The hyprocrisy of HuffPo: after celebrating the hijab, it now reports that women in Iran are protesting its mandatory wearing

For several years HuffPo has been celebrating women who wear the hijab, acting as if it’s some kind of achievement to lift weights or fence wearing a headscarf. Well, yes, if a woman succeeds in her goals while insisting that she wear a symbol of her faith, that’s great. The problem is that, as Alishba Zarmeen has said, the hijab is like the Confederate flag; celebrate it at your peril. Here’s her statement (in her husband’s tweet), which I love:

Now, after saying how wonderful the hijab is, and touting “Wear a hijab day” for Western woman (isn’t that cultural appropriation?),  PuffHo finally admits that, well, maybe some women don’t wear it out of “choice”. (As a determinist, what I mean by that is that they would not wear it were it not for social or familial pressure—and yes, I know that pressure is determined, too, but we can still try to eliminate it. The article is below; click on the screenshot to see some brave women (not the privileged editors of PuffHo):

The story is that Masih Alinejad, an exiled Iranian journalist who founded the “My Stealthy Freedom” website and Facebook page (which depicts and celebrates Iranian women who uncover), has started a campaign for Iranian women to wear white on Wednesdays as a protest against the country’s theocratic dress code, forced on women in 1979. At that time, few Iranian women were covered, and there was a mass protest when the dress code came in. But to no avail: Islamists wanted to control women, supposedly for their own good (I’m not aware of a huge rape problem in Iran before 1979).

As Reuters reports:

To campaign against the obligatory wearing of headscarves – or hijabs – Alinejad last month encouraged women to take videos or photos of themselves wearing white and upload them on social media with the hashtag #whitewednesdays.

“My goal is just empowering women and giving them a voice. If the government and the rest of the world hear the voice of these brave women then they have to recognize them,” Alinejad told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone.

. . . Under Iran’s Islamic law, imposed after the 1979 revolution, women are obliged to cover their hair and wear long, loose-fitting clothes for the sake of modesty. Violators are publicly admonished, fined or arrested.

Although no official records have been collected, a report by campaign group Justice for Iran in 2014 found over 10 years nearly half a million women were cautioned and more than 30,000 women arrested in cities across Iran over the hijab law.

The #whitewednesdays campaign is part of a larger online movement started three years ago by Alinejad, a journalist who has lived in self-imposed exile since 2009. She has received death threats since her campaigning started.

And let’s remember, too, that many Western Muslims who say they cover purely out of choice are probably lying, and were brought up in a milieu that pressured them to cover.

Here are a few tweets from the #whitewednesdays campaing; the good thing about this is that it’s a form of silent protest, and I doubt the Iranian government can do anything about it:

There are a LOT of posts at the site! As we’re celebrating freedom today in the U.S.(or at least the freedom we’re supposed to have from our Constitution), spare a thought for the women in many Muslim countries who, by law, are deemed inferior and unfree. And spare a sneer for the Western feminists who ignore them.


  1. Posted July 4, 2017 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

    Great post! We still have so far to go as women in this world. I wish more man would support women’s rights, perhaps these issues would move along faster.

    • Kevin
      Posted July 4, 2017 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

      The oppression would all but vanish if women of the world stood up to the misogyny. Americans, largely sit on the fence, men and women wondering, I suspect, how not to hurt people’s feeling.

      • Ann German
        Posted July 4, 2017 at 5:37 pm | Permalink

        Or, not wanting to “get involved.”

    • Kevin
      Posted July 4, 2017 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

      The oppression would all but vanish if women of the world stood up to the misogyny. Americans, largely sit on the fence, men and women wondering, I suspect, how not to hurt people’s feeling.

  2. Historian
    Posted July 4, 2017 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

    On its July 2017 cover, Allure, a woman’s beauty magazine, has the picture of 19 year old Halima Aden, a Muslim woman, wearing a hijab. Aden is quoted as saying:

    “It’s how I interpret my religion,” she said. “Society puts so much pressure on girls to look a certain way. I have much more to offer than my physical appearance, and a hijab protects me against ‘You’re too skinny,’ ‘You’re too thick,’ ‘Look at her hips,’ ‘Look at her thigh gap.’ I don’t have to worry about that.”

