Muslim country bans niqaab shock!

This didn’t quite come too late for yesterday’s entry on niqaab, but that was dragging on too long and I had an appointment this morning that I should have been preparing for while I was writing it. However, there was a story that the Syrian government had banned women from wearing niqaab while in universities in that country (public or private) (also here). That story turned up on the front page of today’s Daily Star, a drastically inferior tabloid published out of the same sewer as the Daily Express (or Daily Spew).

So, does anyone still want to tell niqaabis living in the UK that, if they want to wear a “black sack” or a “burqa”, they should “go back” to a Muslim country? It’s always interesting how they promote the idea that face-covering is some alien tradition that really belongs “back home”, but crow when the governments “back home” make like difficult for women who wear it. While niqaab isn’t yet banned in public places in Syria, banning it would be an easy matter for the Syrian government, which is a dictatorship with its base in a minority religious community (the Alawites) and a much-feared secret police, to ban it any time they wanted. (After the Hama uprising in the early 1980s, which led to that city being bombed and left in ruins for months afterwards, the régime’s thugs pulled hijaabs off women’s heads in other places in Syria, and there were reports of rapes.)

I have read blogs on a few occasions complaining about how hard life is for non-hijaabi women in the West because Muslims are so condemnatory towards them. This one is a recent example:

I realize now, years into my understanding of my own identity of a Muslim American woman, that most frequently women who don’t wear hijab tend to be harassed, marginalized, patronized, lectured, judged, attacked, and insulted—get this—BY THEIR OWN COMMUNITIES, the Muslim community specifically.

I’ve read countless articles, blogs, books, etc where Muslim women whine about their rights to cover, to not be judged for their choices, etc. But the opposite isn’t always true. If a woman by choice doesn’t wear the hijab, she is mistreated or pressured by the community to become a hijabi. I find it interesting that Muslims tend to preach and demand rights from others, yet they fail to fulfill them themselves. Where is the respect, freedom of choice and tolerant attitudes when it comes to Muslim women who don’t wear hijab?

I’m not even sure if the majority of Muslim women in the west even wear hijaab, although far more wear it than wear niqaab. The majority of those who don’t come from families where it’s not worn and never has been, so the condemnation cannot be coming from them. Still, it’s hard to pity the poor dears who keep getting told by other Muslims that they should wear hijaab because it’s compulsory and their practice is lacking if they don’t, which is all true, when Muslim women who do wear it face prejudice from others, difficulty finding work, and the risk of being kicked out of school or college — the last perhaps not in the USA but certainly in Europe and many Muslim countries.

Believe it or not, Muslim men who fail to grow their beards to a fist’s length get called faasiqs by the scholars of whole groups of Muslims in the UK (where Indo-Pak Hanafis are dominant), so it’s not just a female problem — scholars pass down that ruling as if it were the only valid one, and ordinary Muslims judge others on it. But as far as hijaab is concerned, we commonly hear the claim that the west is so tolerant towards Muslims while Muslim countries aren’t so tolerant the other way round (always the same few countries: Saudi Arabia, Iran, Afghanistan), and why should Muslim women be allowed to wear niqaab here when you can’t wear a miniskirt in a Muslim country, etc. The fact of the matter is that life is difficult for observant Muslim women in many of the secular dictatorships of the Muslim world.

The miniskirt remark is plain untrue: while it may be inadvisable to walk around the Fez medina in a miniskirt, you can wear much less than that on the beaches at Agadir and a number of similar resorts in Morocco, Tunisia and Egypt. It’s well-known that hijaab is banned in universities in Turkey. The government attempted a few years ago to crack down on hijaab in general in Tunisia a few years ago, claiming among other things that it was a foreign import. Women who wear niqaab were banned from entering universities, including al-Azhar, in Egypt last year and have also been banned from entering some public parks. In other countries, women who wear hijaab find difficulty getting employment as many organisations favour a western style of dress, even though it’s a Muslim country (e.g. Morocco).

