Is the veil not cool enough for France?

Published: April 14, 2011

Whose concept of modernity are Muslim women supposed to accept and adhere to?

Is it difficult to be a woman, a Muslim and a self-proclaimed fighter of gender discrimination – and not support the French government’s ban on the burqa?

Nope, no problem. In fact, I feel I am in a position of advantage as a member of a religion that has come under fire from the world’s democracies as well as an outspoken advocate for  equality for both sexes. Let me iterate here: I do not support the ban on the face veil. It is tantamount to human rights violations against minorities.

What is French culture?

The French government’s ban  says that the face veil is discriminatory against women and a symbol of oppression and servitude. A veil doesn’t allow women to integrate into society (French society in particular)  and distances the Muslim population from adopting French culture and values.

In the drama that has followed the arrest of a woman who dared not to bare, the one question that keeps nagging me is this: What is French culture about? Is it just Guccis, Pradas and other designer brands that cater to a ‘Westernised’ concept of beauty?

Whose concept of modernity are the Muslim women supposed to accept? If they give up their full body shifts and adopt jeans and shirts, would they be representatives of a modern French society? Do they need to have shimmery cosmetics and leather bags? Do women in French provinces and villages really have similar clothing choices? I doubt it.

When in Rome…

The ban is imposed on one tiny section of an already tiny Muslim population. Roughly 2,000 of the 5-6 million Muslim population in France prefer to wear veils. If a dress code is being enforced, let it be uniform. Perhaps the government should codify the dos and don’ts of what is appropriate or inappropriate to wear in France. Then we can all follow the dictum: when in Rome, do as the Romans do.

Whither democracy?

Some feminists have strongly supported the burqa ban, saying it’s an anachronism and outdated tool of patriarchy. Honestly, I agree with them. From a religious viewpoint, it’s clear that the Holy Quran doesn’t make any reference to a full body or facial veil at all. It suggests that women and men dress modestly. It’s no one’s fault that power-hungry clerics decided to interpret and twist those wordings to their own benefits.

However, face veils and head scarves are not just religious. They also form a part of many other cultural and ethnic traditions around the world. How can a democratic government force a minority population to give up their cultural and ethnic identities or signifiers? Why shouldn’t citizens have the right to express their religious affiliations through their clothing when it really doesn’t affect public discourse?

Veiled by choice

Why don’t all of us who are fighting for the rights of the ‘oppressed’ Muslim women take a vote of confidence first? Let’s ask them if they want to be represented by us. The so-called progressive, anti-religious, anti-cultural feminists who want to push their agenda and their idea of equality on to women who might have different viewpoints about equality. Do we ever pause to think about those women who willingly choose to adopt religious symbols or outward signifiers as a mark of their practice?

Don’t criticise religion

It is against the values of fraternity and tolerance to criticise religion as an outdated institution and champion the cause of a non-religious, secular existence. Every human being belongs to a group, community, class, idea, ideology, circle or affiliated to institutions and clubs.

What would your first reaction be if your membership to a club was denied or revoked on account of your clothing, religious background or the language you speak? For women who do not want to wear the veil, all measures must be taken to support them with resources in the form of helplines, NGOs, civic institutions that reach out to distressed women, etcetera.

The French government should focus on issues of illiteracy, poor economic index or other kinds of abuse that might occur in Muslim households as in other non-Muslim families.

The French ban on the face veil is nothing more and nothing worse than bullying. French Muslim women and men are not forcing their customs on non-Muslims. French Muslim women – unlike their Saudi Arabian counterparts – have access to professional and career choices, education and literacy, social and political participation, financial independence and what not. Give them the freedom to dress as they please.

On the face of it, it is the ‘liberals’ who are behaving like those frequently labelled as ‘orthodox’. I smell fear, and it is against Islam.

Nilofar Ansher

Nilofar Ansher

A social worker based in Hyderabad who blogs at trailofpapercuts.wordpress.com and tweets at @culture_curate.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Faisal

    Saudi Arabia has made it mandatory for women to wear Burqa
    France has made it mandatory not to wear Burqa

    Protest against France but why no protest against Arabs?Recommend

  • Grace

    Why do these women want to live in France if they insist on veiling themselves in defiance of the law? Let them go back to the Arab countries if they want this type of “freedom”. Maybe the freedom to live in poverty in most Arab countries isn’t too appealing. They should either conform or move back to where they came from. The Europeans are sick of migrants from Third World countries who claim asylum there, become a burden on the social support systems and then cry about rights. We all know the level of rights Arab civilians enjoy in their home countries- NIL.Recommend

  • Shock horror

    Nilofar

    It is amazing, is it not, that Pakistani pontificate about the so called discrimination against muslims in the rest of the world, and the so called denial of human rights to them. Before putting pen to paper they should look at the huge amount of discrimination practised against Ahmadis, Christians, Hindus and Sikhs in their own country. Could any one of them become President or Prime Minister or Pakistan? The answer is NO. Is that not a denial of human rights to these citizens of Pakistan? Pakistani blasphemy laws are far more discriminatory than any legislation in Europe or America? So stop complaining about the rest of the world and put your own house in order first. I am sure you and your other pontificating colleagues have heard of the saying, “People who live in glass houses should not throw stones at others”. Period. Recommend

  • faraz

    Its not a ban on veil but over concealing one’s face in public. Its not specific for muslims, and its not about religion, its about culture.Recommend

  • Fahad Raza

    This aritcle is nicely written, and the right to veil by the French minority Muslim women is honestly advocated so as to protect the minorities from the bullying of a majority, which is admirable.

    It is also concluded fairly that fear against Islam is at such heights in france that liberal are going to extreme measures.

    Even though one point I feel need’s to be addressed as fact.

    First of all come out of this illusion that as quoted

    “it’s clear that the Holy Quran doesn’t make any reference to a full body or facial veil at all.”

    Holy Quran DOES

    Veiling “Hijab” is an obligation mentioned in Holy QURAN. Hope the Aayath of Holy Quran satisfy those who have open mind to seek facts.

    Obligation of Hijab as Stated in Qur’an

    “O; Prophet! Tell thy wives and thy daughters and the women of the believers to draw their cloaks close round them (when they go outside). That will be better, that so they may be recognized and not molested”. (33:59).

    source: http://www.irfi.org/articles/articles151200/islamicconceptof_veil.htm

    in another Aayath

    “And tell the believing women to lower their gaze and be modest, and to display of their adornment only that which is apparent, and to draw their veils over their bosoms…”(24:31) ”

    source: http://qa.sunnipath.com/issue_view.asp?HD=7&ID=514&CATE=2

    Now believe if you want to, if otherwise do seek and search for the reason of veil and Hijab.

    Stereotyping leads to extreme concepts like suicide bombings and radical decisions but research for reasons and logic gives not only a balanced mind but clear understanding.

    Again I feel a good a blog to be read and rated.Recommend

  • KCS

    I personally feel disgusting seeing a veiled woman. I have never seen a veiled woman talking to anybody in public. They, I feel r in low esteem. they hardly enjoy their life. Always in their own world, hardly mix with others. These women and their husband’s r pathetic and must be made to live in their holy ARAB lands. not in West.

