Muslim women speaking about hijab

The hijab and niqab worn by some Muslim women have hit the news lately, especially after France’s ban on the veil worn by some Muslim women (niqab) went into effect, and after death threats against a British imam who held that wearing hijab (a scarf covering the hair) was a woman’s choice (he also held that evolution and Islam need not be at odds). Some sort of headcovering for women is a common feature of Middle Eastern cultures (orthodox Jewish women cover their hair, too, and the men wear a hat or yarmulke at all times), which doesn’t make it automatically good or bad, but it does make it different in other cultures, and that causes some tension. And some women wear it to avoid threats from fundamentalists in their community, and that’s absolutely not OK (but note that the French law has a separate penalty for that, and that women who wear niqab voluntarily face punishment simply for expressing this part of their own cultural identity).

Today, NPR has a video and a series of audio interviews with American Muslim women who’ve chosen to stop wearing hijab. It’s fascinating listening, both for an understanding of why they chose to wear the headscarf, how people treated them when they wore it, how it made them feel to wear it, and why they ultimately took it off. The overarching message for me is that many of them chose to wear it because of a combination of social pressure and an genuine sense (mostly) that this was what it meant to be Muslim. As they investigated Islam itself, they found that the headscarf wasn’t obligatory, and they could continue to practice without covering their head.

I found that via Nadia El-Awady, an Egyptian journalist who wears a headscarf, and who wrote a fascinating essay about how people treat her because of it:

Muslim women in Europe and the United States who choose to wear a headscarf or face veil are placed under tremendous societal pressures almost every day. On the streets, some people look at them as if they are freaks of nature….

The struggle of the veiled Muslim woman in Europe has reached the hearts and minds of Muslims all over the world, including mine. Her struggle is their struggle. A woman has the right to choose, we all shout. Muslim women do not wear the headscarf/face veil out of oppression, we explain. In so many cases, they wear it as a matter of choice.

A woman, we shout, has the right to choose.

But do we Muslims really believe this or do we use this argument when it suits us?…

In recent years in Egypt, a growing number of women are deciding to take off their headscarves. …

These women are immediately analyzed to their faces and behind their backs. Their original reasons for wearing the hijab were the wrong reasons. Her faith is weak. She has been moving in circles of friends who have tainted her soul. She has no proper understanding of the Islamic faith. She has opened too many doors to the devil and this is the result. The list goes on and on. …

The right to choose has all of a sudden gone to hell along with this woman who has chosen to take off her hijab.

These women I refer to above – those living among semi-liberal family and friends – are the lucky ones….

Women who come from more conservative circles barely stand a chance….

A piece of cloth – a simple piece of cloth on the head or the face – has come to have too much power over society, whether a woman’s choice is to wear it or discard it.

Everyone is trying to save the Muslim woman; Western society must save her from Islam and Islamic society must save her from Western influence.

No one – NO ONE – assumes that the Muslim woman can make up her own mind about what is best for her.

On Twitter, El-Awady summarized: “In Muslim societies, I’m made to feel that I’m the successful Muslim woman in hijab. In non-Muslim societies, I’m the odd woman in hijab,” and “I’m judged by both societies because of a head scarf. I would LOVE to see the day when ppl judge me for my person and not for what i wear.”

To me, this is the essential challenge to confront in talking about headscarves, or about religion in society more generally. There’s plenty to debate about headscarves in principle, and plenty to be said about the role of women in Islam (and the effects of various forms of Islam on women). But we can’t let these abstract arguments lead us to the error of labeling and judging a woman by her choice to wear a headscarf, or we begin down the same path misogynist fundamentalists blazed long ago.

A headscarf is a piece of cloth. Policies like France’s banning it or the Taliban’s requiring it both elevate it to something more than that, and that is one of the many failings of both policies. If we look past the scarf and listen to the women wearing it, we’ll that they choose it for a variety of reasons. Some may be dubious, but many are no less reasonable than my reasons for wearing sandals rather than wingtips, and no more a cause for judging those women, let alone jailing them. My thanks to NPR and to El-Awady for helping educate me and so many others.

