Muslim women athletes being covered up in Rio reflects oppression not diversity

Muslim women athletes being covered up in Rio reflects oppression not diversity

THE systematic subjugation of women in Islamic countries starts early. Even at the age of five, I was forced to wear dehumanising Muslim clothing to attend school in Iran’s capital, Tehran.

Being covered head to toe, including a tightfitting head covering, was barely tolerable in the hot summer months, particularly for a tomboy who preferred to climb trees and ride bikes rather than play quietly with dolls.

My upbringing was relatively carefree — if you ignore the perils of the Iran and Iraq war and the madness of the Islamic revolution — until I reached school age and was required to conform to Iran’s strict moral code, which includes women and girls being forced to cover up.

I remember loathing the restrictive garments that I was suddenly required to wear and resenting the boys’ granted freedoms that I’d previously enjoyed.

At the age of six, I was involved in a little misadventure that led to a cracked head and about a dozen stitches. The doctors shaved my head for the procedure and for a while, out of school, I pretended to be a boy and enjoyed the freedom I coveted.

One of the strongest memories I have from my childhood in Iran is begging my parents to keep shaving my head so I could pretend to be one of the boys.

The oppression of girls and women under Islam sees millions forced to wear hijabs, chadors, niqabs and burqas in public.

Those women have no choice. Defying moral codes can result in arrest, caning or worse. In recent years, women have been victims of acid attacks for refusing to wear headscarves or for wearing them too loosely.

So it’s with a mixture of bemusement and exasperation that I watch privileged Western women celebrate garments like the burkini or hijab as if they’re an exotic oddity, rather than a means by which disempowered women are further marginalised.

Muslim headscarves are instruments of oppression and should not be celebrated as symbols of diversity.

In the past two weeks, regressive Lefties have been applauding the mandatory headscarves that some Islamic competitors were forced to wear at the Rio Olympics.

Veiled athletes were hailed as examples of multiculturalism, inclusiveness and female empowerment by dullards who looked past the reality of how women are treated in Muslim majority countries.

Tennis great Martina Navratilova was among those operating under the delusion that women competing in burkinis were free to choose, just like their Western sisters.

“Olympians in Hijab and Bikini, — as long as we have a choice, it is up to us to decide what is right for each of us,” Navratilova tweeted.

The only problem is that women in Islamic countries don’t have a choice and to pretend otherwise is a betrayal of the most disempowered women in the world; the very women that Western feminists should be fighting for instead of obsessing about trivial twaddle or, worse still, rationalising the treatment of women under Islam by indulging in cowardly moral relativism.

In Iran, women are not allowed to enter stadiums to watch all-male sporting events. The ban on females attending soccer matches was extended to sports such as volleyball in 2012.

Earlier this year, a 15-year-old girl dressed as a boy to see an Iranian Premier League soccer game at the ironically named Azadi (Freedom) stadium. She was arrested.

Last year, an Iranian-British woman, Ghoncheh Ghavami, was released from jail after serving five months for the crime of trying to attend a men’s volleyball game.

Ghavami was sentenced to 12 months but was released early thanks to international pressure. Many others are not so fortunate.

The Olympic movement supposedly values gender equality, but countries that treat women as second-class citizens are free to compete and are even applauded when they allow the occasional female to represent her country.

Saudi Arabia used the Rio Games to masterfully manipulate useful idiots who clapped like trained seals because the despot nation allowed four females to compete.

All four were given wildcard entries and didn’t have to meet formal qualification standards, but they did meet Saudi’s strict religious requirement in regards to their dress.

Let’s remember that these women are not allowed to drive a car or swim in a public pool and need a male guardian’s permission to travel.

And in Saudi Arabia, they can be stoned to death for crimes such as sorcery, adultery, lesbianism and atheism — but such inconvenient facts were ignored as fools celebrated the kingdom for “breaking barriers”.

Any religion or culture that requires girls and women to cover up for the sake of modesty has a fundamental problem with womanhood.

Wearing Muslim headscarves is conforming to a set of beliefs that casts women as temptresses who must cover up in case they entice men to act immorally.

The history and coercion behind the veil must never be forgotten by women in the West.

It was telling that while wilfully blind feminists celebrated burkinis and hijabs in Rio, Muslim women in Manbij, Syria — forced to live under Islamic State rule for more than two years — celebrated their liberation from the terror group by burning their burqas.