Saturday, June 27, 2009

Of burqas, mini-skirts and women's rights

French president Nicolas Sarkozy has ordered a study of the wearing of burqas in his country with the possibility of banning it. He has said that the burqa, the full length veil with just a mesh screen for the eyes, is not welcomed in France. Sarkozy has described such clothing as "a symbol of servitude and humiliation."

He reportedly said “we cannot accept in our country women imprisoned behind a mesh screen, cut off from all social life, deprived of all identity”, but he stopped short of advocating a ban on burqas.

Sarkozy reminds me of PAS politicians who occassionally call for a ban on mini skirts and other "sexy" attire, blaming the wearers for the rapes instead of men who cannot exercise self restraint. Yes, the people who forget many sex crimes take place in rural settings where victims include grandmothers and minors, who hardly fit into the "sexy" category. Like Sarkozy, they talk about imposing a ban on clothing without thinking about the practicality and whether it is feasible to stop people from wearing clothes they like. What about their rights?

We may agree with Sarkozy but we should defend Muslim women who chose to wear the burqas and hijabs. Whether it is for religious modesty or requirements or simply because of cultural and sociological reasons, it's nobody's business. Certainly not Sarkozy's. At airports and exam halls, for example, they should be subjected to security checks, of course.

On the same principle, however, no one should stop women from wearing clothes they choose. Banning jeans, tight skirts or T-shirts is as outrageous as banning burqas. Who are these self appointed guardians of morality to decide on our choices? The moral crusaders should now know what it feels like when the likes of Sarkozy and other right-wingers start to ban burqas across Europe. As the saying goes, do not do unto others what you do not want others to do unto you.


Guy said...

It apppears that you think that women who wear burqas do it by free choice.Surely, you must be kidding.

Anonymous said...

How dare you equate progressively modern westerners like Sarkozy with vile primitive racist, sexist and fascist Islamists? So you like seeing Muslim women/girls oppressed do you? Why are you lumping all Muslims as if the same! Muslims are a diverse lot, with diverse identities, ethnic groups and nationalities, but it seems like the Arabic-centric and Dark Age Islamist ideology is trying to primitively and unjustly homogenize such great diversity, especially of the women/girls' diverse identity, in their extremist and primitive opposition to modernity and westernization. Excuse me, I'm an APOSTATE from Islam, now a Christ believer (thank God!), the veil is a hideous and evil symbol of inequality and non-freedom for women/girls as within the so-called veiling IDEOLOGY (it's not SIMPLISTICALLY about dressing - but about brainwashing political programme); I should know, I was forced into wearing it in Penang Science School despite that it was a secualr boarding school, and even in so-called moderate Islamic-ruled Malaysia! Why don't you have empathy for young girls who were forced to wear the veil at young age, without their CHOICE (such as myself before); or the women whose consent are manufactured absolutely rather than out of complete free will i.e. rational consent, since they have been brainwashed since young or have to abide by familial "honour" ideology or "Islamic patriotism" ideology! Besides, until men are covering up the same way, such inequality and non-freedom, but ultimately, the grave injustice of all these Dark Age sexist ideology are clear enough - what evidence do these kind of left need! The Islamists must be drooling and laughing all the way to their ultimate dream-becoming-reality of an Arabic-led Dark Age Arabic-led Islamist Empire, from East to West! After all, they have managed to confuse and deceive so many, including supposedly progressive non-Muslims!

Katharina Sr (former: Noor Aza Othman)

PahNur said...

If someone wants to go around in astronaut suit and it is not causing others inconvenience, then it is his right to do so. Although, I cannot understand why Muslim women insist on covering their heads when it is not required by God, as evidence in the absence of such order written in the Quran, I respect their prerogative.

As long as they don't turn around to me and tell me things even God had not mention, and impose such unnecessary order unto me, than I may need to use my sharp tongue in order to defend myself, which may prove to be a tough task since people who do unnecessary things and insist it is necessary must at least have some kind of rationalizing and logical deduction problem within their minds. (and I do not mean this in a condescending way). Banning things is simply a form of shortcut from correcting a situation, to make one's job easier. It is not a solution to a problem, rather, an abuse of power and a molestation of human rights.

Miss Lime said...

OMG! So well said.

Anonymous said...

If we talk about freedom to wear whatever one wants to, then maybe we should start first with the Arab and other middle eastern countries, Pakistan and Afghanistan. They have imposed the cover-all policy on everybody who live or visit those places. Why must the world only pick on Sarkozy or France?

mydh said...

