscarf depicted in the photo with the author of that article in the Huffington Post would be beaten up by the religious police in many areas of the Muslim world, walking around with her hair sticking out! Idem when your ankles are visible.

  8. Ken Kukec
    Posted August 11, 2016 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

    Re: W. Kamau Bell — I’ve only seen his show once (and then only because I flipped on it in medias res and thought he was Questlove). He seemed pretty good … but his proposal to Michael Phelps was really d-u-m-b.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted August 11, 2016 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

      To clarify why Bell’s was a dumb idea:

      Having Ibtihaj Muhammad act as US flag-bearer would have worked as a symbol of diversity only if she had been elected to that role by her teammates. For Phelps to have stepped aside in her favor not only would have defied the expressed will of his teammates; it also would have been (and certainly would have been seen as) a mere self-aggrandizing beau geste on his part.

      He was wise to have rejected the suggestion.

      • chris moffatt
        Posted August 12, 2016 at 8:14 am | Permalink

        Wouldn’t having this overprivileged whinger carry the flag merely have been what in more rational days was resented as “tokenism”?

        Seeing that she was eliminated (by Cecilia Berderof France) before the quarter finals, one can’t say that she has a performance record that would justify bumping Michael Phelps.

  9. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted August 11, 2016 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

    Right on.

    Try to listen to this interview on Colbert’s late show:


    I was astonished to hear her response to “what is a hijab”.

    If you can’t get the clip through the web browser might have to use the CBS app.

  10. darrelle
    Posted August 11, 2016 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

    Now, a recent immigrant from a repressive Muslim culture who made it on to the Olympic team in spite of her previous subjugation, and competing without a hijab, perhaps with long beautiful hair? I’d step aside for her to be the flag bearer.

    But then, I’m pretty biased against religion. I’d also recommend an “Up Yours Islam!” patch on the front of her official US Polo Ralph Lauren 2016 Olympic Games uniform jacket.

  11. Sagan Worshipper
    Posted August 11, 2016 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

    Great article. Hope this gets spread far around the Twitterverse.

  12. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted August 11, 2016 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

    Another thing I was astonished by: On the late show interview she says Her parents saw some people fencing and on the basis of the athletes being contained within the dancing outfit, got her to try fencing. Listen to her words in case I flubbed up the meaning. But I (what s the word, doubt?) – I wonder if her account is true in details. It also suggests the *exclusion * of other sports *because of* … what – how they dress? Seriously? What if a high school athlete’s true calling is swimming but their Islamic parents deny them their opportunity?

    I don’t know what to call that. It’s great because she found a sport she loves. BUT… because she’s covered up?

    • ThyroidPlanet
      Posted August 11, 2016 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

      Fencing not dancing

      • pali
        Posted August 12, 2016 at 4:35 am | Permalink

        In fairness, fencing is closer to dancing than it is to actual sword-fighting in many respects.

    • Shea B
      Posted August 11, 2016 at 7:43 pm | Permalink

      This is the part of her story that really concerned me. She was not going to be allowed to play other sports because of unnecessary religious requirements. That is nothing to celebrate.

      • pali
        Posted August 12, 2016 at 4:33 am | Permalink

        What concerns me was how readily the audience just laughed off her story regarding how controlled her dress was, and how it determined for her the sport rather than her choosing the sport.

  13. Posted August 11, 2016 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

    she came in like 30th place. Who gives a sh-t what she wears on her head.

    Does anyone remember the 1st place gold medal winner in female fencing?

    I bet no one does, because that woman wasnt wearing a head rag.

    • ladyatheist
      Posted August 11, 2016 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

      Inna Deriglazova presumably had the courage to resist taking illegal drugs to train for the Olympics. Let’s celebrate her gold medal:


      • Posted August 12, 2016 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

        Bravo to her! To me, boosting performance by drugs turns sport into its opposite.