Comments

  1. #1 msironen
    April 26, 2011

    “I’m judged by both societies because of a head scarf. I would LOVE to see the day when ppl judge me for my person and not for what i wear.”

    So if someone walks past by you with a red/white/black swastika on their sleeve, would you divorce the fact that they choose to wear that completely from what their person might be?

    And in case someone is feeling queasy and isn’t near their fainting couch: I’m not equating a veil with a Nazi symbol or Islam with fascism. My point is that what you wear does speak of your person, especially if it symbolizes a controversial culture/ideology, and pretending/demanding otherwise is rather disingenuous.

  2. #2 razib
    April 27, 2011

    first, i think the hijab and niqab need to be distinguished. covering your head/hair is not that weird across cultures. hats? bonnets? covering your face in public is a lot weirder and exceptional. traditionally muslim women who were intent on not showing their faces to men didn’t have the issues, because they probably didn’t go out in public. the professional woman who wears the niqab (which sometimes occurs in england) is a novel adaptation of elite islamic norms (where high status men kept their women out of view). that’s fine. but covering your face when you aren’t disfigured if you want to be a public person should warrant a lot more concern IMO than the hijab, which is an islamic instantiation of a relatively common practice.

  3. #3 Anonymous
    April 27, 2011
  4. #4 Josh Rosenau
    April 27, 2011

    msironen: If your goal isn’t to equate hijab with a swastika, you might try a different comparison. A hijab is not a symbol of a totalitarian political party. The swastika is a rather loaded symbol, and its symbolism is unambiguous, while the hijab is not so loaded, and its symbolism is as diverse as the people who wear it. Islam is not a “controversial culture/ideology,” and pretending it’s comparable to Nazism is, to borrow a phrase, rather disingenuous.

  5. #5 golden
    April 27, 2011

    First,we Muslims should first have enough knowledge about Islam and its teachings.The issue of hijab is not Arab’s culture issue .It is the spirit of ” True Islam” described in “Holy Quran” and “prophet teaching”.

    The one who does not differ between hijab in Islam should not talk nothing about it.

    Hijab is not head cover .
    Muslim women choose to Wear Hijab for the AllAH .

  6. #6 bad Jim
    April 27, 2011

    Sandals are good. Even socks may be permitted.

  7. #7 msironen
    April 27, 2011

    Islam is not a “controversial culture/ideology”

    So why exactly are we having this conversation, then?

    As for the Islam/Nazism comparison, I explicitly said I wasn’t proposing it yet you insist in implying I did anyway.

    Full face veil, despite whatever fiat you deem fit to declare, is a controversial symbol of subjugating women in the West. A swastika is a similarly controversial symbol (likewise, mostly in the West) for obviously different reasons. Pretending otherwise is similar to wearing a swastika (in the West) while maintaining that it’s simply a Hindu good luck charm.

  8. #8 Ender
    April 27, 2011

    “And in case someone is feeling queasy and isn’t near their fainting couch: I’m not equating a veil with a Nazi symbol or Islam with fascism.”

    You may not be equating but you are comparing the veil to a Nazi symbol. Fainting couches not needed. But is the comparison valid?

    What’s the context?: Whether you can judge people seen wearing either of them.

    Nazi Swastika: only worn by racists and (neo-)Nazis

    Status: Can assume wearer is a racist

    Headscarf: Worn by all sorts of different types of Muslims. And some non-Muslims.

    Status: Can’t assume anything specific about the wearer beyond ‘they are probably Muslim’

    So, no, the comparison is not justified. One leads to a safe and specific assumption, the other just tells you they are Muslim and nothing more.

    Josh:

    “msironen: If your goal isn’t to equate hijab with a swastika, you might try a different comparison.”

    I disagree. It is not correct to say that comparing two things is the same as equating them. It is true that often people say they are comparing, when they’d rather equate, but it is also true that when unable to refute a comparison many people will claim you are trying to equate and get too ‘offended’ to carry on talking about it.

    The comparison is reasonable – both are clothing based symbols – but wrong as you say: “The swastika is a rather loaded symbol, and its symbolism is unambiguous, while the hijab is not so loaded, and its symbolism is as diverse as the people who wear it.”

