In Italy, I was asked why I was not wearing a Burqa

Published: November 29, 2013

Deep down I know that the stereotyping that this Italian gentleman subjected us to was no less than the stereotyping I receive every day in my own city of Karachi. In fact, I am not innocent of this evil myself.

It was our last day in Rome. My friend and I decided to spend it at our two favourite places in the city – Piazza Navona and the Trevi Fontana. It was almost noon on a pleasant day with the brilliant autumn sunshine warming the cobble-stoned square and illuminating the magnificent Roman sculptures in the centre of the piazza (city square in Italian).

It was as if both of us wanted to take a part of Rome away with us in our hearts as we sat quietly on the stone bench simply absorbing the relaxed Italian life around us.

I had my camera in my hand and was finding it difficult to put it down since every other moment I would spot an interesting play of light, shadow or colour to capture.

All around the square, there were various artists displaying their skill with colour and I was quite taken with the utterly beautiful collections some of them had.

Just then I spotted a middle-aged Italian artist who was trying to convince an American tourist of the mastery of his piece. He looked at me and I lowered my camera and smiled at him. I asked him to wave while I took a picture; he good naturedly obliged and I clicked.

Photo: Yamna Sultan Bari

Ten minutes later, while we were still enjoying the warm sun on our faces he ambled over to us and asked in heavily accented English,

“Where are you girls from?”

We squinted up at him and replied that we were from Pakistan. He looked surprised and said,

“Oh! I thought you were from South America!”

My friend and I looked at each other. Neither of us looked remotely South American but we deduced that South America for him was the country where non-white and non-Indian looking people lived.

We shrugged and smiled, and he walked away to entertain another potential customer.

Photo: Yamna Sultan bari

He was back five minutes later with a list of questions for us,

 “So Pakistan, eh? How come you are not wearing a…what do they say… a Burqa?”

We both burst out laughing at his innocent question, then, regaining my composure I replied,

 “Not every woman in Pakistan has to wear a Burqa. We wear what we like mostly. The Pakistan you see on your TV is not the only Pakistan there is.”

The poor man still looked a little confused and then he asked,

“So they let you study?”

He was really on a roll. However, I could understand his confusion given the way we are portrayed in the media and so I replied,

“We are both working women.”

The man now just looked dumbfounded and he asked,

“And your parents let you do this?”

My friend and I were thoroughly enjoying the conversation by now.

We tried to explain to him the paradoxical world that resides in Karachi – the melting pot of ideologies, of schools of thought (or lack thereof), of the way of life, of culture and of that most encumbered word ever to grace any language – religion.

We also tried to explain that Pakistan and Afghanistan are two separate countries; that the bearded Taliban that he sees on TV as our ‘representatives’ were in reality the bane of our people’s existence – for both, people who agree with their ideology as well as those who are horrified by their arrogance.

He nodded, looked away for an instant and then turned back to us. His eyes lingered on the headscarf I had on and then shifted to my friend’s beautiful, straight hair. Drawing an imaginary circle around his head, he asked,

“How come she doesn’t wear that?”

I shrugged and replied,

“Because she doesn’t want to.”

He looked at us completely perplexed by now and asked,

“But you both follow the same religion? You are both Moslem?”

We were really cracking up now and his sheepish grin indicated that he also seemed to realise the stereotyping he had subjected us to.

However, this little encounter did make me think. We have managed to compartmentalise everything – liberals, fundamentalists, conservatives, chauvinists – the list is endless.

I could easily make this piece all about how Muslims and especially Muslim women have been put into a box and how difficult it is to explain to someone from another culture that a Muslim woman wearing a burqa is not just a ‘woman-wearing-a-burqa’ — she may be completely different in her thoughts and beliefs to another ‘woman-wearing-a-burqa’.

In fact, she may actually have a lot in common with a woman who is not burqa-clad.

I could do this but I would rather not.

Deep down I know that the stereotyping that this Italian gentleman subjected us to was no less than the stereotyping I receive every day in my own city of Karachi. In fact, I am not innocent of this evil myself and often end up stereotyping people based on my limited knowledge of them.

Most of us are guilty of picking the most visible trait in a person and defining the person simply on that one quality. In essence, we try to capture an entire ocean in one tiny drop; paint an entire rainbow in monochrome. We pick one piece of cloth and make it into a Chinese screen.

We unfold it in our heads, sit back and watch the entire theatre from behind it.

In doing so, we forget that humans are beings of movement. In our attempt to make sense of the world around us, we structure and compartmentalise everything around us which leads to judgement, and then we let this judgement define our attitude and consequently our behaviour.

Although this compartmentalisation helps us formulate a response to people and situations, must we not also grant the freedom of fluidity to ourselves, the people around us and even the situations that we find ourselves in?

Some of these compartmentalisations are harmless and in some cases even provide comic relief. However, most of them simply serve as chains rather than ropes. Someone takes one step outside the little box in our heads and we waste no time in terming it as ‘uncharacteristic’, ‘unlike them’ and consequently take it to mean that ‘something is wrong’ – either with the person or with the situation.

