“Hypocrisy!” “Double standard!”
These are just a few of the public and media outcries when First Lady of the US, Melania Trump, wore a mantilla when she met with the Pope, and didn’t don a hijab upon landing in Saudi Arabia.
So is it hypocrisy? Is it a double standard? Absolutely not. And here’s why.
The Hijab is a tool of Islamic oppression forced upon women (usually by their husbands, fathers, and brothers) and worn in public. While some will argue that the Hijab has always been worn, I would argue it’s more of a recent phenomenon. 20-30 years ago, there were sprinklings of the hijab in the West; it was rarely seen. Now they are everywhere.
That all changed with the Islamic revolution in the mid-70’s, and when Ayatollah in Iran took political power in 1979, and decreed all women to wear the hijab. In fact the current Ayatollah encourages non-muslims in Europe and the West to wear the hijab as well.
On the other hand, the mantilla is an optional headdress normally worn in Church, as an external sign of humility before God- not man. In The Church, we veil all things of importance such as the Tabernacle, the Altar, the Chalice. So when a women veils herself, she is in fact honouring herself as a veiled Bride before God.
The mantilla and other head coverings have always been part of Catholic tradition; this isn’t some new political phenomenon. Why do you think the Queen wears a hat to church? It was a tradition the Protestants retained when they separated from The Church several hundred years ago.
So when Melania Trump, a Catholic, elected to follow the tradition of her own faith, and wear a mantilla when in audience with the Pope, she was not making a political statement. However, when she elected not to wear the Islamic headdress in Saudi, perhaps she was there.
Saudi Arabia is an Islamic country, where women and men are not made with equal dignity (or rights) in the eyes of God. Women are required to obey their male guardian if they want to go to school, work, open a bank account, and travel. They are also banned from driving. They can be publically stoned and beaten for sinning and breaking the law.
Therefore, I laud Melania for not bowing to the oppressive political whims of Islamic Saudi Arabia, and for standing up for the dignity of women everywhere by wearing the mantilla.
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