Wednesday, October 15, 2014

A History of Attempts to BAN the Burqa !

Of course we should not ban the burqa or the niqab. We do believe in Freedom don't we? But it is because we do believe in Freedom that we should still feel free to criticize those shrouds of oppression. Australia's Prime Minister Tony Abbott last week weighed in, confessing he found the burqa ''a fairly confronting form of attire.''

In 2011, Senator Cory Bernardi called for the burqa to be banned in Australia, branding it ''un-Australian''.  Last week, he called on Tony Abbott this time to make the decision, now that there is renewed scrutiny on the Muslim community and its surreptitious support of the Islamic State. Unfortunately, even though many countries around the world have succeeded in banning the loath-some garment, the PM looks like he is reluctant to stir things up presently, so the debate about the burqa continues.

To put some perspective on the matter, it is important to know that the Quran has no requirement that women cover their faces with a veil, or cover their bodies with the full-body burqa or chador (also known as chadri in Central Asia).

The full chadri covers the wearers entire face and head except for a small region about the eyes, which is covered by a net or grille. Burqa is an Arabized Persian word of purda (or parda) meaning curtain and veil, which has the same meaning in Persian.

In other styles, like the niqab, the veil is attached by one side, and covers the face only below the eyes to be seen. The more simpler covering are the head scarfs hijab, shayla or al-amira. Many Muslims believe that the collected traditions of the life of Muhammad, or hadith, require both men and women to dress and behave modestly in public.

The Burqa/ Niqab Situation Around the World:

In Afghanistan:, it is officially not required under the present regime, but local deadshit warlords still enforce it in the southern regions. Chadri use in the remainder of the country is viable and is gradually declining. Due to political instability, women who might otherwise be inclined to wear the chadri must do so as a matter of personal safety.

In Pakistan:  the use of the burqa is primarily predominant in Pashtun territories along the border areas, especially in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas. However, in the remaining majority of the country, its use has greatly declined over time. However, the burqa observances remain localized and most women who observe burqa use within these areas, do not do so when they travel out of the area.

In India:  the burqa is common in many areas of the Muslim population -- old Delhi, for example. It seems the obligation of a woman to wear a burqa is dependent on her age: young, unmarried women or young, married women in their first years of marriage are required to wear the burqa. However, after this the husband usually decides if his wife should continue to wear it.

In Indonesia:  the term jilbab is used without exception to refer to the hijab. Under Indonesian National and Regional law female head-covering is entirely optional and not obligatory. The hijab is a fairly new phenomenon in Indonesia. The sole exception where the jilbab is mandatory is in Aceh Province, which was granted special autonomy and instigated Islamic Sharia based law.

In Malaysia:  Muslim women may choose whether or not to wear the headscharf, except it must be worn visiting a mosque. It is forbidden to wear the full-face niqab as the Supreme Court cites, ''it has nothing to do with a women's right to practice her Muslim religion because Islam does not make it obligatory to cover the face.''

In Bangladesh:  There are no laws the require women to cover their heads. In recent times there has been a rise in number of women wearing the hijab. The ruling secular government has increased there are reports of  harassment and repression against those who wear the hijab which is seen as a symbol of Islam. This goes against the vision the government has of creating a secular Bangladesh.

In Iran :  The Reza Shah banned the chador and all hijabs in 1936, as incompatible with his modernizing ambitions. During the reign of the last Shah traditional clothing was largely discarded by the wealthier urban upper-class women in favour of western clothing, although women in small towns continued to wear the chador. Niqabs and burqas are very uncommon in Iran, limited mostly in small Arab and Afghan communities in the south and east.

In Saudi Arabia:  The vast majority of traditional Saudi women are expected to cover their faces in public. The Saudi niqab usually leaves a long open slot for the eyes. Many Saudi women use a headscarf along with the niqab or another simple veil to cover all or most of the face when in public.