With this very categorisation, we imprison people into ‘was’, ‘is’ and ‘will be’. In this prison there is no place to simply ‘be’ for if we were to allow people to simply ‘be’, how would we know which box to put them in?

Hence, the question is essentially basic and basically essential.

Must we always be held accountable to how we are or were at a point in time?

Must I not be allowed to feel one way today and another tomorrow?

Believe one thing today and discover something new tomorrow?

Is this not the vital sign of a ‘constant flux’? Must not the mind pulse to its own rhythm and the soul vibrate to its own music just as God gave the heart its own beat so that the blood in our veins may flow?

After all, the day it stops is also the day we die.

So, must we not ensure that the death of our mind and soul does not occur before the death of our body?

In this process, must we not also let flourish the freedom of another’s mind?


Yamna Sultan Bari

Yamna Sultan Bari

A business graduate from IBA, she is now a marketer trying to balance money-making with love for art and travel. She tweets as @yamnasb (

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

  • Pappu

    Madam, your outlook is your first impression, and sometimes this may be the last impression. Wearing a hijab, niqab or burqa are symbols of suppression in the modern free world.Recommend

  • Sami

    First of all the same usual stuff that Hey where you are from and they think you are from South America.!. Almost all of my Pakistani friends have similar stories all the time that they dont look like Ordinary Pakistanis and mistaken for this and that.. Secondly you are talking about a Random Italian guy and based on his opinion you are stereotyping the whole Italian Society and the West in General.
    The plot of the article lost somewhere in the middle where you are just complaining without understanding that one Guy does not represent the whole Society in general..Recommend

  • blue bird

    burqa is the symbol of stereotyping a person. its only for women. there is no guideline what a man should wear. so instead of trying to justify wearing or not wearing burqa, you should ask yourself whats the reason this tradition being followed.
    it is demeaning, discriminatory and sexist in nature. it reinforces the idea that women are objects who should cover themselves so the men dont get sexually attracted to them.

    the concept of burqa itself is wrong. no matter how much you sugarcoat it. or try to justify wearing or not wearing it.Recommend

  • Rashid Jamil

    I have huge respect for women in Burqa. They are the truest of muslims.Recommend

  • Dr Dang

    He was just trying to get you to buy his painting.Recommend

  • Sami

    Kindly read the teachings of Quran and Islam again as In Islam it is not your outer appearance that matters at all but rather your intentions and what is in your heart. Secondly judging someone based on clothing only and giving a decree that they are truest of the Muslims only is another stereotyping that we should avoid at all costs.
    Unfortunately in Pakistan now a days people judge you based on the size of your beard or the size of your burqa and this type of thinking is destroying our society in general where emphasis to look Muslim is always there but nobody wants to follow any point of Islam in tolerance, equality and justice at all.Recommend

  • Ahmed

    WE shouldn’t judge.

    In Islam you are judged by both, your external actions and your internal intentions and what is in your heart.Recommend

  • mimi sur

    Man has reached over moon and trying for mars . But these people are confused whether to wear burka or not . Whether to cut beard or not . Come on..Eve if you wear a bikini and roam on street , nobody is going to bother. Actually I was expecting another question from that person , how many wives have your man got ? Now please try to explain this question. That man was not weird , you and your people have weird behavior.Recommend

  • Faraz Talat

    One impression doesn’t make a person. There are more aspects to a personality than what you see in the first viewing.

    I’m often stereotyped as “lazy” because the first impression I give off is “fat”. I certainly don’t want that first impression to be the last.Recommend

  • Faraz Talat

    I mostly agree, but it’s a little off-topic.
    The author isn’t discussing the merits of burqa-wearing. She’s just speaking up about stereotypes.Recommend

  • Faraz Talat

    Good. You should get one.

    Oh no, wait. You can wear jeans, T-shirts, dress-pants, any kind of Western clothing really. These restrictions apply to women only. Please carry on.Recommend

  • lola
  • Qadir

    “Neither of us looked remotely South American but we deduced that South America for him was the country where non-white and non-Indian looking people lived”

    These italian’s are a complete ignorant Bunch. Looking at your picture, I can say for fact that any wise guy would have called you an Arab, especially with the Kind of Abaya you are wearing.

    Or any one can deduce your origin by method of elimination, you definitely look non-Indian, Non-Caucasian, non-oriental, Non-Scandinavian, non-African. So what left is Arab.

    In fact Most Pakistani’s look similar to Arabs because skin tone, body structure, dressing(hijab, Abaya etc) and facial hairs, for men Only :-)Recommend

  • Supriya Arcot

    Nothing new in this article . The author is pretty though .Recommend

  • Mano

    so women not wearing the burqa are not true muslims………kindly show me a verse from the koran which say that a women should wear the burqa…burqa is a arab dress and not a religious dress. if pakistanis think that they are true arabs then wear it with abandon joy. koran only say that one should cover the hair and chest…….Recommend

  • Dua

    This is a common problem in Italy or for that matter all European continent, they cannot accept that we Pakistani Muslim women can be like them.