It’s easy to be a hijaabi in many of these countries if you are content to be a housewife. The most conservative women are usually not affected: it is those who want to work and study while maintaining their religious practice who suffer. The same goes for much of the western world. However, not only do people hold up the Muslim world as the place to go if you want to live and dress as a Muslim, but they also praise the same governments when they ban Muslim dress among their own citizens, as if they have “finally seen the light” and realised that the way things are done in the west is better. The fact is that none of these countries are democracies; they are quasi-dictatorships in which a ruling party, while it may tolerate (or appear to tolerate) a certain amount of dissent, hangs on to power by corrupt and violent means. They are not representative of their population, especially the government in Syria which is based in Baathism (like Saddam Hussein, remember?).

So, a government banning niqaab is not a sign of a population deciding it’s bad; it’s a sign of a particular government deciding that there is a popular movement which is a threat to their power. It’s noticeable that some of those who opposed the ban in Syria would not give their full names, because they feared for the consequences. Syria certainly isn’t following the west in a lot of other things, such as freedom of speech and the rule of law.

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  • DrM

    You mean secular client regime run by dictatorial Alawis ban niqab right? Orders from Paris, you’ll find the same thing in Algeria and Tunisia, run by Francophone secular elites and generals. The French are such an obnoxious, hypocritical and idiotic lot. Newsflash frogs, not everyone wants to eat slugs, diseased cirrhotic goose livers and raw mince meat ….. sorry that would be ‘escargots’, ‘pate de foie gras’ and ‘steak tartare’, saying it with a French accent doesn’t make it any less repulsive.

  • africana

    salams, if you go to any muslim country,particularly those around the mediterranean, you’ll find older women in face coverings, plus those who are either wives or relatives of outwardly quite religious looking men as well as of course younger, usually highly educated women who are doing so of their own volition. you’re still left with this rather large swathe (no pun intended) of fairly conservative women who, though they wear headscarves don’t cover their face, nor, if they are young have their mothers. i just wonder what made these women remove their face coverings in the first place. was it pure neglect of religion, ignorance of religious teachings or a belief that they weren’t required?

  • btw

    as-salamu alaikum,

    writing fr. Damascus; many people here are outraged about this (younger and older) but there is nothing that can be said or done. recently all niqaabi teachers (ie those who wear niqaab outside of school, in their private life) were removed from their jobs in public schools, and now they are doing “teacher screening” to make sure all teachers are “moderate and balanced”. this usually means that the teacher is willing to come to work in a miniskirt and lots of makeup(really).

    a week or two ago there was an order put out that no person in a religious position is allowed to speak to the media or even put a comment on a website (like this one) without gov’t approval !!!. so if you’re wondering why the response to this is muted, here it is.

    i looked over Human Rights Watch’s report on Syria’s last ten years (http://www.hrw.org/en/reports/2010/07/16/wasted-decade-0) and they totally don’t mention anything about the religious persecution Sunni muslims face here… very frustrating - are only the secular democratic/socialist activists human?

    was-salam

  • As Salaamu Alaikum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatu:

    Wow! Is all I can say. So sad …

  • Whatever

    I find the niqab uncomofortable - My wife and I met a young researcher a few years back and he was dressed in a modern way and his wife in a Niqab. What made me uncomfortable was that I could not see the face of his wife yet he was looking at my wife’s face. I would have thought that the best way to have had such a meeting would have been if the young man kept his glance away from my wife’s face according to his and his wife’s principles.

    Muslims need to wisen up to this kind of logic when having a discussion on the Niqab.

    But it is a Muslim only discussion.
    Not one for neo-nazis to paddle into.

    The point here is that all the Zionazi fascists in US and Europe are using this as a stick to beat Islam as usual so that their champion the geographical entity known as Israel stays out of the limelight for their crimes agains humanity - and instead the goy beat each other up. Also, whether I felt uncomfortable or not is irrelevant in the above scenario because in that meeting each of us were living out our human rights and even if there is discomfort in such burka-face meetings so what! I feel disgust at the pale beer bellied middle aged men walking around on the streets of the UK in summer but I am not going to lobby for a law so that I dont have to see those unsightly people.. My wife sitting in the same room as me right now has just added that she would lobby for such a law but not one against burkas….

