A disgusted smirk drew across my face when I came across a right-leaning tabloid describe a group of Muslim women at a beach that way.
“A Muslim family stay covered up as the bathe on a … beach,” it continued.
In some rage, I wondered what made the female author think stripping down to underwear at a beach, as is the norm, was everyone’s idea of fun.
Having fun would mean different things to different people. It is pathetic when an “outsider” shoves down the throat of others their worldview and way of life.
Staying modest and covered up in front of family and others, and having a good family time was how the Muslim women wanted to have fun, but the author would not accept that people are different from her and are still be happy.
While she railed about “backward” Muslim practices, creeping “Talibanization” and “Wahhabism” in the British Muslim community – things which she said were denying its people “simply joys” in life, making several propositional fallacies along the way, she made apparent how she looked down upon people who did not subscribe to the cultural norms she was part of.
She failed to see how the world had long moved on from the colonial era – that era when White European peoples with their armies, cultures, ran over much of the “third world” and enlightened people who were “backward” and “ignorant.” There was no place for brown sahibs like her anymore.
In the post-modern era, while globalization and cross-cultural movements, interactions and adoptions are on a scale larger than ever before in human history, there is universal acknowledgement of the refined and advanced cultures in Africa, India, the Middle East and so on have had with thousands of years of civilization. More people than ever in the West are turning to philosophies that originated in the East to heal their broken lives.
To say that one culture is better than the other, though is being ignorant and preposterous, and the author was just that, when she considered a culture as backward for having its people enjoying themselves in a way that was different from how she would.
This might be cliché, but if she had the slightest doubt that those Muslim women felt joyless or subjugated, she could have asked them. Their answer would have been that they were happier than she could imagine. In the vast majority of cases, no one would have forced them to cover up; it was something they would do out of their own free will, in a free society. To force them to do otherwise would be denying them their rights.
Towards the end, I couldn’t resist making a personal slight* at the risk of indulging in Ad Hominem.
*Edited out on request*