Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Why I hate the burqa

Revisiting issues that I previously have written about is not something I do often, but I'm making an exception to return to the West's most beloved human rights cause: Banning the burqa.

I last wrote about pending legislation to ban burqas in Europe more than a year ago when France first proposed laws to make it illegal to wear the burqa in public. Proposed legislation is pending with a final vote set in September.

There is no argument that can persuade me that laws designed to bully women into abandoning their cultural traditions because it makes people uncomfortable are essential in a free society. If a woman chooses to wear the niqab who are we to pass judgment? Lawmakers who argue that banning the burqa is a blow against extremism are naïve and lazy. Band-Aid approaches to fighting extremism are rarely successful. It only serves to pander to the ignorance and unfounded fears of politicians' constituents.

Yet I have grown to hate the burqa. I hate the burqa because it serves no logical purpose in Western society. The intent of the clothing is to draw attention away from the woman, but in the West it only attracts unwanted attention. Recently a Glasgow man was sentenced to prison for attacking a burqa-clad Saudi woman on the street. He ripped away her niqab. The woman was a graduate student. She has since quit her studies and refuses to leave her apartment. To her the attack was an act of rape.

I was reminded of this attack the other day as I was sitting on a bench in Newcastle's Eldon Square. I noticed a Saudi family leaving a rented apartment to walk through the square to a nearby restaurant. It was evening and the pub crowd was out and about. The mother was dressed in a burqa with niqab and she was wearing sunglasses. I watched her skirt along the edge of the square to avoid some loud young men who obviously had plenty to drink. The boys mocked her a bit but left the family alone.

I followed the woman into the restaurant. I tried not to be a scold, but told her that wearing the niqab in public on a late Friday night invited unwanted attention and could be dangerous. I suggested that under some circumstances she should consider leaving the niqab at home. A colleague told me he saw the same woman the next day wearing her burqa. Apparently she is willing to risk her safety to maintain her cultural identity.

The climate for Muslims living in the West could not be worse. The Guardian reported recently that three-quarters of the United Kingdom's non-Muslims have a negative view of Islam. About 63 percent agree with the statement that "Muslims are terrorists." And 94 percent believe that Islam oppresses women, according to the Guardian.

The image of Islam in the West is so badly damaged that Saudi Sheikh Aedh Al-Garni issued a fatwa that Muslim women may show their faces in countries where the niqab is banned or when wearing the niqab may pose a danger to the woman.

There are only a handful of niqabis in Newcastle, but each time I see one I want to grab her by the shoulders and shake some sense into her. Protecting her image is not worth the trauma their Muslim sister is experiencing in Glasgow.

This is particularly true for niqabis who wear the burqa for the most ludicrous reasons. Most Saudi women, like me, leave the burqa (abaya) and niqab in Saudi Arabia. But I'm guessing that more than a few Saudi girls wear the niqab because their husbands insist on it. The husband doesn't care whether strangers see his wife's uncovered face, but he cares a great deal that his Saudi male friends do. His selfishness and warped view of manhood are more important that his wife's safety is inexcusable. Thankfully, most Saudi women ignore this kind of male behavior, but others don't.

For a long time I strongly objected on principle alone to ban the burqa. A burqa ban is equally offensive as the Taliban's mandate for women to wear one. I see no difference. But Muslims no longer have the luxury of choosing whether to wear the burqa in the West. The French government has led the campaign to steal that choice from us. We now must think in practical terms. Co-existing with non-Muslims in the West means what we must reconsider our cultural and religious values or we go home. By the same token Muslims rigidly adhering to wearing cultural dress unnecessarily invites trouble. It doesn't take much to compromise and adapt at some level to a new environment.

There is no reason to pass laws to ban the burqa. The climate of fear is so prevalent today that wearing the burqa will slowly disappear out of necessity of survival. There will be a price, though. Some Muslim women will return home without a Western education and that will make bridging the gap between Muslims and non-Muslims more difficult. This fear also forces Muslims who want to live in the West to conform to Western appearances. It will also cause resentment and make the fight against religious extremism more difficult. People are not inclined to help governments that pass abusive laws. Muslim women will continue to fear harassment from non-Muslim. And non-Muslims will continue to fear Muslims wearing traditional clothing and hijabs because it represents beliefs alien to them.

