Where’s Walda?

Where’s Walda? Graduation ceremony under the veil of anonymity (Thx to our friends at Google Images!)

I recently had an interesting conversation with a Muslim woman who vehemently defended the right of women to wear the burqa or niqab freely and without any restriction.

This is a highly debated topic in many modern societies, particularly in Europe, where several members of the EU have recently imposed restrictions on face and full-body coverings for reasons ranging from security, personal identification, border or police control, civil equality, respect of national institutions, to human rights, interpersonal relationships, protection of women, etc. (see: France, the Vatican, Italy and Canada: Pros and Cons of a Law Forbidding the Burka).

On one hand, some advocate the respect of religious traditions as well as the free and unbound choice of women to wear what they wish to wear; while on the other hand, some denounce the coercion imposed on women by religious traditions and patriarchal societies, resulting in the obligation of women to comply to strict sets of extremely restrictive rules and wear all kinds of coverings that essentially deprive them of freedom and identity.

I wish to forcefully reiterate what I have already mentioned in previous writings; for libertarians, the issue at stake is not over the type of garment individuals wish to wear or not.  Libertarians don’t oppose scarves, hats, sunglasses, masks on Halloween or balaclavas in winter.  Our concern is regarding the imposition on individuals, often on women, of so-called “religious laws” that may or may not have sound religious foundations and essentially result in dispossession of individual liberty.

(To all libertarians out these; check this wonderful head-covering item.  Warmly recommended – particularly in Canadian winters!)

Dino Bala (Thx to our friends at Google Images)

This debate is fortunately far from over.  At some point, each modern society will have to decide if it is morally and legally acceptable to allow restrictive religious customs to trump its secular code of ethics.

I was working recently on a new article regarding the terribly sad story of Malala Yousufzai, the amazingly courageous young girl targeted by Taliban zealots simply for going to school and promoting “western values”.  While researching the subject, I came across comments over the Internet of young girls and women in Pakistan voicing their fear of going to school or even walking the streets.  One was saying that she now stays home and does not dare going to school anymore.

Malala Yousufzai (Thx to our friends at Google Images)

Unfortunately, intimidation and threats are taking their toll.  For many women, Muslim and non-Muslim alike, full head covering may be the only way to hide their identity when walking to school or engaging in any other activity prohibited by Muslim extremists.

In the same way that sharks, faced with schools of fishes who can’t be individually isolated and targeted, are unable to strike, the same strategy may be all that is left for women to afford some form of protection in countries were militant Islam remains a permanent peril.

Predator lurking under a School of fish (Thx to our friends at Google Images)

Sadly, desire for anonymity and personal safety, may paradoxically be what is forcing some women to adopt full head covering as a protection against extremists who would otherwise seek to harm them for not wearing it.

It is still a long road ahead for women in many parts of the world.  One can only applaud the recent positions taken by moderate Muslims in Pakistan and all over the world.  The Malala story may be a turning point in the way moderate Muslims address the growing problem of militant Islam and its perverse consequences.

The Taliban may have underestimated the force of the international outcry and local backlash.  My secret desire is for Malala Yousufzai to be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize next year, and perhaps become Pakistan’s own Rigoberta Menchu.

As a follow-up on this blog entry, I strongly recommend the recent article by Syed Mahmood Kazmi, a courageous member of the Youth Parliament of Pakistan:

“A message from Pakistan: “Taliban! Be afraid! We will educate every girl!”

About Michel Botman

Michel Botman was born in Belgium, where visual arts have always flirted with the limits of reality. In the eighties, Michel Botman started exploring the first tools to manipulate images though computers. For about 15 years, Michel Botman worked throughout Europe in the emerging field of Computer Applications for the Graphic Arts. Extensive experience in Digital Imaging allowed Michel to move into the field of computerized systems for Diagnostic Imaging. As VP Sales & Marketing for eSys Medical and later with Eclipsys, Michel Botman always remained dedicated to the creativity and innovation that are at the heart of his career. At the present time, Michel Botman is refocusing his life towards graphic arts. “I studied photography in Europe, but never had time to practice it enough. Life took me on other paths towards computer technologies and running a business. I enjoyed it very much, but I also love art. I always keep my eyes open for exciting opportunities and people that touch my heart.” Michel Botman currently lives between Toronto, Canada and Bangkok, Thailand. Above Gravatar pictures are of Michel Botman and his son Noah Botman.
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75 Responses to Where’s Walda?

