From the Moderate Muslim File: Kuwaiti women MPs refuse to wear hijab in parliament

Two female Kuwaiti MPs, Rola Dashti and Aseel Al-Awadhi, are defying the country’s powerful Islamist movement by refusing to wear the hijab, or headscarf, in parliament.
By Richard Spencer in Dubai

Published: 2:57PM BST 12 Oct 2009

(HH: You just know That is going to go over well. I wish them luck.)

The MPs, …, have angered their Islamist colleagues, who say they say they are flouting sharia, or Islamic law.

(HH: Somehow I think that these women are already aware of that fact. In fact that is the whole point of what they are doing as we shall see.)

One …is going further by demanding the scrapping of …regulations that says they have to observe sharia in parliament.

“You can’t force a woman going to the mall to wear a hijab and you can’t force a woman going to work to wear the hijab,” [said] MP, Rola Dashti…

Last week, the rector of al-Azhar University in Cairo, traditionally the principal seat of Sunni Islamic learning, banned women students from wearing the face veil in women-only classes and student dormitories, and was followed by other academic institutions there.

Students at Khalifa University in Sharjah, the most conservative of the seven city-states that make up the United Arab Emirates, have also reportedly been told to stop wearing the veil, known in Arabic as the niqab.

When electoral law was changed in 2005 to allow women in Kuwait to vote and stand for parliament, Islamists inserted a law-minute rider that “women as voters and MPs” would have to follow sharia. It did not specify precisely where or how.

Three Islamist MPs immediately protested when Dr Dashti and a second MP, Aseel Al-Awadhi, turned up at the Assembly without a hijab, the simple head-scarf that covers the hair and is compulsory for women in public in Saudi Arabia and Iran but optional across most Gulf nations.

One MP sought a ruling from the Ministry of Islamic Affairs, whose “fatwa department” last week decreed that hijab was an obligation for Muslim women, without referring directly to the electoral law.

As a result Dr Rashti tabled an amendment on Sunday demanding that the sharia rider be dropped.

She said Kuwait’s constitution stipulated freedom of choice and equality between the sexes and did not incorporate sharia.

“There’s a group of people who know they cannot Islamise the constitution so they try to Islamise every issue when it comes up,” she said. “I’m going to examine anything that violates the constitution, taking it law by law.”

… A private citizen has filed a private suit against Dr Dashti and Professor al-Awadhi for not wearing the hijab, which is due to be heard before the country’s constitutional court later this month.

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(HH: This stand could land these women in jail or get them or their families killed. Westerners do not realize just how big of a protest this is in the Muslim world.

Anyone who despairs of Islam ever reforming needs to scan the polls at Muslims Against Sharia and Saudi Controlled Al-Arabiya.

You will find the usual bedrock of anti-Semitism and sense of Muslim manifest Destiny that you might expect. But you will also find very strong minority currents of Western style Liberal thought. A great many people across the Muslim world would LOVE to be able to treat their religion the way most Western Christians do. As a personal comfort and guide that does not demand more than a normal, secular lifestyle can accommodate.

Their leaders are well aware of how slippery is the slope of reform. But these same leaders often find themselves backing this or that reform in order to protect their own power. This is known as shooting yourself in the foot.

With every reform established the hunger of the people for a normal life, free from religious or secular Big Brothers watching their every move, becomes greater and greater. Go ask the Soviet Duma how well Western Reforms go over in a totalitarian state but you might need a Ouija Board to make contact since that body is as dead as Stalin.

It is well not to forget though that even the most reform minded Middle Easterner often has other attitudes that they do even try to examine objectively. Such as the aforementioned anti-Israel/anti-Jew, Muslims are just awesome and Westerners are naive at best self-aggrandizement. But past history shows that once they allow for individual rights and secular law the end result will be the decay of the other superstitious and hateful traditions. It couldn’t hurt, as the Jewish lady said while spooning chicken soup into the dead man.)