Outlawing the burqa will create a tremendous divide between non-Muslims and Muslims. But wearing the burqa in the West is also just plain stupid.


May said...

"The climate of fear is so prevalent today that wearing the burqa will slowly disappear out of necessity of survival."

I respectfully disagree. Religious persons who have been persecuted for their believes tend to become MORE entrenched in their beliefs, not less.

While I agree that the burqa and headscarves attract more attention than they deflect, it is still an individuals choice to make. And as long as those individuals feel strongly connected to their culture/believes, I seriously doubt they will chose to stop wearing the burqa.

Lisa Stone said...

What a brilliant post, thank you. I hope beyond hope that the safety of women and their families can be taken into consideration when considering whether and when (or not) to wear the niqab in Western society.

Rashid Mughal said...

Burying one's head in the sand in the Muslim world is another matter, but hiding behind the burqa out here in the West smacks of religious guilt and total ignorance of what life and living are all about.

Keep up the good work, Sabria!

Rashid Mughal
Aug. 4, 2010

Anonymous said...

While I understand where you're coming from. However, your experience in Newcastle cannot be applied to the rest of the UK. There are Muslims there, but not very strong. Travel other cities and towns in the UK with a concentrations of Muslims and you will see what I mean.

Anonymous said...

This blog post was left on a discussion forum, but I felt the need to come here and say my piece. In the end, you are a foreigner and think about Muslims in Britain with a foreign mentality. As one of many BRITISH Converts to Islam, we have no "homes" in foreign countries to go back to, and most UK Muslims are born here and treat this country as their own.

We don't have to give anything up to anyone, based on their prejudices. If it gets to the point where we have to fight for the right to express our RELIGIOUS identity then its a fight we are willing to take on. No Woman should have to fear being modestly dressed, Headscarf, veil, anything. The British (and European) sense of equality and freedom applies to Muslims just as much as it does for any other denomination.

- Mikebloke

Jackie M. said...

I... actually think the opposite when I see a woman in a burqa in the US. (Admittedly I'm in the US--and I have to admit that I don't know how much of a difference that makes.) But when I see a woman in niqab I don't think, "oh, she's being selfish, and making it hard for herself and for other"; what I think is "she's very brave."

I think she's brave for the same reason I think gay men and lesbian women are brave when they hold hands in public--she's helping to expose people to a different norm from what their used to, and slowly getting them used to it. She's helping to re-normalize "normal", and she's doing it at no small risk to herself.

In the short term she might be annoying or even angering drunks and other narrow-minded people. But as she goes around in public, buying apples and movie tickets and sitting in restaurants, she's forcing them to see her as a real person, a real living human being they have to contend with. So in the long term, I think she's helping. A great deal.

Marianne said...


One does have to wonder why Muslims and only Muslims believe that western democratic lands do not have a right to demand that their laws and customs be respected by everyone, including Muslims?

After all, non-Muslims are very much REQUIRED to respect the cultural and religious values of Muslims when in Islamic lands on pain of some very severe penalties.

The only time most free women seek to wear a shroud is when they are dead and many don’t even want to do that. They would rather be clothed in their very best dress.

Why do Muslims want it their way in Islamic lands and their way in non-Islamic lands?, where, BTW, there is no “freedom of religion” or “freedom of speech” or freedom of much else. When will KSA, for example, permit the building of even a one-room church, temple or synagogue? When will Muslim lands stop demanding that non-Muslims wear hijab? When will Muslim men stop harassing women, especially non-Muslim women, whether veiled or unveiled?

The divide is already there and it was caused by Muslims who insist that everyone must adhere to their cultural and religious norms no matter where in the world. Wearing any sort of veiling is just plain stupid because, whether in the Islamic world or the free world, it objectifies a woman as a mere sexual object. It is also a supremacist statement suggesting that the “modest” (shrouded) Muslim woman is somehow superior to one who dresses normally for her culture. Many a western woman has been called a “whore” by Muslims just because she is not veiled. Additionally, the burqa, abaya, chador or any full covering is a health hazard. Osteomalacia (softening of the bones) is very prevalent in populations where the people are covered from head to foot—that includes Muslims in the west, especially the UK.

