Michelle Obama: ‘I see myself’ in Reference to Muslim Women.
First Lady Michelle Obama visited London last week on the first leg of a seven-day European vacation, sipping tea with Prince Harry and meeting with Prime Minister David Cameron and his wife before flying to Italy and Spain.
She also found time to visit a girls’ school in a predominately Pakistani Muslim area in East London, delivering a bizarre speech ostensibly aimed at promoting education for women.
The Daily Mirror reported that Obama held back tears as she seemingly compared herself, the product of an Ivy League education in the United States to the hijab-clad young women at the school.
“When I look out at all these young women, I see myself. In so many ways, your story is my story.” Exactly how the two stories coincide is unclear.
The First Lady, who was born into a middle class Methodist family in Chicago and vacationed in a rustic cabin in Michigan, attended a school for gifted students, graduating from Princeton and later earning a law degree from Harvard and finding a position at the sixth-largest law firm in the U.S.
It remains difficult to discern what Mrs. Obama was referring to when she said she saw herself in the young faces of girls who are held captive by the restrictions and oppression of their families and their religion.
While Obama sought to find a personal narrative of oppression in her comfortable childhood that placed no restrictions on the achievement of her dreams and ambitions, the covered girls in the audience actually live a day-to-day life of subservience dictated by the tenets of their Islamic faith and the male members of their family.
In fact, it would seem that the only similarity Mrs. Obama could have been referring to between herself and the opportunity of her girlhood in the United States and the girls in her audience whose future is limited, was that of color.
Whereas young Michelle Robinson was free to excel academically as a young girl, attend a prestigious college and one of the finest law schools in the world, entering professional practice at an esteemed firm, the Muslim girls of Tower Hamlets face a misogyny from birth that subjects them to genital mutilation, beatings, forced arranged marriages, and honor killings.
Michelle Obama may have viewed the hajibs as a symbol of faith, which they may be, but the fact is that the heavy wraps are mandatory for the young girls. They have no choices.
One presumes that America’s first lady did not endure the horror of female genital mutilation, which Britain, in its efforts to be “inclusive,” allows. It can also be surmised that young Michelle was not forced to walk behind her brother when they went to school.
The little girls of Mulberry School in London will grow up under Sharia law knowing that they can be abused with impunity, prevented from divorcing even abusive husbands. How is it that mother and attorney, Michelle Obama, sees herself in these faces, let alone sees this as a reason to celebrate “diversity?”
Obama jetted in with her mother and two teen-aged daughters, stopped by for her emotion-laden speech and photo-opportunity at the school, dashed off to tea with the Royals and a shopping spree with the girls before embarking on the rest of their European vacation.
It is difficult to see the similarities in the possibilities that lie ahead for the Obama daughters in America and the girls of Mulberry School in Tower Hamlets who were left behind.