    I must state I have many muslim friends and this is my observations from them and I am not a great admirers of GODsRecommend

  • Omar

    Well said Faisal and Grace. Living in Europe for a few years I had the opportunity to discuss it in detail with a couple of French colleagues. One of the very important issues which no one writing about the subject is pointing out is rooted in the french history. French fought for a long time to get rid of the religious oppression of the church and secularism is a value they hold very dear. To be quite honest without the secularism Europe would be in the same dark ages as we particularly and the muslim world generally is right now. Another factor which the writer mentions is the cultural reasons for burqa. This is also historically incorrect. If you consider the cultural backgrounds of the women in question, full covering veil or burqa has never been a part of their original culture (north africa) and has been recently introduced due to the increasing Saudi influence over the years.
    Another thing i have come to observe in the immigrant community is that in their original countries they are moderate but as soon as they move to Europe or US they want to be seen as the best bloody muslims in the whole world which i think is really hypocritical. I personally know some women who never wore a scarf in pakistan but as soon as they step in europe they want to put on a hypocritical outlook. which doesnt make too much sense atleast too me.
    And lastly as has been mentioned if you go to another culture you should respect their values rather than enforce your values onto them.

    P.S. your comments about french culture being about prada and gucci and their own interpretation of beauty is highly insensitive and based on your very narrow view about it and limited knowledge. It equivalent to saying that Pakistani culture is all about suicide bombers nut jobs.Recommend

  • http://fruitforbidden.wordpress.com/category/hijab/ Fruitforbidden

    I don’t know why can’t people concentrate on real life issues then simply woman’s attire! Come on France, fry the bigger fish, ban “Lying”!Recommend

  • Ron(Indian)

    No comment regarding veil as they (french people) have to decide. In india some muslims wear veil some do not. it’s personal choice.. thanksRecommend

  • Dia

    @Faisal: Perhpas the author left that to people like you? The question could be the other way round too…Recommend

  • http://philip9876.com lp

    @Faisal, exactly.

    Wazzup with muslims who have no qualms protesting about human rights in France, but have no semblance of humanity in their own god forsaken garbage countries?

    If you are unhappy with the rules and regulations in France, please go back to your own countries. Recommend

  • a liberal muslim

    its extremely uncomfortable and creepy talking to to a woman when you have the option of talking to her face to face but you cant because you can’t see it. Recommend

  • Hasan

    @Faisal – Precisely!
    @Nilofar Ansh – The Muslims in Europe refuse to integrate into society. If the greater society as a whole does not want to see women covered from head to toe like ninjas, they have a right to get rid of it. The security threat argument in today’s world sounds like a valid arguement as well.

    I do agree with you that it’s probably not on point with human rights as a whole but this is what they consider to be for the betterment of French society. I wish all Muslim countries would condemn the burqa and get rid of this scary, ninja fundamentalist outfit. It’s absurd. You can’t interact with someone behind a curtain, it’s ridiculous.Recommend

  • KA

    Go France…I think its a great decision and must be adopted elsewhr as well. They are not shunning the actual legal Hijab they just banned the veil over the face which to begin with is not the actual parda Islam promotes. There are also identity barriers associated with this kind of parda. I am pro this ban.Recommend

  • umar

    @Hassan
    where go the choice than Recommend

  • Deen Sheikh

    hey Nilofer, though I really like your blog, it is well written, and I will not disagree with you or other people that France’s initiative to ban the veil was a political move to garner the support of the right-wing in France in light of rising Islamophobia which is widespread across Europe. However I would like to point out, how many veil wearing women do you know that choose the veil on their complete and independent free will? In many Muslim countries, including Pakistan, women are brought up brain washed into believing that is is a God sent obligation on them to adopt the veil and conceal their identity and limit interaction to only with ‘Mahram’ men which are Fathers, Husbands, Brothers and Sons. How many Burqa wearing women do you know, who are actually social? who actually pro-actively make an effort to integrate into society, be active members of their community. How many burqa wearing women do you know that do not practice anti-social behavior? As Tribune writer George Fulton pointed out a few months back, the veil is a mark of segregation, not only in the West, but also in the Arab and Muslim world. Though I am not in favor of a veil ban because it violates the individual right to freedom of thought and expression, I am also not against the veil ban because of what it represents, as a man-made barrier advocated by men who want to maintain their status quo male dominance bargaining power over women, or treat their women like commodities or inferior human beings. I kid you not, when I say this that many women in Pakistan are brought up brain washed into wearing the veil as a mandatory condition of their faith in God, evidence of that is their paranoid freakish anti-social behavior that pops up when so called ‘Non Mahram’ men are present under the same roof as them. From their facial expressions they display emotions like all Hell is about to break loose and they will go to Hell for being seen by a strange man etc. It is more in reality a symbol of unfair male domination which men try to maintain over the opposite sex, for example many men do not send their daughters to university in Pakistan, often arguing most universities are Co-ed, in reality their fear is that their daughters and sisters will get enlightened and empowered as they seek knowledge and that will make them aware of their rights. Many who do send their daughters and sisters to university force them to wear a veil, which I have seen personally at University’s across Pakistan, that it puts them in social isolation and prevents them from taking part in the University experience. Recommend

  • Zaaraq

    Bravo. Someone needed to say all that. I don’t get the ban as well. People fail to understand that some women wear the burqa by choice. what someone wears is no one’s concern but their own. We’re so busy trying to tell other people what they should do, we fail to look at ourselves. All the talk about ‘failing to integrate in society’…the women already know that. and still they want to do it. Their choice. What they wear, how they dress, its all an individuals personal choice. let it alone people. If women want to wear shorts…their choice. Burqas…their choice. What concern is it of ours?? Recommend

  • world weary

    These are all nicely written opinions. They turn on the significance of the Quran. My opinion is that the Quran, like the Bible and the Torah, is a human construct – written down within the context of its time. As such it has its strengths and weaknesses and as such will always divide opinion. I think that all so called ‘sacred’ books need to come under the constraint of law in order to counter balance this inescapable flaw. Recommend

  • http://na deep

    Niloufar – as a muslim woman, you have bigger battles to fight in your backyard. I think Deen Sheikh makes a very good point about the social conditioning that persuades women to wear these restricting garments. These are more difficult issues and calls for concerted efforts from women like you. Rubbishing French culture will help you win some brownie points with folks in Pakistan but the west does not need lessons in liberalism as much as our part of the world does. So get started first on the question of modesty – who is to decide? For me a t-shirt and jeans is modest. You will counter and say that the contours of my body are showing…and so on. You cannot sit on the fence on this one. Are you a liberal person or are you a conservative person masquerading as one?Recommend

  • Henna

    Loving these comments. Especially agree with Faisal and Grace.Recommend

  • amoghavarsha.ii

    I suppose you are in pakistan.
    Why are you worried about something happening in France.
    Pakistan & pakistanis has million times more issues to worry about than the French.

    Use your energy ( including your thinking ) for welfare of pakistan. Don’t try to do welfare for religion.

    Your connectivity to french women of viel is only religion, nothing less and nothing more.

    This is the main cause which is worrying the whole world.

    I am sure french viel woman will not be reacting as you are if something like that happens in your country.

    You don’t hv sense of nationality. You have only sense of religionRecommend

  • http://www.trailofpapercuts.wordpress.com Nilofar Ansher

    @Faisal: Saudi Arabia is a theocratic country – meaning, it’s government is based on the rule and law of religion, in this case, Islam. The Saudi Arabian government has the right to enforce rules under its ‘Islamic’ law. France, on the other hand, is a secular democracy and as all dictionaries go, secularism means the state does not foster or sponsor any popular religion and every citizen has the right to practice a religion of their choice, free from oppression. What France has done is unconstitutional and is a violation of human rights and civil rights. Recommend

  • bvindh

    @Nilofar,

    I have my own questions to ask;

    Are pork chops not cool enough for Pakistanis?