    The burka, the minaret, the hijab…whatever it is, it is a stick that is used by the Aetheists and nazi inspired facist zionists to belittle Muslims and Islam. They play up on the fact that such visual symbols are not tenets of Islam so they they can get support from some Muslims.

    Well, despite my discomfort with the Niqab I am 200% for the RIGHT to wear it by any woman if she chooses.

    No zionofacists need respond to this post.

  • africana

    assalamu alaikum,

    aren’t you making the assumption, though, that the researcher asked his wife to wear niqab? what comes through from your words is an annoynce at the fact that the researcher’s wifes face couldn’t be seen whilst he could see your own wife’s face. this statement reinforces stereotypes about women being forced to wear it.

  • Whatever

    Africana, Peace & greetings. I know the researcher and know that he wouldnt force anyone to do anything so I am not making the assumption that the researcher forced or even asked his wife to wear the niqab. In my view it is about the philosphy of the married, loving couple and not just the man or the woman and certainly not about forcing each other to do things. I do however assume that the lady wore the niqab and that the husband didnt force her to wear it or not to wear it and therefore was in agreement and understanding with the concept and philosophy of extreme modesty. In this case, that philosphy is one that should be reciprocated by both the husband and especially the wife to the people they are meeting. ie dont look at their faces. Look down. Look away. Otherwise it is a case of hiding ones own face but looking at others faces. A bit rich…. Anyway, as I stated above I am FOR the right of people to wear the niqab even if it is something I dont understand.
    The annoyance if any is not specifically the niqab but about the intention in modesty and showing the same respect that one has for themselves to others.
    I dont want to take the same view of Syria or Egypt, France or the relatively unknown Hollobone and other so called leaders who jump on the bandwagon to further their own careers by stamping on the rights of other human beings. however, it is indeed something that I do not understand fully understand or feel comfortable with…especially in the case I stated above.

  • africana

    salams,

    i am sorry that i misunderstood what you were saying.

    i found this article recently and thought that it might be of interest to you, regarding the real motivations for the niqab ban in france.

    http://www.chezchiara.com/2010/07/why-even-if-you-hate-niqab-you-should.html

  • Whatever

    Peace, Thank you. I took a look throught the site you linked and through the images and it is a scary story - for those who are ignorant enough to question if Muslims are being persecuted they will not open their eyes just like the silent German sympathizers who allowed the Nazis to kill all those Poles, Russians and Jews.
    France & Belgium with a ban on the niqab and Switzerland with the ban on the minaret; Italy with a craving to be accpeted as true northern Europeans have given power to facists like Bossi, Berlusconi and Fini; Netherlands with its dyed blonde nazi, Wilders; Israel have an unwritten ban on the Muslim way of life - it all smells of a larger strategic plan by Western countries and their retarded colony Israel. I remember reading an article recently in a US rag about how intolerant Europe was towards Muslims and how in the US such Muslim symbols were safe - except they forgot to mention the fact that the US invades and destroys Muslim countries one by one. As for the usual suspect Arab countries who are more interested in their own personal gains, I have one word - IRAN! I hope Iran is always in their nightmares.

    I sometimes travel in Eruopean countries but with an awkward discomofort. I used to love living in my own country Britain, but am sick and tired of the hatred and loathing that has been created by all the recent UK elected governments and unelected intelligence agencies. They have done this so people are easier to rule - especially as when they are scared of one another people tend to rely on “strong” leaders. Unfortunately they have ended up creating a nation full of hatred and intolerance. The first generation terrorists in the UK were a direct result of these policies along with the illegal wars . These policies are not changing and the hatred that these policies are leading to on all sides will probably result in another holocaust or something similar. I am now looking for a new home far far from Europe.

  • africana

    salams,

    very sorry to hear that. britain is not the country it once was, i agree. as for me, i am holding out here because although you have this creeping encroachment on civil liberties, i can’t help but think that the community in which i live (with its high proportion of fairly conservative muslims) is not so much different culturally ie, there are problems with the youth embracing hip hop type, gangster culture but nothing you wouldn’t find in an arab country.

