GB News row erupts as guest claims hijab sculpture is a 'disgrace'

GB News clash

Two GB News guests clashed over the hijab

Alex Davies

By Alex Davies

Published: 20/09/2023

- 09:35

Updated: 20/09/2023

- 10:28

The debate arose after plans for a sculpture of a hijab-wearing woman to be installed in a West Midlands town were announced

Called Strength of the Hijab, the sculpture is set to be unveiled in the West Midlands town of Smethwick in October.

It was designed by Luke Perry and is thought to be the first of its kind anywhere in the world, although it has raised questions about whether its symbolism should be celebrated.

These questions were put to Breakfast guests Fahima Mahomed and Khadija Khan by GB News presenters Eamonn Holmes and Isabel Webster on Wednesday morning.

"This is very interesting, if you go to Birmingham, there's a new sculpture there, it's very powerful, very beautiful - but is it a symbol of oppression?" Holmes began as he kicked off the debate.

"It's supposed to celebrate women in general and women who wear hijabs," he continued before turning to Mahomed to ask about the importance of the hijab for Muslim women.

Mahomed replied: "People have to understand that Muslims come from across the globe from so many different cultures.

"I wear it because it is a part of my faith and it is part of my identity," she said as well as stating Islamic women often use it to "cover-up" as well.

"Who are you covering up for?" Holmes quizzed to which Mahomed answered: "It's for myself and for my creator.

She also added it helps her remain "modest" and argued it doesn't symbolise "oppression".

Eamonn and Isabel

Eamonn and Isabel welcomed Fahima Mahomed and Khadija Khan onto Breakfast


Mahomed then used the example of Brits in places like Spain that "never integrate" or conform to local practices to support her claim that Muslims "wherever we go, always bring our world to a certain extent, and we keep it, but we still integrate".

Webster said Mahomed's point of view was "fair enough" after she explained she wore the hijab by choice but the GB News host did point out to Khan that there are some countries where the item of clothing is enforced.

Khan agreed and stated: "The thing is we are not talking about individuals here who claim to choose to wear it, we're talking about an attire that comes with an ideology.

"That ideology looks down on women," Khan claimed. "That ideology is inherently misogynistic."

Khan's opposition continued as she claimed women are not "told to wear it" but rather "forced" to wear the hijab.

"Here we don't have religion in power but where we have religion in power, we see the authorities use this attire as a tool to oppress women," she fumed.

"That is why it's not about some women, it's not about some women, it's a Muslim majority country around the world - so it's very disingenuous to say there are some women who are forced to wear it."


Khan then went on to lay out some examples where women have been met with severe punishment for failing to wear the hijab, prompting Mahomed to cut in and claim they were "isolated incidents".

"Those are interpretations that most even Muslims don't approve of," Mahomed argued before she blamed the "mainstream media" for "picking and choosing" stories to manufacture a perception of women in Islam.

Khan and Mahomed soon found themselves embroiled in a heated back-and-forth when the former then weighed in to reiterate her claims that Islam is a "misogynistic" religion.

"It is a misogynistic attire, there is a religious belief behind this attire that women are supposed to cover themselves," Khan argued before pointing out that wearing the hijab isn't explicitly stated within the religious texts.

"But regardless, it's a woman's choice to decide that if they wear it anyway," Mahomed hit back.

Holmes then interjected to ask Khan what she made of the sculpture being erected, to which she bluntly replied: "It's disgraceful."

Khan again began to reel of instances in which women have been punished and even murdered for failing to wear a hijab before she explained: "I know these appear to be isolated cases... why? Because these women, they suffer in silence."

But Mahomed interrupted as she said: "Well, what about the people in France? They choose to wear it and they are being oppressed - the people in France are choosing..."

Fahima Mahomed

Fahima Mahomed argued in favour of the hijab


As the pair began to talk over one another, Khan repeated her point that women have been killed for failing to comply which prompted Mahomed to admit: "I understand that and I don't condone that!

"But when there are people choosing one extreme to the other, it's oppression on either side," Mahomed stated.

The pair's clash continued as the debate rolled on when Mahomed lauded the fact that women in Britain were able to choose whether or not to wear the hijab, which prompted Khan to recall her experience growing up in a "conservative Muslim" household.

Khan claimed her mother had to stand up to her father to prevent her from being forced to wear a hijab, claiming her mother said she wasn't a "slave", which resulted in an angered Mahomed interjecting: "Wearing a hijab does not make you a slave!"

Webster tried to bring calm the debate as she asked for the guests' final points, with Mahomed stating people shouldn't blanket and pigeonhole Muslim women for the actions of individuals.

Khan, on the other hand, claimed that whenever rules stem from a religious ideology, it's "sugar-coated" for modern society.

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