    It’s my personal choice to like pork, but can I eat it freely and openly in a country like Pakistan without the fear of violence or persecution or derision?Recommend

  • http://www.trailofpapercuts.wordpress.com Nilofar Ansher

    @Grace: Dear Grace, these women are French citizens, born and bought up in France. They have full rights to practice religion, and participate in THEIR country’s economic, social and political life. France does not have “a” culture, it’s history is full of plurality. And as a note, Arab countries aren’t third world, they constitute one of the richest nation states in the world. Please do understand that France is a secular democratic nation and as such, allows full freedom to all citizens to practice religion.Recommend

  • Asad

    Well the france ban on the burkha is an open form of discrimination against Islam. They do not want practicing muslims in their countiry. plain and simple. Even though its true that a full face covering veil is not a strict requirement in Islam, but it has always been associated with the most practicing of muslim women and these people are unwelcome in France.

    Even in the US, Obama’s popularity drops when people speculate that he is a muslim. My question is ‘so what even if Obama is a muslim?’ but for the Americans its a shock and horror. They can never accept a muslim as their head of state. no matter how completent he/she may be. is this not open discrimination? its terrible discrimination against muslims.

    In contrast in Pakistan, the minorities are represented in the government and private sector jobs and some are even on top positions. The scientist who won a nobel award was a Pakistani Ahmadi. How would he have reached so far, if he did not have support from Pakstan?

    The sikhs that come to Lahore for Baisaiki are not asked for any moeny from the local muslim shopkeepers for things that they buy. Do the muslims receive this sort of favour in any countiry where they are a minority? NO.

    The truth is that the mulsims are always discriminated against by the non muslims and are falsely accused by the non muslims of being discriminatory.Recommend

  • Faisal

    @Nilofar

    Oh sorry, I forgot, that Saudis are not humans, they are a different breed, so no “human rights and civil rights” for them. Unlike French They don’t have brains, so we should consider them a special case. In the name of Islam they have created one of the most draconian regimes in the world…but hey, they are muslims so they can do anything….no scrutiny for them, they are still the leader of “ummah”…..we can only protest against the secular countries who apparently are doing wrong things but dare not say anything against the Muslim countires coz they are “like that only”….damn these stupid french, look what secularism got them….i pity them…our model was and will always be Saudi Arabia….cheers :)Recommend

  • http://www.trailofpapercuts.wordpress.com Nilofar Ansher

    The debate over the ban was never about the constructs of a patriarchal society and oppression of women. The debate is politically motivated and refers to a law that violates the basic human right to choose. Citizens in Europe have the right to choose their clothing, the language they speak in public and the food they eat. It is a violation of that right to impose bans on customs and habits that are in no way a threat to the larger society in terms of safety, security and economic growth.

    Secondly, it’s about women’s rights. Ordinary people like you and me need to speak up, It doesn’t matter if we aren’t moving mountains. Let’s try to mobilize dialogue around issues that affect women – be it domestic violence, cultural and religious rights, freedom to work and have a career, reproductive and sexual rights, and freedom to choose.Recommend

  • Khalid Rahim

    @Grace:
    This quote comes from the West; She loves to eat and keep the cake at the same time.One
    can frequently come across young women wearing Hijab and tight jeans with short shirts to
    expose their contours; When asked why the Hijab, you got the obvious answer, Well! Koran
    says so; What about the exposed contours of the rest of the body?Recommend

  • Faisal

    Turkey and Syria(ummah brothers) have already banned veil…whose for a protest against them?Recommend

  • http://www.trailofpapercuts.wordpress.com Nilofar Ansher

    @bvindh: I definitely understand your concern. If you do not have the freedom to eat what you want then you must protest. Write a letter to the government, start a forum or discussion with like-minded people, get in touch with sympathetic media. There are ways in which you can protest against unfair practices. We know that neither Saudi Arabia, nor Syria, Iran, Afghanistan are perfect countries. We all want to have the right to live equally under the constitution. Fight for it!Recommend

  • Shock Horror

    @Nilofar
    Why don’t’ you answer the issues about the inability of people to do as they wish in so called Islamic countries. Can women wearing mini skirts travel in countries like Pakistan and Saudi Arabia? Why don’t you focus on that and criticise the laws in these countries? Even western women can’t drive in Saudi Arabia? All women have to wear the burqa in Saudi Arabia. The denial of this human right to around 50% of Saudi Arabian population does not seem to bother you. Saying that Saudi Arabia is a theocratic state does not justify the denial of human rights in these muslim countries. Focus on that. Recommend

  • http://www.trailofpapercuts.wordpress.com Nilofar Ansher

    People who really want changes in their government, need only to look at the youth-encouraged revolutions that have stirred Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Syria in the last three months. For many years, youth – whether young men or women – didn’t really care about issues pertaining to religion or governance. Even media portrayal of youth was dismal. This changed 10 years ago with September 9/11.

    Today, the scenario is different. Religions across the world are being targeted. The youth are now opening their eyes to these issues and each of us are trying in our own small ways to make a difference. It’s not about scoring brownie points, it’s not about MY country or THEIR country, it’s not about East versus West, Islam versus Europe – it’s about choosing the side that champions human rights. If we keep saying that we must not interfere in affairs outside our country, then human rights suffer in the end.Recommend

  • abhinav

    @Nilofar Ansher
    The blog looked logical but your response to comments is pathetic.
    If Saudi has right to enforce whatever law they want then so has France. It is an independent country and this law is passed with due process. If any one can raise the objection, he/she has to be a french citizen not somebody outside the France.

    If one ranks countries on openness, liberty, human right and minority rights, France will come ahead of all muslim majority countries, with or without veil ban. So focus your energies where they are required most.Recommend

  • http://www.trailofpapercuts.wordpress.com Nilofar Ansher

    @Shock Horror: Completely agree with you. In my comment about theocracy, I only explained WHY Saudi Arabia gets away with its draconian rules. I have not supported the rules or their laws.

    Saudi Arabia is one of the worst offenders of human rights, a reason why I would never want to step inside that country. However, I have written this blog in REACTION to a current affairs development – the RECENT ban on the burqa. In my personal life, I have always been outspoken about countries such as Saudi. It’s just that, this is the first time I have used the courage to speak out against a government’s move. I hope I receive encouragement for this.

    I hope there are more citizens from across the world like you and me who will vocally or through written words PROTEST against regimens in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere. France is just an example. Recommend

  • http://www.trailofpapercuts.wordpress.com Nilofar Ansher

    @Deen Sheikh: The spirit of this blog was not about condemning religion or religious customs. That’s a private affair which you or me cannot interfere into. I am concerned with the civil rights aspect of this law, which strips a small section of the population from practicing their customs.

    On a personal note, I do think wearing a burqa is equivalent to shutting down your individuality. I also believe that burqa, veils and gender stereotyping are ‘illusions’ created within a patriarchal society, what we refer to as cultural constructs. However, it will take a few more centuries before women across the world slowly come out of their oppressive social background. In the meantime, we cannot force them to follow our cultural practices. It’s wrong.Recommend

  • http://www.trailofpapercuts.wordpress.com Nilofar Ansher

    @abhinav: Well, if you re-read my comments, you will notice that I never said Saudi has the RIGHT to enforce what they want, they pass laws according to Sharia – which are severe, draconian and a violation of human rights. However, they get away with it because the citizens of Saudi Arabia have not protested or started a revolution en masse. If enough citizens raise their voices, the king himself shall have to bow.

