I understand that wearing the hijab in the wake of the Christchurch shootings was a simple act of solidarity and sympathy. I remember that this is the country where many of us wore red socks some years ago in support of our yachties bid to win the Americas Cup. We're simple, decent people who do sweet things in an unpretentious way. That's who we are. So wearing the hijab was seen as nothing more than the majority of the kids in the playground sticking together with the Muslim kids when the bullies picked on them. I get that and I can certainly see the necessity to pull together against the evil. I can see the attraction of women wearing the hijab for this reason.
However..... there is more to this picture.
Are we willing to learn better?
What about, for instance, the women in Iran at the moment who have been struggling for years to be free of wearing the hijab and similar head coverings? Some are quick to point out that New Zealand women wearing the hijab as a cultural feature in "solidarity" ignores the fact that the hijab was not a part of Iranian culture until the 1979 revolution, at which point the head covering became compulsory. Being outside without it could lead to a beating or imprisonment. In fact today there are women being beaten and imprisoned to be free of the barbarism represented by the hijab.
Yet we are unaware of this and so when our women wear an Islamic head covering they are actually harming Muslim women in the long run - much more than they are showing support to them in the short term. Do watch this 54 second video from Ex-Muslims of North America to get some idea.
Nasrin Sotoudeh could be the most critical woman’s rights activist of the 21st century and she is not getting anywhere near the level of attention she deserves. Her defense of other female activists emboldened women to fight for their freedoms. She is not only an activist - she is an activist maker.
Our ex-Muslim friend the Apostate Prophet has prepared this 12 minute clip to give us some idea of Islam's teachings concerning women and shows just how "esteemed" the prophet Muhammad made women in the history of Islam.
Muhammad said a lot of things about women. The things he said were usually not very nice...
So OK, we got on board the hijab train with the best of intentions. We're excused for not knowing any better. But now what? Now that we know better what are we going to say next time the topic comes up? Are we going to do more than remain at the level of the superficial? My response to that question is hopeful. Yes people will speak up. Yes people will not be afraid to apply very old and common feminist arguments to the benefit of Muslim women.
How would we like to be women trapped in a cult that internalises misogyny and does so with the weight of "god" and the threat of hell behind it? Are we going to thoughtfully speak up for them?