In Egypt:  Since 1926, the veil gradually disappeared. However, the veil has had a resurgence,
concomitant with the global revival of Muslim piety. Now about 90% of Egyptian women currently wear a head-scarf.  Small numbers wear the niqab but the secular government does not approve and there has been even some restrictions of wearing the hijab, which it views as a political symbol.

In Jordan:  There are no laws banning the headscarf in public. Veils covering the face as well as the chador are rare. The hijab is increasingly becoming more of a fashion statement than a religious one with Jordanian women wearing colourful, stylish scarves along with western style clothing.

In Lebanon:  The wearing of headscharves has become more common since the Israeli invasion in the 1980s. Observance of this custom ranges from no headscarf at all to just a regular hijab and/or a chador,

In Syria:  Syria's Minister for Higher Education, announced that the government would ban women from wearing the Burqa at universities and public buildings. Among the prohibited garments would be the niqab, but not the hijab or related garments that do not cover the entire face. He stated that the face veils ran counter to the secular and academic principles of Syria.

In Turkey:  Being officially a secular state, the burqa and hijab are banned in universities, libraries, government and public buildings in 1980. The law was strengthened more in 1997 but under the conservative party (AKP) there has been some unofficial relaxation in recent years. In cities like Istanbul and Ankara most women do not cover their heads. In 2008, the Constitutional Court reinstated the ban which was widely seen as a victory for the Turk's separation of state and religion.

In Morocco:  The burqa and the hijab are not encouraged by governmental institutions and are frowned upon by urban middle and higher classes, but as yet not forbidden by law. As it is not traditional, to wear one is considered rather a religious or political decision.

In Tunisia:  In 1981, women with headscharves were banned in schools and government buildings. Then in 2006, the authorities banned it public places. The government described the headscarf as a sectarian form of dress which came uninvited to the country. In January, 2011, after the revolution took place, the headscarf was authorized and the ban lifted.

In Europe:   Italy was the first, in 1975, by an anti-terrorism law, to pass a law forbidding women wearing any dress that hides the face. In France, since 2004, wearing the burqa was not allowed in public schools, being judged religious symbol like the Christian cross. This was followed in 2010 with the banning of burqas and niqabs in public areas. Also in 2010 the Belgium parliament passed a bill banning any clothing that would obscure the identity of the wearer in public. In 2012, in the Netherlands followed suit with the banning of the burqa and niqab as clothing that would hide the wearer's identity.. This would pertain to public transport, health care, education and government buildings.

The United Kingdom:  Is a separate case because a 2011 poll indicated that 68 per cent of British people supported banning the burqa and niqab in all public places. With 2,786, 685 Muslims living in the U.K. and making up 4.4 per cent of the population, there is a political spinelessness bordering on appeasement to this ethnic community. So, for now, if ever, a ban on burqas and face-covering clothes has been ruled out by the current Conservative-Liberal Democrat government and the pussys in he previous Labour government.

The Way I See It.....I agree with Sheikh Muhammad Sayyid Tantawi, (photo right) perhaps the foremost spiritual authority in Sunni Islam and Grand sheikh of al-Azhar University, Sunni Islam's highest institution of religious learning, was reportedly ''angered''  when he toured a school in Cairo and saw a teenage girl wearing a niqab. Asking the girl to remove her face veil, he said, '' The niqab is a tradition; it has no connection with religion.''  He instructed the girl never to wear the niqab again and issued a fatwa (religious edict) against its use in schools.

As early as 1899, the Egyptian intellectual Qasim Amin published his landmark book, The Liberation of Women, which argued that the face veil was not commensurate with the tenents of Islam and called for its removal. In 1923, the feminist Hoda Hanim Shaarawi, who established the first feminist association that called for uncovering the face and hair, became the first Egyptian woman to remove her face veil (niqab).

There's enough precedent over the last century for banning the Burqa and Niqabs in Australia. As a secular country there should be no guilt feelings on the part of our government to ban any religiously motivated face-covering in public. As ex-president of France, Nicolas Sarkozy so aptly put it;  ''In our country, we cannot accept that women be prisoners behind a screen, cut of from all social life, deprived of all identity.''

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