    No this is not random please, I will reblog your post at my wordpress and credit you if that’s fine? Keep writing and keep being as amazing as you are!Recommend

  • Qadir

    “Neither of us looked remotely South American but we deduced that South America for him was the country where non-white and non-Indian looking people lived”

    These italian’s are a complete ignorant Bunch. Looking at your picture, I can say for fact that any wise guy would have called you an Arab, especially with the Kind of Abaya you are wearing.

    Or any one can deduce your origin by method of elimination, you definitely look non-Indian, Non-Caucasian, non-oriental, Non-Scandinavian, non-African. So what left is Arab.

    In fact Most Pakistani’s look similar to Arabs because skin tone, body structure, dressing(hijab, Abaya etc) and facial hairs, for men Only :-)Recommend

  • Vikram

    Burqa can’t control how a woman thinks or what a woman thinks? Thinking leads to actions. A woman may wear burqa to hide her insecurities about her body or to please men in her family. I had a chance to interact (chat, emails etc) on the Internet with burqa, non-burqa wearing women. Burqa wearing women are no different then non-burqa wearing Muslim women.

    I have no doubt if Muslim women are given the same freedom as Western women, they will beat their Western sisters in every way.Recommend

  • Ahmed

    It’s about covering the body. Not stereotyping. It is the people who create the stereotypes. The men are also required to cover themselves.Recommend

  • Vikram

    Author: “difficult it is to explain to someone from another culture that a Muslim
    woman wearing a burqa is not just a ‘woman-wearing-a-burqa’ — she may
    be completely different in her thoughts and beliefs to another

    You are right about that. here is a proof of that.

  • pakiyonkimakaa

    The lie…so u say pakistan is that much famous that an average italian common man knows what is pakistan and its religion..lie..Recommend

  • Leila Rage

    Do we stereotype the west any less?
    And its us Pakistanis ourselves who encourage this stereotyping- I once had a conversation with a Pakistani British person, and the things they thought about pakistan were outrageous (“You the great thing about Pakistan? Every woman wears the veil, and there are no atheists there”).Recommend

  • Stealth

    It is true that you cannot stereotype the whole Pakistani nation on a few individuals, like that Italian guy seems to be doing, similarly by that very notion, you cannot stereotype the whole Italian nation on that one Individual. It goes both ways.Recommend

  • Sara

    I understand that some women might want to wear the burqa. But I think everyone should be allowed to do what they want to do. Having visited nude beaches, I know that clothing is a bit overrated. Sure we do need clothes in some circumstances, but overall a big deal should not be made out of these issues.Recommend

  • Parvez

    My view on this subject is that modesty is the bottom line and a beautiful shalwar kameez with flowing dupatta works fine, if one wishes to don a hijab, good.Recommend

  • Muhammed Usama Aziz

    There is a problem with your thinking, not with the burqa. Actually, its a type of garment that allows you to cover yourself up and enables us to obey the orders of our CREATOR.

    So, it does not matter what you think, neither it is important for those who wish to obey the teachings of IslamRecommend

  • Sania Usman

    I had send a blog with a similar discussion about three weeks ago and editors are keeping it as pending. I hope this is not an intellectual dishonestyRecommend

  • Stranger

    Your approach of combining the two words “bearded” “Taliban” is itself derogatory. Beard is the sunnah of prophet Muhammad p.b.u.h and one should refrain from taking a fault finding approach.On top of that, you could have just started with giving him the basic teachings of Islam about freedom, justice, equality; instead of giggling with your friend and telling him about Pakistan.I myself have seen people convert to Islam, especially in the west, after their doubts had been cleared.Recommend

  • MH

    Oh, the classic from Pakistan getting all excited about the fact that someone mistakes them for not being from Pakistan. That flatters us to no ends, stirs a happy little bubble in our tummies, makes us giggle like little girls and then we sit down to write a blog about it, because, hell, we want the world to know “I WENT TO ITALY” (just like a million other Pakistanis) but when I announce it to the world, I’ll be more subtle about it and write about being stereotyped! Did you at least buy the poor guy’s painting?

