The Burqini Ban

burqini

Written by Randeep Singh

The Muslim women of France are being forced to be free, again.

A few days ago, on a beach in Nice, police forced a woman to remove her burqini. The woman was fined and charged with disrespecting secularism. She stood in the shadow of four police officers armed with handguns, batons and pepper spray. She was gawked at by others, told to go home.

I am not a fan of the hijab, niqaab or any form of face or head covering. I think they are a form of oppression. But it is not my place to tear them off Muslim women. Nor is it the place of a state with all its coercive powers to force women toward freedom by having them remove their clothing or head covering.

Like any law or ideology, French secularism is not neutral. It is the product of French culture, history and society. It reflects the will of the French majority. It did little for its Jewish minorities living in an anti-Semitic French society and culture before World War II, just as it struggles to manage an ethnically and religiously diverse society today.

The Muslim woman’s veil, in particular, has long haunted France. Colonial France saw the veil as the major barrier to the spread of her superior, egalitarian civilization. In the Algerian War of Independence (1954 to 1962), the French called themselves liberators of Muslim women. In 1957, Muslim Algerian women were publicly unveiled as part of the French “emancipation” program.

Then there’s the policing of women’s morality. This, of course, is not unique to Muslim women. In 1907, the first woman to sport a sleeveless swimming outfit in Australia arrested. The two-piece bikini was banned in Spain, Italy and Portugal and denounced by the Pope. In 1967, French women in mini-skirts were stripped by a mob.

And of course, Saudi Arabia enforces the niqaab, Iran upholds the hijaab and Pakistan has its shariah-compliant bra. To veil or not to veil is a question answered by the state, cleric or clan, but rarely just left to the Muslim woman.

Further Reading:

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/aug/24/the-burkini-ban-what-it-really-means-when-we-criminalise-clothes

‘Let’s Burn The Burqa’ by Taslima Nasreen

My mother used to wear a burqa with a net over her face. It reminded me of the meat safes in my grandmother’s house. Meat safe’s net was made of metal, my mother’s net was made of linen. But the objective was the same: keeping the meat safe. My mother was put under a burqa by her family. They told her that wearing a burqa would mean obeying Allah. If you obeyed Allah, He would be happy with you and not let you burn in hellfire. My mother was afraid of Allah and also of her father. He would threaten her with grave consequences if she did not wear the burqa.

My mother was also afraid of the men in the neighborhood; even her husband was a source of fear, for he could do anything to her if she disobeyed him.

As a young girl, I used to nag her: ‘Mother, don’t you suffocate in this? Don’t you feel all dark inside? Don’t you feel breathless? Don’t you ever feel like throwing it off?’ My mother kept quite. She couldn’t do anything about it. But I could. When I was sixteen, I was presented a burqa by one of my relatives. I threw it out.

The custom of veil is not new. It goes as far back as 13th century B.C.E in Assyria. The women of aristocratic Assyrian families used veil. Ordinary women and prostitutes were not allowed to wear veil. In the middle ages, even Anglo-Saxon women used to cover their hair and chin and hide their faces behind a curtain. This veil system was not religious. The religious veil was used by Catholic nuns and Mormons, though for the latter only during religious ceremonies and rituals. For Muslim women, however, such religious veil is not limited to rituals, but mandatory for their daily lives.

There are people who say that the Quran doesn’t say anything about wearing a burqa. They are mistaken. This is what the Quran says:
‘And command the Muslim women to keep their gaze low and to protect their chastity, and not to reveal their adornment except what is apparent, and to keep the cover wrapped over their bosoms; and not to reveal their adornment except to their own husbands or fathers or husbands’ fathers, or their sons or their husbands’ sons, or their brothers or their brothers’ sons or sisters’ sons, or women of their religion, or the bondwomen they possess, or male servants provided they do not have manliness, or such children who do not know of women’s nakedness, and not to stamp their feet on the ground in order that their hidden adornment be known; and O Muslims, all of you turn in repentance together towards Allah, in the hope of attaining success. (It is incumbent upon women to cover themselves properly.)’
[Sura Al Noor 24:31]

‘O Prophet, tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers to bring down over themselves [part] of their outer garments. That is more suitable that they will be known and not be abused. And ever is Allah Forgiving and Merciful.’
[Surah Al Ahzab 33:59]

Even the Hadith– a collection of the words of Prophet Muhammed, his opinion on various subjects and words about his work, written by those close to him– speaks extensively of the veil. Women must cover their body before going out, they should not go before strangers, they should not go to the mosque to pray, they should not attend any funeral, they should not go to the graveyards!

