This picture is making its way around Facebook:
It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that the alleged hypocrisy that the picture highlights is the fact that Westerners castigate Muslim modest dressing, while being comfortable and non-judgmental when it comes to equally modest clothes on Christian or Jewish women.
Of course, what the person who made this image fails to understand is that all modest clothes are not created equal. In Christian and Orthodox Jewish communities, modest clothing is voluntary. Nuns don their habit when they take their vows as brides of Christ. Orthodox women, if they decide as adults not to accept the orthodox lifestyle, can leave the community without fear of death or other physical abuse. Neither Christians nor Jews force those who are not members of the community to don these clothes. And of course, the faithful in Christian or Jewish communities do not throw acid upon, beat, rape, or kill those who deviate from modest fashions, whether those who deviate are members of the community or outsiders. (The exception, so far as I know, is a single ultra-Orthodox community in Jerusalem that verbally harasses women, throws dirt and rocks at them, and tries to keep them in the back of the bus. The larger Israeli culture condemns them roundly and soundly).
Having briefly summarized the Christian and Orthodox Jewish approach to modest clothes for women, let me introduce you to the way in which the Muslim community, worldwide, imposes its modest dress code upon women:
In Saudi Arabia, modest dress is required by law. The morality police take their job very seriously. A few years ago, school girls who tried to escape from a burning building were forced back into the flames lest the men on the street be offended by the sight of their uncovered flesh. Fifteen girls died.
In Iran, where modest dress is also required by law, women whose dress deviates from legal standards are subject to fines and other punishments, including whipping.
Chechnya requires that all women wear “modest” dress and, showing its enlightenment, attacks them with paint balls rather than whips if they fall afoul of the legal dress code.
In Sweden, Muslim men consider Swedish women fair game for rape and other physical abuse because they do not wear the burqa. Sweden is now the rape capital of Europe. The same trend holds true in Norway, where every single reported rape in 2010 came at the hands of Muslim men who wanted Norwegian women to understand that, if they left the house without a hijab or burqa, they were fair game. Travel to the Southern Hemisphere, and you’ll see the same pattern in Australia. Western girls — i.e., girls who don’t hew to Muslim modesty standards — don’t fair well at Muslim hands in England either.
In other words, while the Facebook image makes it seem as if the West is viewing Muslim women with hostility for embracing clothes remarkably similar to those worn by Christians and Jews, the opposite is true. Western standards are consistent (even in Europe): women can wear what they please, whether modest or less so. It is only in the Muslim world, including Muslim enclaves in the West, that women, any and all women, Muslim or not, are denied any choice in clothing and are punished harshly for deviating from these religiously imposed clothing standards.