Perhaps the goal should be to get Muslim males to exhibit a bit of discipline? After all, the other four-fifths of humanity seem to be able to manage their libidos with normally dressed women. Muslim men are the ones who should be placed into shrouds, with blinders on and made to breathe their own CO2 instead of walking about in comfortable western clothing while their women suffer in a tent.

The Turks seem to know where wearing the veil leads and so, even hijab is banned in universities and government buildings in Turkey.

It is clear that most people in the free world bitterly resent the supremacists of Islam trying to force their misogynistic, misanthropic cultural and religious norms on all of humanity by using western democratic laws against the free world. There is no such thing as gender equality in Islam! The Qur’an, ahadith and sunnah as well as Islamic jurisprudence make if very clear that Muslim men are “above” women and of course, above mere infidels.

Finally, NOTHING in the Qur’an mandates the burqa or even veiling, although, Muhammad did introduce purdah. Keeping women prisoners, illiterate, ignorant, barefoot and pregnant may be the norm in dar al Islam, however it is against the law in the free world. Those who find misogyny acceptable, including Muslim “reverts” born in the west, should live in the Islamic world.

Sabria does not appear to be thinking “out of the box” on this one. She appears to be suggesting that Muslims bide their time until they are of such numbers that their undemocratic demands can’t be stopped.

Very Islamic. ;)

However, that will NEVER happen. “Not in our lands and over our dead bodies!” is what free people are telling the believers with these votes.

It might be wise for Muslims to not underestimate the anger of the free world at the daily disrespectful Islamic assaults on their way of life, customs, cultures and religions. This is no way to win hearts and minds, which is very much a two way street. The rest of the world has extended itself. Now, it’s the turn of Muslims to show some respect and tolerance.

The Burdened Mary said...

What I am saddest about is the fact that women coming from Islamic countries where the burqa/niqab is common will now not be encouraged to go and study abroad and get a different point of view. These people have a point of view to share with their peers abroad. People of the West NEED to talk to these women so that they can be seen as more than just "victims of oppression" or "terrorists".
If the burqa/niqab is banned then these women might not be allowed in the West. Most of them will stay in their bubble, and they will never learn about other places in the outside world due to their sheltered lives. What is equally horrible is that people abroad will continue to be ignorant and they will never have a chance to hear from these women; hear their voices. I don't believe in wearing the burqa or the niqab but I feel like these women should go abroad anyway; maybe then they will be able to make the decision for themselves.

Sabria Jawhar said...

Dear Marianne,

I prefer to publish comments that encourage dialogue and debate and not sad outbursts such as this unfortunate rant. But I want to publish this to illustrate that kind of nastiness that Muslims and non-Muslims face.

If you read the column, you would have noticed that I encourage Muslim immigrants adapt to the culture and environment they live in. And indeed most Muslims do. No one, and certainly not me, are asking for any special privileges as visitors to the UK. No one has asked for anything other to live in peace and not be subject to the kind of hate that you seem to embrace with vigor.

It's curious that you bring up the lack of freedoms in Saudi Arabia as some kind of excuse for treating guests poorly in the West. We are talking about democratic countries with wonderful freedoms and legal protections. But according to your logic, those wonderful democratic freedoms and legal protections should be denied to immigrants and visitors because Saudi Arabia is not a democratic country. So you pervert your democratic ideals and make them conditional. I suppose if Saudi Arabia became a democratic nation and we backward Muslims shed our burqas and our obligation to pray five times a day, then we'd be entitled to all of your democratic liberties and not just some.

You say the rest of the world has extended itself to Muslims, yet you haven't. You say that Muslims must offer respect and tolerance, but you haven't. You demand a two-way street, but apparently that doesn't mean you.

