Tag Archives: niqab

Unveiling Ideas On Veils In France

There are hundreds of thousands of Muslim women in France and about 2,000 or so wear the niqab or the burqa. President Nicolas Sarkozy is determined to save French culture and civilization from the prospect those 2,000 women in veil will somehow overthrow conventional wisdom and persuade the entire female population to put on the veil. A proposed law would ban wearing either the niqab or burqa in public places, on streets or in shops and markets. According to a spokesperson for Sarkozy, wearing these garments “is a rejection of our values” and leads to eroding the principle of community life.

Each religion has its Orthodox branch which is more traditional and all too often limits the rights and freedom of women. Most legal experts believe the Sarkozy law would violate not only the French constitution but would be declared illegal by the European Court on Human Rights.

One can assume the next veil to be declared illegal would be helmets that cover faces. But, then again, such masks are not worn by Muslims.


The world is confronting an enormous economic decline and millions of people have lost life savings and homes, but to the Brussels federal parliament the issue of the day is denying Muslim women the right to wear the niqab or burqa in public. According to Daniel Bacquelain who proposed the new legislation which makes it a crime for a Muslim woman to wear these face coverings in public, he was taking a stand for freedom. “It is necessary that the law forbids the wearing of clothes that totally mask or enclose an individuals. Because, in his view, wearing the burqa in public is not compatible with an open liberal, tolerant society.” Huh? How can there be an “open, liberal, tolerant society” if women can not wear clothes they choose to wear?

P.S. There are about 500,000 Muslims in Belgium and it is rare to find any woman wearing these garments. Is this much ado about nothing other than destroying a woman’s right to wear what she desires?

French Hypocrisy Or French Freedom?

The world is experiencing a severe economic crisis, there are terrorists blowing themselves up along with innocent people, and the government of France is focused on women veils as the critical issue confronting humankind. President Nicolas Sarkozy affirmed his belief that all people in France had freedom to worship and he would fight to defend that right. He insisted his administration would fight to prevent Muslims from being stigmatized. However, when it comes to the issue of Muslim women being able to wear the burqa or niqab, “I will not allow anyone to lead my country down this regressive path.”

He attacked the very nature of women wearing the veil and charged, “behind the veil hid scandalous practices that are contrary to our history” and made clear he is determined to”wage a controlled political battle against fundamentalism.” The French legislature passed laws making it illegal for women wearing the veil to enter public institutions although some MPs wanted the ban to include public appearances.

I am glad President Sarkozy is concerned about “scandalous practices” and I assume he will now ban allowing Catholic priests to enter churches given the fact some priests have engaged in scandalous practices. The reality is fewer than 2,000 Muslim women wear either the burqa or niqab, a lot fewer than men and women wearing face covering helmets while driving motorcycles. Grow up France, if you really are worried about religious scandals, head for the nearest church!

France: We Have To Deny Freedom In Order To Save It!

The French government is pursuing its war against the burqa and veil. A cross party committee will soon be proposing laws to curb the right of Muslim women to wear either of these garments. According to proposed legislation, it will be illegal for anyone to cover her face if she wishes to enter a public facility like a hospital or school or bus. Anyone refusing to uncover the face will be fined and denied the right to enter. In other words, if a Muslim woman enters the emergency room of a hospital, she can be denied service. A Muslim woman who wears either of these garments can be denied the right to ride on a bus or go to school. As President Sarkozy puts it, neither the burqa or niqab is “welcome” in France.

Let me get this straight. France, in the name of sexual equality is denying women the right to wear a niqab or burqa! Huh! One French MP put it honestly when he told Le Figaro, “we have to make life impossible for them in order to curb the phenomenon.

Actually, most surveys indicate fewer than a thousand women of the five million Muslims in France wear either of these face coverings. As one American officer put it during the Vietnam war when he was burning a village, “we have to destroy the village in order to save it.”

To Niqab Or Not To Niqab, That Is The Question!

Several hundred years ago, Prince Hamlet agonized over what he should do regarding his stepfather who he believed had killed his own father. Fast forward today, and the most critical question in Denmark is how to deal with the Muslim niqab veil or the burqa which covers the body. At a time when his nation has serious issues concerning its economic health, Prime Minister Lars Loekke Rasmussen is consumed with this momentous issue as to what a handful of Muslim women wear. “The government’s position is clear. The burqa and the niqab have no place in Danish society. They symbolize a view of women and humanity that we totally oppose and that we want to combat in Danish society.” These are powerful words and one would imagine he intends to deal with a problem that must be solved in order to save Danish society.

FACTS: Muslims represent about 1.9% of the inhabitants of Denmark and among Muslim women an estimated 100-200 women actually wear either of those garments. The figure is 0.15 percent of Muslim women in Denmark wear those garments. One would wonder if there are more serious issues the prime minister could become upset about like poverty or global warming.

QUESTION: Does the prime minister intend to fight for a ban on motorcycle helmets which cover the face?

Hair, Face, Veil, Dress And Other Evil Things In Life!

