Attacked for wearing a Hijab: What is religious freedom to the West?

Published: August 29, 2013
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Women hold placards quoting verbal attacks during a protest walk in Stockholm on August 23, 2013. PHOTO: AFP

On August 16, 2013, a pregnant Swedish Muslim woman was attacked, because she donned the hijab. It was near midnight when this young woman approached her car. She was not only harassed with racial slurs and taunts, but was assaulted in multiple forms including her scarf being ripped off from her head.

This violence left her suffering from a concussion. The attack took place in suburban Farsta, which is in the south of Stockholm. Swedish police are treating the incident as a hate crime, though no arrests have been made yet. The attacker, a male, made what the Swedish media is reporting as “references” to the hijab.

Here is where semantics, language and word power play are manipulated by the media to temper and tone the ferocity of an incident. Let’s call abuse and assault an ‘incident’, an oppressive government practising apartheid as taking security measures, and a war for freedom in Palestine an Arab-Israeli “conflict”. The power of words is valued and keenly weighed by those in power; it is the masses that devalue them.

The reaction of the masses though is what is astounding. Social media is once again playing a massive part in creating awareness and protesting peacefully. The hashtag #hijabuppropet which means ‘hijab outcry’ is flooding Twitter with images of women donning the Hijab. It has created a Swedish movement leading to all females, regardless of race and religion, to wear the hijab demanding protection for their citizens and equal protection.

On Twitter, around 4,000 women (and counting) posted images of themselves wearing the hijab with the hashtag #hijabuppropet. One woman even posted an image of herself in a headscarf saying “I do not believe in any god, but I do believe n human rights”, showing that this hate crime united not only those with different faiths, but everyone with a conscience.

One supporter, Hana Bektasevic, asks the all important question on a Facebook page:

“Why is it acceptable for a woman to undress half naked or go around town, but once a woman chooses to cover her body, it becomes a problem? It’s very brave and strong to dare to be different, even if it is against half the world! Great respect to all of you out there who dare to be themselves and seeks justice!”

The organisers of the “hijab outcry” demanded that attention be taken by Justice Minister Beatrice Ask to “ensure that Swedish Muslim women are guaranteed the right to personal safety and religious freedom, without being subject to verbal and physical attacks”. They also demanded “that responsible politicians actively draw attention to and fight the structural discrimination that affects Muslim women”. The justice minister is calling it an individual responsibility rather than admitting to “structural discrimination” which exists.

Alen Malik Crnalic was a practising Muslim man who didn’t shake hands with his employer because of his religious beliefs. “And now the handshake issue” was a rant published on March 18 in 2010. The fact that the author titled their article “And now the handshake issue”, only supports the propagated belief that there is an issue if a Muslim doesn’t shake hands with members of the opposite sex.

As a people, we need to stop pigeonholing people instantly by their attire or appearance; just because a male chooses to grow a beard it doesn’t mean he’s the spokesperson for the Taliban.

The fact that Alec was denied employment because of not shaking hands is not only outrageous, it is preposterous, especially in a country which is signatory to the European Convention of Human Rights. It would be ludicrous to suggest that because someone happened to live in a certain country of a different culture, he should give up his own beliefs and identity merely to promote peace and harmony, which isn’t being endangered in the first place.

The decision of the court should be applauded, which sets precedent not only for Muslims in such countries, but for people everywhere to learn that freedom of religion comes along with something else, often not understood by the people or highlighted by the media: respecting someone else’s religion.

While the entire spotlight is on the right to believe in a religion, there is no focus on regarding the consideration that must accompany such statements to be successfully implemented. However, the step taken by the Dutch people was baffling and amusing at the same time: because the Imam of an Islamic Cultural Centre refused to shake hands when he was invited to a seminar on cultural values of the Dutch. Then once again, he was approached to shake hands and lo and behold – he refused it. Of course he did!

Alen did not “create” any situation, if it was visible that the CEO felt insulted or humiliated as she claims (which led her to prejudice her judgment by unjustly using her power). It was Alen’s obligation to clarify that it was his religious belief and not a personal one that led him to not shake hands with the CEO.

Perhaps the assault on the young Muslim Swedish woman highlights that touting religious freedoms is all good for the west until it comes time to apply it. During the time of Alen Malik Crnalic our own media called it ‘making a mountain out of a molehill’. Wannabe liberals hypocritically avoided all rationale of equality they usually preached and claimed that Alen should’ve just shook hands and ‘gotten over it’.

Three years later things may have worsened since a pregnant lady was attacked simply for what she chose to wear. Without belittling or trivialising the horrific attack, from where I’m standing things have improved because the nation didn’t show solidarity with Alen, but they have for this lady and that is a step in the right direction for society and humanity.

If nothing else, at least the demonisation by the western media that Hijab is a symbol of oppression the world over is fading despite songs like “Burqa” from Lady Gaga doing its best to revive the now weary theme.

Alizeh Khaleeli

Alizeh Khaleeli

A photojournalist, wedding photographer and writer who is inspired by life and it's realities. She tweets @TwotwoAlys (twitter.com/aly2488)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Muhammad Ishfaq

    Nicely written piece. Jazak AllahRecommend

  • Sanjeev

    Please ask a reverse question also. Do Islamic countries offer the same freedom and protection to women who wear a veil and to those who want to wear shorter clothing?Recommend

  • mac

    Hijab is symbol women slavery culture , And i don’t think Pakistani even qualify to talk about Equality when Discrimination of minority is part of Pakistani Constitution .Recommend

  • Water Bottle

    Jazak Allah Khair. Nicely written.