    • barn owl
      Posted August 11, 2016 at 7:31 pm | Permalink

      It’s a little strange that Muhammad fences sabre, since of the three fencing weapons/styles, sabre was the last to be included as a women’s event. For many years, women only fenced foil in competition, and then subsequently épée was also included, possibly because it’s the style used in modern pentathlon. My fencing coach (French, former Olympian, ex-military, very traditional) wasn’t keen on women fencing épée, and was vocally opposed to women fencing sabre in his salle.

    • Posted August 12, 2016 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

      + 1

  14. tubby
    Posted August 11, 2016 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

    Is there any real reason to believe that Bell doesn’t also agree with Muhammad about Israel?

  15. Posted August 11, 2016 at 2:11 pm | Permalink


  16. Aram
    Posted August 11, 2016 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

    I agree with the bulk of this post. But do think it interesting how you of all people don’t see the apartheid in Israel. The human mind is truly a fascinating thing.

    • Kevin
      Posted August 11, 2016 at 5:58 pm | Permalink

      Israel is the metaphor that humanity deserves so long as members of its species hang onto religion. If it was only about how much yeast one puts in their bagels no one would have ever killed anyone else in the only part of the Middle East that does not have oil.

    • Michael Waterhouse
      Posted August 11, 2016 at 6:04 pm | Permalink

      I don’t think you know what the word apartheid means.
      There is no apartheid in Israel.

      • Aram
        Posted August 11, 2016 at 6:28 pm | Permalink

        Your argument that I don’t know what a word means, followed by ‘because I say so’, though deep, doesn’t change the fact that Jewish people receive preferential treatment in Israel over the Goyim.

        • Posted August 11, 2016 at 8:37 pm | Permalink

          So I guess you consider China, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Pakistan, Egypt, Malaysia, and Myanmar (I could go on, but it gets tedious) apartheid states as well? If your answer is yes, it means that at least you are somewhat consistent in misusing the word “apartheid.” If your answer is no, you seem to be either a hypocrite or profoundly ignorant.

          • Aram
            Posted August 11, 2016 at 9:09 pm | Permalink

            We’re talking about Israel. Try to stay on point:

            “Palestinian Arabs are prevented from using certain Israeli-only and settler-only roads,are severely restricted in their freedom of movement through military checkpoints, must ride separate public transportation from that used by settlers, have unequal water allocation compared to Israelis and settlers, are restricted in their cell-phone coverage compared to that of the settlers (capacity 2G vs. 3G/4G networks), need permits to enter certain areas of their territory (military zones), are occasionally pulled from public areas (i.e. pools) for the benefit of the settlers and are under threat of eviction because of discriminatory allocation of permits which impedes their development of buildings (which can include hospitals and schools alike).”


            • ASBroad
              Posted August 12, 2016 at 4:10 am | Permalink

              The point here is whether what Israel does is apartheid or not. To stay on point as you glibly chide the previous blogger, you need to first present a credible definition of what is apartheid, which you have not. That is what your argument depends on, after all. The only formalised example of apartheid, from South Africa, suggests a race-based political and economic discrimination and segregation enshrined in law. None of the examples in your wiki link above comes close to fit that definition.

              • Aram
                Posted August 12, 2016 at 5:25 am | Permalink

                Apartheid is an Afrikaans word meaning separateness. Now, if you want to stick to the one official apartheid as what was in South Africa, sure, go right ahead. But much like we talk of the apartheid in Canada with her First Nations people up until the 80s (and in some ways now), so too do we speak of an apartheid in Israel, a Jewish state for a Jewish people, a right of return for any Jew in the world but not a Palestinian who was born there, yet somehow also a democracy. This is a complete paradox.

                Perhaps words fail us in this case. They often do. However, the meaning of words also change (much like awful used to mean ‘full of awe’). Sure, stick to your pedantic rigid never changing understanding of apartheid being only South African forever, and I suppose you have a point. On the flip side, consider that non-Jewish people in Israel are treated as second-class citizens by both culture and law, and your point quickly begins to sound more like you’re just stamping your feet and yelling no.

