Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Niqab Ban

So, we all know that I am speaking from the peanut gallery on this matter. I'm not Muslim, and I don't ever intend to be a Muslim. Even when I was seriously investigating Islam as a possible convert, I did not find the evidence for the niqab being fard to be overwhelmingly convincing. Hijab, yes, if we're speaking of a standard of modesty. Not so much if we're speaking of a very specific uniform. Okay?

That being said, I am very much against banning the niqab. In the exact same vein I am against any religious clothing being banned in public. So yamuka, headscarves of other religious women, a Sikh turban, tzitzit, crosses, crucifixes, rosary beads, prayer ropes, etc.

France says that they are banning the face veil because of security concerns. I don't believe that to be true, given that their president flat out said that he was against the Islamic face veil in particular. They're a 'secular country', right?

In my opinion, that's fine and dandy. A nation can be secular. It should be, as a matter of fact - in the sense that the nation should not be run on religious rules. Any nation run on religious rules will, without fail, wind up discriminating against those people living within it who are not of the predominant faith. That doesn't mean that the people, however, must be secular or that the secular nation can or should infringe on their rights. One of the rights people have is religious freedom. If a woman believes that her faith requires her to veil her face in public, then she should have the right to do that. In the same way that other women have the right to walk around half naked on beaches. Two ends of the same problem.


  1. I think France is the worst example of secular countries mean. Whether i agree on niqab or not, i still believe in the freedom of all people to wear whatever they like otherwise what difference is France from Saudi Arabia in this decision?.

  2. France is particularly interesting because if you go there you will most likely see some add with a naked woman in it. They have no issues what so ever with showing male or female bodies in public. But they have this massive issue with niqab and the headscarf. If a woman wears her scarf in a non obviously religious way then its fine. Its only "Banned" if it blatantly says "I'm Muslim". Its so strange.

  3. I think this has to do more with some French being very scared of their culture, their "Frenchness" being diminished especially within their own borders where they can somewhat control it. They were already angered many years ago when English became the language of diplomacy .. a place that French had until it was dethroned. And now with the influx of Muslims - mostly from poorer regions, not the educated kinds we usually get in the States - coupled with France not being welcoming to them and letting them "be French," they have this problem with what they see as this other identity encroaching on their territory. And of course their President caters to this fear and the niqab is an easy way to show he is fighting for Frenchness in the face of the rise of Islam (which we "all know" is threatening the Western way of life.)

    But I agree with you. People should have choices. However, I think in certain jobs, it's OK to have a dress code. I wouldn't want a teacher wearing niqab quite frankly. I learn a lot about people from watching their faces. But I doubt most of these niqabis are French school teachers. Oh, also I wouldn't want my teacher wearing a bikini in the classroom so the dress code standards go both ways.

  4. I totally agree with you and I'm not a big fan of niqab overall. People should have the right to chose what they wear, whether it's a revealing bikini or a covering dress and face veil. I also agree with Susanne that there are situations where there is good reason to not allow it but that's case by case.

  5. Wafa',

    I agree. France is a terrible example in so many ways. There are two extremes to the covering issue. Saudi Arabia is on one, France on the other. And there is no difference in the suppression and removal of freedom in either case. Both are in the wrong, as far as I'm concerned.

  6. LK,

    Yeah. That's one of the things that bugs me. If someone complains about the half-naked people running around they get told that it's none of their business business and they need to be more tolerant. But someone wants to cover up and they're suddenly the ones in the wrong. It's very clearly and specifically designed to be against Islam, and that's terrible.

  7. Susanne,

    And I get that that's a part of it. But that's their own problem, isn't it? Why don't they focus more on bolstering their own culture, having a renewal of the positive things about being French rather than attacking the culture of people coming into their country?

    Really? *goes searching* I saw this video, years ago. It's an interview with three Muslim women. One hijabi, one niqabi, and one who doesn't cover at all. I didn't have a hard time understanding the niqabi at all.

    Here's the vid:


    Anyway. I think that there are visual cues that we use to understand people's emotions, etc. but unless the person is teaching language or something where it's important to be able to see how they shape the words the niqab wouldn't be a problem on a teacher. For me, anyway.

    Then again, I don't want anyone wearing only a bikini teaching me, unless they're teaching me how to scuba dive or something. In which case it becomes appropriate clothing. :D

  8. Candice,

    That's just it. I don't have to agree with niqab. I just believe that people have the right to make that choice for themselves. There are some instances where certain dress might be problematic, like trying to teach a new language to people while wearing niqab - it's harder to learn to speak the language properly if you can't see how the teacher is forming the words. But other than some very specific circumstances, I don't think it should be a problem.


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