    Next time can you also write about your Pakistani brothers in London who attack white men when they go to their areas? Drug and rape white women only. Spread hatred to kill others.

    Also mention about Anjem Choudhery.Recommend

  • Gurion

    Such incidents are statistically insignificant when compared to the instances where women are harassed for not wearing hijab. One wrong doesn’t justify another, but certainly, the author’s priorities are illogical if not skewed in this instance.Recommend

  • Mj

    The incident is highly condemnable, but is it a frequently recurring crime the the whole freedoms of the west need to be brought into question? Not shaking a hand when offered can be awkward, but it’s not a good reason to deny someone a job. And by the way, what would be your response if I refused to shake hands with a person on the basis of race?Recommend

  • Rational Liberal

    Can’t wait for Indian commenters to come here and sidetrack the subject of this blog post, and talk about how minorities are treated in Pakistan.

    That being said, I believe that we should treat our minorities better, and I think Muslims have more rights and freedoms in Europe, than non-Muslims have in Muslim lands, but I still think the incident that occurred in Sweden is outrageous, and I believe it was inspired by the hate mongering and fearing-mongering of the far-right nationalists in Europe.

    Unfortunately,nationalism and xenophobia is rising in Europe, and I view these far-right xenophobes just as bad as Islamic extremists.

    If this continues, then Europe could possibly turn into Egypt or Germany of the 1930s.Recommend

  • Legend

    Hijab is both a marker of autonomy, individuality, and identity, AND a marker of inequality and sexist oppression. Hijab can facilitate women’s assertion of independence, but this assertion occurs on male-defined terms and within male-oriented contexts.
    By wearing a Hijab women accept responsibility for their own sexual victimization, instead of placing the blame squarely on their potential aggressors. Something like this has no place in a country of emancipated women.Recommend

  • Nadir

    The difference between the West and here is that while such acts are committed in the West, people are convicted if caught, and there is usually national solidarity for the victim. In Pakistan if women are attacked for whatever reason, usually, no one cares or the women is made out to have been the reason for the attack herself.Recommend

  • Realist

    This a dreadful blog, where many things have either been conflated with no firm connection at all (alleged Western media manipulation in relation to the suggested rise of Islamophobic hate crimes in Sweden- Israel/Palestina really?), or totally blown out of proportion.
    A single incident is not only projected to 10 million Swedes, but also 500 million Europeans and almost 1 billion Westerners. Talk about stereotyping! Blogger also does not seem to understand the concept of freedom of religion. It is enshrined in the Swedish constitution, religious toleration accepted and endorsed – the donning of the hijab by many Swedes as a convincing testimony – by society at large and protected by the state. It also means that the state won’t use the police to stop or harass adherents of certain religious ideas. The state won’t use subtle powers to favor some religions over others, to endorse certain religious doctrines rather than others, or to take sides in theological disputes. Some incidents from a few miscreants (allegedly) assaulting Muslim men or women does not mean religious liberty has somehow become meaningless to the point of not being properly upheld. That is just ridiculous. Some Muslim activists just love to play the victim, even if there is no indication of widespread or severe Islamophobia in Western countries.Recommend

  • I am a Khan

    Nicely written article. Thanks for this.

    There is a hadith of Holy Prophet (Saw) that there will come a time that holding on to Islam for the believers will be like holding on to burning coals. We can see a start of this prophecy happening now…Recommend

  • Realist

    @MJ

    What if the job description requires an applicant to shake hands with (new) clients?

    I can imagine that is unreasonable to deny someone a job as telephonist, but a manager?Recommend

  • Seriously?

    Can this get any more hypocritical? You have constitutionally made religious apartheid legal, but when you go to west suddenly you are all about freedom of religion and human rights.

    I am baffled by this unique behaviour to not see what is right in front of your noses. How do you expect to be taken seriously by anyone? Recommend

  • Rebel

    I read somewhere that hundreds of Christian houses and shops were burned down in Pakistan this year. So when can we expect thousands of Pakistani Muslims wear large crosses around their neck for a couple of days as sign of solidarity to their Christians neighbours?

    BTW blogger, you mention Israel in your narrative. Did you know there was a huge uproar in Belgium last year when two Israeli delegates refused to shake hands with women. By your strained reasoning, Is the West trying to promote Jew hatred and bias against Israel?Recommend

  • Saurabh

    Dear Author,
    Would you also please right a blog on what happens when girls wear short clothes in Muslim countries? And also shed light on what ‘Religious Freedom’ means there.Recommend

  • Haris Malik

    This article is the worst case of stereotyping of the West. How come as a Pakistani we can talk about religious freedom when Hindus,Christians and Ahmedis are banned from proselityzing and also according to the constitution of Pakistan non Muslims have no right to get the top position of president and prime minister. In West everyone is equal while in Pakistan we are discriminating on the basis of religion and then poiting at one instance of attack to attack all the Western values is uncalled for.
    This article is only good for self styled rightists of Pakistan who never visited Western countries as otherwise for a person like me living in the Europe and of a Pakistani origin have no importance whatsoever. I am sure my daughter is thousand times safer when she is in Europe than when she is living in Pakistan.Recommend

