OPINION: Religious observance or a symbol of oppression?

OPINION: Is the hijab a sign of religious observance or a symbol of female oppression?

This is the question I was left pondering when I read a story about a suburban council calling for non-Muslim women to wear hijabs for three hours as part of a social experiment aimed at "providing awareness, insight and education".

A week after the Reclaim Australia Rally, it still feels dangerous to touch this issue and try to have a mature discussion around it.

Far from being anti-Islam, I look around our community and see the good that people of the Muslim community are doing, particularly in the field of medicine.

And an invitation to try a hijab was extended by the Hervey Bay Muslim community earlier this year, which I believe had very good intentions.

Yes, extremism in any religion is concerning, but it should not define the Islamic community.

It's an interesting idea - that one about walking a mile in another's shoes, but I don't know if I can see the merit in this particular endeavour.

As a Christian, I would have no desire to wear an item of clothing that speaks to the observance of another religion - and my religious beliefs should be equally respected.

The other, darker, side of the equation is whether these garments symbolise oppression. With my predominantly Western viewpoint, this is a difficult issue to try to discuss.

To be asked to wear a garment that many see as a tool of female oppression, both here and overseas, even just for three hours, is something I would judge too offensive to consider even for a moment.


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