                I lived and worked in Israel a few times, in the late 90s and the mid-2000s, and its ‘apartheid’ is clearly evident when you’re there. Not exactly the same as South Africa, no (a country I’ve also visited). But an apartheid i.e. an ‘apart-hood’ nonetheless. If you’d like to keep arguing about it, feel free. But recognize you are letting a major human rights violating system off scot-free over semantics.

                To reference my original comment, I find it ironic how the religious mindset gets maligned on this site – with good reason – yet so many on here seem to be suffering from the same affliction when it comes to Israel (I suppose Mr Coyne being Jewish is his excuse). Yes, other countries also have forms of apartheid. But we are talking about Israel, a self-proclaimed democracy, and therein lies the rub.

                Further reading, as written by an Israeli:


              • Wunold
                Posted August 12, 2016 at 9:53 am | Permalink

                ASBroad wrote:

                you need to first present a credible definition of what is apartheid

                Is Merriam-Webster credible enough for you?

                They list it as a synonym for separation and segregation in other contexts like cultural apartheid or gender apartheid. That corresponds to my experiences with the everyday use of this term in Englisch and German.

              • mikeyc
                Posted August 12, 2016 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

                Aram wrote; “Sure, stick to your pedantic rigid never changing understanding of apartheid being only South African forever, and I suppose you have a point.”

                Are you seriously suggesting that when you accused Israel of being an Apartheid state you didn’t mean to draw equivalence of it to South Africa?

                If so you are not fooling anyone.

            • Posted August 12, 2016 at 5:41 am | Permalink

              We were talking about hijabs, and you couldn’t resist dragging apartheid into it, turning the discussion to your particular bugaboo.

              Try to stay on point, and don’t you dare tell other readers to just deal with your own personal beef.

    • Posted August 12, 2016 at 5:39 am | Permalink

      Me of all people? What does that mean?

      I do find it interesting that you have no bloody idea what “apartheid” really is, given that it refers to the system of formalized legal segregation in South Africa. Israel is nothing like that.

      Your ability to change the meaning of terms is truly a fascinating thing. Now apologize for the rudeness and snark or go away.

      • Wunold
        Posted August 12, 2016 at 10:29 am | Permalink

        I don’t see how Aram has “no bloody idea” what apartheid is. I find his posts politely phrased and objectively argued, in contrast to some of the answers to them. As I mentioned some minutes ago in my answer to ASBroad, “apartheid” has long since grown into an broad term for separation and segregation.

        I don’t want to open another pandora’s box here or aquire Aram’s views. I am just surprised about the fierce reactions to his posts, including yours, because I don’t see any reason for this in his arguments or diction alone. Maybe there is a history here I am not aware of?

        • mikeyc
          Posted August 12, 2016 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

          His/Her post is politely phrased but Aram is playing a truly obnoxious game; pretending that the post does not equate the monstrous policies of South Africa to those of the Israelis and that he/she is simply using another definition of the term. It is sophistry at best.

          • Wunold
            Posted August 13, 2016 at 3:37 am | Permalink

            Maybe you should ask what your opposite meant before assuming malicious intend.

            (rhyme purely accidental🙂 )

  17. Kevin
    Posted August 11, 2016 at 5:15 pm | Permalink

    Disgusting. If someone wants honor they need to deserve it. This is no cause that deserves honor.

  18. Diana MacPherson
    Posted August 11, 2016 at 6:07 pm | Permalink

    I’d be more interested in seeing Sikh men in turbans and full beards. They get confused with Muslims all the time and suffer bigotry directed not only at themselves but at Muslims. so let’s see those guys at the Olympics more often!

  19. Posted August 11, 2016 at 6:33 pm | Permalink

    From my understanding of the history of the hijab, it was used by Mohammed’s wife and other female relatives as a disguise, so as to protect them from enemies targeting Mohammed and his family. It wasn’t intended to be a sign of virtue and wasn’t dictated as mandatory garb for all Muslim women.