  • Double standards

    Muslims are very,very particular about secular rights when they’re in a non-muslim country.
    They hate the west,but demand western standards of equality to apply to them,when abroad.Recommend

  • ASDF

    What west is look after to ban will eventually prove to correct one “HIJAB” and what West is promoting sex and homosexuality, these things will definitely destroy the Humanity. I wonder why West is behind killing Humanity?? Please stop it, stop it.Recommend

  • :)

    @Sanjeev:
    I live in Islamabad (Pakistan) and I see alot of chinese and american women here roaming around here wearing shorts and drop sleeves not just that but a lot of Muslim girls here wear skinnies, carpri’s or lets just say “shorter clothing” because otherwise the list would be too long;I for one haven’t ever seen anyone mocking them or attacking them. Plus if the western countries don’t allow women to wear whatever they want to be it hijab or mini-skirt, how do they call themselves liberal then? They attack the islamic countries on the basis of them being “conservative” and “not allowing women to dress up or do what they want to do” however, they themselves have done the same thing. “Liberal” doesn’t mean that you allow your women to roam around naked, “liberal” means to respect their own ideologies and let them live their life as they want to live it. Hope you got my point, friend. Next time before pointing a finger on the “islamic” countries regarding this issue, do remember this point please i.e. if ET publishes it and if you read it. :) Recommend

  • Syeda Jafri

    A well written article. Violence is bad & should be criticised if it is used for or against following certain set of rules. Wearing Hijab is indeed very difficult even in Pakistan. Here only a v.small number of people understand the real purpose & way of wearing hijab. Hence anyone doing what Islam really teaches us to do is indeed difficult here as well as abroadRecommend

  • camilla

    As a leftwing woman I find the hijab highly offensive and backward, although having said that I would find it less offensive if Muslim men were also ‘made’ to wear them. Particularly in many hot countries, where women are expected to wear black hijabs in extreme heat. At the very least let women wear light coloured hijabs, so they can feel cool as they go about their business of keeping their men happy.Recommend

  • Swedish

    Can a girl even wear Jeans/ shirt (fully covered) and go to public places in pakistan with freedom? No No No. Your whole argument is flawed.Muslims cry for their rights in non muslim countries but would not allow a non muslim if he dares to follow his/ her culture in a muslim country. This is double standards. Muslims want to impose their rules (sharia) in the whole world. They want to live and raise their families in western (non muslim) countries but do not want to adapt to their culture. This is insane.Recommend

  • Anthony

    Amazing. The actions of a few are labeled the actions of ‘The West’. Let’s completely forget that in ‘The West’, at least you HAVE the freedom to practice your faith visibly.

    Ask us minorities in Pakistan, Saudi and Iran.Recommend

  • @ :)

    @ :)

    What you say makes sense from one side…but are you too daft to see the other side ? Can’t you understand the fear generated by islamic jihadi attacks in multiple countries and people’s fearful reaction to an overtly islamic symbol,like a hijab ?Recommend

  • Mj

    @Realist:
    You did not answer my question. What would you do if I refused to shake hand of a person based on race.Recommend

  • goggi (Lahore)

    According to the social-psychological definition, we define a (social) group as a collection of individuals who perceive themselves as members of the same social category, have a certain degree of emotional attachment to this category and have a certain social consensus about the evaluation and their membership in this group.
    Violations of the group/societal norms have predetermined consequences (negative sanctions)! The person shall be laughed at, clapped, hooted, ignored, excluded or even physically assaulted.

    In the European societies this Arab dressing is generally perceived as an antisocial and nonconformist behaviour…………just as the burqa clad women in Defence housing society are taunted as “lal masjid wali”. Recommend

  • Swedish Lady

    @I am a Khan:
    Hey man you are so ignorant.Are you talking about muslim countries or non muslim countries? Please talk about what is holding you to follow Islam in Islamic countries. I am sure the saying of Prophet is for muslim countries. Recommend

  • Noor

    @ I am a Khan

    I follow your ‘ burning coals’ statement…
    I feel if a person is highly particular about leading a very religious life-nothing wrong with it….just stay back in an islamic country and practice peacefully.
    If religion/wearing hijab is a non-negotiable priority- no one from the west is begging you to go there,work and raise your chidren there and enjoy the benefits provided by western govt.s ( who inspite of being christian majority,have 100% separation of religion and state…)
    Don’t go to a non muslim country,after 9/11,wear hijab and accuse westerners of islamophobia and play victim…Recommend

  • Gurion

    @I am a Khan:

    There is a hadith of Holy Prophet
    (Saw) that there will come a time that
    holding on to Islam for the believers
    will be like holding on to burning
    coals. We can see a start of this
    prophecy happening now…

    Tell that to Quran only muslims then!Recommend

  • Chin2

    “I do not believe in any god, but I do
    believe n human rights”

    A statement applauded in Sweden, but can get you killed in Pakistan :)Recommend

  • :)

    @ :)

    People behind these attacks claim to be Muslims but let me tell you our religion does not teach killing anyone or forcing anyone to wear a hijab, veil etc. In our religion; peace and harmony is encouraged plus haven’t you heard “people who kill others don’t belong to any religion.” I am strictly against those people who claim to kill people because thats what they think “jihad” is, every sane Muslim would agree to that I think.
    When any american kills innocent children he is said to be mentally disturbed but if that person was somehow known to be linked to the “Muslim” community then he would automatically be one of the Taliban’s; that’s just hypocrisy.
    And if people have a fearful reaction towards hijab and veil, does it mean that it gives them the right to attack such women? That too during pregnancy? Lets just not talk about religion here, lets just talk about humanity; a person regardless of what religion he/she belongs to, who gives him/ her the right to attack anyone just because he/she wants to practice their own religion? Recommend

  • Insaan

    @Sanjeev: Do Islamic countries offer the same freedom and protection to women who wear a veil and to those who want to wear shorter clothing?

