They mean well, but non-Muslim women who don head scarves as a sign of religious solidarity are actually doing a disservice to modern Muslim women, argue two members of the latter camp. In their essay at the Washington Post, Asra Nomani and Hala Arafa describe themselves as "mainstream Muslim women," and they make the case that events springing up such as "Wear a Hijab" day are misguided—"a painful reminder of the well-financed effort by conservative Muslims to dominate modern Muslim societies." The idea that Muslim women should wear head scarves, that all of them want to wear head scarves, has suckered in "well-intentioned interfaith do-gooders," along with the media. They're buying in to a political perversion of Islam pushed by the likes of Iran, Saudi Arabia, the Taliban, and the Islamic State.
"To us, the 'hijab' is a symbol of an interpretation of Islam we reject that believes that women are a sexual distraction to men, who are weak, and thus must not be tempted by the sight of our hair," they write. "We don’t buy it. This ideology promotes a social attitude that absolves men of sexually harassing women and puts the onus on the victim to protect herself by covering up." One problem is that somewhere along the way, the word "hijab" has become synonymous with head scarf, they write. It's actually "never used in the Koran to mean headscarf," and in Arabic the word hijab actually means "curtain," "hiding," "obstructing," and "isolating." Those definitions speak volume about the problem. Click for their full column.