To all the Muslim women and girls in Western countries- you don’t have to live like this. In free countries, you are permitted to show your face- it’s not a private part. If the purpose of wearing niqab is to not call attention to yourself, you have failed. Niqab-wearing causes people to stare at you. No niqab? Most people would not even notice you. Also, Western men are able to control themselves. The sight of your hair, cheeks or lips will not inflame them, or cause them to rape you.
Historically, this is to be expected as the Muslim population increases.
In the United States, the Muslim population is approximately 0.6%. In Belgium, Muslims are about 5% of the population. As the population grows, the demands also grow.
by Joanna Impey
The French government introduced a ban on wearing a full veil in public a year ago this week. DW looks at how life has changed for Muslim women in France, and the challenges they face on the road to integration.
Mabrouka is playing with her two-year-old daughter in her apartment in the northern suburbs of Paris. This is a familiar playground for little Asma, as the pair no longer get to go out very often: Mabrouka is one of an estimated 2,000 women in France who wear a niqab – a full veil, covering everything but her eyes. And for a year now, she’s been banned from wearing it in public.
The 30-year-old, who asked DW not to publish her last name, still ventures out occasionally to the local shops. By wearing the niqab in public, Mabrouka is risking a fine of up to 150 euros ($200), or being asked to take a citizenship course. She says the police generally turn a blind eye when she’s with her daughter, but the bank manager has told her he doesn’t want her entering the local bank. which means her husband has to take care of her bank transactions.
The law was introduced by President Nicolas Sarkozy’s center-right government on April 11, 2011 in the hope that it would help improve security, promote gender equality and protect the dignity of women. But for those who insist on wearing the full veil, it seems the opposite is the case. Mabrouka claims she has lost much of her freedom, and is now more reliant than ever on her husband.
“It’s only now that I’ve become dependent,” Mabrouka told DW. “I worked for five years, and I wasn’t married at the time. I wore the full veil, I used public transport, I went on long journeys, I went out with my friends … and now I have to content myself with my little area and nothing more.”…
…In the Parisian suburbs, Mabrouka is experiencing that very sense of exclusion. But she does not conform to the stereotype of a downtrodden woman. Born in Lyon to Tunisian parents, she works part-time as a private tutor, and continues to visit her students in their nearby homes. She is highly educated, having studied Arabic and history at university, and she’s also qualified to teach French as a foreign language.
She started wearing the niqab seven years ago as a symbol of her devotion to God. She says her husband had nothing to do with her choice, as she was already wearing it when she met him. Under the law, anyone forcing a woman to wear a full veil can be fined up to 30,000 euros, but so far no one has been punished for that offence.
Mabrouka admits that it may seem bizarre to subject herself to such a restrictive life for a piece of cloth, but she claims it’s French society, not her religion, that is hampering her freedom. After a year of living under the new law, she’s even thinking about leaving the country in which she was born.
“I don’t want to spend the rest of my life here. I have plans to move away, because I don’t want to live like this,” she said. “But at the moment it’s difficult to choose, because in Europe you have to speak a second language … and in the Arab countries, there’s a lot of tension at the moment. Belgium is a French-speaking country, but they’ve gone down the same road as France. So for the moment I’m a bit trapped.”
It is one thing to be unidentifiable in a society where one is always under the control of a male guardian and a perpetual minor, but in a free and open society, full participation requires being identifiable as an individual and not merely in relation to another.
For that matter, in the West, unlike other places where the supposed equivalence has been stated very crassly, the bottom line is that the female face is not a private part.
“Dutch plan ban on Muslim face veils next year,” from Reuters, January 27 (thanks to Kenneth):
(Reuters) – The Dutch minority government plans to ban Muslim face veils such as burqas and other forms of clothing that cover the face from next year. The ban would make the Netherlands, where 1 million out of 17 million people are Muslim, the second European Union country to ban the burqa after France, and would apply to face-covering veils if they were worn in public.”People should be able to look at each other’s faces and recognize each other when they meet,” the interior affairs ministry said in a statement Friday…
By Bruce Bawer
The news came three days before Christmas:
The Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) has announced that the Department of Defense will now allow Muslim and Sikh students participating in Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC) to wear headscarves and turbans while in uniform.
When I read this, the first thing I thought was: What?! And the second was: Since when does CAIR make announcements on behalf of the Department of Defense?
The background was as follows: a Muslim girl in Tennessee was told by her JROTC commanding officer that she could not wear her headscarf, or hijab, in a homecoming parade. She contacted CAIR, which in turn contacted Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, asking for a change in policy. And instead of informing CAIR that the Department of Defense does not take its marching orders from fronts for terrorist organizations, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army Larry Stubblefield fell right into line, writing a letter to CAIR assuring that henceforth JROTC policy would be different.
