[Arsalan Iftikhar is the National Legal Director of the Council on
American-Islamic Relations is Washington, D.C.]

Your Dec. 20 article “rocking the Casbah” unfairly equates the mainstream
Islamic religious practice of wearing modest attire with “slavery” and
“masochism.” The article states, “the Islamic ‘scarf’ has become a
masochistic symbol of identity for many Muslim women and girls, even in
Europe and the United States, as if a slave holding up his chain could
point to it proudly and say, ‘This is who I am’.”

Millions of Muslim women in Europe and America choose to wear an Islamic
headscarf as an expression of their faith. It is hardly “masochistic” when
a Muslim woman chooses to be judged based on her character, instead of on
often-objectified physical characteristics.

For Muslim women and men, modest attire is an important part of their
faith. When we see a Roman Catholic nun covered from head to toe in a black
habit, we commend her on her faith in God.

Why does it automatically follow that when we see a Muslim woman wearing a
headscarf, she is somehow oppressed


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