Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Hijab-wearing Muslim Women Are Passive Terrorists?

San Bernardino terrorist from Pakistan via Saudi Arabia.
Are Hijab Wearers Terrorists? A Military Paper Says Yes. The U.S. Department of Defense recently released a policy paper that’s quickly become a flash point of controversy. It’s not hard to see why, as the paper asserts a link between Muslim women who wear hijabs, the traditional religious headscarves, to “passive terrorism.”

According to The Intercept, the paper, Countering Violent Extremism: Scientific Methods & Strategies, was first released in 2011 but was recently republished in an updated form. Despite the overwrought, academic-sounding name, the report makes a handful of assertions that appear to lack any genuine empirical evidence. Keep in mind that this is a policy paper meant to outline the U.S.’s counter-terrorism strategy domestically and abroad.

In addition to the outlandish claim about hijabs, a chapter authored by Dr. Tawfik Hamid titled “A Strategic Plan to Defeat Radical Islam” makes several more unproven assertions worthy of a raised eyebrow. Dr. Hamid says he was a former Islamic militant, so he should be taken at his word, right?

Explaining the “hijab phenomenon,” Dr. Hamid says women who wear the covering “contribute to the idea of passive terrorism.” Why? Because, he claims, women who don’t discard their hijabs are automatically condoning extremism — in fact, based on Dr. Hamid’s model, the hijab could even be seen as a sort of gateway to genuine terrorism. He cites his own personal experience, insisting he’s noticed that areas with fewer hijab-wearing women have fewer terror attacks.

Think those assertions are dubious? Dr. Hamid goes on to name another apparent factor in radicalism: “sexual deprivation.” He contends that sexually frustrated young men are joining extremist groups not out of ideology but thanks to hormones. Dr. Hamid argues that the link is especially clear (to him, at least) that suicide bombers are particularly motivated in this way, since they are promised wives in the afterlife.

These wholly unsubstantiated claims are being called out by terrorism experts, including New York University’s Arun Kundnani, who argues Dr. Hamid didn’t conduct a “genuine investigation” of terrorism, but instead made “an attempt to supply national security agencies with bogus surveillance rubrics.”

Dr. Hamid’s claims are dangerous. Their lack of substance means they contribute little to counter-terrorism efforts. But worse, it signifies a government-sanctioned effort to demonize millions of women and to reduce Muslim men to being little more than lust-driven animals.

All her life since 5 Malik always wore a hijab as her religion instructs it.

These sorts of absurd assertions also help to confirm the xenophobic fears of many Americans, some of whom, including Republican presidential nominee frontrunner Donald Trump, say Muslim refugees fleeing Middle Eastern violence should be kept out of the United States altogether. It fosters sentiments that can, and do, materialize as violent crimes against Muslims.

For proof of this, we can look to France. There, several laws have been enacted restricting Muslim women’s headscarves. In 2004, a French law barred veils in public schools; in 2011, another law was made to outright ban full face veils. Sadly, since these laws came into practice, French Muslim women have experienced frequent abuse — from name calling to physical attacks — over their head wear.

The cultural “othering” that comes with linking something innocuous like the hijab to terrorists also serves another group: the actual terrorists. Islamic extremists want to create a stark division between the West and the Muslim world. Going back to France, it could be argued that, perhaps, that nation has been the target of the worst terror attacks in the West in recent memory because, given its head wear laws (among other things), France was seen as ripe for widening that cultural division.