    Pakistan offers lot of freedom to Pakistanis. Any Pakistani if he wants can make up a story of Blasphemy to get any Christian into jail. Muslim mobs join in and burn Christian houses and beat up Christians, making them run for their lives.

    Pakistanis are very religious people.Recommend

  • Rational Liberal

    @Sanjeev:
    There are many women in Turkey,Malaysia,Bosnia,Lebanon and many other Muslim countries(some parts of Pakistan) that wear revealing clothes, and they’re a lot safer than any woman is in India.Recommend

  • Wisdom

    There is a saying -When muslims are a minority,they demand for secular rights ; but when they become a majority,they want shariah.Recommend

  • Aha

    @ Rational liberal

    Oh,you want to go there..then here’s a titbit for you..four out of the five young men accused recently in bombay were muslims.Recommend

  • http://pok darbullah

    If there is no freedom in west, please move to Saudi Arabia. Recommend

  • Pappu

    And this muslima author choses an “atheist” ( who does not even believe in a god) statement to make case for hijab wearing muslim women. Mind boggling!!Recommend

  • :)

    @Swedish:
    Um yeah they can, what makes you think they cant? You seriously need to do some googling before standing up and saying statements like “girls cant wear jeans shirt in Pakistan.” Believe me tons of girls wear jeans, shirt freely here and they can even go to public places (malls, shops, hospitals; you name it) without having a stole of veil to cover them. I think you’re not really aware of our actresses and models (yes we do have a “film industry”) and they were the normal girls of Pakistan who wore such clothes even before they entered the industry. Try searching for ayesha omar, VJ syra, VJ anusha, Sanam Saeed and the list goes on and on… Oh and also search for “pakistani girls in jeans shirts” you’ll know for yourself :)Recommend

  • Insaan

    Authors: “Alen did not “create” any situation, if it was visible that the CEO felt insulted or humiliated as she claims (which led her to prejudice her judgment by unjustly using her power). It was Alen’s obligation to clarify that it was his religious belief and not a personal one that led him to not shake hands with the CEO.”

    Scores of Muslim men marry White Christian women just to get papers to stay in a country. After getting papers they divorce the White woman and go marry their cousins in Pakistan. A whole lot of Pakistan Muslim men will flirt with a WHITE women if they get a chance. Killing of Muslims by Muslims in mosques, funerals and markets is a OK in Pakistan. Religious belief allows Sunnis to kill Shias but shaking hands with a woman, no way.

    It was just a random attack on a hijabi woman in the middle of the night. Muslims will try to make a big deal out of thisRecommend

  • Nb

    @ :)

    What part of ‘kill infidels/kafir/non believers’,sounds like peace and harmony to you ?Recommend

  • Nb

    @ :)

    ‘…people who kill others don’t belong to any religion..’

    I agree with you completely..but I ask you-these people who kill-they claim Only One religion….none of these people or armed organizations claim to be christian/bahai/sikh/parsi/jew/jain/shinto/atheist..etc….you catch my drift ?Recommend

  • Ch. Allah Daad

    Majority of us hate West and you are pouring more oil on burning fire by writing such articles. If Muslims are not happy in one of the best country of the world then please encourage them to return to the places where they originally belong.Recommend

  • Saurabh

    @Saurabh: *write. My bad.Recommend

  • Humza

    @Ch. Allah Daad: The majority of ” immigrants” in European countries are in fact asylum seekers who were running away from persecution in their lands of origin. If they ran away to Sweden as refugees to claim asylum, they must know that they were going to a liberal western democracy with different traditions. I agree that if they don’t want asylum in that type of environment, they should go back to where they came from.Recommend

  • Baig

    Author,you are showing atheist women supporting muslims in sweden by donning a scarf ? Very commendable..
    Is there any example of sunnis in pakistan,donning a saffron tilak or cross or shia symbolism to show their support for their persecuted minority brethren ?Recommend

  • anon

    “Perhaps the assault on the young Muslim Swedish woman highlights that touting religious freedoms is all good for the west until it comes time to apply it.”
    If anyone in West does anything bad to a Muslim, it must be because West is two-faced, it apparently does not matter that both state and society are on the side of victim (who is muslim). If the situation was reversed, the author would probably be saying acts of individual muslims or even a group of muslims don’t define Islam or Muslims.

    “As a people, we need to stop pigeonholing people instantly by their attire or appearance”.
    I wish writer had spent some time thinking about above statement. She is doing exactly what she says is wrong, pigeonholing the both genders.

    “Why is it acceptable for a woman to undress half naked or go around town, but once a woman chooses to cover her body, it becomes a problem?”
    I don’t know any place where covering up whole body (excluding face and head) is viewed negatively but can think of many places where showing a little bit of skin is even criminal. But why bother with reality when it conflicts with ones believes.

