HijabSkirt.info is a website dedicated to overcoming "rooted prejudices about women in the hijab as well as women in skirts." Founded by three journalists and supported by the UN, Hijabskirt notes that the split between hijab and skirt is stronger than the Berlin Wall, splitting the planet between East and West, but the site hopes to use communication, education and collaboration to help overcome the divide.
The latest entry on the site provides a fascinating reflection on how Benazir Bhutto embodied this cultural tension. The author: Sherry Rehman, Pakistan's former Minister of Information and a personal friend of the Prime Minister. As Rehman observes, a woman's choice of dress can be a profound moral act:
Whether a woman dons the hijab or miniskirt, that personal choice should be an absolutely free choice. It would be an injustice of monumental proportions if half of humanity is deprived of this right by subjecting them to fears, of being judged upon their appearances.
Unfortunately, both east and west are guilty of this.
How the western media howls when Angela Merkel appeared at the Oslo Opera in a Victorian designer dress or when Michelle Obama decides to dress a bit more casually. How the online Pakistani forums shot a fuse when Benazir was revealed to wear skirts and western clothing of her choice privately. What is common in all of those hyperventilating media reactions, is the self arrogated custodians of culture, religion and morals, who think they have the right to pass judgment on women, who have done nothing but exercised their personal choices.
Benazir Bhutto was my close friend. My beloved Bibi. She used to say that the best hijab is in the eyes of the beholder. . . .
For an inside look at Benazir Bhutto's perspective on the hijab and Western dress, read the whole thing.
(Thanks to Chankia Abitkar for the link!)