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By Sherbano javeri
Posted Apr 1, 2010 in
Every time the topic of ‘hijab’ or ‘burqa’ comes up my feelings become conflicted as to which side I should take. Being a Muslim woman I myself do not believe in the religious obligation of women to cover their face or hair, however I do not object to the choice of other women who do choose to follow this. I believe in the concept of free will and allowing one to interpret their religion and beliefs in their own way, however when these beliefs start becoming detrimental for society itself something needs to be done to curb them.
This morning when I opened up the for my daily dose of the news I came across a story about the vote in Belgium, on the ban of the burqa. At first this news irritated me, as I thought, how could a secular state take away the rights of someone trying to exercise their religious expression? A secular state by definition protects the freedom of religion and this law goes against all the concepts that make up a secular state. Reading on further I came across another article pertaining to the burqa in Islam and clicked on it to find some of the most scandalous illustrations and interpretations of the woman and the burqa.
The article in the Daily Beast by Betwa Sharma explained the outbreak of provocative art, illustrating the oppression of women through the burqa and the hijab. It contained a series illustrations by Chicago based photographer Amir Normandie, of Ayatollah Sayyed Ali Khamenei doing the tango with a veiled yet nude woman. These illustrations as explained in the article spoke of the oppression and the subjugation of women by Khamenei’s regime. This is when it dawned on me that the burqa and the hijab which is not specifically ordered on the female by the Quran, is not a choice of the women who
wear it but instead a social obligation.
When, this cultural Arab tradition of the head garb and face mask became a part of the Islamic religion is unknown, however, what is becoming increasingly obvious with more and more women speaking out against this practice is that this is not a choice for them. Most women are forced either by their parents or husbands, and those who claim that it is a personal choice, do so because of societal pressures. Since the idea of the burqa has become embedded in the Muslim mind as part of the religious obligation of the woman, people don’t even realize that it gives rise to the oppression of the female.
Every now and then there will be a woman willing to stand up for her rights but because of the pressures of the society her voice is shot down. Just last week, a burqa clad woman recited a poem in a Arabic equivalent of the American Idol, about conservative Muslim preachers ‘preying like a wolf’ on those that work towards peace and moderation. Although her recitation bought her a place in the finals of the competition, Hissa Hilal has been receiving death threats and hate mail every since this outburst. Such incidents happen often, where one woman speaks out against the injustice in the society, however if others don’t follow suit and support them they will not be able to create change that deep down all women long for.