  1. Youre not the general blog writer, man. You definitely have something important to contribute to the net. Such a great blog. Ill come back again for more.

  2. hydroxypentanal says:

    I have to say I completely disagree, First of all when you refer to “extremist” I recommend that you don’t put the word “Muslim” in front of it, for the reason being these FEW people whom say that they are Muslim and carry guns around to oppress people are not Muslim, the are uneducated and brought up by culture NOT religion ; and there is a major difference in Culture and Religion.

    Now for your main article: Yes there are quite a lot of women whom are forced to cover up due to controlling husbands/brothers/fathers, but the thing is that these men are not educated OR are spoiled for just being born a male and hence think they have the right to do whatever they want to there relation female (sister/wife). However religion contradicts this, in Islam women have the right to express there opinions, have education, not be physically/emotionally abused and not to be treated like slaves.

    The “covering up” is for an extremely good reason, it prevent sexual exploitation!! which seem to be very high in the WEST, it also exists in the East BUT Religion is there to prevent it. If people follow the religion correctly, which is all the east countries does not seem to be the case.
    Countries like Pakistan get there culture from India-where Guys are treated like Kings and girls like slaves- this is not from religion it is from controlling men whom think they have the right to do what ever they want. However on the day of judgement they will see how wrong they where and where the Vulnerably will be granted heaven!

    There is a quote from the prophet Muhammad PBUS ” Who ever is good toward his wife is the best among the Muslim”

  3. sannekurz says:

    Education boys and girls at secular schools plays a key role in understanding each other and different cultures, beliefs and religions, as well as helps the growing individual to form a strong self-image and self-esteem. – And one or two compulsory years at school are not enough. “We will educate every girl!” Well said. – Thanks for sharing this article and great links.

  4. tugbaturan says:

    if yound muslim women don’t have the right to wear what they want in my country Türkiye, they wear what the majority wears. because when they look the same as the others look they can walk around without getting any negative attention. you know to want to get attention is one of the devil side of being a woman, or it’s considered like this. if noone likes you, noone lookes at you, if you are not in the middle of any manly attraction, you are a good girl. being a good girl provides you marrying a young man who can take care of you and the children you may have given birth.

    so the debate is far from over, yes. but the women feeling safe by looking like the same as everyone does, are more unfortunate than the debate.

  5. Very insightful perspective on a hotly contested issue. I used to feel that women should have he right to choose whether to wear a covering or not, and that any imposition from a goverment (to wear one or not) on either side is equally as bad. I’m not sure where I stand on the issue anymore because I think it goes deeper than that….The treatment of women in some (not all) of these Middle Eastern countries is scary! Maybe the covering is a way to protect their identity and shield them from even harsher punishment for not wearing one as you point out!

  6. Charlotte says:

    All societies that presently exist are modern societies.

  7. This is an interesting article. I am a woman, American born an raised, unforetunately I’ve never left the country and my entire family is from here (Washington, D.C.) to be exact. I wear niqab. So do a few of my friends and I would like to state again we are not Arabs and have no imposing males in our lives ordering us to do so. It would be nice to see an article from the viewpoint of an American Niqabi on why we choose to cover ourselves this way. Trust me I’m not hiding from anyone. It just saddens me, that the only profile of niqabis available is one of a fearful, restricted, and confined woman. That simply just isn’t the case for everyone.

  8. In America the current trend for women is to wear revealing clothing, the opposite of the burqa or niqab. Clothing choice does not protect women nor does it indicate consent to assault, because clothing is not the point. Whether hiding behind religious rhetoric or cultural extremism men justify the predation of women. At what point is the length of a burqa insufficient, or the jeans so tight that assault is justified? I am all for personal liberty and personal responsibility, but let’s point that finger at the ones out looking for a reason to hurt somebody.

    • I agree, if someone is a rapist or sexual predator, what you wear wont make a difference, victims should not be blamed. WHat I will add is in my experience what has stopped since i covered is men trying to chat you up on road, whistling at you, beeping in cars etc.

