The Niqab Debate:
Muhammad ‘Abd Al-Haqq
We spoke about the so-called security issues surrounding the burqa and niqab as impediments to positive identification. The discourse is also being presented as a safety issue in many cases. We have seen female weightlifters and futbol players being denied their rights in the interest of “safety”(something we will cover in our series on “Hijabs and Islamophobia”). Now, of course, the claim is that burqas and niqabs do indeed block peripheral vision to a degree and add additional blind spots, in addition to those already present when operating a motor vehicle.
We spoke previously about how it is not mandatory to wear niqab in the first place, an issue that is contentious in an of itself. However the question now becomes, is this new police power an attempt to violate religious freedom of Muslims? Or is it a legitimate security issue, especially when the identity of a person becomes of paramount importance? In Islamic law, however, it is permissible to remove the veil in circumstances such as these. But it does not take a genius to realize where and how this police power can and will be abused.
As far as safety is concerned though, one must ask “should our niqabisisters be driving with their faces covered?” However, the other angle is “Do the non-Muslims really care about the safety of Muslim women and the public at-large, or is this yet another issue with which to discriminate against Muslims?”. Why are Muslim women the first victims of Extremists from both sides of the divide?
News South Wales: cops given power to remove veils during routine car stops
Muslim women can be forced to remove their face veils during routine car stops under new powers granted to NSW police. Premier Barry O’Farrell said cabinet had approved the move on Monday so police could properly identify motorists or any other people suspected of committing a crime. “I don’t care whether a person is wearing a motor cycle helmet, a burqa, niqab, face veil or anything else, the police should be allowed to require those people to make their identification clear,” he said in a statement. Last week, NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione said police needed stronger powers to identify women who wear full facial veils. Police have had the power to ask women to remove face veils during the investigation of serious offences but did not have such powers during routine car stops. AAP, 4 July 2011
Here are other aspects of this debate:
Events such as these, which occurred nearly three years ago, soon may not be so isolated