  9. #9 Faraz Ahmed
    April 27, 2011

    The reason France took such a bold step is the amount of robberies carried out wearing islamic veil. It could be the reason french has banned it completely. Muslims always are cry babies feeling sorry for themselves and blame everything going against them an act against islam and want special rights. If muslims can decide not to have a church built in saudi arabia then the west can also decide whatever they want as well. Muslims should be happy for having the permission to build mosques.

  10. #10 Mountainmums
    April 27, 2011

    France has not banned the headscarf but the niquab which is a “veil” that covers the entire body and only allows a small slit for the eyes. Furthermore, the law does not ban the niquab per say but rules that people in public spaces must have their face visible so that they may be recognizable.
    That doesn’t sound unreasonable to me.

  11. #11 R G Hill
    April 27, 2011

    The whole of civilisation needs to grow up and stop using clothing, haircuts, tattoes, fashion and all kinds of outerwear to make statements. This is not necessary in enlightened times. Many of us feel that while accepting difference is vital, celebrating it is inappropriate. Celebrating difference makes people special, and greater than AN-other, or gives hostile and negative people the opportunity to denigrate others. It’s simple. We need to stop relying on bits of cloth, or any adornment, to define ourselves. It’s infantile. Better to communicate with one another better, speak our truths about who we are, understand that we all have the same struggles to survive, procreate, enjoy our lives and contribute to the wider community. Let’s start looking at the Big Picture instead of worrying about these idiotic squabbles which are only the result of people trying to control one another, something which never works in the long run.

  12. #12 Anthony McCarthy
    April 27, 2011

    Furthermore, the law does not ban the niquab per say but rules that people in public spaces must have their face visible so that they may be recognizable. Mountainmums

    Would France ban wigs and makeup so that people couldn’t alter their appearance to look like someone else? How about sunglasses and other things that conceal appearance? I think several of their more prominent industries might not care for that kind of law.

    The reason France took such a bold step is the amount of robberies carried out wearing islamic veil.

    How many? Where are they documented? Was that part of the legislative debate? I don’t believe it.

    All that said, women should have the ability to choose what they wear, but saying that isn’t going to make it possible in countries where that isn’t widely believed. In a lot of places it’s going to take generations, look at how many legislatures in the United States want to make womens’ bodies the property of the state. Look at how many women here are bullied and coerced into wearing shoes that are the equivalent of adopting a voluntary disability.

  13. #13 Ender
    April 27, 2011

    msironen I have replied to you but it’s stuck in moderation.

  14. #14 Apuleius Platonicus
    April 27, 2011

    First of all France only banned the covering of the entire face, not simply wearing a headscarf.

    Second of all, everyone knows that even when it comes to the headscarf, Muslim women do not wear it voluntarily. Women have zero voice in Islam. The headscarf is imposed on them by the world’s most unapologetically-in-your-face patriarchal religion.

    Third of all, we are constantly encouraged to distinguish between (a) the “true” Islam, which is supposedly peaceful, tolerant and respectful of human equality, and (b) the “distortion” of Islam propounded by extremists. Fine, lets do that. What could more clearly define “extremist” Islam than the subjugation of women represented by requiring women to cover themselves?

  15. #15 Ashley Moore
    April 27, 2011

    msironen, so, by your analogy, should we ban or rebuke Hindus from showing swastikas on their temples?

  16. #16 Ashley Moore
    April 27, 2011

    @Apuleius Platonicus,

    What could more clearly define “extremist” Islam than the subjugation of women represented by requiring women to cover themselves?

    Do you live in an “extermist” country where women are required to cover themselves? Or are women permitted to walk the streets naked?

  17. #17 Ashley Moore
    April 27, 2011

    @15. “extermist” should of course be “extremist”.

  18. #18 msironen
    April 27, 2011

    Ashley Moore:

    No, I don’t support the veil banning (at least on those grounds) nor would I support banning swastikas. But saying they’re just another piece of clothing, meaning no more than a Che Guevara t-shirt at most, is a rather odd mode of thinking to me.