    • Posted August 12, 2016 at 11:55 am | Permalink

      Assuming that’s correct, it might however fall under “the prophet did it so it is the best thing to do” type commandment that is apparently a thing.

  20. Henry Fitzgerald
    Posted August 11, 2016 at 6:51 pm | Permalink

    Aren’t athletes in hijabs gratuitously adopting a handicap?

    I kind of had the impression that every item an athlete wears while competing had been scientifically checked and designed down to the millimetre of fabric, to optimise performance. If it were a good idea to wear a cloth over your head while running around in the heat, why aren’t all athletes doing it?

    • eric
      Posted August 11, 2016 at 9:43 pm | Permalink

      Fencing masks have some flexibility to accommodate a person’s general head shape and style. Several of the women competitors making it to the semis and finals had humongous braids, which I personally think would be a lot more of a distraction.

      I guess its like Serena (and many other tennis players) wearing jewelry; it would sure distract me if I were the one wearing it, but they appear to be so used to competing that way that it doesn’t affect them.

      • Glandu
        Posted August 12, 2016 at 7:35 am | Permalink

        …or the psychological effect of feeling the beloved toy(even if it’s pure superstition) does offset the physical advantage.

        “God with me” is a powerful motivator. Even if God does not exist.

  21. eric
    Posted August 11, 2016 at 7:30 pm | Permalink

    Can’t say I find her twitter stuff very positive. And I’m annoyed about the focus on the headscarf too. Having said that, I think overall her 15 minutes of fame will be a net liberalizing good against the more conservative forms of Islam in the west, because it’s going to (hopefully) have a lot of young Muslim women in conservative families saying “yes parents, I CAN take sports/athletics. No, I DON’T have to stay in the house, and no, competing in sports DOESN’T make me a blasphemous slut.”

    Gotta play the long game here; selling conservative Muslim parents on the idea that its okay and religiously acceptable to let their female children go out and mix with everyone else in something like a sport, will ultimately work in our favor.

    • Sastra
      Posted August 12, 2016 at 9:50 am | Permalink

      Yes, that’s a good point. If one focuses less on “female athletes can wear a hijab” and more on “females who wear a hijab can be athletes,” it may help widen the options for the poor women who need to wear them or risk cultural censure or even death. It’s the same dicey situation as having a ‘burkini only’ time at a pool. If the “modest” religious dress is not allowed, the result may not be women competing/swimming without them. It might be women forbidden to compete or swim.

      On the other hand, once the virtue-signaling of “I obey Allah by wearing restrictive clothing” starts up, pressure might well be on the other Muslim women to follow suit or be condemned.

      • eric
        Posted August 12, 2016 at 7:47 pm | Permalink

        I think this is much less ethically gray than ‘burkini time at the pool.’ In the latter case, you have a limited public resource (pool time). Allowing restricted use of it to one group is taking that time away from others.

        There is no limited public resource choice in this case. Ibtijhad’s decision doesn’t impact anyone else’s ability to compete in fencing. So while liberals could very reasonable hope for a more liberal-minded role model, I think there is still a liberalizing benefit here without much negative offset.

      • eric
        Posted August 12, 2016 at 7:53 pm | Permalink

        As a PS, while you’re right about virtue signaling, i think that’s a type of problem which can’t and shouldn’t be solved through regulation. We’re social animals, we will always gossip about each other’s superficial traits (men and women alike), and taking that ability away is not only practically impossible, it goes against the spirit of free expression.

        Much better to provide positive supportive speech to the women who are trying to break out of such a culture, than it is to try and suppress or regulate the negative virtue signaling. At least imo.

        • Posted August 13, 2016 at 1:12 am | Permalink

          And what if she proudly flaunted shackles on her leg? (That’s what the hijab is, in effect.) Would you find that laudatory. At any rate, her tweets nullify any positive effect she’s had; but of course nobody calls attention to those. Why, I wonder?

