Burqa On Trial 3

Dr Ali. Photo Courtesy WA News/Sharon Smith

I feel vindicated to some degree because a leading Muslim academic has come out publicly against the wearing of the burqa/niqab. (Burqa has a mesh face covering, the niqab is the one that leaves just a slit for the eyes to look out from) While some ethnic community spokespeople might claim banning the garment attacks one’s cultural habits the fact remains it is not a part of our culture and it is both offensive to many and confronting to nearly all.

As the academic, Dr Ali, clearly states, the garment signifies a mindset as much as anything else. The wearing of it is, he says, “the lingering relics of a patriarchal, misogynistic and tribal culture” and argues there is no religious obligation in the Koran for it to be worn”.

He goes on to say that several European countries have banned the wearing of the garment in public places, including the Arab nation of Syria. My argument posits that if Muslims and predominantly Muslim countries find it offensive and confronting then surely we westerners can’t be labelled racist or religionist or whatever for wanting our public places free of this aberration.

My position has always been one of asking what does this garment say about the mindset of the wearer and her husband? What about their sons and how they view our women who don’t wear such a covering? Back in their home countries they can do as they wish because I will warn my daughters against travelling there or having anything to do with those men who support this cultural habit. But here in their own country they have a right to walk the streets as free from fear of harm as possible. We have enough home grown threats and hazards without importing more.

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