A few bits of commentary on some statements made by Lizzie Schofield who works (?) for Jay Smith’s group called Pfander Centre for Apologetics. Lizzie proffers her unfortunate and misguided view on hijab which is effectively a smear:
What is the hijab all about? It’s an outward reminder of female oppression by a religion that subjugates women in almost every area of life.
Firstly, this is not true – we can discuss all this at a later date.
Secondly, when she says the hijab is “a reminder of female oppression by a religion that subjugates women in almost every area of life” it’s actually not the religion she is attacking – she’s actually attacking Muslim men. The religion cannot practically enforce anything – never mind female subjugation – it’s the adherents of that faith who practically enforce and encourage religious practices. For instance the Biblical teaching of no remarriage after divorce is not a case of the Bible/Christianity subjugating women to this law but rather the Christian community.
This, “I’m attacking Islam not Muslims” slogan in many cases is a sneaky cop-out used by Islamophobes which sadly many people (Muslims included!) don’t cotton on to. Critics like Lizzie Schofield are criticising Muslims and dressing it up as solely a criticism of Islam. They may not notice that they are actually attacking Muslims hence their howls of protest when called Islamophobes but in all reality they are attacking Muslims. But, what type of Muslims is Lizzie targeting here?
Lizzie draws a dichotomy between Muslims in the East and Muslims in the West:
There are two narratives around the hijab. The first is that of the Western muslimah, which says “I like wearing the veil. It’s my way of expressing my faith. No-one forces me to do it, it’s my choice.” And because running and swimming is awkward with a hijab, when companies produce Muslim-friendly sportswear making it easier for these women to exercise, this improves their choices. This is a good thing.
Then there is the other narrative, or rather the uncomfortable reality that wearing the hijab for most Muslim women around the world is not a meaningful choice, either because it is illegal or due to prohibitive social pressure. How often do Saudi or Afghan or Somali women wander the streets of their countries without a hijab? Even if they say to themselves “I don’t feel like wearing it today,” they cannot act on their feeling without consequences.
This is not the first time Pfander have drawn an uncomfortable dichotomy between Easterners and Westerners – see Jay Smith’s degrading comments on non-Westerners.
It’s great Lizzie Schofield is not plying the propaganda narrative of oppressed Muslim women in Britain and the rest of the West. I appreciate that but I assume the copious number of Muslim ladies in the West who have communicated the hijab is worn as a choice, specifically their choice, has something to do with her not willing to impugn Muslims in the West of such a charge.
But why treat the Muslims in the East differently?
I suspect Lizzie Schofield and her cohorts on the right wing, be they “Christian evangelists” or just regular right wingers with or without the jackboots, don’t really hear much from or about Muslim women in the East and the little they do hear is filtered to portray a certain narrative. To be fair, this will be the case for pretty much most people in the West albeit those not marooned in the right wing are more willing to look at alternative views to scope a wider perspective.
As examples of Muslim ladies being forced to wear the hijab, Lizzie picks Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan and Somalia. Afghanistan is a war-torn country, the Christians in the West really know how to turn weaker countries into those, so let’s discount Afghanistan. Somalia’s population according to Worldometers is less than 11.5m and Saudi’s is just over 32.5m.
Why didn’t Lizzie not go to the most populous Muslim country, Indonesia? The population of Indonesia is over 260m. A quarter of a billion! There’s no country-wide hijab law as far as I’m aware. Correct me if I’m wrong, the same applies to Pakistan – the second largest Muslim country (over 160m). And how about India, a non-Muslim country, which has the 2nd greatest number of Muslims living in it after Indonesia.
There’s no country-wide law enforcing hijab in any of those countries. It seems Lizzie is being quite selective. Sadly, this is not uncommon for Pfander Ministries.
But let’s go back to Saudi Arabia and Somalia (I haven’t checked the law in Somalia but let’s just assume Lizzie is correct and the hijab is mandated by the law of the land there), none of this would support Lizzie’s assertion that there’s no meaningful choice. Generally, countries mandate laws which the majority of the population support, has Lizzie ever thought that most of the women in those two countries actually agree with their respective laws on hijab?
Is this a Western supremacist idea playing out? A case of “oh those Easterners don’t really want to live by such and such laws, they want to live like Westerners, so clearly their governments are forcing laws on to them”?
I do wonder if Lizzie and her fellow right wing evangelical colleagues in the West say the same thing about places like Uganda and their anti-gay laws, is Lizzie really willing to say the Christians there are forced to oppose homosexuality?
Be honest Lizzie, how many Somali and Saudi women have you really spoken to? Let’s pay for your ticket to Saudi Arabia and jet you off there – I’m not willing to send you off to Afghanistan as I’m worried some Christian plane flying overhead will drop a bomb on your head. We wouldn’t want you to experience the misery inflicted on Afghans simply because some Christian soldiers, who are squatting on Native American land (post the genocide of said natives), are puppets for their natural-resources addicted elite who “serve” a growing number of civilians drunk on Islamophobia.
Anyways, pack your burkha and let’s jet you off to Saudi! [Note before you do jet off please remove your reference to Aqsa Parvez, to misuse her murder for your propaganda is shameless. Utterly shameless.]
Pfander Centre’s Lizzie Schofield mentions some small protest in Iran against the law on hijab. I didn’t check it out but hey, let’s run with it. OK, so there’s a small Iranian group protesting against one of their laws. There’s many small groups protesting against certain things in Europe i.e against abortion, immigration (Muslim immigration!) and gay marriage or those protesting against bans on acts such as bestiality. There are people protesting all sorts of laws in every country – perhaps not in North Korea. Let’s not make a big deal out of it, Lizzie.
