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The niqab is a misogynist monstrosity

(232 Posts)
thatbags Thu 19-Sep-13 12:30:51

Anne Marie Waters on why the people who call niqab-wearing "a choice" are not feminists whatever they think they are.

hummingbird Thu 19-Sep-13 12:56:50

I agree with her. I read this
article in the Observer, but couldn't reconcile it with my instincts on this matter. (hope the link works!)

vampirequeen Thu 19-Sep-13 13:40:56

The Qu'ran doesn't call for women to wear the niqab but generations of tradition in some areas do. You can't expect the women to give them up overnight as many genuinely believe that they must wear them for modesty, honour....whatever. They need to be re-educated. The Imans need to teach it from the pulpit....not just to the women but to the men as well.

A local Iman decided to challenge the tradition of a woman walking behind her husband. He preached against it and openly challenged couples in the street when he saw it happening. He educated the people and showed them it wasn't the teaching of Mohammed but of man. It took a while and he had to persevere but no couples in his area now follow that tradition.

FlicketyB Thu 19-Sep-13 13:44:17

What no one seems to take on board is that there have been a number of Islamic scholars and religious leaders who have said, quite unequivically there is nothing in the Koran that says women should wear the veil and that this is purely a cultural requirement in some communities.

I think it is time that we asserted that in the Western world our culture has always places a high value on seeing the face. The hero/heroine shows their courage by standing straight with their head held high. You hide your head in shame, those who hide their faces are seen as dodgy and dubious. Look at the popularity of the Gothic novel in the early 18th century where the villain is a cowled monk or some other evil doer who will always hide their face in a cloak. The Western European cultural norm is to show your face and those who do not are instinctively seen as being other.

I think is quite reasonable for us to say that we have every respect for those who wish to wear the niqab, burka, call it what you will but that they must accept that if they insist on wearing it at all times then that will exclude them from large swathes of normal lives. There can be no place for the veiling the face in education at any level, in the courts, in the health service as either, staff or patient, any job where the majority of people in this country expect to see someone face to face or where security is an issue.

There is a man in the UK who continually asserts his right to walk around in public with no clothes on at all, (except socks and shoes). He spends most of his time in prison because, essentially, he is offending cultural norms that people are expected to cover there sexual organs in public. I am not suggesting that those who wear the veil should be imprisoned, but sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander, or vice versa

Nelliemoser Thu 19-Sep-13 14:17:20

I go with Victoria Coren on this. Its not right to assume that all those women wearing the veil have been subjected to pressure to do so, "but do not realise this fact".

IMO that is a grossly arrogant point of view and it is demeaning to the person involved to suggest this.

With regard to this attitude shown by those with no experience of the issues; it would almost encourage me to undertake the activity, which others have suggested I am doing only "because I am oppressed and don't know it."

I find The National Secular Society seem to be becoming increasingly intolerant of others views of late and that worries me.
Militant intolerance of legitimate and non harmful activities is not the kind of society I want.

petallus Thu 19-Sep-13 14:18:05

There was a program on radio this lunchtime on this topic. A young woman talked about her determination to wear the niqab, saying she wouldn't take it off even if we paid her.

I wasn't all that impressed at her pious tone. Reminded me of the custom in America for young women to wear a chastity ring and pledge themselves to their fathers, or something horrible like that.

But Julie Bindell, speaking against, got on my nerves as well, going on about patriarchy and all that stuff. In fact, I found myself saying 'Oh for God's sake' out loud.

Overall I do not want the niqab worn in this country but not for feminist reasons (although I am a feminist). I think it gives the wearer an unfair advantage having their faces covered whilst everyone else's is open for scrutiny.

sunseeker Thu 19-Sep-13 14:18:49

If a woman genuinely wants to wear the veil then I have no problem with that but if, as I suspect, many wear it because they are told to by their male relatives or husband, then I think that is wrong.

As has been mentioned above the answer is education, for both boys and girls, and hopefully the custom will die out.

thatbags Thu 19-Sep-13 14:58:42

Here is the position statement of the National Secular Society on the burka. It is incorrect to say that they are "increasingly intolerant" of others' views because their view is not, repeat not, that wearing the burka should be banned.

What they are currently doing is publishing articles about others' views, which an entirely different matter from being "increasingly intolerant." In fact, I'd put that behaviour under very tolerant.

The NSS is only intolerant of religious privilege. They stand for equality regardless of faith or lack of it. How can that be contorted to "intolerant"? It is the opposite of intolerant.

thatbags Thu 19-Sep-13 15:18:33

is an article by a lawyer. He puts into very clear words my own thoughts on the matter. If you don't want to read the whole article here is (one of many) a salient and logcally flawless paragraph:

"One thing at least is perfectly clear. If one sector of society can conceal their identity in public then we all can. If freedom of religion/culture/belief is absolute then it’s absolute for all religions, for all cultures and for all beliefs. If the defendant in the court case had been a white supremacist (as opposed to an Islamic supremacist) who refused to remove a KKK mask to enter a plea, what do you think the judge’s decision might have been? Would a “compromise” have been reached where, say, the KKK member would only remove their mask in front of a white person? (Altogether now…..“NO!”). It would have been dealt with on the only sensible basis possible: contempt of court."

thatbags Thu 19-Sep-13 15:27:42

Julie Lenarz says: "the burka is an affront to humanity and has no place in freedom-loving societies". She also calls it a mobile prison.

thatbags Thu 19-Sep-13 15:40:58

Two more articles.

Melanie Phillips says this: No one has a human right to hide from justice behind a veil.

