An anti-terrorism white paper published by the Air Force on how to counter violent extremism in the Islamic world didn’t do itself any favors by including a chapter referring to the hijab, a common Islamic head covering worn by women, as “passive terrorism.”
The chapter, first reported by The Intercept, was part of a report put out by the Air Force called Countering Violent Extremism: Scientific Methods & Strategies containing the ideas of various social science researchers on how to fight radical Islamic groups like ISIS. The condemnation of hijabs appears in a chapter called “A Strategic Plan to Defeat Radical Islam” by Dr. Tawfik Hamid.
Hamid’s chapter details his observations on how radical Islam develops in a community. According to him, an increased prevalence of women wearing hijabs in a community is one of the factors that leads to violent extremism.
The process begins with the propagation of Salafi jihadist ideology within a community. Increasing numbers of women begin to wear the hijab, which is both a symptom of Salafi proliferation and a catalyst for Islamism (see, e.g., Mahmood, 2005). In turn, the proliferation of militant Salafism and the hijab contribute to the idea of passive terrorism, which occurs when moderate segments of the population decline to speak against or actively resist terrorism.
A flowchart is provided to explain:
He goes on to say recruitment of young Muslims to radical terrorist groups is motivated by sexual deprivation, so good luck coming up with a strategy to stop that.
Hamid claim that hijabs are a sign of Islamic terrorism stands counter to the millions of women who wear the head coverings. Many took to Twitter to mock the idea that the traditional garment was a form of “passive terrorism.”
— Shelina Janmohamed (@loveinheadscarf) February 24, 2016
— Heena Khaled (@HeenaKhaled) February 24, 2016
— Margari Aziza (@Margari_Aziza) February 24, 2016
— Rim-Sarah Alouane (@RimSarah) February 23, 2016
The 198-page white paper was originally published in 2011, but was updated and re-released last summer as the U.S. ramped up efforts to fight the terrorist group ISIS in Iraq and Syria. The introduction calls for a balance between “security and development/stabilization.”
Scapegoating Muslim women who wear a hijab doesn’t stabilize much.