Nikhat Zareen made India proud after she won the gold at the Women’s Boxing World Championship recently. Naturally, she has become a sensation in India, and every media house is desperately lining up to have an ‘exclusive’ conversation with her and to extract statements from the champion that could drive up readership and viewership. NDTV is particularly very concerned about its ratings, as we all know how pathetically the organisation performs across Indian audience segments. So, NDTV made sure it made the most out of the opportunity to speak exclusively to Nikhat Zareen.
Nikhat Zareen is a Muslim. So, NDTV thought it best to ask her what she thinks about the hijab and the controversy surrounding it in India. The anchor asked, “Aaj kal bahut charcha chal rahi hai whether girls should wear hijab in public places or not? What is your opinion about wearing a hijab?”
Answer of Nikhat Zareen on hijab was very generic, and she said it was up to the woman to decide what clothes she wanted to wear. Therefore, her subtle attack on Islamic clergy cannot be ignored. Islamic clergy is the entity that forces Muslim families; women especially, to wear the hijab and other constrictive clothing in order to protect their modesty.
NDTV Spins the Response
NDTV craftily spun answer of Nikhat Zareen on hijab to project her as someone who supports the right of ‘hijabi girls’ in Karnataka. Zareen had said, “It is totally their own choice. I can’t comment on their choices. I have my own choice. I like to wear such clothes. I don’t mind wearing such clothes. My family doesn’t mind me wearing such clothes. So, I don’t care what people say about me.”
Nikhat Zareen added, “But if they want to wear hijab and follow their religion, it’s their personal choice. I don’t have any problem with them wearing hijabs. After all, it’s their own choice. I am okay with that.”
Based on this very generic answer by Nikhat Zareen, NDTV decided to scream in its headline as if the biggest proponent of hijab had been found. NDTV’s headline read, “On Hijab Row, Boxing Champ Nikhat Zareen’s Pro-Choice Strike.”
Definitely, Nikhat Zareen spoke of the choice of women. However, school girls are not adults, and like all ordinary Indian children, must conform to the rules of their schools. Nowhere did Zareen say that an exception must be made in schools for Muslim girls so that they can exercise their ‘choice’. If at all, Nikhat Zareen has sent a resounding message to hardline Islamists, who force Muslim women to cover themselves from head to toe.
Hijab and Patriarchy
Most of the crusaders batting for Muslim women being allowed to wear the patriarchal ‘Burqa’ are from the ‘woke’ community. They do not want the women to be liberated in the truest sense. Their fight is to take a 180 to anything the Right-wing takes.
A simple question needs to be asked to the proponents of Burqa. Weren’t the woke against the tyranny of patriarchy? It defeats the purpose when you hide behind the ‘choice of freedom argument’ to allow Muslim women to wear a piece of clothing that is nothing but a shining piece of toxic male patriarchy at its finest.
The crusaders of the ‘burqa’ and ‘hijab’ cause are simply emulating the men of the yore, albeit through a supposed myopic progressive route. However, the endgame in both situations is that women are indoctrinated to believe that wearing a burqa and hijab is their freedom of choice.
The ‘choice’ argument must be made against the radials from within the Muslim community that perpetuate their misogyny upon women on a daily basis.
The likes of NDTV and other media organisations trying to twist a statement of an independent, successful Muslim woman as one where Nikhat Zareen seemingly supports the ‘hijab’ will serve the community no good in the long run. Nikhat Zareen batted for ‘choice’. However, if school girls begin exercising their ‘choice’ with complete disregard for rules, there will be a perpetual problem plaguing their lives.