    If she wears the hijab for purposes of modesty and not to accentuate physical beauty, why is she on the cover of a beauty magazine? She has also competed in beauty contests. Also, if the hijab is just a head covering, how would that prevent a leering male from staring at her hips? Aden reeks with hypocrisy, but is probably too young and naïve to realize this.

    • Tom
      Posted July 4, 2017 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

      But any excuse will do the truth does not matter when it comes to “tradition”

    • BJ
      Posted July 4, 2017 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

      Not only that, but how does a Hijab keep people from seeing her lips, physical attributes, or literally anything else besides her hair and the back of her neck? It’s utter BS, and I imagine she knows it.

      “Oh, I’m so much more than my physical appearance. Now stop judging my physical appearance so I can pose for the cover of this fashion magazine.”

      • somer
        Posted July 5, 2017 at 3:59 am | Permalink

        Its even worse – you’re not supposed to wear makeup with it or wear jewellery – though some do. Some say its comparable to the Catholic church – which is rubbish because this was only in the past and only nuns. The Lalo dagach site has the most amazing shots of babies in hijab and retweets of men and women asserting how women have no dignity, honour or even humanity without hijab.

        [DELETE BREAK]

        • Posted July 5, 2017 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

          I hope that, when putting hijabs on babies, they at least take care to choose models that allow breathing, in case the damn thing accidentally slips over the face!

    • Desnes Diev
      Posted July 4, 2017 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

      “Society puts so much pressure on girls to look a certain way.”

      I wonder why this does not concern the religious societies which put hard pressure on girls to wear a hidjab (or worse)? Probably to divert from the fact that her hidjab is mostly a fashion item, a way to sell clothes.

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted July 4, 2017 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

      I’ve heard about this girl and suspect, due to her age, she’s just parroting others who’ve brainwashed her all her life.

      Hard-line hijab fans will not approve of her being on the cover of a magazine, or even wearing make-up. There is no way she can satisfy them and still have her own life. In conservative Islam, that’s not what women are for. She’s fooling herself if she thinks she can keep everyone happy.

  3. craigp
    Posted July 4, 2017 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

    Massive respect. Those people are far braver than I.

    • darrelle
      Posted July 5, 2017 at 10:03 am | Permalink

      I had the same thought. In the US, not much risk. But in places like Iran and Pakistan?
      Brave people.

  4. pck
    Posted July 4, 2017 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

    To be fair, I see the point in trying to normalize wearing certain garb in a country where its wearers are often subject to physical violence because of it and opposing it elsewhere. I’m pretty sure the violent (as opposed to moral/ideological opposition) to hijabs is not done out of a concern for women’s rights.

    • Craw
      Posted July 4, 2017 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

      Have you any evidence of the incidence of attacks or threats for wearing the hijab being even close to the incidence of attacks or threats for not wearing one?

    • BJ
      Posted July 4, 2017 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

      Where is all this violence against hijabis people keep bringing up? As far as I can tell, there’s precious little of it in the US or western Europe.

      • pck
        Posted July 4, 2017 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

        A quick google search brings up quite a few sadly, both in the US and Europe.

        And Craw, you’re missing the point. Attacking people for whatever reason is wrong, you don’t have to choose between attacking them for wearing or not wearing a hijab. People should be free to wear whatever they want free of persecution.

        • Craw
          Posted July 4, 2017 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

          No pck, I am not missing the point. You are making excuses for the excuse makers. That’s the point.

          • pck
            Posted July 4, 2017 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

            But that’s not the point your initial post made. You were asking me for evidence that anti-hijab attacks (presumably in Europe/America) are more prevalent than pro-hijab attacks in presumably Iran, which I don’t see as having any point. Both are bad, for the record.

            As for excusing the excuse makers, yes I am. As much of a garbage rag the Huffpo generally is, I don’t see the hypocrisy in that case.

            • BJ
              Posted July 4, 2017 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

              “As much of a garbage rag the Huffpo generally is, I don’t see the hypocrisy in that case.”

