Tag Archives: Women in Islam

The Burka:Trapped in a Mobile Prison

Julie Lenarz

I wore a burka only once and would not wish it on my worst enemy. I borrowed it from an Afghan friend whose mother fled from the wrath of the Taliban when she was forced to ditch her Western-style school uniform for a black prison garment which covered her from head to toe and erected a wall of withdrawal between her and the rest of society. From one day to the next, she was deemed a second class citizen by reactionary, fanatical zealots.

A burka obstructs the most basic interactions and natural senses: you cannot breathe, smile, see, walk, sit, eat or speak normally. It is the worst expression of gender apartheid and misogyny; the ultimate cultural medium of oppression and submission; an artefact of slavery and instrument of dehumanisation, a gross violation of inalienable human rights. And not only is it a crime against womanhood but a crass offence to both sexes. It implies that just the sight of a woman’s face will turn men into wild beasts who cannot exercise any self-control.

The most common arguments made in favour of the burka or against a burka ban are based on the principles of “freedom of religion” and “freedom of expression”, which by all means should be carefully protected and respected. Yet, in that particular context, their application is deeply flawed.

For a start, the burka is not a religious phenomenon per se but a cultural expression. The religion of Islam existed long before the burka to which no reference is made in the Quran. In many Muslim countries, such as Turkey, Tunisia, Syria or Morocco, it is banned in public places altogether or is heavily restricted. Only in the most conservative societies, like Saudi Arabia, Iran and Afghanistan, is the burka regarded as an integral part of the culture. Consequently, by defending the right to wear the burka under the premise of “freedom of religion” one does not defend the religion of Islam but a particularly extreme interpretation of it which is antithetical to our way of life.

Others evoke the “right of expression” and frame the debate as a matter of free choice and as a symbol for our tolerance towards other religions and cultures. That, however, is a logical fallacy. To tolerate a custom which is inherently intolerant does not make us tolerant. It makes us apologists of brutal oppression, rather than guardians of individual freedoms. Or take the argument of “right of expression” to the exact opposite extreme: what about the right of nudists to be naked? I, for one, consider the burka much more of an unnatural obscenity than nudity. Nonetheless, I would never tolerate it in public. The burka is not merely a piece of clothing. It is a manifestation of political Islam and Islamism which, again, are in many ways contradictory to our system of values.

Do not get me wrong: I do not support a ban of the burka in public places for the same reason illiberal societies like Syria do, although it is a good example to illustrate why the burka has very little to do with the mainstream interpretation of Islam. I advocate it for reasons similar to the French, based on a mixture of human rights and security concerns, which, I believe, must override individual freedom of expression in the public sphere.

Of course, a legitimate question to ask is: what about the rights of those women who wish to wear a burka? To deny their existence would be intellectually dishonest. Some burka-wearing women are indeed not forced into submission by their families or husbands. It is, however, important not to miss the complexity of the problem, and consider the immense social and communal pressure many Muslims are under even when they come from relatively liberal backgrounds. The right not to wear the burka is of little comfort when your Wahhabi imam wishes Allah’s wrath upon you, or when the Salafist boys from next door call you an “indecent whore” who “invites rape”.

In fact, I can only think of three valid arguments against the burka ban: firstly, the problem of enforcement which would entail questions such as who would enforce the ban and what would be the consequences of non-compliance. Secondly, the real risk of backlash as we have seen in France where entire Muslim communities were stigmatised and alienated. And finally, the concern of abuse; whilst I would support it in public places such as banks, airports, courtrooms, universities, schools and workplaces, I could not sanction in good faith the infringement of an individual’s personal freedoms in the private sphere.

But the bottom line remains the same: the burka is an affront to humanity and has no place in freedom-loving societies. Of course, it is possible to be anti-burka and anti-burka ban. But if we oppose the burka ban, we must oppose it for the right reasons. There is little more disheartening and demoralising than to see brave, progressive Muslim women speaking out against a culture of oppression, whilst privileged Western men defend it or hide behind dubious double standards, naively fooling themselves into thinking they protect something noble.