    Human Rights activists have been protesting against Saudi laws since many years! I am just a tiny voice in the ocean – and I definitely have the right to speak up about it, whether I am a French citizen or not. I don’t want to be in a position where one day i am forced to wear a type of clothing just because of my religion – or STOP wearing some kind of dress because I belong to another country. That’s what I am speaking up against. Recommend

  • a.a.younes

    Honestly Speaking, If you are living in the west and you wear and veil, a women looks really ODD in the community, and this is a fact that you don’t integrate in the community, but by integration it doesn’t mean that you wear western clothing and bla bla bla. but with a veil its appreciates you of being different and ODD. it portrays your image of being isolated from everybody around you. When ever i see a women in veil in Holland, i bet everybody that watches that women, gives a real weired expressions as being unacceptable, as being you came from another planet. One last thing i must share, i have a strong belief that we should respect every nations culture. and am in favor of this ban as veil really resists you from being integrated.Recommend

  • http://www.trailofpapercuts.wordpress.com Nilofar Ansher

    @abhinav: What Muslims also fear is that a growing number of European countries are up-in-arms against Islam and constantly refer to it as ‘extreme’, ‘fundamental’ and a recourse taken to by ‘terrorism’. It’s because a country as liberal as France has taken such an action, that most of us are reacting in dismay. We don’t want this move to set a precedent for all other countries to ban Islamic practices – don’t pray, no mosques, no call for azaan, no burqa, no cap, no kurta-pajamas, no beard.. what will they stop at?Recommend

  • http://www.trailofpapercuts.wordpress.com Nilofar Ansher

    @a.a.younes: You have made a very valid point, thank you. The reason why you feel odd when you come across veiled women – OR – African women who wear tribal clothes, or nuns wear their habits, or Jewish men wear their headgear in the Western world – is because they are a minority. From that point of view, don’t minorities anywhere in the world deserve protection of their heritage as long as it’s not really affecting anyone in society? When you visit Turkey, Botswana or Tibet, would the government there tell you to get ride of your khakis or t-shirt and don their predominant national costume? I doubt! Recommend

  • pakistani

    WOW@Nilofar …
    I dont know y ppl generalize everything, I am an Engineer and did my MS from US with 3.9 GPA and currently working in Pakistan. I wear Hijab and i hope and pray that ALlah gave me enough strength that i could wear a veil. It was and still is MY CHOICE nobody forced me infact my family wanted me not to do it.
    I dont know y ppl judge us? I dont judge ladies who wear veils or even who wear mini skirts b/c it IS their choice. Why do u ppl automatically believe that women like me are oppressed by some MULLA father or husaband??? and women who wears mini skirts and show their bodies somehow are much smarter than the one covering their face n body. Recommend

  • SJS

    @Faisal:
    Saudia (sadly) has never called itself a country which guarantees individual freedom while France has three words: Liberty, Equality and Fraternity as part and parcel of its identity. That’s what the noise is about!Recommend

  • Riaz Khan

    @Grace:
    Fully Agree with you!Recommend

  • Saad

    @Fahad Raza:

    Please fall out of this fallacy, the word in question jilbab was meant a loose shirt, it was twisted after the death of Holy Prophet sw to mean otherwise.

    Previously a number of women in Arabia did not cover their breasts. You are free to believe your own point of you but so are others.

    @ Nilofar:

    French values are not same as western and UK ones the french law is Laicite which is elimination of religion from public life. When these women mostly from Algeria and Morroco took the oath to protect French values they took the oath to protect French secularism.

    The fact that it violates basic human rights is another matter, but these women knew what they were in for long before the law ever came into effect.Recommend

  • Saad Durrani

    @Fahad Raza:
    Sometime, some links are so handy. Other times, they are not. In the same Qur’an where it is asked for women to wear a veil, men are asked to CONTROL their gaze. How about you link me up to that?

    Furthermore, Hadith is considered as a reference to Qur’an. One popular Hadith mentions that women should cover their bodies except their hands and their FACES.Recommend

  • Paras Vikmani

    @Faisal:
    very well saidRecommend

  • faraz

    Your argument is quite interesting. As Saudis dont care about human rights, its fine because they dont claim they care about human rights. But as French believe in secularism, they must abide by the principles of secularism. So you dont believe in universal standards, but you compare whether the laws and regulations of a country are in accordance with their words and beliefs. Recommend

  • Shock Horror

    @Nilofar
    The fact remains that whenever muslims are in a minority in a country they demand equality and freedom to practice their religious rituals. Saudi Arabians have been known to spread Wahabi terrorist propaganda in United Kingdom. As soon as muslims become a majority, as in Pakistan, the freedoms for the remaining minorities disappear. Look at the blasphemy laws in Pakistan. Even the President and PM of Pakistan have decided that they will not do anything to amend the draconian law because the mullahs will not allow that to happen. You can go round the world and see the same thing happening time and again in Islamic countries. As I said earlier people who live in glass houses should not throw stones at others. Having said that I think you have done a service by starting a discussion. I hope it will lead to some soul searching on the part of people who want the freedoms and human rights, but are happy to deny that to others.Recommend

  • Maulana Diesel

    @Grace: Third world immigrants are a source of very cheap labour and keeps wage inflation in check. This is needed specifically now that the highly leveraged almost bankrupt economies of Europe are to survive. Also the fact that Europeans in general and the French in particular do not like to work (as shown by the French 35 hour per week law) which makes the use of third world labour a necessity. The point I am trying to make is that the third world needs you as much that you need them. As far as the burka is concerned we all know its a ploy to get votes. No one makes a law for 1800 citizens…that is the total number of women that wear a burka.Recommend

  • http://thinkrustic.wordpress.com Dhurjati Bhattacharyya

    Hey Nilofar,

    I couldn’t resist commenting in this blog of yours. It’s been sometime you are fuming on Facebook about this Burqa Ban. A few things caught my eye in this blog and here they are –

    When you say “It is against the values of fraternity and tolerance to criticize religion as an outdated institution and champion the cause of a non-religious, secular existence”, please define what you mean by fraternity and tolerance.
    Secularism in European countries is primarily understood as against religion. It’s only in India secularism is based on tolerance to all religions. You can see that France has a large population who declares themselves as non-religious (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ReligioninFrance). So championing the cause of a non-religious and secular existence will be natural and normal.
    Every free citizen in a democratic country has the right put forward their opinion. Criticizing any religion falls under that. To say whatever is written in a holy text is the final truth obviously limits the fundamental rights of a free citizen. You may say that no one has the right to discriminate people on the basis of their religion.

    Well, don’t think that I am against or for this Burqa Ban. I think when we discuss Burqa Ban in France we have to look at it in the Burqa Ban and its impact on Algeria. Frantz Fanon in his “Unveiling Algeria”, points out that the veil (a symbol of rigid separation of the sexes) in Algeria became a mechanism of resistance. The veiled lady (who was arrested) was using her veil as a mechanism of protest. Is everybody doing the same (in France)? Is France trying to help the historically disadvantaged? Is Burqa still not largely a tool of patriarchal control? You say “Veiled by choice”, but what determines that choice? Is it not patriarchal control that has become a habit for these women? There is a lot to debate on this. In India, a lot of Hindu practices have been declared unlawful because they go against human values and the values of the country. We have to decide whether this is an attempt to discriminate the Muslims or this is an attempt to help the discriminated sex.

