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The Hijab’s Dilemma

Hijab, the traditional covering for the hair and neck worn by Muslim women, is closely tied to the religion of Islam. Though the Quran, the holy book of the Muslims, never prescribes specifically the necessity of wearing a Hijab, the online news portal The Conversation quoted some Muslim women saying that the Hijab allows them to demonstrate their submission to God and acts as a constant reminder for them to stick to Islamic beliefs. In 140 countries worldwide, World Hijab Day is celebrated annually on February 1st.

By: Guanxi Lew

The wearing of the Hijab by Muslim women is viewed differently in different parts of the world. In France, the political and legal system discriminates against Muslim women wearing Hijabs. These discriminatory policies are even rooted deep down in French history. Muslim women there were banned from veiling their faces. Last year, controversy arose when the French Senate passed an amendment that bans Muslim women under 18 from wearing a hijab in public.

However, in Iran, where wearing Hijab is a mandatory dress code under the law, Hijabs are seen as a tool to suppress women. Women there, particularly those living in big cities, have been pushing back against this policy for decades. Iran's government even established a so-called "morality police" to enforce the dress code. Recently, a controversy sparked when a woman, Mahsa Amini, died in custody after being arrested for violating the mandatory dress code.

Image Credits: 13NewsNow

All these tensions intersect at one point, that is, the freedom of expression of Muslim women. Whether wearing Hijab is an Islamic requirement or not, Hijabs have now become an industry and even a form of art. All regimes must acknowledge this development and recognize the rights of Muslim women. It should be a Muslim women's voluntary choice to wear a Hijab.

Freedom of expression is a fundamental human right that is incorporated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). As we flow within the wave of modernization, let's not forget the fundamental liberty of Muslim women. Hijabs should never be an issue if all governments acknowledge that they cannot define their people's lives and extend the protection of human rights through the rule of law.

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