Who should we listen to when it comes to the veil?

Why even pose this question? The context is an argument between @monaeltahawy and @ConfessionsExMu on Twitter. Mona attended the conference Ake Arts and Book Festival (#akefest18) in Lagos where she basically said, “unless you’re a Muslim woman, shut the fuck up about the veil!” @ConfessionsExMu believes that we should all work together and no one should be denied the right to voice their opinion.

So, who should be having a debate or be questioning the hijab? Mona chose her stance, because she doesn’t want to appease the right wing and racists. In the past, she used to speak openly in different media about how she despises the niqab and that it should be banned. But it opens up space for racist slurs and islamophobic statements as well. And we should not render the right wing any space to spread their fear. If you were a Muslim woman and had serious doubts about the hijab or the niqab, you will find it harder to voice your doubts if that meant you aligned yourself with the right wing or supported them in voicing their opinions in any way.

Also –  the #metoo movement showed once again, how when white women in powerful positions approach an issue, they are being listened to while women of colour struggle to get any kind of audience. So, we need to create spaces where Muslim women can debate their own issues and solve them themselves. No white males, females or Islamic clerics involved. Moreover, a lot of times people, who have a voice that is being heard, steal that space from women, by voicing their opinions. Without necessarily intending it, they contribute to the silencing of minorities. In times where each one of us can connect to the world and make themselves heard, we rarely ever listen. Especially to people who have a different point of view than ours. Just because you have a following and people will listen to you, shouldn’t mean that your opinion is more relevant than someone’s who is directly affected by what is being discussed.

How you approach and address a subject, greatly influences, who you are going to reach and speak to. If you attack someone by devaluing what they believe in or use it to propagate your agenda, you can repeat a million times that you are trying to support them, it won’t be heard because you are attacking their identity and being dishonest. Show some respect and listen, before you even build your own opinion. If you don’t, you’re part of the misogynistic system that you are claiming to fight against.

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