Tag Archives: niqab

Niqab Or Not To Niqab?

The emergence of blogs is a wonderful opportunity for those whose voice can not be heard to spread their ideas around the world. However, when ambassadors to nations begin to expose their hidden thoughts on a blog, they might be offering some interesting comments on the state of the world, but they open the door to criticism. British Ambassador to Egypt, Dominic Asquith, for some reason, shared his religious views on a blog and it has resulted in an uproar. Asquith informed one and all that wearing the niqab was not essential to being a good Muslim and compared the controversy to that which arose in the 1960s when Catholic women ceased wearing a head veil when entering the church. Asquith argued the niqab was a “symbol,” not a requirement of a religion.

“We cannot presume to know,” said the ambassador, whether God attaches importance to the symbols we have adopted.” I don’t know about that. Come to think about the topic, I never saw God portrayed as wearing anything on his head. Anyway, until some voice from the clouds tells me to cover my head, I will bare it only when in the shower.

Niqab Wars In Canada

Maryam Rasa was born in Toronto, attended high school in the city and went on to study at the University of Toronto, but these days she proudly walks the streets of her home town with face covered under a niqab because this dress allows her to be herself and foster a sense of being a devout Muslim. During the past few decades in countries like Canada or Egypt or Indonesia where Muslim women have a choice concerning dress a significant minority now select the niqab. According to Salma Siddiqui, “In Canada we recognize the equality of men and women. The burqa marginalizes women. Perhaps, the most fascinating aspect of the current niqab wars is its appearance in nations in which Muslim women can wear what they desire.

The issue was further complicated by Grand Sheikh Mohammed Tantawi of Al Azhar University in Egypt who has banned the niqab from the university and elementary and secondary schools on grounds it has nothing to do with the Muslim religion. In a sense, he agrees with the view that wearing a niqab marginalizes women. In the end, it is an individual woman who must have the right to make this decision, not governments or religious leaders.

Is Niqab Part Of Muslim Religion?

The issue of whether a Muslim girl should be allowed to wear the niqab(face veil) arises when Muslim confront secular procedures in Western nations, but a new controversy over this issue has arisen in Egypt. The nation’s leading cleric, Mohammed Tantawi said that wearing of the niqab has nothing to do with the Muslim religion and he will not allow it or the chador to be worn by girls who attend schools run by Al-Azhar University. About two dozen Muslim females wearing the niqab protested at state-run Cairo University which does not allow it to be worn in classes. They told reporters denying them the right to wear their niqab was a blow to their freedom of speech and dress.

In the Middle East, the niqab is associated with Salafism, an ultra conservative school of thought that is practiced mainly in Saudi Arabia. Salafis oppose Al Azhar’s religious teachings. It will be interesting to see how this issue plays out in the Middle East and other Muslim nations.

Egyptian Grand Sheikh Bans Niqab In Schools

The chador, niqab controversy over whether or not Muslim women can wear these garments in school took on an unusual aspect when the Grand Sheikh of Al-Azhar, Mohamed Sayed Tantawy, decided to ban wearing of the niqab in all Al-Azhar schools.he expressed dismay at seeing so many secondary female students wearing the niqab inside classrooms. The Sheikh told a local news channel, “the niqab is not obligatory and there is no need for those young girls to wear it inside the classroom.” He also expressed concern that teachers allowed girls to wear it in their classrooms.

Sheikh Mohamed Tantawy said it was clear “Muslim women are allowed to show their faces and hands” and said he was concerned wearing the niqab created a security issue since teachers could not tell who was in their classroom. The conservative Muslim Brotherhood issued a statement declaring anger at the Sheikh’s decision.

Ah, the ongoing saga of who wears what and when it wears what.


Each day we offer a sample of headlines that appeared in the world press along with our comments.

Romania, Nine O’Clock: “A Sick Health System”
In America we not only have a sick health system we have sickos opposing health reform.

South Africa, Argus: “Kidnap Accused May Enter Plea”
I was not at the scene of the crime when the police arrived.

Australia, Brisbane Times: “Gay Penguins Hit”
They will be replaced by unhappy Penguins.

Sweden, The Local: “Who Would You Contact If Got Swine Flu?”
The pigs?

UK, The Independent: “Babies Searched For Drugs”
I think you had better search their bottles, those kids are clever.

Denmark, Copenhagen Post: “Woman Gives Testimony Wearing Niqab”
OK, but what evidence did the niqab give?

Turkey, Hurriyet: “Why Not Make Problems Bigger”
Listen to Tea Party ranters and you have the answer to your question?

UK, Guardian: “Cannibal Appearance Normal”
Sure, most people have dripping blood from their mouths.

South Africa, Mail & Guardian: “She’s A Lady, Man”
Check the voice you idiot!

Can Testimony Be Given While Wearing Niqab?

