Malala has transmogrified, from a young courageous girl championing female education and combating murderous jihadists to a publicity-hungry liberal who feels no shame in supporting the cause of religious fundamentalists.
The full bench of the Karnataka High Court has done well to calm nerves over the contentious hijab issue. But the issue will continue to create heat and dust, as liberals support the most retrograde sections of Muslim community. “We request the State Government and all other stakeholders to reopen the educational institutions and allow the students to return to the classes at the earliest. Pending consideration of all these petitions, we restrain all the students regardless of their religion or faith from wearing saffron shawls (Bhagwa), scarfs, hijab, religious flags or the like within the classroom, until further orders,” the bench Chief Justice Ritu Raj Awasthi, Justice Krishna S. Dixit and Justice J.M. Khazi said in their order.
Instead of supporting the Basavaraj Bommai government which has taken a progressive stand against a symbol and instrument of the suppression of women—that is, hijab—liberals are slamming the restrictions on hijab.
Let’s begin with the biggest celebrity who has come out in support of hijab: Malala. As a 15-year-old girl in 2012, she had the courage to take on the armed Taliban thugs. Surviving a murderous attack, she became an international figure, going on the win Nobel Peace Prize in 2014.
Celebrity culture, however, has its own rules, which are written by pinkish intellectuals and blindly internalised and zealously imposed by liberals. The rules are badly infected with the dangerous postmodern doctrines, one of the most important of them being multiculturalism.
Multiculturalism puts all cultures on the same moral footing, which means that Western societies where respect for individual liberty and human dignity is utmost are equated with the Third World societies where human rights are practically non-existent. The situation is actually worse: Western intellectuals’ self-loathing is so great that they regard their own culture and civilization the worst in the world. So, hijab (and burqa, chador, abaya) doesn’t imply any moral squalor of a society or culture, for the dogma is that all cultures are equally moral or immoral. Moral relativism is a sibling of multiculturalism. Malala’s tweet should be seen in this context: “Refusing to let girls go to school in their hijabs is horrifying. Objectification of women persists—for wearing less or more. Indian leaders must stop the marginalisation of Muslim women.”
I wonder if she even understands the meaning of “objectification,” another postmodern term. What stands out is Malala’s transmogrification—from a young courageous girl championing female education and combating murderous jihadists to a publicity-hungry liberal who feels no shame in supporting the cause of religious fundamentalists. In 2012, she said that “wearing a burqa is like walking inside a big fabric shuttlecock with only a grille to see through and on hot days it’s like an oven.” She later said, “Living under wraps seemed so unfair—and uncomfortable. From an early age I told my parents that no matter what other girls did, I would never cover my face like that. My face was my identity.” Now Malala finds it “horrifying” that a school principal wants that identity to come out of wraps. No less hypocritical is the stand of Indian women journalists and others who are opposing restrictions on hijab. One of them alleges that the restrictions deny “young women education… There is zero justification to lock the doors of education to girls. It’s appalling.” Restrictions on hijab are appalling, but hijab is not. Another woman journalist wrote, “Are women in hijab a threat while yogis in constitutional offices proudly flaunt saffron robes (sic). Her body, her agency, her choice.”
Do Muslim girls and women make all their choices? Do they choose to drape their bodies by wearing attires like burqa and abaya? The actress Swara Bhaskar said, “What is happening to these girls is unconstitutional and unlawful.” Then there is a national award-winning director, Neeraj Ghaywan, who believes that restrictions on hijab are “modern day apartheid.”
What these liberals refuse to acknowledge is that every organisation—school, college, office, army, court of law—has rules that the persons associated with it have to adhere to. For instance, a Hindu soldier is not allowed to apply tika on his forehead while on duty; and this is no violation of his religious right. Similarly, a Muslim in the Indian Air Force can’t grow a beard. A Hindu will be a Hindu without a tika and a Muslim a Muslim without a beard; tika and beard are not essential parts of their respective faiths. A Sikh soldier is allowed to grow a beard and wear a turban, because without a beard and turban he won’t be a proper Sikh; this is in conformity with the essential practices test that the Supreme Court conceived decades ago. However, says Maj Gen Dhruv C. Katoch (Retd), a Sikh soldier can’t carry a kirpan; and this is no violation of his religious rights.
In short, liberals are unnecessarily fuelling the agitation against restrictions on hijab. Almost transforming hijab, a symbol and instrument of misogyny, into a symbol of protest. They are not championing the cause of liberty thereby. Worse, they are equating unfreedom of choice with freedom. Orwellian indeed.