    Hijab will remain a symbol of oppression as long as there is a sizeable majority of Muslims who believe that women must wear it and if they don’t wear it then its fine to harass or insult them. Once that mindset changes then Hijab can be just another item of clothing.Recommend

  • Rational Liberal

    @Aha:
    “Oh,you want to go there..then here’s a titbit for you..four out of the five young men accused recently in bombay were muslims.”

    Alright, what do their belief systems have anything to do with their actions?You’re acting as if all rapes in India are done by Muslim men.

    There have been many rape cases this year in India, and most of those perpetrators were not Muslim, and the ‘Bombay incident’, has nothing to do with Pakistan.Recommend

  • Dp

    @ Rational liberal

    Ok,here goes…
    ” Then what does nationality have to do anything with their actions? You’re acting as if there are zero rapes in pakistan. ”
    You started it man…Recommend

  • Djkashmiri

    Cosnpiracy again..same author wrote about how India is fanning sectarian clashes in kashmir..get over conspiracy…we know how secular u people are…Recommend

  • Rational Liberal

    @Dp:
    “” Then what does nationality have to do anything with their actions? You’re acting as if there are zero rapes in pakistan.”

    My second comment was in response to Sanjeev’s question: “Do Islamic countries offer the same freedom and protection to women who wear a veil and to those who want to wear shorter clothing?”

    I said:“There are many women in Turkey,Malaysia,Bosnia,Lebanon and many other Muslim countries(some parts of Pakistan) that wear revealing clothes, and they’re a lot safer than any woman is in India.”

    Since I’m assuming that Sanjeev is from India, I thought it was necessary to point out to him that many Muslim countries are in fact a lot safer for women than India is, I never said that Pakistan is perfect(far from it), but I believe that it is relatively safer.Recommend

  • :)

    @Nb:
    Terrorists associated with the September 11th disaster could be called “al Qaeda Terrorists” since their involvement has been proven according to US, British, and Pakistani officials. When the Ku Klux Klan claimed credit for terrorist attacks in the 1960’s, they were not identified by religion as “Christian Fundamentalists” or “Christian Terrorists.” Although they identified themselves as a Christian movement, media never labeled them as Christians because their terrorism was regarded as a basic violation of Christian principles. Why not give the same respect to the Muslim religion? Islam does not support terrorism under any circumstances. Terrorism goes against every principle in Islam. If a Muslim engages in terrorism, he is not following Islam. He may be wrongly using the name of Islam for political or financial gain.People who claim to be muslims and kill others are in no way considered to be a true Muslim, this is not what I’m saying; this is what our God and Prophet (SAW) has taught us. The Qur’an(The holy book of muslims) is clear that innocent civilians must be protected. Islam does not recognize “collateral damage,” civilian casualties, as legitimate even during war.
    Basically people dont know the real teachings of Islam, they just sit in front of their tv screens and listen to what the stupid media injects into their heads. Recommend

  • Ahmed

    @Sanjeev:
    Two wrongs dont make one rightRecommend

  • Ahmed

    @Sanjeev

    Could you please tell us the name of an Islamic Country.Recommend

  • Arun

    Unfair girl to the state you are living in… forget about the religious rants above…. having lived in a state of Swedon hasen’t tought you enough about the tough living conditions of here in the subcontinent :( if so I would like to TRADE places with you any moment :)… & to add my place is neither bad .. TAMILNADU.. try google for secularisam in TN :)…. Recommend

  • Insaan

    :) “Believe me tons of girls wear jeans, shirt freely here and they can even go to public places (malls, shops, hospitals; you name it) without having a stole of veil to cover them”

    These girls don’t represent the whole Pakistan. Saudi Arabia’s constitution is based on Quran and Sunnah. According to Saudi standard of covering, Pakistani women wearing Salawar Kameez, tight jeans are like naked woman and can be arrested if seen without a burqa.

    Prostitution happens in most Muslim countries including Saudi Arabia.Recommend

  • Naveed

    @Sanjeev:
    Well sanjeev, a veiled women dose not cause any harm to the society, but half nacked women brings lots of complications to society, I think you are from India, why there is so many rapes in india?Recommend

  • Naveed

    @mac:
    A and half backed women, pornography, sexual harassment at work, rapes symbolizes what?Recommend

  • Insaan

    @Rational Liberal: and I believe it was inspired by the hate mongering and fearing-mongering of the far-right nationalists in Europe

    What made Europeans hate mongering, fear mongering? Do you think Muslim terrorism and Muslim men raping teenager girls have anything to do with this. Many Muslims try to convert teenage girls and boys into Islam 24/7.

    A Muslim terrorist who was given free education to become a physician by US government, was convicted of killing 14 American soldiers in USA. this week.Recommend

  • Insaan

    @Rational Liberal: I said:“There are many women in Turkey,Malaysia,Bosnia,Lebanon and many other Muslim countries(some parts of Pakistan) that wear revealing clothes, and they’re a lot safer than any woman is in India.”

    Why do you think many Muslim countries force women to wear burqa? Women are forced to wear burqa to save them from their Muslim brothers. Women even a burqa are sexually touched and/or raped in Muslim majority countries. A whole lot of Muslim women are not safe even in their own homes. Women get raped at police stations.
    Just search “Pakistan rape” on youtube.. Most Pakaistani women don’t even report rape for fear of getting killed or for being arrested for ZinaRecommend

  • Insaan

    @ASDF:
    West is promoting sex and homosexuality, these things will definitely destroy the Humanity.

