Monday, July 19, 2010

Guess who bans the burqa?

Recently, France's lower house of Parliament voted to ban women from wearing the full veil, or burqa. The vote was 336-1, with 200 abstentions.

The reaction from Muslim leaders was predictable:
Ibrahim Hooper is a spokesman for the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations. He says that the French vote is a thinly-disguised attempt to discriminate against all Muslims, not just those who wear the burqa.

"It's really a new type of law targeting a particular minority faith based on the prejudices of the majority. And my religious rights should not be dependent on a majority vote,” said Hooper.

The interesting thing is that France was not the only government to restrict women from wearing the veil.

From AP:
Syria has banned the face-covering Islamic veil from the country's universities.

An official at the ministry says the ban affects public and private universities and aims to protect Syria's secular identity. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak to the media.

The niqab is not widespread in Syria, although it has become more common recently. It's growing popularity has not gone unnoticed in a country governed by a secular, authoritarian regime.
Last month, hundreds of primary school teachers who wear the niqab were moved to administrative jobs, local media reported.
Is Ibrahim Hooper saying anything negative about Syria?

Last January, an Egyptian court upheld a ban of the veil during university exams. And last year Al Azhar University's religious head banned the veil at all Al Azhar schools altogether.

Is Ibrahim Hooper saying anything negative about Egypt's respect for Islam?

It seems that Syria and Egypt are nervous about growing Islamic fundamentalism, as shown by a custom that is not legally sanctioned in Islam. In the words of another Al Azhar scholar, ""We all agree that niqab is not a religious requirement. Taliban forces women to wear the niqab. ... The phenomena is spreading and it has to be confronted. The time has come."

So France does not seem to be exhibiting any Islamophobia. French politicians are merely following in the footsteps of two nations whose very constitutions invoke Islam as the major source for their laws!