    And speaking of stereotyping, didn’t you do the same when you asked him to wave at you and smile for your camera? He becomes the stereotypical happy European (ignore the fact that the poor guy’s out all day on the streets trying to sell paintings to earn a living, along with all the Bengali, Indian, Pakistani and Nepalese men who are trying to sell you little toys that fly up into the sky on the very same street). But for your camera’s lens all you see is a happy European man willing to comply and wave back at you.Recommend

  • Mariah

    Shame because my mother is a very devout Muslim and she wears a scarf (on her head) and shalwar kameez. So is she not a true Muslim anymore? Ya Allah protect us from this thinking. In the Qur’an itself it says above modesty is what’s in your heart and actions. People who may not be the truest Muslims but have done an action that in Allah SWT’s eyes is good even end up going Heaven straight away. Don’t judge. Okay I understand if you see a woman in a short skirt, then your Bound to judge by why you judging pakistani Muslim women whose clothing is traditionally shalwar kameez and Duputta? During the Prophet’s time women didnt cover their faces in fact it was quite common for them to be active in society and not just a woman in a burqa. Your speaking like a person before the prophets time. when u read the Qu’ran read the surah where Allah swt tells the Prophet Muhammed PBUH to tell his wives and the believing women (dont just read that line read before kt and after it). and before u tell me women are a fitnah and should be covered from head to toe withoit their face even being scene then it also also says money and ur children are a fitnah too but i bet i choose to ignore that. Btw to the writer, I also travel and get mistaken for Iranian Turkish South American but never pakistani. It’s so weird!!Recommend

  • 1984

    U will understand why Burqa shouldnt be allowed…BTW,whats wrong in wearing hijab???…Is a woman’s face so tempting that a man would jump to rape just by seeing her faceRecommend

  • 1984

    Ok,let me get this straight….
    A random guy in Italy asked about ur burqa and suddenly u cry loud about secularism,stereotyping,islamophobia happening in Italy….

    But most of the Islamic countries have state defined laws which are against non-muslims but they are all fine as they are obeying the laws of land…

    FYI,u are stereotyping an entire country based on 1 person’s comment…If thats the case,I would USA is the most stupidest country in the world as they have people who think earth is just 6000 years old….

    Please write an article when u were not allowed in a public place ,not offered proper services etc based on religion…..Recommend

  • Naila Khan

    Why only women wear bikini? why only women flaunt their bodies on the TV screens? why are most of the prostitutes women? why are only women raped and not men? Why pornography means women nude mostly? why do the women feel emancipated when they wear men’s dress (jeans etc) and men don’t wear women’s dress? (equality eh!!)Recommend

  • Humza

    The fact is that most people in the West have no idea what “typical Pakistanis” look like because they have not seen that many Pakistanis. Pakistanis have to make a point of explaining the geography and history of Pakistan because many foreigners lump it together with Sri Lanka and India. They may think a lot of Pakistanis look Indian but that is only partly true for Muhajirs in Karachi whose families originally migrated from India. Whenever someone mistakes me for a nationality other than Pakistani, I explain to them that I am typically Pakistani looking since Pakistan is a multi ethnic state where people can be fair skinned and blue eyed from the North or dark skinned as some people are from Makran. Some look somewhat oriental like Gilgits and the many people in Punjab and Sind may simply look mixed due to different race influences. As for the hijab and burqa, there are different grades of religiosity that people should understand too. Yes some people in KPK are very conservative but people in Sind or Punjab are more liberal. They key is to educate people abroad.Recommend

  • Hala Syed

    please point out where she “cried loud about secularism,stereotyping, islamophobia happening in Italy” she told a story. and the way she told it did not portray the italian man as an evil racist but as person who was genuinely confused because these girls were different from the idea of Pakistanis he had built in his head. then she used this example to examine generalizations we all make. its easier to look at your own flaws when you see what they look like from the outside.
    none of the things you said were incorrect, but you are basically talking to yourself because it has no relation to the topic and hand. you are accusing her of stereotyping the entire country when she is actually doing the opposite.Recommend

  • goodindian reading all the comments below i just think that muslims and specially pakistan needs proper image building across the world through marketing its culture..anyways my own thought in this matter is that you have all the choice in this world to what to wear and what not to wear. whatever you wear just be cool about it.Recommend

  • -SHAGY-

    I agree here….I have been to Italy and was only asked where I was from…and did not face any kind of judgment or stereotypical reaction…in fact Italian Men flirt equally with Pakistani women as they do with other women :-p (Stereotyping – pun intended)Recommend

  • -SHAGY-

    Exactly! I do not know where did Burqa come from in Subcontinent….we wear shalwar kameez with dupatta and the dupatta is enough to cover ones head and a decent loosely fitted shalwar kameez does the same. Its all “jahalat”!Recommend

  • khan of quetta

    boy that will be funnyRecommend

  • UtkarshSinghNain

    Wow. Women wear bikinis, but men are free to wear just shorts. Men flaunt their bodies on TV all the time. Most prostitutes are women, but how is that relevant here? There are male prostitutes too. (I would also point out the stigma of going to a prostitute will be much higher for a woman because sex is supposed to be much more dirtier for them than for men.)
    Pornography involves nudity in both parties, again. People just don’t mind as much if men are nude because, you know only women should be ashamed of their bodies.