          We know the answer.

          • eric
            Posted August 13, 2016 at 7:45 pm | Permalink

            I don’t find it laudatory: i said above that liberals could very reasonably hope for a better role model than this.

            Though we do disagree in substance on weighing the negative value of the tweets (which I agree, are negative) vs. competing as a conservatively dressing Muslim women. I think tweets + competition are net good; they will lead to more Muslim conservative families allowing their young women to participate in regular society. I see this as a net good thing, even if the person (or one of the people) leading the way is using her 15 minutes of fame to tweet anti-semitic crap at the same time.

  22. Posted August 11, 2016 at 7:30 pm | Permalink

    Right now, I am glad Phelps is a jerk (or so they say) so he would ignore this suggestion.

    • Posted August 12, 2016 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

      The regressive left love to say that we must give Muslims everything that we possess and they may like, or we are jerks. At some moment, one has to anchor his hooves and say, “I’m a jerk, get over it!”

  23. Posted August 11, 2016 at 7:35 pm | Permalink

    I’ve heard she’s pretty good, once she got over the urge to behead her opponents. That was a joke, so shut up already. :p

    • Posted August 11, 2016 at 7:38 pm | Permalink

      If that truly offended anyone with that I’m honestly sorry. I can see why it might.

    • eric
      Posted August 11, 2016 at 9:32 pm | Permalink

      Its a self-selection process. The sabre fencers who stick to just head cuts are too predictable to make it to this level. Only the bloodthirsty dervishes with sufficient mental flexibility make it to the Olympics.🙂

      But before we go making jokes about Muslims picking sabre for the head cuts, its worth considering that sabre is also the only fencing weapon that doesn’t consider the groin a valid target. So really, who’s the more noble – the fencer who chooses the weapon that allows them the head shot, or the fencer who chooses the weapon that allows them the other head shot?😉

      • Kevin
        Posted August 11, 2016 at 11:34 pm | Permalink

        Isn’t that because the groin is hard to reach?

        • eric
          Posted August 12, 2016 at 8:44 am | Permalink

          Supposedly, its because the sport derives from the mounted use of the cavalry sabre. Horses and saddles are covered in thick leather; if you chop at the horse, you might cause the horse and rider to die later on, but in the short term your opponent will merrily chop away at your head during the seconds it takes you to free your weapon from such a tough target.

          This means you train sabre-users not to chop low. Which translates into “hits below the waist don’t count” when you turn it from warfare training into a sport.

          That’s the aprocryphal story, at least. It may or may not be true. Could be just an arbitrary rule.

  24. lonefreethinkers
    Posted August 11, 2016 at 11:52 pm | Permalink

    We have a fencer, a sport for elites, wearing a hijab. From my viewpoint, living halfway across the world, hijab is like a new ‘fashion’ for white people. Endless quest for novelty, has made westerners crave to wear something different, to feel different, to look ‘special’, from reggae style dreadlocks, to now embracing hijab, one can only guess the next for quest for novelty.

    • Alexander
      Posted August 12, 2016 at 12:20 am | Permalink

      “We have a fencer, a sport for elites” Perhaps the money “elites.” Adults playing at cutting or spiking each other up is really a miserable and disgusting activity. How can this be called a sport, and an Olympic sport? Kids playing with plastic water pistols are not aware of the reality of pistols. But adults with swords?

      • lonefreethinkers
        Posted August 12, 2016 at 12:26 am | Permalink

        She is a fencer, more attention by the elites to be on the media, what novelty they posses !

