Bye Bye Burqa

Barack Obama gave the hijab the all-clear in his Cairo speech, but the poor female souls forced to live under asphyxiating layers are getting fed up. Obama said, “I reject the view of some in the West that a woman who chooses to cover her hair is somehow less equal,” creating the false impression that gender subjugation is an innocuous matter of beauty-salon options. Contrast that with yesterday’s Reuters story about burqas in Afghanistan:

“When I wear a burqa it gives me a really bad feeling. I don’t like to wear it. My family are not really happy with me wearing a chador namaz, they tell me to always wear a burqa. But I don’t like it, it upsets me, I can’t breathe properly,” 18-year-old Amirejan said.

Perhaps Obama can convince the freedom-hungry eighteen-year-old that being sewn up and suffocated on family orders is just how she’s meant to contribute to the spectacular multicultural tapestry that is “the Muslim world.” He is a very compelling speaker, you know.

Which is a good thing. Because as Muslim women in Afghanistan and elsewhere become empowered to discard their cloth prisons (in incremental steps, from burqa to chador, etc.) Obama is going to have to account for his anachronistic endorsement in Cairo. The fact is, burqa sales in Afghanistan have fallen off since the U.S. ousted the Taliban in 2001. (This shop owner says business is down 50%.) It is a strange form of outreach that finds the American president endorsing the very practices that American involvement is successfully eradicating.