[Marxism] The hijab controversy

Marvin Gandall marvgandall at rogers.com
Sun Feb 15 08:59:41 MST 2004

Today’s Toronto Star has a piece by Haroon Siddiqui outlining the
reasons he and other liberal democrats are troubled by the French ban on
the hijab – a stance which reveals how much the influence of religion
has waned in modern urban society.

Religious values and institutions are not the dominating reactionary
force they once were, and still are, in predominantly rural societies,
so it seems incomprehensible to Siddiqui and other liberals to attack
what they now regard as harmless religious symbols – particularly when
they belong to immigrants whose cultures should be treated with respect
rather than intolerance.

In this, they are mostly correct. Many young urban women wear the hijab
today as a defiant assertion of their identity in the face of pressures
to conform to Western society, and their daughters – another generation
removed from the immigrant culture of their families – will almost
certainly not feel the same urge to do so. In light of this, attacking
the hijab and other religious practices, as Siddiqui notes, is
unnecessary and politically counter-productive.

But Siddiqui is mistaken in his belief that “secularism” was
historically “neutral” rather than “anti-religious” when it arose in
reaction to superstition and clerical domination, or that modernizing
secular reformers like Kamal Ataturk were in their own way as oppressive
as their misogynistic opposite numbers in the Taliban.

Also: www.supportingfacts.com

Sorry for any cross posting.

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