      • Posted August 12, 2016 at 4:41 am | Permalink

        I was a working class kid from the East End of London who took up fencing at an evening class just after I left school. I was absolutely no good at any other sport but found my forte (pun intended) in fencing. I reached the final 12 of the England Youth Championship and was invited to join the training for the World Youth Championships. Unfortunately an accident ended my fencing career.
        Perhaps things have changed in the 50 years since I was an 18-year-old fencer but there was nothing ‘elite’ about the people who taught me to fence and whom I ‘fought’ as opponents on the piste.
        My fencing professor was a polio victim who’d taken up fencing at the suggestion of his doctor in order to gain leg strength.
        The passion and mental and physical agility that it takes to be a good fencer did wonders for my self esteem and confidence. I only wish I’d had the chance to use sabres; women were limited to the far more delicate foil in the 1960s.

  25. madscientist
    Posted August 11, 2016 at 11:53 pm | Permalink

    I think Muhammad provides an excellent example of how religion poisons the mind and encourages people to believe lies no matter how ridiculous the lies are. The christians are no different – they still believe a non-existent Jesus character who died and came back to life is going to come back to earth. About 2000 years have gone by and religion still perpetuates the myth – collectively it seems that not many people who have been subjected to indoctrination have the ability to see through the lies. Anyway, unless the IOC dress regulations for fencing prohibit a hijab, this is a non-story. “Look, aren’t I clever – I did something which isn’t against the rules and I got away with it! I’m *so* brave!”

  26. Tom
    Posted August 12, 2016 at 12:54 am | Permalink

    I wonder if and when the next 9/11 happens if the hijab will be quite so popular with Muslims and their more “liberal” supporters. Even now, it seems to me as daft as openly wearing a swastika arm band and certainly does not aid the cause of integration.

    • Posted August 12, 2016 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

      I agree. Unfortunately, Islamists terror acts in the West happen every month (outside it, every day) and nevertheless the “liberal” supporters of Islam keep insisting that we need more of it.

  27. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted August 12, 2016 at 3:32 am | Permalink

    Hitchens : “religion poisons everything”. Seems appropriate here, sadly.

  28. Glandu
    Posted August 12, 2016 at 7:38 am | Permalink

    For the reference, in my previous Parisian office, we had 2 muslim ladies as colleagues. Not wearing the hidjab.

    Both told me that it had been a looooong study of the texts for each of them before finding the “proof” that they could avoid wearing it. And both were very relieved to be clothed like westerners. Besides that, they were good muslims : no alcohol, no pork, only hallal food, ramadan, prayers, etc…..

    But the hidjab? No way!!!

  29. Posted August 12, 2016 at 8:15 am | Permalink

    I don’t have any issue with people wearing modest dress if they want to.

    I am concerned that Muslim women are forced to do so. (And highly religious Jewish women.)

    And I have a huge issue with covering of faces and wearing burkhas. In public, your face needs to be visible.

    • Sastra
      Posted August 12, 2016 at 10:02 am | Permalink

      Thinking about it, I might be concerned if one of my female friends made a point of dressing “modestly” by covering up something which was a real stretch to see as immodest or sexually arousing at all. Not bosoms, butts, or thighs, but elbows, ears, or the little finger on the left hand. That’s not just being demure, mature, professional, or focused on higher things. That’s inventing a new way to be defiled.

      • Posted August 12, 2016 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

        I think it’s silly as well; but, as long as she’s not coerced, I think a woman should dress as she pleases (regardless of my opinion).

        • Sastra
          Posted August 12, 2016 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

          Well, yes, but it’s not exactly silly. It’s more creepy.

          “Why are you wearing a patch on your elbow?”
          “I don’t want to look like a whore.”

          It opens up some disturbing implications.

        • Posted August 13, 2016 at 1:13 am | Permalink

          I said that above, didn’t I?

  30. Craw
    Posted August 12, 2016 at 11:50 am | Permalink

    An old record falls at last

    “Michael Phelps won the 200 individual medley easily, beating not only teammate Ryan Lochte, but an ancient Greek.

    Leonidas of Rhodes won 12 individual events over four Olympics. At 36, five years older than Phelps, he won his last three golds in 152 B.C., in races of about 200 and 400 meters and in a shield-carrying race. “

  31. Coldthinker
    Posted August 13, 2016 at 4:11 am | Permalink

    I really have to disagree with most of the people here. Sorry, but most of you seem to be blind to what’s happening in the US.