    DjRecommend

  • http://www.tanzeel.wordpress.com Tanzeel

    When in France, Do as the French Do.Recommend

  • joel

    its french parliment which approved this law which means that its majority of french people representative who dnt want women to wear burqa. Same as that pakistan law dnt allow non muslims to b president, prime minister, speaker, governer, chiefminister,army general, chief of army staff and list goes on. So why have to make such noise. Most muslims in france are first second or third generation muslims so if they dnt lyk the law jus leave the country and go to thier native country and live according to islam. Recommend

  • http://www.trailofpapercuts.wordpress.com Nilofar Ansher

    @Dhurjati Bhattacharyya: Wonderful response, thank you! Between you and me only, let’s suppose that we agree on the point of patriarchy as a force of endemic coercion in ‘bullying’ women. Over the last few millenniums, women have been made to believe that they have to subsist beneath a man. Agreed. And this conditioning carries forth even to this day because cultural constructs are difficult to discern and understand, let alone overthrow and approach in isolation.

    DJ, what about me? I am educated, don’t face any coercion from family, I am a working women and I also am aware of cultural conditioning. Despite these factors, I still understand / support women who might want to take recourse to the veil. Am I under pressure? No! Am I dumb? Hope not! Am I subscribing to a heterodox idea of society that is deep seated in my consciousness – Vehemently NO!

    I know so many acquaintances who are fully aware of the politics of the veil. They use it now as a weapon of politics because they have been denied the right to use it (the veil) the straightforward way – by means of culture.

    Like I keep reiterating, banning a veil or headscarf will not liberate or cage a women who doesn’t think it’s liberating or caging her! It’s the women themselves who need to take a stance and I am on the side of those who are demanding the freedom to choose.

    Lastly, criticism of a religion is quite widespread in civic society. No one can stop that. But, it does not always restrict itself to verbal outbursts or hate emails. It moves into aggressive militant tendencies, overt policies and laws, protest actions against the minorities, and worse, endemic fear and paranoia. This is especially becoming quite clear as we observe Europe’s increasing xenophobia. Criticism is justified, not xenophobia and vindictive targeting of a religion.

    I beg to differ from you about the interpretation of secularity in Europe. While our Indian conditioning might play a large role in cotton-candying our beliefs about what it should stand for, secularity comes down to state detachment from religion. It won’t officially promote, engender, support, speak against, condemn or criticize any religion. In many secular countries, this does mean / preclude the removal of symbols and signifier of religious paraphernalia in public spaces and state institutions. But how does banning a dress code for a group of people foster secularism? That is my pet peeve. Aren’t you alienating them, those already in the minority and not visible.

    I am not sure if religious symbols worn on one’s body – tattoo, threads, cross and crucifix, rings, habits, caps should come under the purview of the state. If Muslim women’s veil is banned, ban every other article mentioned above from public discourse. Will that leave us with a homogenized society? And is that what we wish for – singularity, where as the majority of the population continue to believe that there is unity among the citizens because one tiny section’s clothing has been banned?

    We are talking about suppressing the religious expression of a handful few – who had no voice or representation in parliament or politics. As an added note, in response to comments, the view point that Islamic countries also treats its minorities in the same way is so childish as to merit a non-answer from me. Tit for tat blinded little Johnny’s eyes! If Islamic countries continue to treat its minorities like third-world citizens, that’s a major issue of concern and should be addressed – tackled by citizens, the UN and world leaders. Not used as an excuse to further encourage xenophobia and target Muslims and minorities in other countries.

    There is this vigorous clamor to integrate into French society and honestly, in all the comments above, don’t see one person who has responded to my question in the blog – What IS French culture about? Is there a distinct and definitive way of recognizing it. Or, do we, by exclusion, arrive at a destination. Get ride of the burqa, and you have arrived at French culture! What next? Or will the Muslims be paying the toll in this century?

    P.S. France will obviously not help or support the disadvantaged. In this case, the veiled women. They are seen as a threat – how silly – 2,000 women a threat to the unity and secularity of a centuries old nation? The veiled women in France are protesting against the ban. Google it!Recommend

  • http://www.trailofpapercuts.wordpress.com Nilofar Ansher

    @joel: Dear Joel, laws can be changed and laws evolve over time. If Muslim countries ill-treat their minorities, their governments should be held accountable. Like I keep repeating in my comments, start a protest.

    The last I heard, freedom of expression allows me to voice my disapproval of a country’s human rights violation. Being a woman and a Muslim who does not wear burqa, I feel my future – and the generations after me – is at stake with the course of action European states are taking against Islam.

    “Go back to their countries” – would that be Saudi Arabia? The same in the case of all fourth or fifth generation Americans who should go back to Italy, Spain and Portugal? And ALL of us humans should go back to Africa – the continent of our existence? Why not aim for tolerance? Why not aim for plurality? Why not let each person practice his religion, festivals and rituals in peace? Recommend

  • Asif Butt

    Thank ALLAH that there are women who understand clearly the difference between life & religion. Islam fundamentally provides “Principles of Law” rather than the Law itself.

    It is my opinion that all Muslim women should have the clarity and vision of Nilofar Ansh ( the one who has posted this article)

    And you know it does not matter what country or nation adopts in what way to counter multi-culturalism. What is important is that Muslim women should be resolute in terms of their religious beliefs and conduct.

    It is my personal belief that discrimination can never be elliminated from Earth . It can be defeated but not destroyed.Recommend

  • http://www.trailofpapercuts.wordpress.com Nilofar Ansher

    @faraz: Oh ho, why this eagerness to demonize me? Aren’t we all saying the same thing at the end of the day – greater tolerance for all religions across the world. How quickly you jump to negative thoughts. Would I really champion one country and put down the other? I cannot ask for universal standards for all countries – I can HOPE for it! That one day, France won’t feel threatened by Islam or any other religion and in the same way, Saudi Arabia becomes progressive and tolerant and a humane country.

    Let me write a new post bringing down Saudi Arabia right away! Would that satisfy the logic of your comments?Recommend

  • abhinav

    @Nilofar

    This is what you have written in your comment “The Saudi Arabian government has the right to enforce rules under its ‘Islamic’ law”
    Are you trying to pull an Afridi here?

    Your other logic is that you are very disturbed that you religion is being vilified (or I should say veilified) and you want to protest. But you seem to be almost unaware of/un sympathatic of what the followers of your religion are doing in the name of your religion. That responsibility you want to put on others shoulder why? Saudi arabia and types will not change until muslims start questioning their actions. And France, Switzerland, Germany will always point to Saudi, Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan to justify their laws.

