Veil issue not simple but most Muslim women don’t like it

Veil issue not simple but most Muslim women don’t like it

Tahir Aslam Gora

In any discussion of “the veil” on Muslim women, there are two issues to consider.
On the one hand, women’s liberties are threatened in many Islamic countries by oppressive laws and tribal values. On the other hand, a small percentage of professional Muslim women choose strict Islamic values, including veiling themselves.
In almost every western country, one can see hundreds of Muslim women wearing a hijab (a head covering), a burka (a full-length veil that covers the body), or a veil on their faces.
British MP and Leader of the House of Commons Jack Straw sparked Islamic fundamentalists’ anger one more time when he recently said the full veil is “a visible statement of separation and difference” that made community relations “more difficult.”
Later, British Prime Minister Tony Blair also said the Muslim veil was a “mark of separation” and Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi echoed the remarks.
In Canada, this debate has been raised on many radio talk shows. There are many groups in favour of women choosing to wear the veil and many groups opposed. Let’s see what is behind this issue.
The majority of Muslim women are not in favour of wearing the veil, but a minority of Muslim women, who are in favour of it, makes the situation confusing for everybody.
This is especially true of Muslim women who are born or raised in Canada, or in any western country, and who may work as professionals and who are independent individuals. When they speak out for their right to wear the veil, then everybody else starts asking and thinking, “Why are others trying to deprive these women of their religious rights?”
Nobody dares to think that these women are actually depriving themselves of their feminine liberties in favour of religious brainwashing.
(These veil-obsessed Muslim women may also be reacting this way as a reaction to some of the anti-veil statements.)
One of our local imams recently wrote a letter to the editor, responding to another writer, about the status of women in Islamic countries. “But I guarantee that the writer, in his six years in the Gulf, did not see women abused and misused as selling commodities as in the West. I am sure he did not see a bikini-clad woman on the hood of a BMW or Mercedes to attract prospective buyers.”
This is a big statement, and ignores the fact that many Muslim countries have “red light” (prostitution) areas everywhere. If we don’t see specific red light areas in Gulf states, it is still true that thousands of places and people are involved in the sex trade in those countries.
Most Muslim people probably know this, but prefer to keep them secret — behind the veil — for the sake of the honour of Islam.
This is our religious and tribal character, and we Muslims don’t like to recognize those human instincts that have been condemned by our religion and in our tribes.
We are not yet convinced to acknowledge in our communities the fact of women’s individual liberties.
But things are changing. The recent participation of a Pakistani Muslim woman in an international bikini contest in China stirred our religiously curtained societies.
Tahir Aslam Gora
The Hamilton Spectator
(Nov 2, 2006)

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