Canada: Muslim Cleric Wants To Force All Women In Toronto To Wear Burkas, Head Scarves And Face Veils

But don’t worry, this enlightened Muslim cleric only wants all non-Muslim women to dress like Muslim women because he cares so much for their safety.  Indeed, nothing shows you care more for the inferior sex than blaming them for being sexually assaulted. Because they’re asking for it, right? Besides, if Muslim men are unable to control sexual temptation, then neither can all non-Muslim men, correct? After all, the prophet of Islam said it, so it has to be true. But here’s an idea: Instead of forcing all non-Muslim women to conform to a Muslim dress code, how about we just force all Muslim men to stay indoors? Wouldn’t women then be much, much safer? …

“The worst sin and distraction from virtue that I have left for man is woman” – Prophet of Islam, Mohammed, Sahih AlBukhari, 5096

By Terry Davidson, Toronto Sun – “Canadian laws should be changed to require women to ‘cover themselves’ to prevent sexual assaults, says an Islamic street preacher in Toronto.

Al-Haashim Kamena Atangana, a 33-year-old Islamic convert, called for legal change in response to recent sex attacks at York University.

Atangana is connected with a group called Muslim Support Network and is one of a number of street-corner clerics commonly seen at the Yonge and Dundas Sts.

In an e-mail to the Toronto Sun, Atangana said ‘the reason … these sex attacks are continuously happening is because (of) Canadian laws, which give too much freedom to women’ when it comes to how they dress.

‘You should take your example from the way Muslim women dress,’ he wrote. ‘Why does (sic) Muslim women who wear long dress and covers her head aren’t targeted for sex attacks?’

The clash between western culture and values and the beliefs of some Muslim adherents has been a source of controversy and conflict across North America.

Atangana, who plans to distribute his views on paper in the coming weeks, went on to state that ‘the reason … a woman gets raped is because of the way she (dresses),’ and suggests that ‘Toronto (become) the first city in North America to introduce laws that would make it illegal for women to dress provocatively.’

If Toronto did this, Atangana said in an interview, other Canadian cities would follow suit.

‘If (women) want to prevent being sexually assaulted, they should cover themselves,’ said Atangana, adding that while he doesn’t expect Western women to dress as Muslim women do, they should have a ‘dress code’ and take note of the burka the head scarf and face veil some Muslim females wear.” Read more.

Flashback: Islamic Law: Women, Don’t Come To Mosque Unless You’re Ugly – “Apparently a full veil isn’t enough. Maybe the superior gender is temporarily granted x-ray vision the moment they enter a mosque. Remember, a Muslim man possesses twice the intelligence of a women, so don’t question this enlightened logic. Just do everything you can to look as ugly as possible. Think of it as a contest. Otherwise, you might cause another earthquake …” Read more.


CAIR pushes for hijab-friendly uniform policy in all US prisons



An Islamic activist group is trying to force all U.S. jails and prisons to allow Muslim female inmates to wear the hijab head covering, according to a report.

Never mind looking out for the safety of guards and other inmates.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations wants the
U.S. Justice Department to institute a “hijab-friendly” uniform policy
that would allow Muslim women to keep their heads covered in photographs
and while in detention in all local and federal U.S. prisons.

The issue has arisen in numerous jurisdictions in the U.S. ,
including South Carolina, Orange County, Calif., King County, Wash., and
areas with high Muslim populations, such as Novi, Mich.

A CAIR attorney wants to take those individual policies national, according to a report by the Al Arabiya online news outlet.

“I’m working on several pending cases in different states,” Nadhira
al-Khalili, legal counsel for CAIR, told Al Arabiya. “And I’m in touch
with an attorney for the Department of Justice’s Office of Civil

Walid said there’s no reason the hijab covering should not be permitted behind bars.

“If hijab is allowed in the military, and U.S. driving licenses
permit women IDs with hijab, then the same logic can be applied,” Walid
said. “Hijab doesn’t impede the identity of women.”

That “same logic” part would be true if people got locked up just to have their picture taken.

But extra clothing can do more than just conceal or alter an
identity, it can also hide drugs, weapons or other contraband, which
means more time spent in close interaction between guards and inmates.

And that means more security risks.

A hijab is also basically a piece of loose cloth, but loose cloth can
be rolled up to make a short rope. And a short rope is about all you
need to strangle someone.