    You search all the pakistani websites but hardly find any article against laws in Saudi Arabia while these sites are full of propaganda against USA, UK, France, Germany which are far better in terms of human rights records.Recommend

  • S.Haque

    Thank you Faisal and Grace!! And Nilofar, please take out some time and a have a look at the Afghan women’s state. They hardly ever had choice when it came to burka or that shuttle cock type tent they wear. You want to talk about freedom of choice for women living in France and forget the Afghans, are’nt they humans as well!!Recommend

  • G. Din

    @Author
    “Let me iterate here: I do not support the ban on the face veil. It is tantamount to human rights violations against minorities.”
    Good for you! Niqab or burqa is an abomination, period! It is an insult to the Divine Maker of both men and women. It is a product of bullying, despotic stranglehold that Muslim male wishes to perpetuate. Muslim male is essentially a control freak. What he cannot or will not be allowed to do abroad, he enforces it on someone weaker than him at home. Down with such “zulm” on the weak and unprotected! Liberate the Muslim female from this stranglehold and you will have a world at peace or at least halfway to it!Recommend

  • http://blogs.tribune.com.pk/author/304/kiran-farooque/ Kiran

    I read a lovely piece in the London Evening Standard on this a couple of days ago. A British journalist was very anti this new rule and she put a spin on Hall’s quote: “I disapprove of what you wear, but I will defend to the death your right to wear it”Recommend

  • Deen Sheikh

    Your blogs on a touchy sensitive topic for millions, and there are quite a few young educated muslim women like u who dont wear the veil but are opposed to a ban on it. I agree it contradicts with France’s secular democracy but as immigrants it is our obligation to respect the law of the land of our host country. And on my earlier point a re-education of women with respect to the hijab should be considered, real modesty comes from the inside and wearing a tent that shields identity and causes discomfort inndaily lives is not the real solution.Recommend

  • Tony Singh

    @Nilofar Ansher:
    That argument of yours is crap. If KSA govt can have a rule to enforce Burka, then in the same way French govt has right to enforce its laws. At least french debated the Law before passing it. Do they do the same way in KSA? BTW if this is matter of personal choice, can one have Pork in any Muslim country?Recommend

  • rk singh

    @Nilofar Ansher, why get so tormented by what France is doing to its own citizens? Its not as if they are being arrested on false pretexts (like what happens to minorities in your country). If your contention is that muslims are being targeted, then you can ask your muslim brothers to return back to their own countries and live a happy life, bound by Islamic rules. In fact how many muslims will go back to their countries from France? NIL.

    I am sure no women in france will wear veil. They are being forced by their male relatives to do so, under duress. You claim to be a non-burkha girl (?). So what is your problem.Recommend

  • faraz

    @Nilofer

    You have brought in Saudi Arab in your comments, not the original article. If you were really concerned with universal rights of liberty and equality, you would have started with the country you live in. It not about criticising both Saudi Arab and France in the same line to create some sort of balance, its about making an intellectually coherent argument.Recommend

  • Arpita

    I feel the blog has put up right questions and nailed on the exact point. I’m an Indian woman and know many Muslim women who choose to wear the veil and many who feel it prevents them from integrating them with other people at university or work. Those who feel it’s a symbol of opression argue that a viel tags them as ‘muslim’ and ‘oppressed’ wherever they go, be it airport, restaurant, multiplex or even in a local bus or train. Yes, of course, the women who choose to wear veil might be brainwashed, I agree. Now, if the French government has put a ban on veil because it distances the Muslim population from adopting French culture and values, there the problem lies. I agree a veil might distance the Muslim women from the French community, but why should we take it for granted that a person staying in France should necessarily adopt French culture and values? If we are adopting seclarism, liberalisation and globalisation in this post-post-post modernity, no country can boast of having a singular culture. It’s the world of plurality we live in and we must accept that we are different to each other, and that’s the way it should be. If you think ‘veil’s is ‘a symbol of oppression and servitude’ then, you must think of other ways of emancipation of so-called ‘oppressed’ Muslim women, rather than plucking the thorn. I just cannot support the ban 1. because it enforces a dress code on people of a democratic country, i.e., you are not too open to acknowledge and accept the way other people are and secondly, the way you think others may not think, so a veil might look like a ‘symbol of oppression’ to you but not to everyone who wears that veil.Recommend

  • frenchfries

    “Is the veil not cool enough for France?”

    No. Recommend

  • Yusaf Khan

    I think the French need to get off there behinds and start working for a change. The government legislates a maximum of 35 hours work per week – what a joke. Also soon most of Europe is going to be bankrupt anyhow just like Ireland, Greece and Portugal. With oil prices going to $200 per barrel soon all the women in France will be wearing a burka and participating in Berlusconi’s Bunga Bunga parties.Recommend

  • Raj

    Some excellent debate going on. Lot of excellent point on behalf and against the ban.

    Nilofar,

    Though I don’t agree with you on all your points but I admit some of your statements are well thought out and well balanced. The one important angle that you have not covered is the security concern raised by some groups. Will like to hear your perception on the same. Any other commenter is also welcome.Recommend

  • Fahad Raza

    @ Saad Durrani

    Thanks for the follow up and research. Link are ALWAYS handy I feel in this connected world of internet. Yes you are right that men are told to control their gazes here is your link

    “Say to the believing men that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty: that will make for greater purity for them: And Allah is well acquainted with all that they do.” – [Quran 24:30]

    so men get away with this instruction

    Then it comes to a Hadith. you mentioned yes its here

    “Ayesha (rad.i-Allahu anha) reported that Asma’ the daughter of Abu Bakr (rad.i-Allahuanhu) came to the Messenger of Allah while wearing thin clothing. He approached her and said: ‘O Asma’! When a girl reaches the menstrual age, it is not proper that anything should remain exposed except this and this. He pointed to the face and hands.” [Abu Dawud]

    source:http://www.livingislam.org/n/viie.html
    :http://qa.sunnipath.com/issue
    view.asp?HD=7&ID=514&CATE=2

    Now face veils, scarfs, burkas, are all covering garments

    The point to ponder is when its written fact why not believe and do whats told. Men to control their gazes and women cover themselves.

    I feel men got the hardest part to lower their gazes but have to do it.

    Another last point its quite weired most of the Muslim converts women do cover themselves and like this aspect go see for yourselves on you tube.

    @Pakistani Good on you Recommend

  • http://London Hasan

    I feel my future – and the
    generations after me – is at stake
    with the course of action European
    states are taking against Islam.

    If women and people of other faiths are oppressed under Islam then what good is it to preserve Islam? Why not acquire a more tolerant religion and then you and the rest of the world would not be at odds with each other? You must take the blame where it is due.
    Personally I don’t have much sympathy with your future if you justify an ideology which has caused nothing but grieve to anyone who has come across it.Recommend

  • http://London Hasan

    @Nilofar

    I don’t want to be in a position where
    one day i am forced to wear a type of
    clothing just because of my religion –
    or STOP wearing some kind of dress
    because I belong to another country.
    That’s what I am speaking up against.