I reject most attempts to prevent Muslim women from wearing a niqab or burqa as a violation of their human rights, but a recent case in Denmark raises some interesting questions. A Muslim woman offered evidence in court while wearing a niqab including a veil that covered her face. Prior to appearing in court, she produced a driver’s license to the judge and allowed a female judge to see her without any covering on her face. Here actions undoubtedly provided evidence as to her real identify, but there is also the issue of allowing a jury to see the face of someone who gives testimony.

Anyone familiar with body language knows that when observing people we not only listen to words, but observe facial behavior. The jury had a right to observe the human totality of the witness. If this woman felt comfortable allowing a judge to see her without the veil, then the same opportunity should have been provided the jury.

A woman has a right to be afforded respect for her basic human rights, but there is also the right of others in a trial besides that of the witness.

Niqab Or No Niqab In Canada?

Rose DiManno, writing in the Toronto Star, raises issues concerning a current case in the Canadian court system in which a judge has ruled that a woman who charges she was assaulted must reveal her entire face to the defendant on the ground the accused has a right to confront the accuser. Judge Norris Weisman said the woman did not have a right to wear her niqab because the man who is accused of the crime has a right to see the face of the person making charges against him. Ms. DiManno argues there is no iron clad rule the accused has a right to physically confront the accuser and notes that children are protected and, in certain cases, women can be shown on a TV monitor to the defendant. “The law is a living thing,” notes the reporter, and, in this case, the woman has the right to wear her niqab in accordance with her religious and cultural belief.

The issue is never either-or and law can show some flexibility. An issue is which rights does the accused possessed in such a situation. In this case, the charge is a physical assault which would suggest, the accused at least has the right to see the woman making the charge. The judge pointed out the woman felt it was OK to get a driver’s license without displaying her face.

Does Muslim Woman Have Right To Niqab In Court?

A Canadian judge for the first time ruled that a Muslim woman could not wear a niqab in giving testimony concerning a sexual assault case since it violated the right of a defendant to face his accuser. The case pitted issues of religious freedom vs. against the rights of a defendant. The lawyer for the Muslim woman argued a sexual assault trial was traumatic and she had a right to feel comfortable which meant she had the right to wear her niqab. He noted, a court should “respect religious rights and practices that bring comfort to a witness.” She emphasized that showing her face to a man she would not marry made her feel uncomfortable.

The judge discovered the woman had a driver’s license in which she is not wearing a veil. it is difficult to forbid a person charged with sexual assault from not being able to see the face of the accuser. He also has rights to a fair trial and not allowing her face to be shown impairs his rights. If the woman was willing to show her face on a driver’s license it is difficult for her not to show it in a court of law.

Egyptian Minister Denounces Fundamentalist Preachers

Mahmoud Hamdi Zaqzug, Egptian Minister for Religious Endowments(Waqfs), ripped into fundamentalist preachers who use satellite television in order to shift focus of religion from important human issues to those which deal with the unimportant such as what to wear. He said these preachers focus in insignificant issues “such as niqab(full face veil) which some of them say must cover all a woman’s face, including her eyes and eyelashes and, unfortunately, this has promoted niqab largely in Egypt.” He said his Waqfs Ministery would soon issue a book entitled: “Niqab, a habit, not a worship” which contains viewpoints and opinions of Al Azhar Grand Sheikh Mohamed Sayed Tantawi, and other senior clerics concerning the legitimacy of niqab and its illegitimacy.

He emphasized his own Ministry would not resort to using satellite TV because it does not wish to come across as a government channel that seeks to impose its will on people. He emphasized that Islam does not order humans to stop enjoying life delights or order them to wear certain uniforms restricting their freedoms. Islam is not a mere list of taboos, said Zaqzug.

Muslim Woman Too Orthodox For France

Faiza Silmi applied for French citizenship worrying that her fluency in French might not be sufficient to impress anyone examining her petition. Little did she believe her request for citizenship would not be denied on her ability to speak French or know about French history, but upon the manner in which she dressed. “I would never have imagined that they would turn me down because of what I choose to wear: said Ms. Silmi gazing out from the narrow slit in her niqab, an islamic facial veil that is part of an outfit that covers her entire body. Last m month, France’s highest administrative court upheld a decision to deny Ms. Silmi citizenship on the ground that her “radical” practice of Islam was incompatible with French values. This was the first time someone has been denied citizenship on the basis of her ability to become assimilated on the basis of religious belief.

The decision comes four years after a law banning religious garb n public schools and weeks after a court in Lille annulled a marriage on the request of a Muslim husband whose wife lied about her virginity. Ironically, many Muslims agree with the decision to deny citizenship to Ms. Silmi. Fadela Amara, the French Minister for Urban affairs called Simli’s niqab a “prison” and a “straitjacket.” She said the niqab “is not a religious insignia, but the insignia of a totalitarian political project that promotes inequality between the sexes and is totally lacking in democracy.”

Ms. Simli insists she wears the niqab as being her “own choice.” Her husband is a French national as her children. Ms. Simli has a French family and it certainly entitles her to share their nationality. Certainly, her children will grow up as part of French culture and it is still unclear if they will opt for secularism or for the Muslim values of their mother.