    Also, you should read about how clothing developed historically. Women’s clothing was such that it made it difficult for them to do physical work and travel on foot easily, but men’s clothing was more comfortable.Recommend

  • Sajid Qamar

    I want my daughter to marry a man with a good physique. Healthy, handsome and athletic. The inner qualities like personality and intelligence are also equally important. I will not allow my daughter to marry a man who looked like a physical wreck even if he were a highly intelligent. For me this applies to a man or woman. We are physical beings not freely floating spirits. The burqa is hypocritical because it hides the outer beauty which in the real world is just as important.Recommend

  • gp65

    For someone complaining about stereotyping, what did you just do? Base your assessment of how all western people view all Muslims based on interaction with one Italian guy?Recommend

  • Anshuman Tripathy

    “why are only women raped and not men?” It is because of people like you that male sexual abuse goes mostly unreported. There is a thing called male sexual abuse, Please educate yourself. Also All the other points you mentioned are extremely sexist and demeaning to both men & women.Recommend

  • J T

    “In fact Most Pakistani’s look similar to Arabs because skin tone, body structure…”

    No harm in dreaming, mate.Recommend

  • True Karachiwala

    Who you are to distribute cerificate of “true”, “truer”, and “truest” muslim ?Recommend

  • Proletarian

    Until Muslims countries start giving equal rights to their non-Muslim citizens Muslims should not be given equal rights in the west. They should be treated like they treat their own minorities.Recommend

  • abeeerr

    You may have overanalyzed his curiosity as to how a Muslim can get away with not wearing a headscarf. In my experience with Italians in particular and Europeans in general, their cultures mandate the outward display of religious symbols, which is why every other practicing Catholic wears a cross, and those void of religious symbology are presumed atheist (surprise…its not taboo there!) So when they see a woman who claims to be a muslim without a headscarf, they get fascinated. Dont misconstrue his curiosity for being judgemental. Honestly, they dont know any better and its nothing to get all offended about!Recommend

  • Rama

    Dresses evolve based on the local weather and geographic conditions.What suits a desert or snow bound climate need not be practiced in hot and humid conditions.We need to dress according to our local weather conditions not religious needs.Recommend

  • genesis

    This is the sort of thinking that turn people off.they only want to have a nice friendly conversation and you wish turn it into religious conversion exercise,No wonder people are turned off!Recommend

  • genesis

    Only the Arabs do not think soRecommend

  • Talha Rizvi

    ET this is my second attempt please allow.
    So the coward who also comments by the name of lol, raj, lalagee, Lalakimaa , Mohd. Tarekh opens his filthy mouth again. You are a disgusting specimen of a man and it is a pity that Et allows some one with your poor writing skills and sick mind to pilfer their hate here. By the way why not come clean and admit that you are a deranged Indian troll who lies and abuses and hates Pakistanis. By the way in your Lalakimaa avatar you have claimed to be a Pakistani and a Bangladeshi so why hide your real identity troll?
    @ gp65: Let me tell you one thing. Have you ever condemned jingoistic Indian trolls here? You come here with your self-righteous attitude and lecture us as you come from a land of saints. Listen to me you are interfering in our affairs please poke your nose elsewhere. In USA where you claim to live people would have asked you to leave if you had interfered so much in there matters. Your advice is not needed.
    @mimi sur: Pathetic mentality. How about these questions for an Indian:
    1) How many riots take place in your country every year?
    2) Why are western women harassed so much in your country?
    3) Why can’t you Indians mind your own business?Recommend

  • gp65

    If some one is making small talk and you start to proselytize, it would really alienate them and very likely you could be creating a negative stereotype.

    Not sure you realize that it is also quite disrespectful because you are indirectly saying to that person that your belief system is superior to theirs. Of course if a visitor to Pakistan did that to someone who was engaging in small talk and started to tell them how their religion was superior to Islam, they would probably be booked under blasphemy.

    So remember to treat others as you would like to be treated. You may think your belief system is superior to theirs but don’t push it on them. It would be as unpleasant for them when you push your beliefs as it would be if they tried to push their beliefs down your throats.Recommend

  • Leila Rage

    @Naila Khan: From your name, it would appear that you’re a woman, and yet all your comments seem extremely misogynistic (woman-hating)… why do you hate yourself? And why do you seem to think that every man is other a predator or oblivious to the plight of women?
    Not all women wear bikinis, and those that do- its their choice. What about men, my dear? Men wear ONLY shorts on the beach/while swimming, and show a LOT more skin than any woman in a bikini. What difference does it make? Who cares? Unless your a sex-crazed maniac, and you can’t stand to look at people with out sexual implications.
    Why do women flaunt their bodies on screen? … umm, who makes them, huh? Its a sexist exploitative industry that encourages that, and men are encourage to “flaunt” themselves just as much- for every scene of a woman, there is an equal number of scenes of men nude/semi-nude.
    Why are only women raped? Oh dear… looks like you are unfortunately very ignorant and live with your head in the sand. Do you know what happens in male prisons? In torture camps? Do you know what happens in some madrassas in Pakistan, in some churches in the west, in colleges, in dark alleys?
    Men are raped, men are sexually abused. RAPE has literally NOTHING to do with gender, it is all about POWER and HUMILIATION, so being a man won’t protect you from rape. NOt all men are predators or abusers. Some of them are, but there are good, decent, kind, respectful men too.
    Pornography is just as exploitative to BOTH sexes. It objectifies women AND MEN.
    Some women MAY feel emancipated in jeans, but thats because for them its a CHOICE- they’re getting the freedom to choose what to wear, not because its “male clothing” as you seem to think. Yes women ARE exploited, abused and degraded in our society, but society also degrades, abuses and exploits men by encouraging them to behave in demeaning ways rather than encouraging them to live to their full potential as good, decent human beings- its a vicious circle.Recommend

