Stories about veil

Muslim women are empowered and confident

 Do you have to wear a burqa when you are at home? It was a legitimate question, coming from peers, sometimes professors and occasionally even friends while I was in college in the United States. It wasn’t the innocence of the question itself, but rather the oppressive perception that followed which encouraged me to use my lens in order to express the complexity of being a woman in a country like Pakistan. I wanted to say no, that while some women were painted black head-to-toe, some draped a casual chaddar (shawl) on their heads, some roamed in jeans, while others went to underground ...

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To wear or not to wear a niqab

It is no surprise that both our top blogs this week have talked about the face veil. In the first one, our blogger wrote about a social experiment she conducted by wearing a niqab for a day. The other blog talked about the controversy surrounding a picture of a veiled woman holding up a bra. Here are some of the reactions to these pieces: “’Female figure is a source of evil and therefore should be kept strictly hidden. All girl children be taught to be ashamed of their own bodies. Any reference to female anatomy meets with a response of disgust, ...

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The day I wore a niqab

Books have been written about it, feminists have insulted it, Muslim feminists, however, have defended it, and international laws are being passed against it. While there are some extreme cases where women are forced to wear a niqab (veil), most of the niqab-wearing women I know in Toronto and Karachi wear it due to a personal choice.  I have some experience with the performing arts and expression, whereby one uses the body and it’s form as a canvas to initiate reaction and to enable visual dialogue between the performance artist and the viewer. Therefore, as a social and creative experiment, I decided to ...

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Burqa woman: A ‘make-believe’ refugee

“Excuse me … I’m almost afraid to ask this, but I have never seen anyone like you before. May I please take a picture?” Summer hat, sea blue shirt with khaki shorts revealing legs tanned, the right shade of cocoa-brown – how could I say no to this guy? So I pose next to a palm tree and say:   “I have my best smile on but I bet your photography can’t do any justice to it.” As he manages a nervous giggle, I can almost hear his thoughts: “Crazy woman with a strange sense of humour.” That was justified, of course, considering the fact ...

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Is the veil not cool enough for France?

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 ...

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Pakistan’s very own apartheid

I perceive myself to be liberal because I believe that I am a pluralist. I am not an extremist in my political or religious views. I am proud that I am different — separate — and quite clearly a minority in my country. However, despite my so-called pluralism, I do not want to associate with those I call the ‘jaahils’ and the ‘fundos’ and in that sense I end up being disconnected from the mainstream. Some readers may not like this but I will give the example of the burqa-clad mother of four who believes that she is pious and righteous, ...

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Burqa, bombs and intolerance

A look through the timeline of bomb blasts and terrorist attacks indicate that a majority of attacks in Pakistan are carried out by young men – some wearing vests, others using cars laden with explosives. I believe this spells out a legitimate case to ban young men, vests and cars from public places. After all, in a country like ours which is always on high alert for terrorist attacks, we can’t allow such security risks to roam about freely, can we? If you find my logic ludicrous, you might want to take a look at the recent debate on banning ...

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Muslims banned the burqa before France

France’s ban on the niqab caused uproar among Muslims who felt that they were being targeted. More recently Shiv Sena’s idiotic demand to ban the burqa in India- after someone wearing a burqa stole a child from a hospital- attracted considerable attention from the media. Unfortunately, when steps that go against this religious freedom happen in Muslim majority states like Turkey and Kosovo, we remain silent hypocrites. While there was some talk about Turkey’s headscarf ban a few years back, I am surprised that I had never even heard of a year-old ban on headscarves in Kosovo. Perhaps this is because ...

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To veil or not to veil

First it was Egypt to take action against the veil, after a top cleric announced that the face veil was to be banned in certain educational institutions in Egypt; then France followed suit, down-right banning the face veil for security reasons; and then Syria in toe, banned the face veil in universities and educational facilities because parents of university students do not want their children to be educated in an ‘environment of extremism’. And to add to the list, certain European countries are now debating whether they should give in to the face veil ban, or allow citizen’s their ...

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In the commune: The French burqa ban

This week Syria banned the full face veil in unversities. France has also declared wearing a burqa or full veil illegal. The new laws have inspired support from some and been condemned by others. We asked Tribune bloggers whether or not the move is justified. Manal Shakir: I don’t believe this debate should be taken out of context. People need to keep things in perspective. A veil is a piece of cloth, just like a beard is just facial hair. It does not say Muslim or non-Muslim. It is a physical symbol which portrays what an individual may feel on the ...

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