    You and most of us are all already in this position, apart from maybe someone living in a jungle or a desert. What are you talking about?
    What French did is not the end of the world as you are trying to pretend. Worst things happen every day, mostly in Muslim countries. Let’s make a list of countries that are worst violators of human rights and then start from the top. That would be the fairer way, instead of your selective and in fact political way of handling this. This has nothing to do with human rights but is rather about your prejudices.Recommend

  • Grace

    @Nilofar Ansher: Etes vous jamais alle en France? I suggest you see the reality of Arabs living in France and look up the periodic riots where unemployed Arab youth complain about lack of jobs and racism from the native French. I agree that denying Arabs access to clubs and restaurants in France is wrong as shown in many documentaries. But Most of the problems of Arab youth in France are their own doing. But, the vast majority of Arabs in France are living at the bottom of society in terms of work and housing due to their own values. In fact a disproportionate number of them are involved in crime and live on government social support which is like state khayrat. When you say that Arab nations are amongst the richest, you ignore the reality that most Arabs come from poor Third World countries and are desperate to get to Europe. I am not talking about the handful of despotic Gulf Arab nations that were lucky to find oil but remain despotic due to their culture. Most citizens throughout the Arab world live a pitiable existence and would jump at the chance to claim asylum in Europe. Did you not hear that Italy is deporting boatloads of Tunisians last week? I believe the French have every right to demand that anyone who moves to France should respect French values and the French definition of what constitutes their culture. Banning the face veil is now a law; It’s the law of the land. It is the law of the land because poll after poll shows that French citizens are sick of foreigners imposing their will on French society. Why should they have to accomodate people from other lands who don’t want to follow their laws?Recommend

  • http://www.trailofpapercuts.wordpress.com Nilofar Ansher

    @Raj: Thanks your feedback Raj. I raised the security issue in one of my response to a comment. France has banned the face veil and not the burqa, which has come under criticism for it is considered to be used by terrorists to conceal weapons. So, I don’t see how banning the veil is going to improve security in the country? Also, if burqa is considered a threat, I am sure jackets, blazers, winter coats, dinner suits, pullovers and parkas should also be banned – they are all voluminous enough to conceal weapons. If face veil proves a security threat and in the spirit of the law, citizens should now refrain from wearing huge sunglasses / shades, colorful scarves that shade their head and face from the sun or mufflers and fluffy ear plugs!Recommend

  • Shock horror

    @Nilofar
    You ask why you are being demonized. Well, you have to ask yourself what is more important out of the following three issues.

    1 The rights of 2000 burqa wearing islamists in France.
    2 Awful treatment of muslim women, around 750 million, in Islamic societies, whereby men can have four wives; women are treated as property of men; their evidence does not count the same as that of men. Need I go on.
    3 Treatment of around 13 million women in Saudi Arabia where they cannot drive or go barefaced out of their house.

    You obviously think that the rights of 2000 burqa wearing women are more important than the rights of 750 million women in Islamic societies, and the inhuman treatment of 13 million women in Saudi. Think about it and you have the answer. PERIOD.Recommend

  • Alert

    @Grace:
    Answer to your qustion is quite simple.
    Democratic and liberal western governments have welfare systems, which migrating muslims can exploit, even while plotting against the same democratic and liberal governments. Further, muslims know that democratic governments are elected by democratic and liberal minded citizens, who are sitting ducks against their jihadi plots, even as the same jihadis enjoy welfare benefits, from the same democratic and liberal governments, at the cost of the same liberal and democratic (in muslim minds, ‘foolish’) citizens.
    This is like western systems funding jihad against themselves and their unsuspecting citizens, and muslims know this. Stupid Kuffars!Recommend

  • Salman Arshad

    @Nilofar Ansh

    So you agree that having an Islamic government is against human rights ? As it is in Saudia ?Recommend

  • WT

    @pakistani: Two days back while taking a flight to Dublin, I saw a girl of african origin wearing a big scarf..she was probably 4 or 5 i guess. Please tell me it was voluntary. Recommend

  • WT

    @Yusaf Khan: Do you know that in spite of 35 hours work week their productivity levels are same as US or even higher. Dont believe me google it. Recommend

  • Anas Ahmed

    We do not see what we are doing here in Pakistan with minorities… We give flood donations, aids to only muslims and minorities are deprived in such times of need as well.. So what if French govt is doing against minorities there…. This is what we do here in so called islamic republic of Pakistan… Recommend

  • hassan

    Imagine a world where every lady wears a burqa.

    Imagine a world where every woman covers herself fully and views the world through the gauze of her veil.

    It will usher in a world of peace, and bliss of the highest order.

    Imagine how stress-free life will once you have chosen to wear only one color of dress. A woman will need no more than a couple of black veiled dresses. And men will not require more than a couple of white dresses. No time wasted on shopping. No shopping trips and no shopping expenses.

    There will be no competition in the textile industries.Cosmetic industries, Fashion houses will be closed. Adult industry will come crashing down, leading to promotion of virtuous life.

    Movies based on dating or love at first sight? Forget it, no one call fall in love in with a fully covered figure. Hollywood and Bollywood and other woods…will come to a stand still. Since every woman is behind a veil, there will be no romance, no love, and marriage as an institution will be under stress.

    Advertisements using women as an object of desire? No more ! A model with a fully covered face can’t be an object of desire. No more advertisements, no more marketing, and no more conspicuous consumption. People will buy only most essential things in life.

    Since all ladies will be invisible, behind a black veil, males will lose incentive to dress up and impress the ladies. No more sports, arts or achievements.

    Men and women like to push their limits of excellence for recognition, and for boosting one’s self-esteem. What is the point in achieving something, when no one can even see your face? Women will lose incentive in achieving anything and would prefer to sit at home, raising children, and serving the men at home.

    This will bring in an effective segregation of women and men in society.
    There will be no need other than basic need of food and shelter. Families will not incur any expense other than food and health. There will be no disparity of rich and poor.

    Men will lose incentive to travel and they will realize that their needs to live a contented life are actually smaller. People can live off the produce of their lands, and they will soon replace the currency system with barter system.

    People will spend lives preparing for their glorious after life.

    No competition and no commerce. No shopping, no dressing up. No love, no break-up. No crime, no law. No stress, and full bliss!

    There will be peace everywhere!

    PS: I am there are more intelligent people than me out there who can elaborate on this topic ‘Imagine A World Where Everyone Wears A Veil”!Recommend

  • observer

    @Nilofar Ansher

    You seem to be confused about certain issues, let me clarify them for you.

    You believe as France is a Secular, Liberal society it is violating human rights by banning Burqa.
    A secular society is not a ‘everything goes’ society. Extreme behaviour has to be banned. So nudity at one extreme and complete coverage on the other are both banned.Both the bans are non-discriminatory.
    You imply the French ban interferes with the religious duties of Muslim women.

    Hajj is a religious duty and Hajj has to be performed without a burqa. So if Islam and Muslimness is not threatened by baring your face during Hajj, rest assured the same applies elsewhere.

    3.You also imply that Saudi Arabia being a ‘theocratic society’ can have any laws and implement the same with impunity.

    Well ‘human rights’ are the same for all ‘humans’ where ever they may be. So if wearing or not wearing a burqa is part of ‘human rights’ then it must be the same everywhere, unless you believe that those who do not wear a burqa are not ‘human’ and do not qualify for what you call ‘human rights’.

    4, Now let me ask you a question would you like all countries that prefer a burqa ban to turn into theocratic countries first and act with their minorities in the same way as some others, that you are sympathetic to, do, Think it over before you respond.Recommend

  • bvindh

    @Nilofar Ansher:

    Thanks for your concern with regards to my dietary freedom. But, if I start practicing my dietary choices just outside a Pakistani mosque on a Friday just before the prayer time, would you still be so understanding and sympathetic? Or would you rather advice me (say, as a concerned friend)to use my common sense and act sensibly?Recommend

  • Anonymous

    On the lighter note, if those kind of eyes pop up from behind the veil(as in the pic above), then I would say Burqa is certainly not cool, its HOT!Recommend

  • Munawar Ali Shah

    Everyone here who is in support of the ban, and thinks we should worry more about Saudi Arabia; Two wrongs do NOT make a right. Nobody is talking about Saudi Arabia right now.
    Its interesting how all you champions of human rights are now fighting hard to take those very rights away from someone.

    A woman’s clothes, or lack of them are nobody’s concern but her own.