I agree that nobody has the right to impose any restriction on clothing one may choose.

This include any religion, cult, sect, party, organisation and so own.

This should be made a law of the land that no one should break...

anti-rpk said...

what makes you think that they're wearing them by forced?!

it is their choice to wear just like you choose to write stupid comments on this blog.

Anonymous said...

To Katharina Sr@Nor Aza Othman

"I was forced to wearing it at Penang Science School..." This Apostate is clearly posting under the palm tree. I came also from PSS and there is no such ruling forcing female students to hide their faces let alone wearing Burqa. In fact Burqa is such an alien word in this country in that if you ask 10 people streets then you most likely get 10 different answers. Showing her trademark as an apostate, Katharina clearly loathe islam. While this is understood but she doesn't have to step so low by cooking books!

Anonymous said...

The burqa is more of a middle east culture.

even in liberal Dubai, there are plenty who still wears them. Its their choice and preferences.

So it is not about Islam. Seriously. Even in front of the Kaabah while doing the tawaf, next to men, rubbing shoulders, it is not required to cover the face, in fact, its forbidden, if I'm not mistaken.

In defence of these women, they should be allowed to wear what they want.
Of course it is not French. But does that mean one cannot wear ones traditional costume, like sari, cheongsam etc etc within the boundaries of France.

So if someone from Bulgaria travels to france, he or she must drop all their local dressings and pick up a nice pair of LV suit???

And the french always talk about freedom this and that...

Anonymous said...

If Muslim dominated countries like UAE, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, etc can impose their way of clothing on everybody in those countries, including visitors, then why can't Christian dominated countries, Buddhist, Hindu, or secular dominated countries impose their way of clothing on the rest? In UAE, Pakistan, etc you must cover from top to toe. So why can't France say you must NOT cover from top to toe?

Anonymous said...

Viva la France! Sarkozy has got the balls to do the right thing. If you want to migrate to France then you do what the French do! Similarly the UK PM must have to balls to tell the immigrants that if you want to come to UK, then you do what the UK people do. Don't impose your imported values on the locals.

Anonymous said...

Even the Iranians are rising up against the imprisonment imposed by the clerics who run the country and bullshit other countries that their way is what the Iranians really want. Yeah, the women in Iran are revolting against the unfair persecution of Muslim women. It is going to happen in other countries run by the clerics. I support what Sarkozy is doing. Don't imprison the women. I had some Muslim female employees, who after marriage were forced by their husbands and in-laws to cover up more against their real wishes. So don't believe that the Muslim women are covering up due to their own wishes. When I was visiting Iran, I was invited to my friend's home. When his sister came home, she instantly took off her burqa and changed from her uncomfortable robes into something a lot lighter. She HAD to wear the burqa NOT because she wanted to, and NOT because her family wanted her to, but because she was afraid of being attacked on the street if she did not wear the burqa. So I think what Sarkozy does is RIGHT !

Manature said...

The burqas may be used by bank robbers to rob banks or commit other crimes but hide their face to foil identification. Any ban should be based on this possibility.

Bunnies said...

I get what you are trying to say...

Yes, as long as girls are not forced into wear these long and plenty of cloth clothings, these girls are doing it on their own free will and because they are comfortable in them, than so be it la! Why is there a need to dictate what one is to wear or not to wear?

If it is ridiculous or too revealing according to your standards, you either use what GOD, the all mighty has given you and that is your eyelids, shut your eyes with it or just bear with it.

Simple things like this also can cause a big hulabaloo! Everybody nothing to do issit?

Anonymous said...

It is men who always distort the teachings of their prophets.
Prophet Mohammed never asked alll muslims to dress like arabs and ninja turtles. It is his later followers who cam out with all kind of repressive rules. Similarly, Jesus never asked his followers to have all kind of saints, but you can see catholics praying to all kind of saints, which is almost against the teacing of Jesus. Moses and Jesus teach that you should not kill, but we see Israelites and Christians who are hell bent on killing. I don't know enough of Mohammed's teachings, but I can safely assume that he didn't teach muslims to kill. But we see a lot of killings in the name of Islam. And in this country there will be people who will say that I should not be talking about Islam since I am not qualified to do so.