    Homosexuality is popular in many Muslim countries. More boys are raped in Muslim countries then most non-muslim countries. You use Internet search to verify this.

    Muslims had problems with sex, that is why women are required to wear burqa. Religious police is used to keep men and women separate. Millions of Muslim women/girls get their sensitive sexual organs cut in order to control women/girls from doing it.Recommend

  • Desi

    @Author: though I sincerely believe in religios freedom, it always amuses me how Muslims cry for their right to religious freedom in foreign country but give no right to non Muslims in their own country. Do u know of any non Muslim country arresting Muslims for eating during any non Muslim holy month, or has treacherous law like blasphemy law found in almost every Muslim country ?
    To get freedom you have to learn to give freedom. Stop begging for everything.Recommend

  • AbsoluteIndia

    @Rational Liberal: I never said that Pakistan is perfect(far from it), but I believe that it is relatively safer.
    India is at least 10 time more safer than pakistan for women.women r not allowed to drive scooty,cant go outside alone and yet you r talking about india.Noman Ansari while writing a blog mentioned that he was not allowed to sit along his wife in MacD…Recently 2 sisters were killed by their own brothers coz their their bathing pics in rain were captured and transferred.4 girls were killed coz they were dancing in a wedding…Girls r often gifted away to settle down the land dispute and loan ….Girls r raped by landlords and they r not even allowed to speak…Oh and what to speak about Hindu woman…I heard that they wear burqa in order to protect themselves otherwise they would be abducted and raped..About freedom in india,ask your own sara loren and veena mallik ,how she is enjoying there…Recently Mathira is also looking for Mumbai ….It was not that rape was not happening in india in the past..Thing is that ,its now appropriate time for us to look upon these issues as more and more women r competing with men in every field and ask freedom as such..not sure how many Goa and western ghats you have…Schools in india follow skirt above the knee as a dress code for girls till 12th standard…schools would be blown up in if they will follow such a dress code in pakistan..dont know even Why I m replying you..Rape in pakistan is highly under reported …Believe me if news paper like Dawn and The express tribune will start highlighting. it ,already depressed pakistan would have more reason to be worry about…Recommend

  • Fiz

    @Swedish:
    They do in Pakistan. This shows you have not been to this part of the world. Don’t make up your mind on hearsay. Seeing is believing. Maybe you have never seen our TV dramas or films. No wonder your knowledge about Pakistan is so limited.Recommend

  • Genesis

    What about harassment of non Muslims and the enactment of blasphemy laws to send them to jail.How much freedom do non Muslims have in Islamic countries,they cannot even have their own places of worship and here they are demanding rights and freedoms in other lands.People living in glass houses should throw at others.Reform first at home by practice and example and then demand the freedoms denied..Recommend

  • mind control

    Attacked for wearing a Hijab: What is religious freedom to the West?

    Religious Freedom?

    What Religious Freedom?

    Leave the Decadent West and head for Saudi Arabia, PLEASE.Recommend

  • Silas

    Don’t criticize the west. Blame the right wing nuts. Be it Pakistan or France or Sweden, right winger will always create problems. Recommend

  • Raza

    Sounds like to me that the Swedes deserve applause for their stance and solidarity; the handshake story is a non-story because you’re expected to do handshakes with everyone in the West. In any case, we Pakistani Muslims have no right to be commenting on other people and nations; the attack on the Swedish lady is regrettable and its wrong to stereoptype, but the truth is that we inflict far worse routinely on our minorities, and allow far lesser freedom of religion, attire and culture in our own land.Recommend

  • Alann

    I won’t be getting into “religious freedom” debate of “Western Countries” vs the “Muslim Countries”.
    All I want to say is that, such a blog entry can only be written by a Pakistani. Not by any westerner, nor by any Muslim of any other Islamic country.
    Pakistanis are unique human beings. But then Pakistan is the sole saviour of Muslim Ummah of the world! What can I say…I used to get amazed at such blogs and articles, now it feels “normal”.Recommend

  • Alann

    I’m surprised why is Pakistan not yet declared the biggest superpower in the world.
    Don’t the world know only what the Pakistanis believe in, is true and everyone else is wrong?
    When will the world learn what “religious freedom” is by looking at Pakistan as the ‘model state’?
    Don’t they know all the Mard-e-Momins are sitting in Pakistan and preaching the world what to do and what not to do? When, oh when, will the world realise this simple thing?

    ET mods, I know I won’t get 72 virgins in heaven for not praising Pakistan more than I already have, but please publish my post!Recommend

  • Kulwant Singh

    @Humza:
    Every In ian Pakistani want ti immigrate to Western countries an u ask tem to return it is a joke will criticize only but will live tere is not ita factRecommend

  • Ansari

    O liberal extremists .. Your response is same as expected .. You just can’t stop supporting humiliation of Muslims and you remember all lessons of freedoms and human rights when it comes to non-Musims ..