              You don’t see the hypocrisy in an ostensibly feminist publication constantly pushing the view that a dress code that is explicitly oppressive of women is, in fact, empowering and liberating for the people it’s oppressing? The only way one can say that isn’t hypocrisy is by pointing out that it is, unfortunately, consistent with the regressive and larger feminist movement as it currently stands in osculating anything and everything Islam. But even that doesn’t excuse the hypocrisy of claiming to be a force for ending women’s oppression, while whining about “microaggressions” in the West while dismissing concerns about what happens to women under Islamic theocratic rule as mere “Islamophobia.”

              • pck
                Posted July 4, 2017 at 8:01 pm | Permalink

                Enforced wearing of clothing is oppression and should be opposed. It’s not enforced in Europe and America. Opposing it where it’s used as a tool for oppression and celebrating it where it’s not seems logically consistent.

              • BJ
                Posted July 4, 2017 at 9:19 pm | Permalink

                “It’s not enforced in Europe and America.”

                This is not a true statement. In many Muslim communities, it is enforced by familial, social, and religious pressure. Just because there is no law doesn’t mean it’s a free choice for the people wearing it.

            • Heather Hastie
              Posted July 4, 2017 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

              BJ is right imo. There are people who attack hijabis in the West, but they are few and far between and generally condemned. The attacks are illegal, make the news, and the attackers meet general opprobrium.

              In Iran and Saudi Arabia there are government sanctioned gangs of men who go around in vans abusing, attacking, and arresting women who do not meet the imposed dress code. Hundreds of thousands have been direct victims of this, and millions more knuckle under. There is little women can do about this, but in wearing white they’ve found a way they can protest without breaking the law.

              The point is that women in the West have a choice. Women in Iran do not.

        • BJ
          Posted July 4, 2017 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

          “quite a few” does not mean “statistically significant.” Can you provide statistics to show that this violence is any more prevalent than violence against other groups?

          • pck
            Posted July 4, 2017 at 7:43 pm | Permalink

            What would be the point? You want to use stats to see which group is most likely to experience hate crimes and only protect this one, but not others? Reducing the number of hate crimes againt any specific groups is worthwhile.

            • BJ
              Posted July 4, 2017 at 9:20 pm | Permalink

              OK, so the answer is no. There’s nothing more to discuss then.

              If you want to make an argument based on the incidence of something, you have to first demonstrate that incidence.

              • pck
                Posted July 5, 2017 at 9:16 am | Permalink

                Alright, we are absolutely talking past each other. I suppose you are focused on this part of the sentence: “the wearers are “OFTEN subject to physical violence”, something that I honestly thought was well known. I’m gonna meet you halfway, look at this link and see how many attacks are targeted against women in headscarves. You can then google some more to your hearts content.


                Now my point: Trying to reduce the number of hate crimes is good. I hope I’m not strawmanning here but I can’t believe this is contentious here.

  5. jt512
    Posted July 4, 2017 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

    Why is HuffPo’s publishing of this article hypocrisy? Seems like more of a correction, or at least a little movement in the right direction? Would it be better if they continued only publishing articles celebrating the hijab, just for the sake of consistency?

    • Craw
      Posted July 4, 2017 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

      I think he meant it is anticipatory hypocrisy: they will be back with the “hijabs are empowerment” line within days. If this article heralded a change in HuffPo you’d be right. My bet isn’t that it doesn’t.

      • phil brown
        Posted July 4, 2017 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

        It’s an opinion piece, not an editorial. It should go without saying that the author’s opinions may not reflect those of HuffPo’s editors.

        That news websites allow their writers to express a range of opinions is a good thing, not something that they should be criticised for. It certainly isn’t ‘hypocrisy’.

        • Posted July 4, 2017 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

          There’s no distinction on PuffHo between news and opinion; just look at it! Their mandate is to say all good things about Muslims (they have an “Islamophobia” section). But sometimes the truth slips in, as in this case. Rarely do op eds disagree with the site’s editorial stance.