Amalina Amri said...

well said...
for me, it's all about belief. as for me, i believe that Islam is my way of life, thus i do according to islamic teaching. however, it's up to me to follow or to not. muslims believe in reward and sin. so if i follow, i will be rewarded, and if i don't i will be sinned. then, it will be the choice between reward and sin, and i'm free to choose which one. and Islam also teaches that moderation is the best. so i do not go into wearing burqa which maybe will limit my movement.
so i think, it's not our right to judge whether they are oppressed or not because it's really up to them, and we should respect it.

Unknown said...

Islamic men also wear robes -- and they are called burkas too. See -- living in the hot, arid environments, loose fitting clothing that covers the body is helpful. They were wearing these clothes before sunscreen.

Why do men wear pants? They constrict the testicles, and sometimes I wish it would be culturally acceptable to wear a robe.

The US Army has adopted the keffiyeh (head scarf) because it keeps sand and dust out of one's mouth.

I understand that France doesn't have the same climate as Saudi Arabia, but it has become a custom. I went to high school in the central valley of California, and a lot of kids dressed up like cowboys -- boots, jeans, huge belt buckles and cowboy hats. Of course, since white people are the dominant culture, and America tolerates diversity, no one would ever ban cowboy attire. The cowboy hat, which I feel looks ridiculous, protects the face from sunlight. Cowboys cover most of their body with clothing and often wear a head scarf, known as a bandana.

I think the problem is that in France and much of Europe, there is anti-immigrant sentiment. The Muslims get the worst of it, because they are the largest immigrant group, and because of their otherness. Denmark, which is a small nation with a PR system, is prone to huge oscillations in political orientation. They went from kissing Muslim's derrieres to fascist laws -- they cannot build mosques, have arranged marriages and they also want to ban the burka. They were the first to legalize gay marriage, but legislated road blocks for arranged marriages.

I am half Danish and half South Asian, and I have darker-than-Nordic skin. I no longer go to Denmark. It's simply too dangerous to walk around the streets at night -- one can be beat up by gangs of thugs.

One person you should be aware of is Daniel Pipes. He is a dishonest academic with a anti-Muslim agenda. Much of the furor (pardon the pun) in Denmark has been influenced by Pipe's fabrication of data. He claims that half of the rapes in Denmark are perpetrated by Muslims, but the Danes to not record religion with their crime statistics. He also is not sure whether there are 4% or 5% of Muslims in Denmark, but recent data suggests they are 3.5% of the population. There are no footnotes in his publications, and you can't really verify numbers he pulls out of his arse. Nonetheless, the Danish People's Party (DF) use his academic dishonesty to incite people against Muslims. He has a Ph.D. from Harvard, after all.

The DF also has said very concerning things about Jews, Sri Lankans and Oriental Asians. They don't like anyone except white people.

As a half-Dane, I am embarrassed and I will not go to Denmark and I will boycott their products.

I found the cartoons to be offensive. Some of them were OK, but some of them were racist caricatures -- exaggeration of Arab features -- big, unkept eyebrows, hook noses, etc. Furthermore, they depict Mohammed as inherently violent, wearing a bomb in his head scarf. If you printed a cartoon in an American newspaper of Jews with hook noses holding wads of money or blacks with big lips, bugged out eyes, and kinky hair eating fried chicken, you would have law suits and riots galore.

I am going to steer clear of buying products from racist European nations. I will not support their pogroms. You think they would have learned something from WW II, but they are forgetting those lessons.

Unknown said...

You should look up the dress codes of Christian private schools in the United States. They specify the length of skirts that girls should wear. Lots of Mormon women dress like they are auditioning for Little House on the Prairie.

I encourage you to befriend some Muslims. I have worked with Muslims and became friends with some of them, and I have not met one extremist yet. A Pakistani Muslim told me he didn't like his kids learning about "My two Dads" in school, which many Christians object to as well.

I find it a bit hypocritical to assume Muslims are against rights, when Christians don't really like homosexuals and often have denominations separated by race.

One of the things I liked about Alex Haley's "The Autobiography of Malcolm X" (which was required reading in high school and college) was that when he went to Mecca, he saw people of all races. While there are Christians of all races, they tend to affiliate with separate denominations.

As someone with 1/2 Hindu South Asian heritage, I was often told about the savagery of Muslims, however I know that Muslims are often beat up in India (Slumdog Millionaire depicts this as well). The BJP party in India are Hindu conservatives, and they restrict attire, live music, and alcohol use.

Let's be intellectually honest and admit that extremists of any culture are a problem, be they Jihadists, Zionists, Likudites, Puritans, BJP Hindus, The Danish People's Party, what have you -- every religion and culture has them.