  9. Well written. If the moderates do not act, there is fear of militant ideology taking over. Congrats on being freshly pressed.

  10. Kris F says:

    Thank you for pointing out a positive result (if there is one) for women to be covered completely. Personal safety for these young women is most important and we need to always remember the courage required to merely leave their homes. The shooting of a 14 year old determined to be educated is an indication of how fear based these laws are and the repression of one gender cannot continue. Excellent post and congrats on FP.

  11. Blue Bells says:

    Being Muslim and Pakistani, I feel free to live life in whatever way I want. All Pakistani young girls and women are not victimized for seeking education. There are some areas due to negligence of government are now under the control of thugs where they implement their own version of Islam, which is totally wrong. Overall conditions are not menacing in Pakistan as the world thinks.

  12. amatterofinstinct says:

    I love that people keep this debate alive and sincerely appreciate this post. It shouldn’t take such awe-inspiring bravery just to be able to show who you are.

  13. segmation says:

    Living in America and Canada definately has its benefits. I feel sorry for Malala Yousufzai that now stays home and does not dare going to school anymore. We here are lucky to have our rights and freedom. Don’t you agree?

  14. I guess I just don’t see how banning it in, say, France, does anything to help women in Pakistan. I would be horrified if someone came up to me and said ‘You’re dressed too conservatively. Don’t you know it’s 2012? Take off that sweatshirt, put on a shorter skirt!’

  15. fireandair says:

    Personally, I think that when a girl can get shot in the head for simply being literate, the canned trust-fund-feminist line about how outlawing the niqab insults women’s agency is exposed for the crock it is. If it were simply a matter of personal choice to cover oneself in a shroud 24/7, then women everywhere would be wearing it with a statistically random likelihood. MEN would be wearing them. The fact is that they are only found in places where women are beaten with tire chains for showing an ankle. How anyone can whine about “freedom of choice” in the face of that staggers me.

    Yeah, and black people “chose” to stay in ghettos and slums in South Africa before apartheid ended.

    And personally, I’d like to see beards and standard cultural garb for men outlawed as well. Stop concentrating so much on the women. Why can Muslim men in Europe wear beards? Why not share around the outlawing a little?

    • Are you saying in East London, UK women are beaten with tire chains for showing an ankle? lol you should get amnesty to put some pressure on David Cameron to do something about that!

      you know what, my parents fought to end apartheid, my dad was imprisoned and tortured for passing messages for the ANC, my mum went on the march in London when she was 9 months pregnant with me.

      and I wear hijab, I live in UK have done all my life, never been anywhere near a Muslim country.

      My brother is Hindu he has a beard,
      My brother in Law is French Catholic he has a beard
      My husband also has beard..
      SO what?

  16. This is a wonderful piece 🙂 and I totally agree! I find it hard to understand how the EU can win the peace prize (which I personally disagreed with), when truly brave individuals such as Malala do not.

  17. Maya Den says:

    Muslim extremists, Islamic extremists, Moderate Muslims? I don’t understand these titles in the first place. One of your tags for the post is what? Ah! Militant ISLAM!

  18. Maya Den says:

    I do not understand what people like you are trying to implicate here with these terms. A person is either a Muslim or an infidel. There is no such THING as a quater Muslim, half or a full Muslim.
    People like you spread propaganda against Islam and Muslims. Yes, I feel really sorry for the poor girl, MALALA YOUSUFZAI, May ALLAH bless her with health and strength to face the hardships of the compromised life she is living right now but hey, are people still that naive to understand whats going on? Talibans!? People really think there is a group of ‘Islamic’ militants called Taliban? People just blindly trust what media tells us. We need to open our eyes, heart and mind to what we are told. This whole thing is a propaganda against Muslims and their religion, nothing else! There is no Taliban. The American Govt. is Taliban. They are the ones always planning and executing the coveops like this one to tarnish the image of Islam. To tell the people of the world ‘See, This is what Islam teaches, if a girl tries to seek education, kill her’. And this is what your post seems all about.

