The Niqab Debate
Muhammad ‘Abd Al-Haqq
The issues surrounding the niqab( what many Westerners mean by veil or “face-veil”) are indeed multifaceted. I would like to discuss them here. It seems that the bans on niqab and in some cases hijab seem to be about 1. Presenting Muslim women as so alien, belonging to an essentially irreconcilable culture, such that non-Muslims, especially women, find Islam disgusting 2. Presenting Muslim women who cover as the victims of Muslim male oppression in need of rescue by Muslim males 3. Bogus national security issues.
So it seems that the problems with niqab recall two old Orientalist tropes about Islam, the exotic Muslim woman and the suffering Muslim woman in need of rescue by male Westerners who give them the ability to discard their symbol of Islamic oppression, the hijab or niqab. And now it includes a neo-Orientalist one of Muslims presenting as national security threats to Western nations. I personally do not think that niqab is wajib, and after hearing all the arguments for it, from an Islamic point of view, I do not think it is a necessary sign of increased piety. Nor do I buy into the typical rationalizations advocating it. But I will defend the rights of my niqabi sisters on Islamic grounds not on some western notion of religious freedom. Let me explain.
The niqab is within the acceptable range of modesty that Islamic dress codes mandate. Of course this “range” is too restrictive for non-Muslims, but I am not speaking to that sentiment. The point is that not only is niqab acceptable on Islamic grounds, but, on Islamic grounds, certain situations dictate that a woman may remove her face veil in the presence of males she normally would not allow to see her face. Driver’s license photos, passports photos and other forms of ID are acceptable even to the most “conservative” interpretations that disapprove of pictures and television and the like, in general. Airport security checks or police stops that require authorities to ascertain identity are also notable exceptions. So the niqab in actuality poses no security risks, such that the niqabi sister who refuses to remove it in these circumstances is indeed somewhat “extremist”.
In this series of videos the issues discussed above and others are addressed
Monday April 11, 2001 marked the start of an official ban on garments that hide the face, supposedly not targeting Muslim women. But there are other instances where a face veil or other facial covering becomes necessary. Should we be gullible enough to believe these are also included in the ban, or is it just Islamic “face coverings”. The Multicultural Secular France has decide d that something that they view to be peculiarly Islamic is not a part of French Culture. Multicultural French culture. The hypocrisy is astounding. The new laws made France the world’s first country to ban the veils anywhere in public. The law says veiled women risk a 150 Euro (215 US dollar) fine or special citizenship classes, though not jail.
In this video “oppressed” Muslim women are discussing women’s rights in Islam. It is in Arabic so if anyone wants an English translation just send me an email.
These videos address the burqa and niqab bans in France as other European nations are considering similar measures.