There are many views on why and how the Islamic veil started. One view has it that Prophet Muhammed became very poor after spending all the wealth of Khadija, his first wife. At that time, in Arabia, the poor had to go to the open desert for relieving themselves, and even for sexual needs. The Prophet’s wives, too, had to do the same. He had told his wives ‘You are allowed to go out to answer the call of nature.’ [Bukhari Hadith first volume book 4 No. 149]. Accordingly, this is what his wives started doing. One day, Prophet Muhammed’s disciple, Umar, complained that these women were very uncomfortable because they were instantly recognizable while relieving themselves. Umar proposed a cover but Prophet Muhammed ignored it. Then the Prophet asked Allah for advice and he laid down the verse (33:59) [Sahih Muslim Book 026 No. 5397].

This is the history of the veil, according to the Hadith. But the question is: as Arab men, too, relieved themselves in the open, why didn’t Allah start the veil for men? Clearly, Allah doesn’t treat men and women as equals, else there would be veil for both! Men are considered superior to women. So women have to be made walking prisons.

Another view is that the veil was introduced to separate women from slaves. This originates from stories in the Hadith. One story in the Hadith goes thus: After the fall of Khyber, people described the beauty of Safia Bint Hui, the new bride of a slain enemy soldier. The Prophet chose her for himself. On the way to Madina he stopped and had intercourse with her. His companions did not know if she was a wife or a concubine/slave. Later, a veil was drawn between her and the men-folk and they came to know that she was a wife [Bukhari, Book of Sales and Book of Nikah 3:59].

The third view comes from this story. Prophet Muhammed’s wife Ayesha was very beautiful. His friends were often found staring at her with admiration. This clearly upset the Prophet. So the Quran has an verse that says, ‘Oh friends of the prophet, never go to the prophet’s house without an invitation. And if you do go, don’t look at his wives or ask them for any favour.’ It was to resist friends, and disciples that the veil system came into being. First it was applicable to only the wives of the prophet, and later it was extended to all Muslim women. Now, some women practice the veil by only covering their hair. That is not what is written in the Quran and in the Hadith: covering just the hair is not Islamic veil.

Why are women covered? Because they are objects for sex. Because when men see unveiled women, they are aroused. But men are not covered for this. Why should women have to be penalized for men’s sexual problems? Women also have sexual urges! But men are not penalized for it. In no religion created by men are women thought of as human beings. The rules of veil humiliate not only women but also men. If women walk about without veil, it’s as if men will look at them with lustful eyes, or pounce on them, or rape them. Do men lose all their senses when they see any women without a burqa?

My question to people who argue that the Quran says nothing about veil is: If the Quran advises women to wear veil, should they do so? Really, No. Irrespective of which book says it, which person advises it, whoever commands it, women should not wear veil, no veil, no chador, no hijab, no burqa, no headscarf, not any of them! They are instruments of no respect. These are symbols of women’s imprisonment. Through them, women are told that they are but the property of men and society: things. These coverings are used to keep women passive, submissive. Women are told to wear them so that they cannot exist with their honor, confidence, separate identity, respect – with their own opinions and ideals – intact; and so that they cannot stand with their heads held high and their spines strong and erect.

Some 1,500 years ago, it was decided for an individual’s personal reasons that women should wear veil, since then millions of Muslim women have had to suffer it. So many old customs have died a natural death, but not veil. Instead, of late, there has been a mad craze to revive it. Covering a woman’s head means covering her brain to ensure that it will not work. If women were not massively brainwashed or their brains worked properly, they would have long ago thrown off these veils imposed on them by a religious and patriarchal regime.