    • The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “The seeking of knowledge is obligatory for every Muslim.” – Al-Tirmidhi, Hadith 74

      The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “One who treads a path in search of knowledge has his path to Paradise made easy by God…” – Riyadh us-Saleheen, 245

      The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “A servant of God will remain standing on the Day of Judgment until he is questioned about his (time on earth) and how he used it; about his knowledge and how he utilized it; about his wealth and from where he acquired it and in what (activities) he spent it; and about his body and how he used it.” – Al-Tirmidhi, Hadith 148

      The Prophet also said: “Knowledge from which no benefit is derived is like a treasure out of which nothing is spent in the cause of God.” – Al-Tirmidhi, Hadith 108

      The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “God, His angels and all those in Heavens and on Earth, even ants in their hills and fish in the water, call down blessings on those who instruct others in beneficial knowledge.” – Al-Tirmidhi, Hadith 422

      The Prophet also said: “Acquire knowledge and impart it to the people.” – Al-Tirmidhi, Hadith 107

      The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “If anyone travels on a road in search of knowledge, God will cause him to travel on one of the roads of Paradise. The angels will lower their wings in their great pleasure with one who seeks knowledge. The inhabitants of the heavens and the Earth and (even) the fish in the deep waters will ask forgiveness for the learned man. The superiority of the learned over the devout is like that of the moon, on the night when it is full, over the rest of the stars. The learned are the heirs of the Prophets, and the Prophets leave (no monetary inheritance), they leave only knowledge, and he who takes it takes an abundant portion. – Sunan of Abu-Dawood, Hadith 1631

      • Exactly, my point!!! The Prophet (P.B.U.H) emphasized so much on attaining education and in Islam it is an OBLIGATION on every man and especially WOMEN to seek education even if one has to go to CHINA. Why would ALLAH and the Prophet asked people to go to China had Islam been such a conservative religion?

  19. Strange how something that has been seen as restrictive becomes protective in a different context.

  20. Lu says:

    Very interesting. Congrats on being Freshly Pressed! Great work!

  21. nazarioartpainting says:

    Amazing photos and story.

  22. Congrats on becoming freshly pressed, and I agree, women are target by terrorists around the world.
    http://www.futuretechreview.wordpress.com Follow us!

  23. ianamclennan says:

    Thanks for this post. It’s a wonderfully complex topic and it’s great to hear your thoughts. I’m curious as to what you think about this:
    Discrimination is almost always a prejudice against the way someone was born: race, gender, sexual orientation. Most religious people would insist that they hold their own faith because of reason and study, not because they happened to be born in a particularly culture. If your religion is indeed an intellectual choice, does that then mean that there is no such thing as religious discrimination? Wouldn’t criticism of religious beliefs be just like criticism of political or social beliefs?

    • well if you were a democrat and someone refused to hire you because of that, that would be discrimination, and if you were a muslim and someone refused to hire you because of that it would also be discrimination!

      • ianamclennan says:

        I don’t agree. If you are a democrat, it’s presumably because you hold certain values. It’s not discrimination to judge another person’s values. They can be discussed and debated. Some people believe in eugenics. I would not hire a eugenicist to work for me. Political affiliation and religious belief both speak to your values and beliefs. So why can’t they be discussed just like values?

      • I disagree, if you hire someone it is about if they can do the job, not about their values.

        It is not discrimination to debate with someone about their values or to hold different values, but it is discrimination to use that as an excuse not to hire them, provide them with services, be civil to them etc.

      • ianamclennan says:

        Well on that we agree. I would not advocate mistreating someone because of their ideas. I would however advocate scrutiny, debate, satire, and ridicule of religious beliefs. We ought not ask the question “are we discriminating by banning religious attire?” but rather “is it right to wear religious attire?” Most countries allow laws that limit the expression of ideas that are hurtful. Religious ideas should be examined in exactly the same way as political or philosophical ideas.

      • I dont get it, why would it not be right to wear religious attire? and right for who?

  24. yiotta says:

    One time, a bunch of us went with our karate teacher to a Black Muslim meeting. I was in my early teens and I remember that I was given a long skirt to wear over my pants and then we sat through a sermon that went over the atrocities of White America. Suffice it to say, I was spooked. First, I felt that for some reason I was dirty so I had to hide a part of me under the skirt. Secondly, it was the first time I heard all this talk about oppression, institutionalized violence and such, in a church environment (I came from a Catholic background although it’d be odd to see me anywhere near a pew unless I’m at a wedding or funeral).