  19. #19 Arcus
    April 27, 2011

    @Ashley Moore:
    By his analogy we should be banning Hindus living in Europe from showing the swastika while in public in Europe. As this is already the case in Germany, and Hindus don’t seem to mind, what is your point?

  20. #20 Russell
    April 27, 2011

    El-Awady says:

    I would LOVE to see the day when ppl judge me for my person and not for what i wear.

    Dress is a large part of how people present themselves to the public. Religions require some or all of their adherents to dress in particular fashion for the specific purpose of calling them out, either as members of the religion, or as a special group within it.

    It is the conscious decision of someone who chooses to wear an Armani suit and Rolex watch that their first statement to someone is “I’m ostentatious.” A Christian priest in collar is choosing as their first statement, “I’m a Christian priest.” A woman who chooses to wear traditional Islamic garb announces to the world not only that she is Muslim, but also that she chooses to wear traditional garb and thereby make that the first thing everyone should know about her.

    Now, that doesn’t mean she shouldn’t be treated equally as a customer, job applicant, etc. But it seems a bit silly to me to ask people not to be influenced in other ways by the decision in how someone presents themself. And yes, I do think it’s relevant when her husband wears western dress, slacks and shirt that would in no way distinguish him as Muslim. She chooses not only to wear her religion on her sleeve, but to belong to a sect where women but not men are required to do that.

  21. #21 Ana
    April 27, 2011

    Thank you for this article.

    Hijab and Burqa are totally different. I think it is difficult to live in a society while having your face covered. But that french ban is a bit ridiculous, since it only applies to burqas when it is felt as a discrimination, since it is stigmatizing a certain population. I don’t think it is fair to ban it in a secular society, where everyone should be able to wear what they want and live their faith freely as long as they aren’t harming anyone. i can understand if they ban it from schools for teachers, cause they need to be objective when in front of children, but outside i don’t see the issue. It’s just like seeing someone wearing EMO clothing, it’s their style, their way of living, you can’t force them to change it.

    Muslim are people just like everyone else, and as every religion, there are extremists and people putting themselves in the light to stain it. The truth is people are judging, insulting without even trying to know more about Islam. A religion of peace, acceptance, modesty. You won’t see real muslims speaking on tv or arguing for non sense debates. I know many muslim people, they melt in the crowd, they’re just like everyone else.

    But we see more and more the media pointing their finger to Islam with a handful of people harming it and doing awful things in the name of Islam. There’s been terrorism, there’s been Imam saying it is okay to hit women, there’s been polygamy, all of which have never been muslim precepts, but still people attach those terms to Islam, when those are antinomic to it.

    If a woman wants to wear a burqa, we have to let her do so in the name of democracy, or in this case they have to ban every other kind of style that wouldn’t suit them. French government has way more to do in their society than taking care of 100 burqas, when milions are jobless.

  22. #22 Apuleius Platonicus
    April 27, 2011

    @Ashley Moore: I do in fact live in one of those barbaric nations where both women and men are forbidden to publicly display certain parts of their anatomies.

    But the question is that of distinguishing between (a) the good, moderate, egalitarian version of Islam (a la Daisy Khan, Karen Armstrong and their ilk), on the one hand; and, on the other hand, (b) the bad, oppressive, meany-pants version of Talibanesque Islam that the Daisy Khans and Karen Armstrongs of the world tell is the real enemy. When we see a woman (if it is a woman) walking down the street wearing a chador/niqab/burqa (not just a headscarf), then we are dealing with the latter, no? And if so, then is this not the type of Islam that does, according to the “good” Muslims, pose a direct threat to liberal democracy, individual liberty, and human equality?

  23. #23 Russell
    April 27, 2011

    Ashley Moore:

    Or are women permitted to walk the streets naked?

    Here in the backward state of Texas, public display of genitals and buttocks is illegal only if done with a disregard to offending others. We have a local nude beach where it’s legal to be naked, since traditional use has determined anyone offended has gone there with the express purpose of being so. Yes, there are local court cases on just this issue.

    And yes, women may walk around topless. But it’s not customary, and a woman who does so will get judged by others on that basis.

