A few weeks back I criticised the Prime Minister for donning a headscarf as a gesture of support and sympathy for the grieving Muslim community. Where were her advisors? Surely someone among her top echelon of minders should have known that was the worst possible symbolic gesture. The fact that numerous New Zealand women duly followed suit is less of a surprise in this age of mind-blowing ignorance.
World-wide the compulsory headscarf is seen as the symbol of the medieval Islamic oppression of their womenfolk. While doubtless well-meaning the Prime Minister might care to muse on this. When she was thoughtlessly parading about in her headscarf, that same week a brave middle-aged Iranian woman lawyer, Nasrin Sotoudeh, was sentenced to 38 years in prison, preceded by 148 lashes. Her crime – defending in court courageous Iranian women who were arrested for going scarf-less in public in their fight for equality.
Jacinda gained world-wide favourable publicity for her action but you may be sure it would have been a huge let-down to the thousands of Muslim women across the globe who at huge personal risk are fighting the awful oppression inflicted on them, symbolised by the headscarf.
NB – Not all Islamic societies are strict on women’s attire. Turkey, Egypt, Azerbaijan, Morocco and many others leave it to personal choice.