Abhishek Phadnis says this: The silence of secularists: how the Left-Islamist alliance is winning.

janeainsworth Thu 19-Sep-13 15:54:46

Not had time to read all your links yet bags but I also heard a young British Muslim girl on the radio this lunchtime, not sure if it was the same one as Petallus heard.
She said that no one had pressurised her, in fact her parents had asked her not to wear it. When asked why she wanted to wear it, she replied that wearing it meant that she didn't have to compete with all her friends who wanted everything to be perfect and designer this, designer that.
She was 14.
Perhaps it does say something about our own society that a young girl feels the only way to avoid the pressures and competition is to cover her face with a niqab.

MiceElf Thu 19-Sep-13 16:02:29

I haven't been able to access all these links, but I am in agreement that the full face covering has no place in any country.

It seems to me that those who use the argument about women's right to wear what they like are being disingenuous. Would they be happy for women to wear a swimsuit on a hot day at the National Gallery, or to wear a low cut see through dress at the high court of justice? I suspect not. We all conform to the expectations of dress in many different spheres, and this country has a tradition of tolerence of odd costumes in various places. But that doesn't and shouldn't extend to those who simply want to challenge perfectly reasonable expectations of dress and behaviour.

It's interesting that the full face covering is rare in Muslim countries, and in the one where I used to work, it was only the uneducated village women who wore it. indeed, in secular Turkey, it is banned.

There is indeed a unholy alliance between those who are pushing this attire and certain groups on the far left who see it as another way to challenge the structures of society. What is particulary distressing is to see young girls, who obviously have no choice, covered up and confined.

I heard that interview on Radio 4 with the teenager. It was just teenage showing off. 'I can be more observant than you' just try and stop me. It was sad that the interviewer treated her with false reverence.

ninathenana Thu 19-Sep-13 16:14:12

I don't want to get into the moral/cultural side of the debate

But when it comes to the security issue, why is it ok for shops to demand people wearing full face helmets remove them but a full face veil is ok. Are all bike riders potential criminals ? Of course not. Neither are veil wearers. But both can be used to hide your identity.

grumppa Thu 19-Sep-13 16:20:27

Witness the gang of men wearing niqabs who carried out a raid on the jewellery department at Selfridges recently.

Stansgran Thu 19-Sep-13 16:38:42

And the terrorist who escaped the vigilance of Heathrow security in a woman's robe in spite of his size 12 trainers?

j08 Thu 19-Sep-13 16:54:22

Micelf you compare the wearing of the Burks with wearing a swimsuit in an art gallery and a low cut see through dress at a court of justice. Do you mean that your objection to the wearing of the Burka simply offends your sensibilities?

I think it is a sad fact that, in this age of possible terrorism, we feel we have to object to clothing that could be used to hide explosives and suchlike. Sad but inevitable. I cannot see any other reason to not allow women to dress as they see fit.

I'm sure that in the British Muslim community there are people who have the ability to take a stand against any women being forced to dress in any way against her will. And we should leave it to them, save for reasons of our own security.

MiceElf Thu 19-Sep-13 17:04:32

No, of course I don't. Once again you deliberately distort meaning. I did not say the niqab offends my sensibilities. And my objections to it are not on the spurious grounds of terrorism. I object to it as it as it is a symbol and the actuality of the oppression of women.

I have no idea what you mean about 'people who have the ability to take a stand against any woman being forced to dress in any way against her will'.

Who are you referring to? Have you no understanding of the pressure to conform in tightly knit communities?

It is only when the law in a democratic country insists on certain behaviours that oppression will cease. As I said above, Turkey, a Muslim country bans the wearing of the face covering and women there have made significant progress.

j08 Thu 19-Sep-13 17:11:29

You did compare it to wearing a swimsuit or a see through dress in inappropriate places.

There must be enough educated Muslims who can take their own stand against this oppression if this is what it is. If we interfere too much in other cultures it can start to smack of unnecessary interference.

thatbags Thu 19-Sep-13 17:19:01

janea, DD1 said, some years ago, when she could understand that feeling. She was sick of all the cat calls and stares. I understand the feeling too but I don't think it justifies face-covering. It is only the face-covering that bothers me.

mice, if you let me know which links don't work, I'll try posting them again.

vampirequeen Thu 19-Sep-13 17:25:06

I don't think women should wear the naqib although I have no problem with the hajib as it follows the teachings of the prophet. However I don't think we can stop women wearing it overnight because they expect to wear it and would feel wrong without it.

Start slowly.....courts, schools and other official places but let women still wear it in the street if they wish. Gradually they'll get used to showing their faces and hopefully will eventually feel able to give it up but we have to bear in mind that some women will never give it up because they believe they should wear it.

thatbags Thu 19-Sep-13 17:39:47

It doesn't follow the teachings of the prophet. It's not a religious requirement.

thatbags Thu 19-Sep-13 17:40:07

Otherwise I agree with your suggestions, vamp.

whenim64 Thu 19-Sep-13 17:42:45

That's a sensible suggestion, vq. It's practical, and is a step forward.

MiceElf Thu 19-Sep-13 17:46:42

I did not compare the wearing of a burka with wearing a swimsuit in an art gallery, as you very well know. I said that we all conform to expectations of dress. That isn't very hard to follow.

There are plenty of Muslims,men and women who abhor the wearing of the niqab. Unfortunately they have no influence with the hard liners. For women in those communities, the pressures to conform are overwhelming.

Bags, yes, the stares and comments which girls and women are subjected to are dreadful. But it's men who need to change their behaviour. Not women who need to shroud their faces.

Sadly, certain groups of men, some Muslim, some not, have found this a very convenient peg on which to challenge structures and systems on the piggy back of a woman's right to wear what 'she' wants.