  24. #24 Fred
    April 27, 2011

    Second of all, everyone knows that even when it comes to the headscarf, Muslim women do not wear it voluntarily.

    Really? Do Muslim women get a say in this?

  25. #25 Denis MacEoin
    April 27, 2011

    The newly-implemented French ban on the burqa and niqab, two extreme forms of the Muslim veil, has provoked an inevitable chorus of protest, not just from Muslims with their partis pris take on things, but from the usual suspects among that growing band of non-Muslims who think shari’a law is cute and the word ‘Islam’ means ‘peace’. The former take offence at almost anything said or written or drawn or filmed about Islam, the latter live in a self-built cage of fear lest anything they say or do may offend Muslims. Of course, it is a striking feature of most modern Western societies that Muslims are the only people who may take offence at most things our society has to offer.
    In fact, the burqa controversy has nothing to do with offence, even if there are those who prefer to read it that way. The Muslim veil, whether it be a headscarf, the khimar, the burqa or the niqab is regularly presented as something benign, a matter of choice for all Muslim women, who put it on eagerly and resent any attempt to suggest they might be better without it. But these women’s great grandmothers and grandmothers as often as not rejoiced when they were able to cast the veil aside. Legislation in countries like Iran and Turkey freed women from what had never been a matter of choice. There was progress in the air, progress that has been going in reverse since the rise of Islamism.
    It is Islamism that has led to the current proliferation of the veil, not some sudden impulse on the part of Muslim women who have decided how lovely it would be to efface themselves from society and retreat to the nineteenth century. No-one really knows how many Muslim women would choose to do what their grandmothers did and throw aside the world’s most constricting and confining garment. Of course, Muslim men don’t face such a choice: provided they are modest, they can dress as they like, and most of them do.
    The veil should not be understood in the terms used by its Islamist exponents. It is anti-social, degrading and ugly, and it condemns women to live as inferiors in a world dominated by men. I thought we had largely come out of that. But lo and behold, we have British women (and French women) who are made to believe they are liberating themselves from all the repressive forces of Western civilization. That means us.
    The veil cannot be understood in isolation, as a garment, a sort of fashion statement. It stands for much more, essentially for the traditional (and still valid) Islamic attitude to women and the treatment of them under shari‘a law. To illustrate this, what better than a few rulings from a famous text, Ibn Naqib al-Misri’s fourteenth-century classic, the Reliance of the Traveller, now read widely in an English translation? Some other rulings I have taken from modern authorities. According to the Reliance, in shari‘a law, a woman is not allowed to leave her home without the permission of her husband or to leave it well-dressed and perfumed. She may marry only one man, whereas he may marry four and keep concubines. She may not marry a non-Muslim, whereas a man may marry a Jew or Christian. If she does not respond to her husband’s demand for sex at once, whatever she is doing, angels will curse her till dawn. Husbands have the right to demand sex, wives do not. She may never be alone with a man outside her immediate family. She must obey her husband in all things. Her obeying him is ‘religiously obligatory’. He may hit her. The witness of two women is equal to that of one man. She must not go out of her house unveiled. If she wants to go on a spiritual retreat, she must get her husband’s permission first. ‘A majority of scholars [hold] that it is unlawful for women to leave the house with faces unveiled’. A man may divorce his wife without providing alimony; similarly, a wife has no property rights on divorce, nor any right of custody for her children after an early age. According to one tradition, the Prophet said ‘I have seen that the majority of the dwellers of Hell-fire were you (women)’. He went on to say that ‘I have not seen anyone more deficient in intelligence and religion than [women]’.
    These are some Islamic views of women. From a modern Western perspective, these are all positively unacceptable and, in some cases, illegal if put into practice (if I refuse my wife permission to leave the house and then beat her if she is rebellious, she can have me charged with forcible imprisonment). They create a background to the veil and explain in part why so many Muslim women in the West wear different forms of veil. Given that women are treated in Islamic law as inferior beings who may be coerced into ‘proper’ behaviour by men, I think we are foolish to suppose that all Muslim women wear the veil by choice. Many do, but we have to ask whether they would still do so if they were free of the demands for good behaviour enjoined by the Qur’an, the sacred Traditions, or their fathers, brothers and husbands.