    I, and I’m guessing the other karate students (some younger than me, some older), never went to another Black Muslim meeting, maybe because our karate teacher didn’t see a spark in any of us. In thinking back on this, I’m glad we were exposed to this different environment but it just didn’t click for me as it did for my karate teacher (who’s Black).

    I also remember when I volunteered at a community radio, we all watched a video–I forget its name but it was for people of color to get motivated into community activism. In the video, folks sat around sharing their experience about being a person of color in a world that is predominantly ruled by whites. In the video, I remembered one Asian woman stating she did not mind the invisibility of her race.

    Once she said that, man, was she jumped on (figuratively) by almost every person in the video. An Asian guy berated her saying how important it was to be noticed and respected. Other participants looked at her as if she was less than vermin.

    Sorry about my long premise, but the thing is, I totally understand that there is still oppression all over the world and that people of all shapes, colors, denominations, whatever, should not have to experience any form of oppression (criminals are another matter in a very grey area). Part of remedying that, is to give voice to the oppressed and be given the respect of being heard.

    There are those who may have certain ideas and thoughts but who do not want to give voice to these ideas and thoughts, at least not just yet. I think the Asian woman who is comfortable in what she perceives as her invisibility should be respected for that (until she decides to throw off that cloak of invisibility), just as the Black Muslims should be respected about voicing their beliefs. Of course, the flip side is that those considered on the opposing side gets equal time and yes, I know there is controversy on this but that’s another tangent.

    Malala Yousufzai was outspoken to heroic proportions. I hope she recovers fully and I hope the Taliban will get to a space where they can hear what the Malalas of the world have to say and rebut, if they must, using words not weapons.

    You probably can see where this is heading: I think wearing a burqa should be a choice and if a woman chooses to wear one, it should not be automatically assumed that she is bowing down to religious or patriarchal oppression (although in some cases, maybe many, it will be oppression that drapes the woman).

    Like you said, Michel Botman, [not in so may words] this is not a slam dunk. This is controversial as heck but that’s where a good dialogue will come in handy…

    • there should be no such thing as a black muslims meeting, Islam is colour blind. Muhammad sas said in his last sermon “All mankind is from Adam and Eve, an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a white has no superiority over black nor a black has any superiority over white except by piety and good action. Learn that every Muslim is a brother to every Muslim and that the Muslims constitute one brotherhood. ” If these “Muslims” were talking the way you described about white people, then this is something bad, are you sure they weren’t Nation of Islam? who all other sects of Muslims dont recognise as Muslims?

      • yiotta says:

        @Miss Direkshun: I imagine you’re probably right. The time I went to the meeting was in the early 70s and back then (and who knows–maybe I’m just forgetting), I only remember the term “Black Muslims.” I don’t remember any talk about “Nation of Islam” but to the young teen I was at the time, I just didn’t know the distinction nor the implications. Thanks for pointing it out.

    • Loved your views! Appreciate what you said regarding Burqa! It really is a matter of an individual’s choice like every other matter. Everyone has a right to live a life in their own style with whatever belief he chooses. No one should put forward a decree that prohibits my choice of wearing the ‘cloak of invisibility’. Whats happening in France, Italy and Canada should be accounted as terrorism too. Why superimpose your laws and views on burqa on a person who choose to wear it. And i agree with what Miss Direkshun has said below, Islam is against discrimination. There should be no such Black meetings or white ones. A man of good morals ad high virtues is superior to ALLAH regardless of being rich or poor, black or white or blonde or brunette. Such acts have nothing to do with Islam.

  25. The anonymity head covering provides can be freeing, in it’s own right. As a Christian woman, I find a great deal of freedom while wearing my head-covering. I find my heart is lighter and I don’t feel as much vanity in what others think of me (even with my polka dot head scarf). I don’t cover my face, but that is a personal choice in the matter, as the Christian Bible doesn’t dictate what it should look like, just that the head be covered when coming to God in prayer or worship. Since we are also commanded to “pray without ceasing”, I find a lot of women choose to wear them all the time, after all, you never know when you might have to pray for something. Even just a tiny “Thank You” prayer. I find it disheartening that there are secular laws in this world that would forbid me from being able to wear my head covering, or that of a Muslim woman. I don’t doubt that there are Muslim women out there who truly do want to cover their heads, as I do mine, but that there are just as many who might not want to. It’s a delicate balancing act when it comes to religious freedoms and secular laws. One cannot and should not step on the toes of the other. Ultimately, it is up to God to decide my heart and judge me, so if my head covering is pleasing to Him, then I just wont travel to locations where I cannot use it.
    And of course, my prayers are with our brave little friend. She has such courage, such heart, and such conviction, particularly for one so young. She is a blessing to the world.