    While I generally feel strongly against hijab and other patriarchal muslim garments as well any religious ideology, this case is very different. If she were a French or Scandinavian athlete taking part in some everyday tournament, it would be another matter. While the muslims may occasionally run into bigotry there too, there is no organised political movement against muslims in France or Denmark. But in the US, Donald Trump has created the largest rasist and islamophobic movement in political history, carrying the banner of the largest party of the US. Far beyond everyday bigotry, the American muslims are now facing a very clear and present existential threat.

    Miss Muhammad is a citizen of the USA, where almost half of the voters practically question her right to live. Over 40% of Americans support a presidential candidate, who wants to deport her. Based on the immense popularity of Donald Trump, even every third American woman hates her for just being born to Muslim parents. Every third American woman wouldn’t allow her back from Rio.

    By her attire, she had a choice of showing solidarity to feminism, or solidarity to her parental heritage. Well, some 30-50 million American women want to disown her, while her parents and her community have probably sacrificed so much to support her career. The choice is clear. American women have betrayed her, but her parents never will.

    To a point of it being disgusting, the Olympics are a major venue of nationalism. Sadly, miss Muhammad happens to bear the flag of a nation where almost half of the population hates her heritage. So yes, she is a hero for making a very visible point that she is not ashamed of her heritage. As I said, in France or Denmark there would be little point in underlining one’s muslim heritage, but publicly facing the tens of millions of American islamophobics, most of whom are carrying guns, it is very heroic. Calling her a hero reminds the rasist 40% of the US electorate that muslims are also Americans. It reminds the possible future president of the US and his nearly 100 million supporters that not all will crush under the prevalent American rasism quietly.

    The politics of anti-bigotry are immensely more important than some guy swimming consistently sligthly faster than some other guys.

    • Posted August 13, 2016 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

      “miss Muhammad happens to bear the flag of a nation where almost half of the population hates her heritage.”

      miss Muhammad chooses to bear the flag (the Hijab) of a nation (Islam) 1.6 billion strong where most of the population support her, or would even force her to where said hijab against her will. A population who’s majority oppress woman, outlaw apostasy, and homosexuality. I’m really sick, and tired of this whole “because some Muslims in the west are mistreated” (and bear in mind that Jews are subjected to more per capita hate crime than Muslims), we should throw more than half the Muslims who are suffering significant, and deadly oppression in the rest of the world under the bus. Which is what is essentially happening when wearing symbols of that oppression are being celebrated, and their wearers called courageous.

      • charlize
        Posted August 15, 2016 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

        More and more people are getting fed up. A brief review of YouTube videos where she appears show massive push-back with an incessant barrage of critical comments skewering the speciousness of her posturing and the absurdity of the media celebrating her.

        E.g. one uploaded by NBC yesterday titled “Muhammad breaking down Muslim stereotypes” has 196,099 views with 2322 thumbs up vs 3541 down.

        • Posted August 15, 2016 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

          “E.g. one uploaded by NBC yesterday titled “Muhammad breaking down Muslim stereotypes” has 196,099 views with 2322 thumbs up vs 3541 down.”

          I fear that much of that is fueled by anti-Muslim bigotry rather than opposition to the bigotry fueled by Islam against women, gays, and apostates. We need more leaders on the left in the west to recognize, and vocalize that difference. Until then those thumbs down will be perceived as coming from the same people who want to deport all Muslims, rather than coming from those who support oppressed Muslims within the religion of Islam.

  32. Chartothel
    Posted August 14, 2016 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

    I shudder to think how much more unbearable things would’ve been if she had actually medaled.

    • Posted August 14, 2016 at 11:56 pm | Permalink

      “I shudder to think how much more unbearable things would’ve been if she had actually medaled.”

      She did. Well US women’s team sabre won a bronze, and she was on the team.

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