The U.S. Department of Defense recently released a policy paper that’s quickly become a flash point of controversy for Muslims as the paper asserts a link between Muslim women who wear hijabs, the traditional religious headscarves, to “passive terrorism.” Muslim suicide bombers are famous for dressing in Muslim female attire.
CARE2 (h/t Mike F) According to The Intercept, the paper, Countering Violent Extremism: Scientific Methods & Strategies, was first released in 2011 but was recently republished in an updated form. Keep in mind that this is a policy paper meant to outline the U.S.’s counter-terrorism strategy domestically and abroad.
In addition to the claim about hijabs, a chapter authored by former Muslim Dr. Tawfik Hamid titled “A Strategic Plan to Defeat Radical Islam” makes several more assertions regarding Muslims.
Explaining the “hijab phenomenon,” Dr. Hamid says women who wear the covering “contribute to the idea of passive terrorism.” Why? Because, he claims, women who don’t discard their hijabs are automatically condoning extremism — in fact, based on Dr. Hamid’s model, the hijab could even be seen as a sort of gateway to genuine terrorism. He cites his own personal experience, insisting he’s noticed that areas with fewer hijab-wearing women have fewer terror attacks.
Dr. Hamid goes on to name another apparent factor in radicalism: “sexual deprivation.” He contends that sexually frustrated young men are joining extremist groups not out of ideology but thanks to hormones. Dr. Hamid argues that the link is especially clear that suicide bombers are particularly motivated in this way, since they are promised wives in the afterlife.
Dr. Hamid’s claims signify a government-sanctioned effort to demonize millions of women and to reduce Muslim men to being little more than lust-driven animals.
These assertions also help to confirm the xenophobic fears of many Americans, some of whom, including Republican presidential nominee frontrunner Donald Trump, say Muslim refugees fleeing Middle Eastern violence should be kept out of the United States altogether.
In agreement with this theory is France, where several laws have been enacted restricting Muslim women’s headscarves. In 2004, a French law barred veils in public schools; in 2011, another law was made to outright ban full face veils.
The cultural “othering” that comes with linking the hijab to terrorists also serves another group: the actual terrorists. Islamic extremists want to create a stark division between the West and the Muslim world. Going back to France, it could be argued that, perhaps, that nation has been the target of the worst terror attacks in the West in recent memory because, given its head wear laws (among other things), France was seen as ripe for widening that cultural division.