  • Anooop

    The guy probably thinks you were from a Saudi Arabia type country.

    You should have corrected him saying Pakistan is no Saudi Arabia type country, but is heading there.

    Have the instances of Burqa wearing women increased in Pakistan? Isn’t the Arabian influence increasing and the Indian(known in Pakistan as “South Asian”) influence decreasing?

    So, that man is right, but just not true for today’s Pakistan. 20 years down the line, it might be true if the trend persists, which I am afraid will only gather momentum.Recommend

  • Abubakr

    You might want to be careful in what you say. You said you have “huge respect for women in burkha. They are the truest of Muslims”. As someone from Karachi, prosititutes here wear the burkha and niqab, so are they true Muslims and do you have respect for them just because they are in a burkha? It’s funny because as soon as you see a woman in burkha outside you assume she is innocent and a religious, pious woman (I’m not denying that many are). Beware my friend, some women use to wear burkhas in Gujranwala and underneath be naked just to steal clothes. Stealing is Haram and punishable but not wearing a burkha is neither compulsory nor will you be punished (like get your hands chopped off)…overall the ones I know, including my family who wear the burkha are manipulative and in private different to how they appear to the world but I don’t assume all are bad, like your assuming all are good. And sigh, the women got away stealing because they couldn’t tell who they were, because there faces were covered. Funny story though. There’s a difference between wearing the burkha for religious obligation and for our creator, Allah Taala, or for society’s expectations but continue to be sinful behind closed doors.Recommend

  • Anooop

    Sub-continent, South Asia.. India is 80% of this “Sub-Continent”.

    Why can’t you call it just India?

    The Indian/Hindu influence introduced some characteristics in the Muslims.

    So, people are simply trying to rid of such Indian influences, and you are renaming it “Sub-continent”al influence and keeping it as calling them Indian would be simply counterproductive. :) Come on be honest, is that true?Recommend

  • Mehdi

    Sir, can you please direct me to an explicit quote from Quran or Hadith where it says “burqa” makes you a pious Muslim. I would encourage you to wear burqa for a day and walk the streets of Pakistan and report your findings in the form of a blog :) looking forward to your wild experience.Recommend

  • TheAverageMoe

    there are different types of arabs, not all of them look the sameRecommend

  • Yamna

    Thanks Faraz you seem to have understood the point :)Recommend

  • Ashton Muslim

    Men have to cover from the navel to the knees.Recommend

  • M.

    Men wear Speedos. Men also flaunt themselves on TV. They are also raped. Male prostitution happens, and pornography shows both men and women naked. Scottish men wear kilts. What’s your point?Recommend

  • Sonia Kazi

    A Muslim woman in hijab is dignified, not dishonored, noble, not debased, liberated, not quelled, protected, not defenseless, respected, not denigrated, a guarded pearl, not a prostitute.

    Wearing hijab is a matter of great good for you, for a multiple reasons.

    Allah safeguards your chastity through hijab. You are not a product of display for every man to see.

    Allah beautifies your inner and outer countenance. It portrays you as innocent, shy and held you in high esteem.

    Through hijab, men respect you because respect yourself as a muslim.

    It defines you as true Muslim.

    It cultivates self confidence in you. You communicate freely with the world without the fear of harassment.

    It is a source of tranquility in society. It restricts men from indulging in illegal relationships.

    So, at the end of the day, it is all bout our attitude that we adapt while wearing hijab, the level of confidence with which we delineate our religion and lastly how we answer why we hear hijab.Recommend

  • goggi (Lahore)

    Here in Las Palmas, Gran Canaria, you can move freely at the beaches and even go shopping without being harassed over your Arab appearance, because this is mainly a…… Nudist Island………………………………..khulle dulle phiro!!!Recommend

  • Leila Rage

    Its not that Europeans/other foreigners cannot accept that we are “like them” (if by this you mean ordinary, free-thinking individuals)— Its that we allow ourselves to be represented by the most deranged and narrow-minded people. That’s the real problem.
    The sane, peace-loving Muslims who believe in harmony and free-will keep silent from FEAR, and the psychopaths and terrorists who dub themselves ‘Muslims’ (though they are hardly worthy of the title) howl their insane ideology at the top of they’re voices.
    If there’s a problem with the image of the Pakistani Muslim woman in foreign countries, its because we’ve never really represented our true selves- instead we’ve let mob-minded creeps claim they represent all of us.Recommend

  • Faulitics

    All the “fat” people I have known work very hard. So if I see you, my first impression would be “there goes a hard worker”. Haha. Stereotypes are funny. Recommend

  • S

    I still have no clue why there are so many indians on ET? Get a life indians and plus there is plenty happening in India.

