Monday, April 18, 2011


By Rabia Ahmed | Published: April 19, 2011
An overwhelming majority of women at the Haj do not cover their face because of the directive that no covering should touch a woman’s face during Haj. A small minority interpreting this differently get around this directive by hanging a veil from a jutting out cap which fabric then stays off albeit in front of the face.
The injunction against niqab during the Haj appears to indicate that the niqab is not a general requirement for Muslim women. The Ihram for men, and the head covering and modest clothing for women, the other aspects of the pilgrim’s dress code, represent certain principles which are applicable both during the Haj and beyond: the principals of equality, simplicity and modesty. If covering the face were part of these principles, wearing a niqab too would have been part of a woman’s dress during Haj. If nothing else the climate does not support it.

This being my personal stance with regards to the niqab, my reaction to the French law against "hiding the face in any place open to the public or on the public highway" aka to wearing the niqab is like anyone else’s whenever a politician anywhere makes a bid for popularity by playing on harmful public sentiment.
It has been claimed that this ban supports women’s rights since Muslim women are said to be forced to wear the niqab, and no doubt some are. However, considering that only a tiny percentage of French Muslim women (about 2,000 out of a total of around of a million and a half adult women) wear the full face covering, this would point to certain ineffectualness among the Muslim male population of France rather than the other way around. Just as sex for the majority of women is not rape, the niqab is a matter of choice or accepted lifestyle, and I am sure nobody is about to ban sex.
According to the French Interior Ministry quoted in Inter Press Service (IPS) one woman is killed every three days in France due to conjugal violence. The report continues to say that reported cases of domestic violence have increased by about 30 percent and that more than 47,500 cases were reported in 2007. The report says surveys indicate that two million French women experience domestic violence at some point in their lives. That in 2008 a national police study showed that 156 women were murdered by their partner or ex-partner, compared to 27 men killed in comparable circumstances.
Figures such as the above put the ‘niqab threat’ in perspective by suggesting some factor other than a concern for the welfare of Muslim women as the motivating force behind this new legislation.
To view the world through a slit in a veil is a stifling way to live, but to live facing the threat of being laid out on a mortuary slab with one black eye and the other blue is considerably worse.
Agreed too that a person muffled in a burqa is a possible security threat in today’s world, but by extending the same principal across the board so is Santa Claus behind his ample beard and whiskers, and the person behind a Mickey Mouse mask. Are those to be banned as well? Is there no way of checking who lies behind the red suit other than banning it?
It is annoying that we cannot foist our opinions on others, until we realise that by the same token neither can anyone else foist their opinions on us. To force those Muslim women who perceive the niqab as part of their faith to abandon it is no better than the Taliban whipping a woman for not wearing one.
Banning things like this smacks of the ban on Salman Rushdie’s ‘Satanic Verses’ which ended up giving a poorly written book the status of a best seller. A similar ban in Belgium has proved impotent, and the one in France promises to be the same with the Telegraph reporting Denis Jacob of the Alliance police union as saying: "We have more important matters to be dealing with."
At the end of the day, however, we must remember that Muslims are under instructions to abide by the rules of the land in which they live, so the Muslims of France have a choice in front of them if they feel their liberty threatened, or if they feel unequally treated within the fraternity of the people of France. If they are compelled to leave their homes however, the loss will not be theirs but of the people of France.

This news was published in print paper. To access the complete paper of this day. click here

No comments:

Post a Comment

If you have any comments, please leave them here. They will be published after moderation. Automated comments will be deleted.To contact me please leave a comment. If you do not wish that comment to be published please say so within the message. Thank you.