          • BJ
            Posted July 4, 2017 at 4:43 pm | Permalink

            “We apologise for the fault in the articles. Those responsible have been sacked. Mynd you, møøse bites Kan be pretti nasti… We apologise again for the fault in the articles. Those responsible for sacking the people who have just been sacked have been sacked. Møøse trained by YUTTE HERMSGERVØRDENBRØTBØRDA …”

            It’s OK if 2001 isn’t your thing, Jerry, but I hope you have seen the film reference here 🙂

        • Craw
          Posted July 4, 2017 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

          Imagine I edit Craw Times. I continually extol the effects of pyramids and castigate my political opponents pyramidophobia when they fail to agree. Occasionally I publish a piece proving beyond doubt pyramidology is bogus. Then I go back to abusing my opponents for pyramidophobia. Am I a hypocrite?

          • phil brown
            Posted July 4, 2017 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

            If the anomalous articles are clearly expressing the opinions of their authors, and not of you, the editor, then it’s not hypocritical or dishonest for you to publish them, and to continue to publish articles in support of pyramidology. Chalk it up to a modicum of magnanimity towards your pyramidaphobic opponents.

  6. Posted July 4, 2017 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

    Reblogged this on The Logical Place.

  7. Tom
    Posted July 4, 2017 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

    The hijab is not a fashion accessory although a lot of money is being distributed to the right people by Muslim “traditionalist” societies to make it appear so, along with the baggage of superstition that goes with it and since there is plenty more in the kitty we can expect the pressure to accept it to continue.
    It is yet another symbol of Muslim virtue and its superiority over the decadent West dug up from the glorious non existent golden age of the Prophet and the Rightly Guided.
    Trouble is they can’t even understand their own “history” its so badly written and has to be interpreted by quarreling cliques of scholars who have had a fine old time over the centuries guessing what these fossilised texts really mean.

  8. CFM
    Posted July 4, 2017 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

    I meet and interact with Muslim women every day – both women with and without hijabs. Some are wearing bright and actually quite sexy scarves barely covering their hair along with skinny jeans, some fashionable but modest stuff, some are fully covered – I even saw a burka once.

    In my opinion, it is quite possible for some things, like the hijab, to be a symbol for many things at once for different people – even contradictory ones.

    I do not deny it is a symbol of oppression everywhere it is forced on women, whether by law or by social pressure. And I agree with Alishba Zarmeen that women for whom it symbolizes something else should remember that fact.

    But for some it is mainly a symbol of being devout (that’s why, at least according to a Muslim friend, many in the Turkish community in Germany start wearing it only when they get older..). For some, here in Germany, it has become a symbol of belonging and identity, more cultural than religious. These women are often as opposed to forcing the hijab on anyone as we are.

    For others it is a symbol of rebellion – against their often quite liberal parents. And yes, these “rebells” are far to often influenced by radicals.

    You often cannot tell why some individual choses to wear hijab (while you can be quite sure with a burka or other full veils) – you have to ask.

    While I personally know of very few cases of violence, I sure know of many cases of discrimination against hijab-wearing women here in Germany.

    That’s why I agree with other commenters who wrote that it is quite possible to decry the forcing of certain garments on women for whatever reason and at the same time to strongly support the right of women (and men) to chose their garments freely even when we do not like their choices.

    • BJ
      Posted July 4, 2017 at 4:48 pm | Permalink

      I sympathize with your views, and I don’t think a single person here has ever said they don’t support the *right* of women to wear a hijab by choice. Most people here (I won’t speak for all), including myself, simply don’t like that the vast majority of women throughout the world who do wear the hijab are forced to do so, either by legal edict, social and/or familial pressure, and/or religious mandate. I fully support the right of any woman to wear it if it’s entirely her choice.

  9. european
    Posted July 4, 2017 at 5:51 pm | Permalink

    The hijab has nothing to do with protecting a woman’s modesty, it’s for protecting a moslim man’s p r o p e r t y!

  10. Alpha Neil
    Posted July 5, 2017 at 7:17 am | Permalink

    Has Huffpo ever run an article celebrating Amish women? They cover their hair for many of the same reasons women wear the hijab.

  11. Posted July 5, 2017 at 11:34 am | Permalink

    “Fair and balanced” … if that slogan weren’t already taken.

  12. Posted July 5, 2017 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

    I wish to see the day when women of Iran will have the freedom to choose what to wear. I wish the atheist Iranian women to be free to show their atheism like me, without the need to be brave. I have special sympathy for the lady with the well-covered head who seems to be a pious Muslim hijabi but campaigns for other women’s right to discard the hijab.

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