    ET please allow this comment, I have read far worst comments by Indians on ETRecommend

  • S

    living in europe for a few years, the only thing i have learned is that white men are as sick as it can get.Recommend

  • chanakya_the_cynic

    Did you miss the line about ‘non-Indian’ looking people? :)Recommend

  • Gratgy

    Maybe thats why the maulana of lal masjid was wearing a burqa while trying to escape. He was just trying to tell everyone he was one of the “truest muslims” around.Recommend

  • Pappu

    OK i read you and now let us compare.Recommend

  • Nandita.

    I didn’t miss her comment about ‘indian looking people’. I Just saw your comment.Up until now, I was wondering why fellow Indians had not commented on that line..The author comes across as a master of stereotyping people and this blog seems like a classic case of the pot calling the kettle black..


  • Yamna

    Haha Nandita I do apologize if it comes across like that ; I only meant looks-wise; the sub continent does have tell tale sets of features; how is it judgemental?Recommend

  • gp65

    The person to whom you are responding was talking about burqa not hijaabRecommend

  • gp65

    Yes I did observe that but when For many people their nation’s identity is based on not being Indain – what is there to say. You will see references by others on how they look just like Arabs. That particular line of thinking has been commented on so often, that I did not want to go there.

    But here the whole theme was against stereotyping and yet the whole premise is based on one giant stereotype – I felt one should point out the irony.Recommend

  • gp65

    ET mods – please let me respond to someone who has written to me.

    Sir your angry tirade against me is quite misplaced. Separately, you are not my school teacher and I have not sought your permission to comment. Recommend

  • gp65

    A small question – why is modesty the bottom line? What if modesty is just not a big deal for someone? Surely it is upto that individual?

    Secondly, even if someone does choose to be modest, isn’t it best if they make the determination of what is modest based on the culture where they live rather than a 3rd person? For example a woman wearing a saree in India may feel she is modest. A woman wearing a graceful blouse and long skirt may think she is being modest in USA.

    So whether a woman who wants to dress modestly wears burqa, niqaab, hijab, shalwar Kurta dupatta, saree or skirt blouse – it is their choice to make. When a 3rd person tries to define modesty for them it is an imposition.Recommend

  • Nandita.

    First of all :Have I used the word Judgemental?
    Secondly: Really, the subcontinent has a ‘tell tale set of features’?? I wasn’t aware of that until now.Please do educate me in this regard. So what are these ‘ tell tale set of features’?
    Do you think you can’t pass off as an Indian? If i saw you on the streets of Bangalore, you would look like any other Indian girl walking down the road. Sorry to burst your delusional bubble Miss.
    If I saw Jennifer Aniston walking down Brigade Road, she’d stand out as a foreigner. You would not.Recommend

  • Sarah B. Haider

    Nice write-up. The beginning reminded me of Dan brown’s novel, Angels and Demons. Apart from that, I was wondering if the man knew an article (a predominantly negative one, based on his naivety) was being written on him along with his pictures?!Recommend

  • gp65

    Tell tale set of looks? North Indians (Indian Punjabis and Kashmiris) look different from east Indians (Bengalis, Assamese and people of North eastern states) who look different from South Indians who look different from Indians living in central states. Even within people of one state there are wide variations in terms of features, height and complexion. You clearly know less about India than you expect the Italian to know about you.Recommend

  • chanakya_the_cynic

    Not judgemental. The word you’re looking for is ‘hypocrisy’Recommend


    Why do you care because you don’t look like one?Recommend

  • Humza

    Sorry but I have never met a Pakistani who claims to be an Arab. Perhaps you don’t know that native Pakistanis are proud of their soil and history. You will never see a Pashtun, Baluchi, Sindi, Kashmiri or Punjabi claim to be anything other than a son of the soil. Yes there are multiple foreign influences in native races over the millenia but native Pakistanis relate to their region strongly. Frankly some of my friends whose families originally migrated from India may claim foreign ancestry like Arab ancestry as ” Syeds” so maybe the issue has to do with India and not with Pakistan. Native Pakistanis are not big on claiming to be Syeds or Quraish or Siddiqs from Arabia – this is more a reflection of Indian culture and traditions where people feel they belong to a higher caste so it’s unfair to blame Pakistanis for a tradition that comes from India- namely being born to a higher caste. My Pashtun mother is more proud of her tribe and feels that they have nothing to do with the Arabs who they view as people with a different work ethic, different sense of courage, different appearance etc.Recommend

  • gp65

    I am going by the number of people i have seen on ET boards that claim Arab lineage. Also isn’t it a fact that your heroes are really Arabs and Afghans who lkilled, raped and looted your ancestors?