  26. #26 P Smith
    April 27, 2011

    One of the main claims of muslim societies “requiring” the hajib is that an uncovered woman might “tempt” men.

    That tells me the problem isn’t the women or even the hajib. Rather, it suggests that muslim men can’t control themselves sexually, thus they blame the women for their own failures. Such misogynistic blame shifting certainly explains why female rape victims are labelled as “adulterers”.

    As for msironen’s ignorant post, the hajib could be compared to a star of david, not a swastika…unless, of course, msironen is blaming the women.

    .

  27. #27 rick
    April 27, 2011

    any form of head covering coming from islam is to show women that men r in charge via religion. blaming the rape victim for not covering up as the excuse for the rape then punishing the victim is widespread in muslim/islamic culture. most of these poor diluted women r brainwashed into head and or face covering. time to assimilate and integrate into the culture not the other way around.

  28. #28 msironen
    April 27, 2011

    “As for msironen’s ignorant post, the hajib could be compared to a star of david, not a swastika…unless, of course, msironen is blaming the women.”

    Actually I did think of comparing it to wearing a star of david on your sleeve, but doing that voluntarily makes no sense (as opposed to swastika or niqab).

    My “beef” here is with women who want to wear the veil but don’t want to be judged in any way for doing so. That’s if anyone cares and isn’t too busy fabricating positions for me on issues I haven’t even commented on (like the French ban).

  29. #29 Art
    April 27, 2011

    I have no problems with anyone covering their hair.

    Covering the face is an entirely different matter. The face is a person’s identity. You can tell who a person is, and a lot about what they say, by studying their face. Covering the face makes a person anonymous and potentially unaccountable.

    If a society wanted to disenfranchise a group a major step toward that would be to force that group to cover its face. Face covered it is hard to negotiate or conduct business. It would be much more difficult to establish any sort of contract or agreement without being able to confirm the person’s identity.

    Of course you could have someone who could show their face vouch for the person but in the end these middlemen are likely to end up controlling the situation. This is what you see when women are not allowed to show their face. It starts as covering the face and ends up with male relatives running everything while claiming to represent the best interests of the women.

  30. #30 No Muslim slave
    April 27, 2011

    Oh barf. Someone on Scienceblogs defending the right of women to wear the Muslim display of female oppression? Heck, let’s rabblerouse for the right of a black person to wear a Klansman hood too!

    I give up. I might as well convert to Islam now, since it’s going to be inevitable with “scientists” like this one on its side.

  31. #31 paulmurray
    April 27, 2011

    “I’m judged by both societies because of a head scarf. I would LOVE to see the day when ppl judge me for my person and not for what i wear.”

    Are we talking about prima facie impressions by people on the street? What *is* it with people who expect total strangers to just read their minds and act accordingly?

  32. #32 one true
    April 27, 2011

    Josh, you say ‘Islam is not a “controversial culture/ideology,”‘. A blanket statement of fact, as it were. However, there are many rational people, who live by a reality based world view, who find your ‘fact’ to be erroneous (to say the least). If by definition adhering to islam (being a muslim) means believing the major tenets preached by said culture/ideology, then by definition islam is a controversial culture/ideology (cult imho), the same as christianity, judaism, hinduism, et al, ad nauseum. supernatural events, one’s own laws of physics, imaginary despots, on and on, no need to elaborate. the argument answers itself.

  33. #33 Amira Aly
    April 28, 2011

    @platonicus
    I keep repeatedly failing to see how modern culture is less patriarchial that the supposes “Islamic” Culture….

    Are not women in our day, in the most modern of countries, required to live up to impossible male-enforced standards of beauty/dress, or lackthereof?