  26. samirazia says:

    This is a really touchy subject but you spoke about it really well. I love the comparisons you made (ie: the school of fish). I feel it is def a form of hiding from Islamic extremists and protection in that regard which is so sad and disgusting. It is actually a cultural type of dress not religious but Taliban and such, like to twist the words of The Holy Qu’ran which alone, is forbidden in Islam. Thank you for such an interesting read while managing not to blame or bash my religion as many like to do.

    • who gets to decide what is cultural and what is religious? can there not be diversity within religious traditions?

      “Wa Qul Lilmu’umināti Yaghđuđna Min ‘Abşārihinna Wa Yaĥfažna Furūjahunna Wa Lā Yubdīna Zīnatahunna ‘Illā Mā Žahara Minhā Wa Līađribna Bikhumurihinna `Alá Juyūbihinna ” khumurihinna is the plural of khimar, which literal translation means covering, and was used to refer to a covering of the head and face that some tribal women wore at that time. Others can easily say you are twisting the words of the Quran!!

      • samirazia says:

        I did a story on Bill 94 last year where I meticulously researched the subject and developed a documentary. I came into it with an open mind just trying to understand the facts. In response to your question who who gets to decide whats cultural and religious, it’s your prerogative. I personally, agreed with the views of CCMW ( Canadian Council of Muslim Women) after several debates and view points were discussed; it is indeed cultural because the hijab, niqab or burqa is not specifically worn by Muslim women, all sorts of women of various faiths don these clothes. These types of dress are seen all over the globe but the media will only show you one side. Also, just so you know, the word “tribal” refers to a specific tribe, clan or community, that is where culture is cultivated, not religion. Lastly, as much as I appreciate your reply, the anger and arrogance in your tone is really distasteful, a prime example of why people associate Islam with anger and not peace.

      • The anger is imagined, maybe I should have added a few smiley faces and hearts ❤ 🙂 to make my tone come across better, lol,

        it is a prime example of why people associate anger with islam, as they imagine under currents which are not there! lol 🙂

      • Also I want to ask more questions to increase my understanding of your view point, but I am worried you might take it as anger again, hopefully you won’t!

        A command to cover can be adhered to using cultural dress? like in Malaysia, Nigeria etc they cover in different forms of dress using materials and patterns of their culture?

        And I don’t understand how your research can be better then the scholars?

        I agree it is a cultural dress and I think in the verse i posted and the verse about jilbaab (“O Prophet! Tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers to draw their jilbaabs all over their bodies That will be better, that they should be known (as free respectable women) so as not to be annoyed. And Allaah is Ever Oft‑Forgiving, Most Merciful”) That we are commanded as believing women to wear this cultural dress? Or to draw the dress of our culture so that it covers us in the same way as jilbaab and khimaar.

        I don’t understand how you interpret these verses of hijab.

        I know what tribal refers to, and I was referring to desert tribes. The fact you felt you needed to give a definition makes you come across as arrogant!

      • samirazia says:

        Here, I will show you where you denote anger: “…twisting the words of the Quran!!” Exclamation points are used to indicated high volume or even shouting; you’ve used two after the word, “Quran”. Secondly, our research was not ours alone, it’s also based off various scholars. Lastly, the definition was to help you understand a little more clearly, no offense meant. If you don’t understand how I interpret a verse, that’s totally okay. Good luck and God Bless.

      • exclamation marks are used to denote surprise as well! lol or disbelief, I cannot see you have answered any of my questions? lol

        I am happy to have an open mind, but I cannot understand this point that the verse commands us to put jilbaabs on or to cover in the same like as jilbaab, so how can it be said that we don’t have to wear it? It is not that complex, and would greatly help the understanding of me and other Muslim women if you could explain this one point to me please sister.