    On this blog itself you have the poster @Qadir who says flat out that Pakistanis look like Arabs.

    Again I never made the claim that all Pakistanis claim to have Arab heritage – just that many do and many deny their Indian heritage including this author who speaks of non-Indian looks.Recommend

  • Necromancer

    hilarious dude i haven’t laughed like that in ages hahahahahahahahahahahahahahaRecommend

  • Talha Rizvi

    There are people with well documented histories whose ancestors arrived in Mughal era. so what should they do should they falsify their family history? I remember reading an article by an Indian who taught at Harvard that muslims shouldn’t be allowed to vote unless they recognize their ancestors were Hindus? Is this civil? As for the Arabs and Afghanis they weren’t saints but they seem like angels compare to what your Hero Modi did! By the way not every one converted by force as you like to believe it so had that been the Majority of Muslims would have been In UP. Stop believing in the lies of the Hinduvta Brigade. Yes your text books are also filed with hate material as pointed out by Romila Thapar, Irfan Habib etc. Before lecturing Pakistanis non-stop learn to accept your own fault and stop thinking like your our over lords. The arrogance of Indians is mind boggling. The troll Indra called us as descendants of low class converts( If this is so then they were sons of the soil and had far greater claim to the land then marauding Aryans, he also said Kashmir belongs to India since a rishi Kashyap lived here thousands of years ago. Fantastic knowledge really no wonder you and Israelis get on so well. Both rely on ancient shaky claims while ignoring ground realities and the wishes of the people who live on the ground.Recommend

  • Ap

    whew! can somebody be brainwashed?Recommend

  • Nobody

    Healthy dialogue is not to be feared but rather welcome. Hateful people and/or trolls exist in both nations sadly so best to learn to deal mate. Hate begets hate. Cheers.Recommend

  • gp65

    I have no judgment about people who call themselves of Arab heritage. I was simply replying to someone who said that he had never met a Pakistani who described himself of Arab heritage. People can ascribe whatever heritage they like to themselves. Makes no difference to me.

    I cannot speak for others including the person in Harvard that you refer to.. The law in India does not differentiate among people either in terms of their eligibility to vote or to be elected. Certainly there is no qualification for Muslims that they have to admit to Hindu ancestors before they can vote.

    The law in Pakistan does however differentiate both in terms of ability to vote and ability to be elected. So perhaps you need to look in your own backyard.Recommend

  • gp65

    True. On the other hand, level headed people like you get only respect. May your tribe increase.Recommend

  • Humza

    What you need to understand is that Pakistan is a mixture of cultures so yes Alexander the Great invaded and conquored what came to be Pakistan but his army also settled and married locals. They existed as a unique civilization for several hundred years and had dynasties which we celebrate. The same for the Persians when Pakistan was part of Khorasan. When the Arabs took over, they too became part of the nation’s history. The Turkic Mughals came from Central Asia and also fused with the locals of Pakistan. As for Afghans, modern day Afghanistan is only 250 odd years old but the history of Pakistan and current Afghanistan overlap for centuries. For example the founder of modern Afghanistan Ahmad Shah Abdali was born in Multan in present day Pakistani Punjab. I think that for Indians, the story is simple, but not so for Pakistanis. By the way, if you see things so simply, why don’t Indians remove all vestiges of these foreign invaders from their dress ( Shalwar Kameez), music ( sitar and ghazals) to food ( kebabs and biyani)?Recommend

  • Aahil

    I really didn’t wanted to post here, Because i didn’t care to do so. Mostly readers here are paid Indians which i know and will bash Pakistan and It’s Religion for whatever reason they can. Well, If you care to research please do so. There’s a huge difference between a “Burqa” “Abaya” and “Hijab” the “Burqa” Version which most foreign and non-muslims know about is the “Afghan” Burqa that covers completely from top to bottom even the eyes, except there is a net that woman can see through. This kind of Burqa was invented by Taliban and Imposed in Afghanistan. It has nothing to do with Islam or it’s heritage. Allah in Quran has asked Muslim woman and man to dress Modestly in Societies. Allah hasn’t ordered woman to wear strict clothings and cover in a Burqa. Guess what? There was no Burqa in the times of Prophet Muhammad. Woman just had to cover in a modest way. Most Muslim woman today wear a “Hijab” and not a Burqa.Recommend

  • anil

    replying to your queries would be foolish , because you are a muslim . No amount of education can shape your brain. Males flaunt their six packs in almost every tv shows and women enjoy it and doesn’t consider it offensive at all. It seems you are in stone age from your questions.Recommend

  • Cat

    Now, that has to be the most illogical post here. Burqa ‘enables us to obey the orders of out CREATOR.’? I am not even going to say another word.Recommend