    Are not millions of women everywhere willingly mutilating themselves and spending their hard earned cash on “plastic” surgery to please men? Are these women not subjugated to a pathetic culture who values nothing but youth and perfect bodies?
    Look at old hack billionaires seeking out yound trophy wives requiring them to “uncover” their pretty bodies so that they can show them off to the world? Does that sound any better to you than the woman covering herself up?
    Probably, because we’ve become so well-versed in this outwrad-looking pathetice culture that we fail to see its shortcomings.
    To many women, Hijab was simply an invitation for men to look “skin deep” when talking to a woman–not at cleavage or how much thigh is showing through her crossed legs.

    Read “The Beauty Myth” By Naomi Wolf. It will enlighten you

  34. #34 Iftikhar Ahmad
    April 28, 2011

    Logically thinking, if the French are forcing Muslim women NOT to wear burkhas, what is wrong with these MUslim males saying they HAVE to wear them? Will you be satisfied only when muslim women become like chery cole, jordan, or lady gaga? When I lived in dubai, western women routinely walked around the beaches and malls in only bra and panties. This was consistent with their culture, and it was ok, as long as they did not try to force local people to follow their example.

    The ban opens a whole new philosophical debate on concepts like religious tolerance, freedom, the meaning of secularism and even liberalism. It is the ongoing debate between those who take liberal and secular positions which interests me and there is a lot of merit in discussing the issue in liberal and secular context. [..]

    Secularism has to blend in with religious freedom and tolerance and only then it can be a true liberal version of secularism. The French brand of secularism will not make the concept of secularism popular and will not work in a pluralistic society. It will rather defame and further intensify the confusions surrounding the concept of secularism.

    France implemented the burqa ban on Monday, declaring it to be about secularism & equality amongst men and woman. Laudable sentiments that I support, but an not sure I believe. The law didn’t mention women, the burqa or any religious symbols. It’s fair to say that neither men or women of any religious persuasion will be permitted to wear a balaclava in public anymore – burglars will doubtless be outraged…Britain is a society that preaches freedom of choice/religion etc. Whilst I don’t disagree with the proposition that many women who wear the burqa don’t choose to do so, there ARE women who do. Passing such a law removes their rights. The correct way to deal with the problem would be to address the situation of women who are being forced My take on the issue
    IA
    http://www.londonschoolofislamics.org.uk

  35. #35 Rturpin.wordpress.com
    April 28, 2011

    Amira, there is a wide range of choice between dressing to reveal one’s body, and dressing to advertise one’s religion. Many women in the west routinely wear slacks and shirt, revealing no more than the guy next to them. Many women who are not religious purposely avoid the “dolled up” look. Someone who wears the garb prescribed by a particular religion is not first and foremost acting from modesty or rejecting particular standards of beauty. Rather, they are choosing to dress in a way that their religious practice is the first thing people know about them.

    And to repeat the obvious, it is quite indicative of a sect’s attitude toward women when that is required of women, but not of men.

  36. #36 DANEgerus
    April 28, 2011

    When I was in college 3 decades ago no one, not one, not a single muslim girl was covered up. When I traveled it was as rare as Japanese in Kimonos.

    The imposition of the Hajib is a very new culture-wide symbol of misogynist oppression and and a symptom of culturally indulged violence and the apologists share the responsibility for the consequences we see in the news daily.

  37. #37 Etacol
    May 3, 2011

    On the streets, some people look at them as if they are freaks of nature….

    Well.. Either freaks of nature or just people who dress funny. I wouldn’t expect to not get looked at if I made a fashion choice that involved me wearing a funny hat or a ghost costume – for whatever reason. There is just no reason to assume that people will ignore something like that as if it’s an everyday occurence.

  38. #38 Lizzy Taggle
    July 10, 2011

    In Saudi Arabia they kill apostates and do not allow anyone but Sunni Muslims to become Saudi Arabians. They are very intolerant and the women wear black head scarfs there. In Iran they kill gay people, women are forced to wear head scarfs and the punishment for apostates is death. So far all Islamic terrorists or their mothers wear head scarfs. As a Westerner Islamic headscarfs terrorize me. Islamic headscarfs should be banned in the United States of America for disturbing the peace. There are many fine Muslims in America I bump into everyday. They don’t wear headscarfs and they say headscarfs are not needed to be a Muslim. Ban Islamic headscarfs as they are just a form of terrorism

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