        I just noticed there was an exclamation mark at the end of my first sentence, I wasn’t shouting at you. Maybe I overuse exclamation marks in my conversational writing, thanks for pointing it out 🙂 If I was shouting I would have written in CAPS

    • You have no idea what you are saying? Have you read the Quran yourself? You should. Quran is not Taliban’s property. Burqa is definitely not a cultural apparel but a religious one. How you choose to wear it? Its upto you. There is no such thing as ISLAMIC terrorists. A terrorist does not have a religion. Islam is a religion of peace, you should know that so associating the term terrorist with Islam and Muslim is blasphemous. How can you (Taliban) be a Muslim, if you do exactly the opposite. The term hypocrite is used for such people.

  27. ptigris213 says:

    Thank you for your insightful and on target understanding of the issue of human freedom.

  28. lly1205 says:

    In Canada right now there is a petition, which Bob Rae will apparently support, for Malala to be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. As a non-religious person and a descendent of one of the Famous of Five I don’t know if I will ever be comfortable with women’s head coverings in Islam, but I recognize that I am biased.

  29. mcgeeles says:

    This is really cool. Who knew?!

  30. herschelian says:

    Well thought through and argued post! I am 100% behind you in desire for Malala to be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize – the self-same thought had crossed my mind.
    It is hard for a western woman (ie myself) to understand the mindset of men who feel they have to control and oppress women in order to feel important/culturally relevant/religious. I wonder what young boys who attend the Madrassas in Pakistan, Afghanistan, etc are being taught and with what ideas they are indoctrinated at an early age.

    • is it hard for you as a western woman to understand why other western woman (some on this comments section, such as myself) decide to cover?

      • herschelian says:

        What I was trying to say was that I can’t understand the mindset of MEN who feel that women should behave/dress/live in certain ways (whether in the west or elsewhere).
        It is the behaviour of MEN towards women that makes them (and some women) feel that women should dress in certain ways – as though a woman who is not covered up is fair game
        A senior Muslim cleric illustrated this viewpoint in a sermon a year or so ago when he preached about sexual crimes against women : “If you take out uncovered meat and place it outside … without cover, and the cats come to eat it … whose fault is it, the cats’ or the uncovered meat’s? The uncovered meat is the problem. If she was in her room, in her home, in her hijab, no problem would have occurred”.

        I suspect that this attitude is more widespread than one realises – and to be fair it is not just in the Muslim world. In the UK you can hear men quoted as saying ‘oh she looked like a slapper, she was asking for it’ . Looking like a slapper (whatever that implies) and asking for it are two different things and the one does not justify the other. Women should not have to feel, or be made to feel that they have to cover themselves in a particular way so that men do not have to take responsibility for their behaviour towards them.

      • I can’t understand the mindset of a lot of people, those who traffic women, those who are perpetrators of domestic violence, are controlling of their wives, I can’t understand the mindset of anyone who believes rape myths, I believe there have been some high profile people talking about rape and abortion recently?

        There is twisted misogynistic, patriarchy everywhere, like you have said.

        Most women in Pakistan don’t cover btw. There husbands and fathers don’t make them! lol

  31. tonjekir says:

    I am so glad I won the lottery of being born in Norway, especially as a woman. I can not imagine my life without education, freedom and equality (in society).

    • i wear hijab and still have all that, why would it make a difference?

      • tonjekir says:

        You live in the UK don’t you? I am simply saying I am glad I am born in a country where my gender is not relevant when it comes “my place” in society. Just like women in the UK and other countries/societies. But unfortunately there are many woman in the world that doesn’t have the same (basic) rights as you and me.

    • Haha… Funny as it is. I am a Pakistani, living in Pakistan, A dental surgeon, Married to a dental surgeon (My colleague) Alive and Free as a bird.

      • tonjekir says:

        I don’t think I have ever said anything about Pakistani women? I am saying I am glad to live in a country where I am free. I can’t say anything about being Pakistani (or anything else), because I am Norwegian, and I simply say how I feel about that. That you do the same is good for you, but many women don’t live like you and me, and I think it’s important to remember that.