    @Author, nice written piece sister. May Allah SWT accept your effort. Don’t get bogged down by comments of Secular Extremists here. :) :)Recommend

  • Ali Tanoli

    Mr Alan Malik doesnot want to shaks hand with other faith peoples?? i was wondering islam is not that extreme the way some peoples trys to make the way orthodox jews does………..Recommend

  • Nb

    @ :)

    You’re going wrong again…
    KKK was about white supremacy…white episcopalian/protestant masters against their christian black slaves… What sense is there to compare colour based slavery/apartheid which has nothing/zero to do with religion to jihad/kill infidels,which is all about religion …come on…

    I understand the last 10 lines of what you say..but not all muslims see it the way you do…hmm ? The people who hijack planes and blow themselves up,consider themselves very serious muslims-and they don’t consider themselves terrorists-they claim to be waging a jihad against against kafirs-they will support their actions from scriptures..so you may find yourself at cross purposes with these bearded holy men.Recommend

  • Gingo

    Religious discrimination is present everywhere in the world by the majority on minoriy, be it the so called ‘West’ or in the ‘Islamic world’.
    The only difference is that the assaulted Muslim woman can turn to the law as per the rights given to her in ‘West’.
    The same rights are not extended to the minorities in ‘Islamic World’.Recommend

  • Noor

    @ Rational liberal

    I have to say that you took a hijab/islamophobia discussion and single handedly took it to rape.

    Now the clincher of your reply is ‘pak is RELATIVELY safer’..ok lets see.. Now pak has 180-200 million people approx.
    Your neighbour has 1200 million-that’s more than the Entire Continent of Africa.
    So it doesn’t make sense compare the number of crimes of the two countries. Compare your crime rate to any other country with 200 mill people..not the neighbours.
    Compare Indias crime rate with entire Africa.Recommend

  • Dr. Cash

    What was the young Muslim woman doing out so late?
    Doesn’t Islam teach her not to step out of house after dark without a chaperon?
    Conveniently bringing in religion to support hijab yet forgetting what it teaches regarding staying out late. Recommend

  • Parvez

    ET : What happened to my comment……it was straight forward and to me made sense.
    Recommend

  • http://www.albakistan.com Zaid Hamid

    Bottom line:

    A crime committed by a Muslim is an act of individual.
    A crime committed against a Muslim is a deliberate act of crime by the nation/race/religion against the whole Muslim Ummah.Recommend

  • Newfie

    The lady should thank her lucky stars she wasn’t in Delhi or Mumbai. Things go really medieval there for women…in moving buses.Recommend

  • Dr.N

    I respect what you say-that your scriptures have not taught things like collateral damage etc.
    So,you say people are uneducated about their religion-so people must study it, to not be violent.
    Now,I ask you-the ones who study it and teach it-are they peace lovers?Do they have the same opinions as you?Do they believe jihad is unislamic ? And do they believe that kafirs must not be killed ?
    And why do you blame t.v.- How many madrassahs have you seen with t.v. sets ?Without the influence of t.v.,are the inhabitants of peaceful mentalities ?
    If reading and studying scriptures must do away with ignorance of religion,why then do you hear venom spewing on friday evenings in mosques during sermons ?Recommend

  • Dr.N

    @ Ahmed

    Sure,two wrongs don’t make a right..they’re both wrong.
    But the case here is,one wrong is condemned very loudly by you and the other grevious wrong-receives your silent approval.Recommend

  • Insaan

    @anon: Hijab will remain a symbol of oppression as long as there is a sizeable majority of Muslims who believe that women must wear it and if they don’t wear it then its fine to harass or insult them. Once that mindset changes then Hijab can be just another item of clothing.

    Muslim women get touched, sexually harassed, raped even in burqa and/or hijab in countries that require women to wear Hijab or burqa.Recommend

  • gp65

    @:)
    ” Plus if the western countries don’t allow women to wear whatever they want to be it hijab or mini-skirt, how do they call themselves liberal then?”

    Where to startwith such horrendous logic?
    1. Do allWesterners call themselves liberal? Where did you come up with that? There are bothe conservative and liberal people in West as elsewhere.

    2. Do 10 million Swedes represent over a billion Westerners?

    3. Is there anythingin Swedish constitution that perevents donnnig of hijab?

    4. Did civil society support the victim who was from minority community or the aggressor? What happens in Pakistan?

    5. Like the women who donned hijab in support of the victim, how come no one wore a cross for a couple of days in support of the Joseph Colony victims, who no doubt suffered muchmore than the victim?

    “I live in Islamabad (Pakistan) and I see alot of chinese and american women here roaming around here wearing shorts and drop sleeves not just that but a lot of Muslim girls here wear skinnies, carpri’s or lets just say “shorter clothing”

    I am sure the acid attacks Sharmeen made a documentary on happen in Norway.