What should women do? They should proclaim a war against the ill-treatment meted out to them. They should snatch back from the men their freedom and their rights; they should throw their head-scarves out. They should take off their burqas and burn them.

http://freethoughtblogs.com/taslima/2012/04/08/lets-burn-the-burqa/

Taslima Nasreen is an award-winning internationally acclaimed Bengali author. Her writings have been translated in 20 languages. She has faced various fatwas, and an 18-year long exile from her country because of her writings.
.
.

‘Loose Character’ Reason Enough to Take Women’s Lives!

Religious fanatics have successfully ‘cleansed’ the world yet again by killing two women of ‘loose character’ in the NWFP in Pakistan. Ali Hazrat Bacha writes:
‘PESHAWAR, Aug 20: In the first incident of its kind in and around the provincial capital, bullet-riddled bodies of two women, who had been kidnapped from a village in Charsadda district a few days ago, were found in Guli Garhi village near here on Wednesday.
‘A note found near bodies described the victims as women of ‘loose character’ and said they had been killed because they had not heeded the warning of ‘Jaish-i-Islami’ to ‘mend their ways’.’
CMKP Digest Number 1583

Violence against women in Pakistan is rising as always, and now, the exponents of deified male supremacy, the false-morality-ridden religious bullies, are issuing public threats to women not just in the NWFP where Taliban are in strength but in the Punjab as well. And sure, ‘loose character’ is good reason to kill a woman; it does not even cost much in Qisas as the killers will only have to pay half of what they would pay to kill a man. And that is, IF brought to justice.

At the end of last month, the Acid TIP (Tehreek-e-Islami Taliban Pakistan) threatened to ‘Throw Acid on Women Not Wearing Hijab’ . Still I think, the Taliban may use further Saudi guidance in this area as the bastion of their ‘spirituality’ is way ahead with a father killing his daughter ‘for chatting on Facebook’ .

Earlier this month, ‘Militants threw acid on two Muslim women for not wearing veils and for putting make-up on their faces’ in Srinagar Kashmir. The women were high school teachers. The same report also mentions two other women who had ‘faced similar treatment in Kaksarai recently’. www.hinduonnet.com.

Ansar Burney Trust, a human rights organization, finds that ‘in the vast majority of cases’ of women dying as a result of ‘domestic violence’, a term commonly still used in Pakistan for ‘woman assault’, were killed or mutilated by their husbands and in-laws, brothers and fathers, ex-husbands and ex-lovers. Regarding sexual violence, the Trust estimates that ‘as many as eight women – half of them minors – are raped in Pakistan everyday’. Reasons for rape: revenge on the woman or her family; Jirga/Punchayat ordered rape for her crimes or her family’s; and, by the police while in their custody. On average, ‘a woman suffers an acid attack every week in Pakistan’ www.ansarburney.org.

Last year a woman Minister was ‘Shot Dead for Refusing to Wear Veil’. ‘Pakistani tells how he killed 4 daughters’. ‘Danish-Pakistani woman killed in honor murder’ for having a ‘bad character’.

Amnesty, Asia Pacific: ‘Women and girls are dying at the hands of their husbands, their fathers and brothers, while the authorities pay lip service to their obligations to protect them’.

And that is why it is so hard to fight, even resist, the religious fanatics because they are safeguarding the ‘interests’ of all men by providing them with a strong moral-religious ground to ‘control’ what is being perceived as ‘their women’.

We are our own women.
We will determine
our ‘characters’,
values, education, dresses,
makeup, and
the size of our boobs;
We will select our partners,
careers, videos, cds,
miniskirts, and
shoes;
We will fight,
and get back the right
to live as we like;
To be who we are: Beautiful,
Graceful, Creative, and
Content.

Fauzia Rafique
gandholi.wordpress.com
frafique@gmail.com

Contact Uddari
uddariweblog@gmail.com
Facebook
facebook.com/UddariWeblog
Twitter
twitter.com/UddariWeblog
..