    Why don’t you guys get that?

    And no, it is their own business whether they want to be integrated in society or recluses.

    It doesn’t matter what the quran says or doesn’t say about the veil. Thats irrelevent.
    It doesn’t matter what propaganda the French Govt. spews about society or culture.

    Nobody should deprive a section of society of their right to do as they please.
    They aren’t hurting anybody. Its nobody’s business but their own.Recommend

  • Mastishhk

    @ Author…U should have posted a pic of urself wearing a face veil to make ur article more emphatic !!!Recommend

  • observer

    @Munnawar Ali Shah

    Its interesting how all you champions of human rights are now fighting hard to take those very rights away from someone

    A Burqa is as much about ‘human rights’ as is going naked. Both are not part of ‘human rights’ but about extreme behaviour. And that is precisely why both are not permitted in public space. And also why these are permitted within the privacy of your home.
    Get it.
    Good.

    In case you still feel it is part of human rights, would you say,

    A. The ban on Burqa during Hajj violates your ‘human rights’.

    B. Al-Azahar University of Cairo with its ban on Burqa is also a violator of Human Rights.

    It is also interesting how people suddenly become champions of human rights in foreign lands, while reserving the post of President,PM etc for themselves..Recommend

  • Raj

    @Nilofar : I understand your point. Truly if one wants to commit a crime, he/she can do it wearing any outfit. But that’s not the security concern some people are referring to. The concern is rather related to the identification of the criminal in case of an investigation. There is another view that men can easily disguise as women during an operation to mislead the authoritiesRecommend

  • http://jassemshakil@gmail.com J

    I agree with Nilofar. Like Saudi government has no right to force its women citizens to cover their bodies, Pakistani government has no right to stop its non-muslim citizens from eating pork, similarly, French government has no right to force its muslim women citizens to avoid veil.

    If the government is forcing muslims women to stop using veils, then the government should also prohibit its jewish citizens to stop wearing their headgears, christian citizens to stop putting cross in their necklaces, and stop hindu citizens from putting the statues of their bhagwans in their cars.Recommend

  • abhinav

    @J
    I also agree with Nilofar but still waiting for her blog against Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. Wonder when she is going to write it.Recommend

  • Walter Gonsalves

    @Nilofar Ansher:

    It may be a secular country but has its own laws which it expects all citizens, whether born or naturalized, to adhere to. If you don’t abide by laws, you cannot present secularism as an alibi and cry foul. Its ridiculous1Recommend

  • Munawar Ali Shah

    @observer:
    People should go naked if they want to go naked. I am all for it.
    This is about judging people according to standards that are your own and not universal. A burqa or going naked is extreme behavior in your eyes. They can be perfectly normal for other people.
    An action should only be prohibited if it hurts a person not performing that action. And no. “Its an eyesore” is not good enough.

    You can’t compare that university to France.
    If students of a particular school, or people in the armed forces are forced to wear a uniform, that is fine? But making an analogy similar to yours. Then its perfectly ok if a country prescribes a uniform to be adhered to by all of it’s citizens. Does that not infringe on a person’s individuality?

    Also as all of you are so fond of saying. If they don’t want to adhere to the country’s rules they can run off to some other place then. Not good enough, sorry. All kinds of cruelty can be justified by that line.Recommend

  • http://www.pkhope.com Maleeha Khan

    Well Its condemnable they should respect the minorities…. but if they are not doing then these women should go back to their countries to protect their believes…..!Recommend

  • observer

    @Munawar Ali Shah

    You can’t compare that university to France

    Absolutely, but why are you comparing the University with France. Just concentrate on comparing the action of both the entities. If a university claiming to be Islamic University bans the Burqa/Niqab/Veil without adeversly affecting, Practice of Islam/Religious Freedom/Human Rights why not France’
    Come to think of it the commitment of the said university to Islamic values, beliefs and ways of life is greater than France, which is a secular country.
    A majority of the students and faculty of the university are from the same group that are trying to convince the rest of the world that the Burqa is their inalienable right on account of their Islamic/Muslim identity. The ban by the Islamic University only proves that it is not so.Recommend

  • Munawar Ali Shah

    @observer:
    I compared a school to a country just to show you the fallacious nature of your argument.
    This isn’t about them being able to practice islam or religious freedom.
    I never said it infringes on their right to practice islam (whether or not a wearing a burqa is an islamic ideal is a matter of debate)

    I said it infringes on a person’s individualism and the right to do as they please.

    Like i said, would you also be in support of the govt. forcing everyone to wear a uniform?
    That too does not infringe on a person’s right to practice his religion.

    Are you also in favour of the saudi’s forcing all women to wear a niqab? I, most certainly am not.

    I agree with you if you say that all muslims raising hue and cry over the burqa ban are hypocrites for they won’t do the same for people being forced to wear one. But think about it objectively for a minute. The issue itself and not the people who are against it.

    Cheers mate.

    I particularly like the article at this link: http://www.chowk.com/Religion/Burqah-Secularism-and-LiberalismRecommend

  • abhinav

    @Munawar Ali Shah
    What is your opnion on suicide being illegale in most of the countries. This is an action wich only affects the person doing it not anyone else. Would you support for “RIght for suicide” as well?Recommend

  • Munawar Ali Shah

    I do in fact support Euthanasia, abhinav. If someone wants to die that is their own business.
    As far as suicide is concerned: if the person is sick then he should be given help; otherwise your life is your own.
    And in any case there’s no point in criminalizing suicide. At best its only a gesture since it doesn’t deter anyone from doing it. And theres no one left to punish anyway.Recommend

  • Rockpearl

    then you are sure a confused modern man in the modern world……no worry its again a status symbol of the global society ruled by global gods…and you r not ..u r gonna be soon

    and remember non-muslims can never be the friends of muslims….even if they claim cz its not our statement ..it is something told in Holy Quran….you may blame Muslims but you cant blame something Holy…
    and for Hijab…u may know the answer from some muslim scholar……

    cz things are NOT WHAT THE APPEAR TO BE

    THANKS FOR PATIENCE@KCS: Recommend

  • bercouli

    It is very good move by French govt. Hope many countries will follow. Only one point suffice to uphold this law. That is, identity of French men rather than Muslim. And good thing that these people will get some melanin for their skin from sun light. Healthy people makes healthy country. Recommend

  • observer

    @Munnawar Ali Shah

    I agree with you if you say that all muslims raising hue and cry over the burqa ban are hypocrites for they won’t do the same for people being forced to wear one.

    Thank you for your agreement, but unfortunately this is just not what I am saying.
    What I am saying is this,
    If muslims can live with a ban on the Burqa BY MUSLIMS during Hajj AND on the campus of Al Azhar University AND in Turkey, why must they protest the same in France.

    Saudi Arabia with all its retarded views (including graded blood money, where again women in general and infidels are treated as being sub-human) is not what I am alluding to.Recommend

  • Walter Gonsalves

    @Munawar Ali Shah:

    Yes, clothing indeed is personal business but when suicide bombers use this same burqa to bomb crowded areas and to cause mayhem, it no longer can be considered a private domain. Something that conceals one’s identity simply cannot be allowed a free run, religious or personal preferences regardless. The law of the nation shall and should supersede everything else and if you aren’t fine by it, exit the country goddammit!! Recommend

  • Tony Singh

    @Nilofar Ansher:
    So when are you publishung the blog on supression of women right in KSA?Recommend