France and the Netherlands have banned the niqab, the face-covering veil, in public; the hijab is also prohibited in certain venues (such as classrooms and government offices) in a few European jurisdictions. But in most of the Western world, there are no laws against any Muslim garments. In many Western cities, there has been a visible increase in the number of women wearing these things in public. And there has also been an increase in the number of Muslims who demand their right to wear them in institutions ranging from the armed forces and police to schools and universities.
Case in point: a twenty-year-old woman named Aisha Shezadi Kausar. Kausar wears niqab. Last year her name appeared on an essay, “You, Me, and Niqab,” which was included in Utilslørt (Uncovered), a collection of essays by and about Muslim women. On December 20, she was featured in a news report on Norwegian public television (NRK) about a nationwide project aimed at Norwegian children and teenagers. Kausar, NRK reported, is making personal appearances at various schools around Norway, where she presents her use of the niqab as a feminist choice. In the report, she was seen in front of an auditorium full of students, first praying, then talking about Allah, and then making her case. She’s engaged in a “struggle for freedom” and “fighting against xenophobia.” The only reasons for opposition to niqab are “prejudice” and “fear of foreigners.” At the end of her talk the students gave her a big round of applause, and the kids interviewed by NRK said all the “right” things about diversity and tolerance. Plainly they had not learned anything about Islam, the place of women in Islam, or what niqab actually represents. Their teachers had taken them away from their studies to be propagandized.
Who’s sponsoring this promotional campaign for symbols of female submission and subordination? The Muslim Students’ Association? The Norwegian Islamic Council? No: the Norwegian Non-Fiction Writers and Translators Organisation (NFF) and a group called Foreningen !les (the exclamation point and the small “l” are part of the name) whose official goal is to promote reading and literature. The premise of this sponsorship is that Kausar (the author, as far as I can determine, of exactly one essay) is an author and that they are sending her around to talk about her work.
In other words, Norwegian schools are setting aside time to allow their students to be fed pretty lies about Islam and niqab – and the country’s major organization for writers and translators is helping to foot the bill.
(If I were still an NFF member, I’d quit in protest. Alas, I already quit in protest years ago over something else.)
Who is Aisha Shezadi Kausar? Pretty much the only things I could find about her online were articles about hijab and niqab. The author of a May 2009 article on Nettavis, entitled “A hijab – is it really worth making so much of a fuss about?”, interviewed Kausar, then nineteen years old. At the time, according to the article, Kausar was not a wearer of hijab. Nettavis, which is a news website for young people, quoted Kausar:
“It speaks for itself that it’s wrong that my belief should put a stop to my career choice. After all, we have religious freedom in this country,” she says with a certain bitterness in her voice.
A little over a year later, in August 2010, the newspaper VG ran an interview with Kausar. Though in the May 2009 article she had been represented as a Muslim girl who chose not to wear hijab, in the August 2010 VG interview she was described as a wearer of hijab and was quoted as saying she had begun wearing it three years earlier. She said that her motivation for doing so was, in large part, “[t]o show the Islamophobes that Muslim girls can choose.” She insisted, moreover, that nobody had pressured her to wear hijab. On the contrary, she called herself a “feminist in a religious head covering” and said that she “identifies with the tough Muslim ladies who have fought for women in hijab to be accepted.”
And now, just over a year later, here she is wearing and promoting the niqab. And she’s still presenting herself as a feminist, a believer in freedom and diversity, and as somebody who, aside from her faith and her fashion choices, is not really all that different from the young people whom she addresses in Norwegian schools.
In addition to the Nettavis and VG articles, I did find Kausar’s Facebook and Twitter pages. Judge for yourself. On her Facebook page, under “People who inspire Aisha,” there’s precisely one name – the Prophet Muhammed. Her favorite books? The Koran, Hadith, and Sunnah. Under “Favorite Movies” there’s a single entry, “Bollywood is Haram,” which is not the title of a movie but a statement, meaning of course that Bollywood films are against Islamic law. If you click on “Bollywood is Haram” on Kausar’s Facebook page, it’ll take you to another Facebook page entitled “Bollywood is Haram,” at which you can read this explanation of the page by whoever set it up: “Bollywood is haram, people. We have to work against this beast that is spreading itself through our homes. The filthy half-naked hags who dance on the TVs in our living rooms must be removed forever!”…
…But it’s the same with Kausar as it is with some of the other women who make these arguments: the more you look into their stories, the more strongly you suspect that there’s more there than meets the eye. That, in other words, these women are not operating independently but are, rather, part of a large-scale, long-term campaign being run by others – by people for whom they, along with the media, the schools, and groups like the the NFF and Foreningen !Les, are just puppets on a string.
Not that that’s the most important thing here. What matters more than anything else is this: people like Kausar and her associates, whoever they may be, know exactly what they’re doing when they target schools. And the people who run the schools either don’t realize they’re being taken for a ride, or are too intimidated to do anything other than nod and applaud. That needs to change – and now. Otherwise we’d better be prepared for a generation of Western politicians, journalists, military officers, and educators who are – if possible – even more benighted and pusillanimous on this issue than the current crop.