A few years ago I was teaching at a college in Brooklyn which had many students who came from either Muslim or conservative Jewish backgrounds. I soon discovered that fundamentalist Jewish and Muslim women were very similar in dress and comportment. I was walking down the corridor one day when two female students walked toward me. I extended my hand in greeting only to realize it was Sarah and Fatima, one wearing a headscarf and the other a veil so shaking my hand would have been shocking to either young lady. Jilbab, Niqab, Burqa, Chador, or what other name, but the end result is the same– some women desire to wear a head or face covering due to religious or cultural reasons and it upsets many men in the political world who regard such dress as a challenge to all they hold dear.

During the 1960s, men were physically attacked because their hair was too long or young boys and girls dressed in outlandish ways in order to antagonize society–which they did all too often. The French parliament is discussing a new law which would ban wearing a face covering in public with those guilty of this heinous offense being fined up to $1200. Why do people become so upset at nothing. Thirty years ago long hair was a sign of radicalism. Go to a Tea Party ranting session and you will see long haired men in this conservative group. A face is a face and a veil is a veil. Who gives a damn!

Liberty, Fraternity, And Inequality In France!

There are an estimated 1,500,00 Muslim women living in France and of them an estimated 2,000 wear a burka or niqab. The presence of these 2,000 women undoubtedly offers a serious threat to the continuation of French culture. After all, begin with 2,000 veiled women and there is no end as to how many millions of other French women will join the parade of those covering their faces. Francois Cope, a key figure in President Sarkozy’s Union Pour Mouvement Populaire, is introducing a bill which would make it a crime for anyone to appear in public “with their face entirely masked” and the only exceptions would be on carnival type days when it apparently is OK to cover faces. If a woman wears the burka or niqab she faces a fine of up to $1200 as would her husband or father if they forced the veil on her.

President Sarkozy now insists he would prefer a resolution which states wearing the burka or niqab is contrary to French traditions or to freedom for women. This is somewhat confusing because if women desired of their own free will to wear a niqab and are now forbidden it takes away their freedom, doesn’t it? Of course, there currently is a law on the books which makes it a crime to wear a mask in public.

Exactly how does this law relate to motorcycle freaks who wear helmets that cover their faces? Such laws violate the rights of women, men, and other humans.

Egyptian Clerics Back Niqab Curbs

Three of Egypt’s most prominent religious leaders announced their support for the government ban on the niqab– full face veil– in dormitories and when taking examinations. In October, Sheikh Mohamed Sayed Tantawi, head of Al-Azhar, issued a religious edict barring wearing the niqab in Azhar run all-girl schools. The Ministry subsequently barred wearing the niqab when sitting for an examination. Yesterday, a government run newspaper made clear the edict was not anti-religious, but simply making clear wearing a niqab had no roots in sharia law.

The Egyptian government has long been leery of allowing religious leaders to get too much power and in banning the niqab is sends a message that government ideas take precedence over religious ones. The Muslim Brotherhood which is the main enemy of the government charged there was an attempt to deprive females of their rights. As one Muslim Brotherhood cleric noted, “any girl is free to wear the niqab as long as she understands that when asked to reveal her face, she should do so accordingly.”

This is one war over power and it has nothing to do with religion anymore than wearing a niqab does.

Myth Wearing Niqab Protects Female Modesty!

Muslims who insist women must wear full length garments to cover their body constantly argue being attired in such a manner allows Muslim women to avoid problems faced by western females who are are subject to verbal and physical abuse by men. Activists from 17 Arab nations in the region met in Cairo to discuss the ongoing harassment of Muslim women who go into the streets where they are subject to behaviors ranging from verbal abuse to being pinched and touched. According to speakers, groping and verbal abuse are daily encounters by Muslim women even those in large cities such as Cairo. Amal Madbouli, who wears the traditional niqab told the conference she is daily harassed, and the other day a man followed her into her own neighborhood and “kept asking me if I wanted to go with him to a quiet area and sought my phone number.”

Some statistics reveal that 90% of Yemeni women say they have been harassed while in Egypt. A study in Lebanon placed the figure for harassment at about 30%. Last year Egyptians were shocked when a mob of men attacked women in broad daylight shouting curses at them and physically assaulting them.

Even in the most conservative nation, Saudi Arabia, there is talk of new legislation to criminalize verbal and physical groping of women. So, what it is exactly Muslims wish we in the West to do about making women dress appropriately?

Wear A Niqab In Helsinki And Get Stares!

As the world changes its demographics, it becomes increasingly more common for Muslim women to be found in climes that historically were not their destination. A reporter for the Finnish newspaper, Sanomat, decided to experiment by wandering around Helsinki dressed in a niqab, the conservative face covering worn by some Muslim women. She noted how some men stared intently at her and the gaze of one “nearly burned a hole in the chiffon.” Ironically, due to the niqab she stumbled into a man who turned out to be an Arab and was then greeted with kind words and great respect. While on the metro, a drunk shouted, “Hey, that is one hell of a sight” to his fellow drunkards.

A Somali woman told her it was common for Muslim women in Finland to wear brightly covered scarves and urged that she not wear black. A young man almost spilled his drink at the sight of a woman wearing a niqab. She went to a park and sat on a bench. A family with two boys approached and one of the little boys began to shout in terror at the sight of a black covered face.

The good news is that cosmetologist and hair stylists made it a point not to bother her while she wandered the streets of Helsinki in search of reactions to the niqab.