  • Whatever

    Peace, Thanks. It is nice to be part of a group/community. I have tried to be part of different Muslim communities in the UK and have been put off by the unofficial enforcemnt of strange cultural practices I have seen so have always kept a distance but have kept my eyes open for other communties. Now that I have made a concious effort to get out of the UK it opens up many opportunities. Not an Arab country for sure - God forgive me for saying that. Perhaps somewhere in the far east. I hope. The decision was easier - the move has many logistical issues I need to get my head around.

    Going back to the niqab though, I wonder if it would be a good idea for people to organise a Niqab festival/march through Brussels to raise awareness and get people from many different backgrounds to don a niqab and join the cause to protect human rights from the Israeli inspired neo-Nazi, neoCon element in Europe.

  • africana

    i agree,anything that raises awareness of the fact that women are voluntarily wearing this item of dress is sorely needed.

    i can understand your your concerns about arab countries what with the despotism and bribery and corruption, to mention but one of the social ills. although, never having been to the far east, i have always been impressed by the attitude and manner of the malaysian overseas students. and through the net, i’ve learned of quite a few english men, married to malaysian sisters, choosing to move over there.

  • Whatever

    Well todays news about hollobone is welcome news in an otherwise Zionist Nazi dominated hate-wave that is sweeping Europe (that is being orchestrated by mossads main EU branch in Copenhagen). He has been warned he could face legal action for his Israeli minded views on the niqab. Malaysia and Indonesea are indeed some of the places on my list although my favourite place would be Istanbul if it has to be closer to home. It is a shame about the attitude of the ruling classes in Arab lands and how those leaders just dont care about anything but hording wealth.

  • Whatever

    Despite jeremy clarkson’s uncontroable racist mouth on that ugly face of his, I do like watching Top Gear but had to switch the channel last night as a show of protest against his racist Niqabee joke. It was a good thing as there was a show on the other channel about a group of US amish kids visiting the UK and it was interesting.

  • Greengrass3

    Salaam Matthew/Yusuf

    A truly disturbing, panoramic snapshot of western countries and their strategic ‘vision’ with regard to Islam and particularly Muslim women.

    I was interested in the female blogger who commented,

    “I realize now, years into my understanding of my own identity of a Muslim American woman, that most frequently women who don’t wear hijab tend to be harassed, marginalized, patronized, lectured, judged, attacked, and insulted—get this—BY THEIR OWN COMMUNITIES, the Muslim community specifically.”

    How disappointing that her own experience of discrimination is perceived by her as an opportunity to sound disloyal and ignoble to her Muslim sisters when they are facing a very overt threat to their physical and religious freedoms.

    Nor, however, do I feel it is appropriate to disparage her comments about being discriminated against for not wearing a hijab, if this is indeed the case. Two wrongs do not make a right.

    Whilst I am certain many non Muslims are opposed to the ‘anti-burkha’ agenda and see it for the insidious attack on Islam that it is, but there are also a plethora of non Muslims who would be happy to watch us do their job for them, by turning on each other.

    History suggests we have still to really understand the ‘divide and rule’ game played with us, which we frequently lost.

    It feels more important than ever before that Muslim brothers and sisters in all their diversity show loyalty and unity as an Ummah.

    Jzk

  • Irony of Life

    I notice that The Netherlands has pretty much banned the full face veil in their bargaining to get into power with the support of the vile Nazi Geert Wilders.

    I also note that this vile excuse of a man, Wilders is in court and is being defended by one Bram Moszkowicz who sounds like a complete and utter Israel apologist and right wing Zionist.

    This zionist Bram once filed a complaint in The Netherlands for encitment of hatred against a couple of left wing MP’s who had taken part in a peaceful anti-Israel rally and shouted “Intifada”…

    Now he is defending someone who is enciting hatred against Muslims…apparently no contradiction there then.

    When will the Israel - European Nazi link sink in to everyone…