    “They attack the islamic countries on the basis of them being “conservative” , ”

    WHo is ‘They’? When did they attack Islamic countries for being conservative? Can you please provide reference?Recommend

  • csmann

    Nobody seems to be thinking ,and talking about the woman in question here. Poor lady had most probably been insisted upon(forced might be little too harsh) by her husband and mullahs to wear hijab, and a bigoted swede comes in to victimize the victim.Fortunately women of Sweden understand her dilemma,and are coming out to her rescue.And unfortunately,these same swedish women are labelled anti-islam when they raise the voice against domestic violence against muslim women.Anybody should be able to wear whatever pleases them. And Hijab is OK as long as it is not being forced upon the women. Only a few days ago there was the news in this very newspaper of a cleric in Pakistan murdering and mutilating his wife bacause of “allegedly” not wearing burqa to the extent that he desired.It would have been so nice if the same kind of hue-and -cry would have went out in Pakistan,as it did in Sweden.And there are,indeed,much more atrocities on women in Muslim countries. Not that majority of Muslims practice or even condone them, but like in anything else,the goodly majority chooses to remain silent,thereby giving legitimacy to the tiny minority that uses their interpretation of Islam to subjugate and persecute women.Recommend

  • MilesToGo

    West need to learn from Islam, what true religious freedom is.Recommend

  • bangash

    Alen Malik Crnalic behavior was insulting and made Muslims look like weirdos who simply cause trouble and then hide behind religion. Author of this article needs to learn to respect and co-exist with others rather than emigrating to a foreign land and then demanding that her practices be rejected in the name of religion.Recommend

  • Nishant

    the difference between this incident and what happens in islamic countries is that this was not legal.
    the taliban apologists should remember how the taliban, when in power in afghanistan pulled out nails of women, if their hands peeked out from the burqa Recommend

  • muneer

    Mullah nonsense.Recommend

  • Dr.N

    @:)
    I respect what you say-that your scriptures have not taught things like collateral damage etc.
    So,you say people are uneducated about their religion-so people must study it, to not be violent.
    Now,I ask you-the ones who study it and teach it-are they peace lovers?Do they have the same opinions as you?Do they believe jihad is unislamic ? And do they believe that kafirs must not be killed ?
    And why do you blame t.v.- How many madrassahs have you seen with t.v. sets ?Without the influence of t.v.,are the inhabitants of peaceful mentalities ?
    If reading and studying scriptures must do away with ignorance of religion,why then do you hear venom spewing on friday evenings in mosques during sermons ?Recommend

  • Azeem

    Next time please do write about: what is religious freedom in Pakistan? & What is the value of life in Pakistan? Recommend

  • Sajid

    What is religious freedom to the West?

    That anyone trying to limit the religious freedom of others will be stopped by the law enforcement agencies.

    Now, what is religious freedom in the muslim world?

    The freedom to be muslim and nothing but a muslim while Na-Maloom afraad (unknown persons) and sometimes easily identifiable persons harasse minorities with our fear of legal prosecution.Recommend

  • moz

    Again muslims playing their victim card, and how the rest of the world is horrible to them?Recommend

  • Lolz

    I don’t understand why people start dragging religion in such issues and start quoting scriptures and try to prove themselves more Muslims/religious and identify to be pious among the ignorant majority. PLEASE, SUCH ISSUES ARE OF SOCIAL AND CULTURAL NATURE, NEED ATTENTION AT ANOTHER LEVEL. Everyone is aware of the scripture details and punishments by the divine and can be found on the internet anywhere. It has become a normal practise of all the Muslims, whether individual or a leader, that they try to portray attack on themselves as attack on the whole Ummah/Islam. An yeah, if people think they don’t enjoy freedom in western countries, they should immediately leave that country and get settled in any of the Muslim country, simple! and I would ask all such people to kindly try to apply for the citizenship of Saudi Arabia first. Recommend

  • hibaba

    don’t you people have shame? want to wear hijaba while in west and islamize there, but can’t allow other’s freedom in these muslim hibaba countries.Recommend

  • Parvez

    The West is quickly realising that the radical Islamist is using the laws and freedom allowed in their countries to propogate a thinking that is anathema to them……..like hypocrisy, intollerance towards women, rigid religious thought etc, etc.
    When the West simply asks : Why can’t you be a good Muslim without completely covering your face or for men walking around with your shalwar hiked up to between your knees and ankles ? Why is it necessary to wear your religion on your sleeve ? …………..obviously they don’t get a convincing answer and the rest of the Islamic worlds behaviour does not help your cause.
    Recommend

  • lolo

    Its not about women or women way to dress, its just about islamophobia in western countries… Am a westerner and a woman, and i cant digest this muslim bashing anymore, so much effort to oppose muslims and non-muslims, to brandish the veiled woman as a threat for western democracy, its taking people for idiots, and for the benefit of some ideological groups or others media corp. which makes tons of money out of Islamophobia… Its our duty to all educated people muslims and non muslims, to stop that shameful campaign and express our feeling for peace and mutual respect. Recommend

  • http://tribune.com p r sharma

    the author – A typical Pakistani finding faults with all others but don’t feel the need of introspection.Recommend

  • Maria

    @Rational Liberal: Your comment is by far the most sensible. That’s exactly the way I feel.Recommend

  • Maria

    “What you say makes sense from one side…but are you too daft to see the other side ? Can’t you understand the fear generated by islamic jihadi attacks in multiple countries and people’s fearful reaction to an overtly islamic symbol,like a hijab ?”

    ^ What? Seriously? I am not a Muslim but I have friends who wear ghe Hijab, and I dont see why any reasonable, rational person should feel threatened by it.

    This is exactly the kind of thinking which makes someone a bigot. You’re no different from the crazy anti-Christian people who live in Pakistan. Absolutely disgusting.Recommend

  • Maria

    “@ Rational liberal
    Oh,you want to go there..then here’s a titbit for you..four out of the five young men accused recently in bombay were muslims.”

    ^ “titbit”?! Good God. The word’s TIDBIT. What you wrote means something entirely else…Recommend