      • Yes there are many women in the world that don’t have the same rights, there are also many men and children in the world that don’t have the same rights and this is something we should struggle to change.

        What has that got to do with hijab?

  32. tugbaturan says:

    If young muslim women don’t have the right to wear what they want in my country Türkiye, they wear what the majority wears. Because when they look the same as the others look, they can walk around without getting any negative attention. You know, to want to get attention is one of the devil side of being a woman, or it’s considered like this. If noone likes you, noone lookes at you, if you are not in the middle of any manly attraction, you are a good girl. Being a good girl provides you marrying a young man who can take care of you and the children you may have given birth.

    Yes, the debate is far from over. Yut the women feeling safe by looking like the same as everyone does, are more unfortunate than the debate.

  33. jensine says:

    Thanks for sharing, a while back I read an article by a German woman (can’t remember her name) and she decided to wear the full Burka for a week in Germany and see what it felt like. Her personal story was very insightful and she described that by disappearing behind the cloth she started to disappear her self. She felt she wasn’t being seen, or heard and found she lost sight of who she was and what she had to offer. If that happens in one week, what must years be like?

    • why dont you ask the muslim women who do it for a year? some of them are on this comments section. If who she was was and what she had to offer was so defined by her appearance then isn’t that saying something!

    • Its the pure intention that counts. The willingness to wear something. If i had to wear less clothing for a week i would probably feel insecure, too exposed and maybe as if i am selling my body to every eye that is laid on me. Its a matter of individual perception. Is the glass half empty or half full?

  34. mirrormon says:

    yes thats another way to look why women would cover their faces…but then i really believe we should let people do what they wish to (with themselves)…we should acknowledge them as independent beings…we never think of it like that may be we are incapable of understanding a certain view… i like what wrote…oh and what lovely picture of the little dino doll…

  35. Melanie says:

    I have often looked at women wearing a hijab with a bit of vain-jealousy. From my uneducated point of view, I wonder if they have to bother fixing their hair?
    All too often we hide our beliefs and compromise our values in order to appease others. I do wonder, though, how is this image of religion different from me wearing a cross around my neck? I understand the argument that it isn’t a choice for everyone, but for those who do choose, who am I to say they shouldn’t?

  36. Brilliant post.The only way to expose the awkward societies is to continue to do so.jalal

  37. Steve says:

    I Find it interesting and even comical that people of one cloth will accuse people of another cloth of some sort of ideological misstep. in the United States we still allow, and in some cases encourage male circumcision. Since I am not circumcised I can personally vouch for the clitoral like feeling in that extra skin which ancient taboo has deemed unclean. I assure you, any skin on a persons body which is not washed thoroughly and properly is essentially unclean. So wash behind your ears Christians, but for God sake don’t cut them off because your mother didn’t tell you to wash behind them.

    I hate to break it to the world in such a crass way, but all religions have ridiculous practices which seem to only impede upon social progress. I believe it is time we start posting stories which encompass all religions, and point out all of the ancient practices which do nothing for the world but create division, and physical and mental strife.

    Look around! Tell me this world is full of suffering! This world if full of beauty, yet somehow the prospect of an afterlife in a better place only makes this perfect Earth a prison rather than the Garden of Eden which it most assuredly is.

    All religions cause this kind of strife. The Catholic church is running a campaign in Africa to eliminate contraception. On a continent which is so helplessly plagued by the AID’s epidemic, even the mere mention of eliminating contraception should be a crime against humanity. We can send food and clothes to Africa all we want, but if we eliminate contraception it will be a total waste of time, and it will result in an increase of plague victims. I hope some day the walls of intolerance and religious goat herding will be torn down, and replaced by gardens of logic.

  38. Thank you for this enlightening post.

  39. “Our concern is regarding the imposition on individuals, often on women, of so-called “religious laws” that may or may not have sound religious foundations and essentially result in dispossession of individual liberty.”

    I live in the U.K, I wear hijab and abayah. What exactly are you saying? that you are concerned about me? That someone is imposing something on me? who is this someone that is imposing things on me? If I believe that the religious laws are true and I feel there is benefit for me in following them, should I be stopped by state law?

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  41. Thanks a lot for the article post.Much thanks again. Really Cool.

  42. Pingback: Niqabs allowed during court « THE SCARECROW

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