Considering, in my last interaction with Lizzie’s blog material I pointed out Christian countries are the worst behaved sexually than any other countries one would think Lizzie wouldn’t be so quick to jump on the wagon promoting a less moderate environment for others who aren’t inflicted with the same sexually debauched societies as that which Westernised Christians have produced?
Lizzie Schofield, not only lives in one of the most sexually ill-disciplined societies in the world but she lives in one where the female body is used to market anything from cars, movies, casinos, video games etc.. Not to mention, your average woman here really can’t go out without make-up now – such is the point of no return this “Westernised Christian” society has reached. I challenge Lizzie Schofield, Hatun Tash, Sarah Foster and Beth Grove to go sans make-up for a few weeks when on their trips out to Hyde Park. Doubt they will be willing to take it up even if Jay Smith asks them to!
Folks, when our women dread to go outside without make-up we know our societies have destroyed the self-esteem of women here. Westernised Christian culture is ruining women’s self esteem and confidence. Sadly, Lizzie, a victim of this “Westernised Christian” culture in an effort to avoid dealing with the problems at home wants to point fingers at societies that are purer than those produced by “Westernised Christians”.
Lizzie, you’re not fooling anybody half-way smart. And you’re not attracting anybody smart with your ideas and arguments.
There’s also a shoddy argument from Lizzie that the hijab doesn’t help against sexual harassment. She cites some survey from Egypt indicating 99% of women have experienced sexual harassment – I’m not convinced with that survey.
The problem here is Lizzie isn’t doing a like for like comparison. If you really want to find out if the hijab plays a role in helping women to avoid unwanted attention and advances from strange men the social research has to be conducted in the same place and the results are more credible if the same volunteer is used. Karim Metwaly’s social experiment in New York of the same woman wearing hijab and not wearing hijab whilst walking the streets of NY for 5 hours in each dress code supports the view the hijab does discourage men from sexually harassing women.
Surely the thinking Christian will be asking why Lizzie’s Westernised version of Christianity is inferior to Islam in that it doesn’t help women avoid catcalls and other unwanted harassment from men whilst Islam does offer something very practical which actually works. The same goes for alcohol, Islam offers a better view on alcohol than Westernised Christianity. If the Christians at Pfander Ministries believe Islam is from the devil then they have an issue in trying to explain why this religion has better moral teachings than their Christianity? Another question to lob in if they really believe Muslims follow a satanic faith, why are Muslims better behaved sexually than Christians (Christians believe they have the Holy Spirit guiding them)?
Lizzie in her pre-emptive efforts to fend off shrieks of hypocrisy puts her foot in her mouth as she effectively admits she’s a liberal Christian and that she, if consistent, is arguably closer to believing Paul of Tarsus was oppressing women:
Are Christians being hypocritical here? Occasionally at Speaker’s Corner I get admonished for not wearing a head covering by Muslims. They quote 1 Corinthians 11:4-6:
Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head, 5 but every wife[a] who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head, since it is the same as if her head were shaven. 6 For if a wife will not cover her head, then she should cut her hair short. But since it is disgraceful for a wife to cut off her hair or shave her head, let her cover her head.
If, for the sake of argument, we take the most conservative interpretation of these verses and assume that married Christian women today are to cover their heads, there are two things to note here. 1. It is a symbolic gesture of submission to her husband, a husband who is instructed to love her “like Christ loves the church, who gave himself up for her “(Ephesians 5:25). 2. It is subject to constraints, i.e. for wives at a church gathering and only when she prays or prophesies. She is not being told to cover her head as she goes about her daily life.
Firstly, saying the headcovering is a conservative Christian understanding is an admission that her group are liberal (Westernised Christians). What else are they liberals on, gay marriage, abortion, sex before marriage, dating, women’s dress codes, female clergy etc.?
Secondly, Paul of Tarsus was ordering women to do dress a certain way thus they were meant to submit to a dress code given to them by a man (Paul of Tarsus)
The Jesus scholar, Geza Vermes, thought Paul of Tarsus ordered women to wear veils on their heads because he thought they would tempt angels:
The idea of potential sexual rapport between angels and women continued to float in the air even as late as in the New Testament times. Indeed, when St Paul forbade the female members of the church of Corinth to attend Christian assemblies with the head uncovered, he justified this prohibition by his belief that the sight of their hair might lead astray some passing-by sons of heaven: ‘That is why a woman ought to have a veil on her head, because of the angels’, Paul insisted (1 Cor 11:10).
If Vermes’ view concerning Pauls’ reasoning is correct one wonders how many early Christians thought hijab-less women as a temptation to sin. After all, if they thought angels could not resist unveiled Christian women then what about the lay Christians? So why in the world are they freely mixing with uncovered Christian women at churches every Sunday? Not only that, what about day to day activities?
Christians need to stop presenting Christianity as secualrism with a belief in a trinity and blood sacrifice. It’s not.
Paul’s alleged precaution against sexual sin (the hijab) has largely been ignored by most Christian women.
We would very much encourage Christian women to ignore Paul on his mistakes but act upon the teachings which have a ring of truth and sense to them. The hijab is something Mary wore and something which all women should strive for. Of course, we as Muslims are not going to accept the idea that angels are tempted to sexual sin. Muslims believe angels do not disobey God.
Why are Christian men so lax in encouraging the hijab? For some reason, Christians follow Paul theologically to the letter yet ignore him practically as in this case. I’d like to see Christians ignore Paul theologically and adopt Paul’s teaching of hijab…
You don’t have to believe Paul’s alleged reasoning for the hijab, just start handing out hijabs to women who claim to love Jesus (p).
PS You can get all your hijabs from an Islamic centre near you, please pick some literature up on the way out. Thanks. May God bless you.