Concealed identity not accepted in our society

Concealed identity not accepted in our society

Tahir Aslam Gora

The advocates for the right of Muslim women to wear veils ignore one basic reality: This is not about Islamic faith.
If wearing the veil was a faith-oriented right, every Muslim woman should be striving for it. But most Muslim women — in Islamic countries and in the West — don’t practice this tradition, which was traditionally imposed by Muslim men.
It seems ironic to me when some western feminists and intellectuals speak loudly in favour of Muslim women’s right to put the veil over their faces. No sensible person is in favour of forcing women to take off their veil but many Muslim scholars and women’s groups are opening a debate on whether or not the veil represents Islamic values.
Since veil-wearing women and their proponents have a right to state their opinions, those who oppose this trend have the same right.
The vast majority of Muslim opponents think that the traditional veil is clearly a mark of separation, and consider it an element of the fanatical side of Islam.
Should anyone have a problem with the consensus of the majority of Muslims? If the majority of Muslims call the veil tradition an “attempt at separation” (not only in the west but in their own Islamic countries, too), should this statement be called — as it has been — absurd?
If western proponents of the veil see that as absurd, they may also appreciate the actions of suicide martyrs waging jihad, encouraged by the minority of literalist, fanatic Muslims.
Hold on for a minute. I do understand there is a difference in the degree of fanaticism between the veil issue and suicide attacks. But both fall into the core category of fanaticism.
The opponents of the veil do not want to snatch them from women’s faces. But they will keep exercising their right to denounce it just as they denounce other fanatical elements of the Muslim world.
There is a need to understand the difference between being separate and being moderate. There is also a need to understand that most Muslim women who don’t wear these emblems are still followers of Islam.
The conclusion of this debate should be that wearing a particular item of dress should be a person’s choice. But showing yourself — your identity — should be a choice made by society.
If a woman wants to show a hardcore Islamic religious symbol, she can be modest and wear a headscarf.
When a woman puts on a niqab (a head-covering with a slit for the eyes), a burka (a full-body garment that hides the eyes as well) or a face veil, then she must grant society the right to decide whether that is appropriate to wear in public.
It seems obvious to me that a secular society can’t accept citizens concealing their identity.
Just as the Netherlands seems determined to ban the burka and veil in public places, so women’s rights groups need to understand the reasons — which seem simple and logical to me — behind the decision.
There is no harm if Canada goes the same way (although there is no plan to do so).
Such a decision wouldn’t be against the multicultural mosaic of Canada. It would help us Canadians show our secular and moderate face.
Tahir Aslam Gora
The Hamilton Spectator
(Nov 30, 2006)


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