Tuesday, 30 April 2019 13:19


Belgian outlet La Libre shared an opinion piece perpetuating stereotypes of veiled Muslim women, painting them as victims. This is Belgium’s media monitoring highlight for April.

This article is part of the Media Monitoring Highlights of April, a monthly overview of the most significant results of our monitoring of traditional and new media in Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, and the United Kingdom.

Belgium MMHDate: 26 April 2019

Media Outlet: La Libre

Link: https://bit.ly/2ZLQvIP

Description of Anti-Muslim Content: This article is an opinion piece by “a collective of women and men of Muslim culture or Muslim origin”. They claim that the introduction of the hijab to society is a political act by political Islam and that it “imposes itself in parallel with the Islamisation of  societies”. They also state that the hijab is a “sexist, humiliating, alienating prison” and that little girls are ordered to wear it “to get used to be ashamed of their bodies and to prepare them to become sexual objects”. 

Myth Debunked: This article perpetuates the stigmatisation of Muslim women who wear the hijab and their representation as victims: “undeserving victims” when they are blamed for their victimhood, and “deserving victims” when they are pitied. Some Muslim women have the  headscarf imposed on them, either because it is mandatory in the society they live in or because of unwanted family pressure. The work of the Iranian Nasrin Sotoudeh, human rights lawyer and women’s rights defender, mentioned in the article, who represented women persecuted for removing their headscarf, is of the utmost importance. However, many Muslim women wear the hijab because it’s their own decision to do so. And their reasons are plenty: some might see it as a way to resist certain standards of feminine beauty, or to assert their identity, while some wear it because it’s normal practice in their family, or because they see it as a symbol of cultural solidarity . Saying that wearing a hijab in Europe is “a political act by political Islam” fully ignores this. But saying that the “hijab is sexist and humiliating” hides the fact that, for women, “uncovering” could, and has sometimes been, a tool of oppression too.

More to Read: 

Book Review: It’s Not About the Burqa: Muslim Women on Faith, Feminism, Sexuality and Race 

Why do Muslim women wear a hijab?

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