If you have the courage of your convictions, Marianne, why not use your real or full name? My guess is that you recognize your letter for what it really is and prefer to hide behind a pseudonym. If hate was my game, I'd be hiding too.

Best regards,


The Burdened Mary said...

I am very shocked, and even a little hurt at what you have said. Do you really think that all Muslims just expect everyone to bend over backwards for them? As a Muslim woman myself, I am appalled that you would be so closed-minded. We are not out there to spit on Western ways. Some of us are Westerners ourselves. I have lived with and met many people of different religions and beliefs, some beliefs even directly contradicting one another religiously or otherwise, but we kept a relationship of respect, peace, and even friendship. These people see beyond a burqa or niqab and see no threat.
Did you really read the article Sabria wrote? She is, in fact, agreeing that people from abroad should adapt somewhat to the culture and environment that they are in. I agree with her that wearing the burqa and niqab abroad makes no sense because it only makes people stick out like a sore thumb, the exact opposite of why women usually wear it in Islamic countries. But if they do wear it, why are you so threatened? Muslims who cover in this way are not necessarily out to get you. A lot of them do it as a symbol of their religion, or their idea of piety (even if it is not mine), not as an attack on others.
You need to open your mind and understand that divides do not just occur from the Muslims' end but from both side. Some Muslims are to blame but so are some people on "your" side.
You said "[Sabria] appears to be suggesting that Muslims bide their time until they are of such numbers that their undemocratic demands can’t be stopped." Where did you get this idea? And what kind of undemocratic demand is it to be able to CHOOSE what to wear? Please explain.

Marianne said...

Sabria appears to be censoring my posts. So much for her journalistic ethics and free speech. Yes, true believers can say whatever they want, “Kill the infidel; Kill the cartoonists; Go to Hell America; We demand. . .” but the rest of us can’t object or we are “closed minded” and “Islamophobic.”

The Burdened Mary said...”@Marianne: I am very shocked, and even a little hurt at what you have said. Do you really think that all Muslims just expect everyone to bend over backwards for them?”

Why are you “shocked” and “hurt” that I and most westerners expect people who come to our lands to obey our laws and to RESPECT our cultural norms? Isn’t that what every nation expects, especially Muslim nations?

”As a Muslim woman myself, I am appalled that you would be so closed-minded. We are not out there to spit on Western ways. Some of us are Westerners ourselves.”

All over the world Muslims are demanding that other cultures bend to their ways. That is certainly “spitting on non-Muslim ways.” They have implemented sharia law in domestic cases in the U.K. and are demanding that sharia be permitted for Muslims in many other non-Islamic lands. They demand that even non-Muslims wear hijab. They demand special privileges: Separate facilities for men and women; that girls be excused from gym classes; that taxi drivers won’t carry dogs or alcohol; that foot-baths be installed; that Muslims get “prayer” time, with pay, etc. No other group gets these special, undemocratic considerations. Why do Muslims get them, because if they do not they scream “racism, Islamophobia” or “it’s undemocratic” not uncommonly, they even threaten violence. “Say Islam is peace or we will kill you.” lol

”I have lived with and met many people of different religions and beliefs,. . .These people see beyond a burqa or niqab and see no threat.”

If you, as a woman do not see a threat in the burqa or niqab then you need to live in an Islamic land. I, as a woman, see those as a direct threat to the democratic rights of equality for all. That is what the laws against these are about because, they are seen as a threat to western secularism and democracy. The veil is a political statement of dominant Islam that makes women second class citizens.
Did you really read the article Sabria wrote? She is, in fact, agreeing that people from abroad should adapt somewhat to the culture and environment that they are in.”

Adapt “somewhat,” that is the problem. You don’t get to pick and chose which of our laws and customs you will obey and respect. Do read my post with an open mind instead of Islamic prejudice.

A lot of them do it as a symbol of their religion, or their idea of piety... not as an attack on others.”

The veil subjugates women. Turkey bans it. So has Syria. Muslims MUST respect the western secular, democratic way of life or leave!
”You need to open your mind and understand that divides do not just occur from the Muslims' end but from both side.”

My mind is very open! I have traveled and lived in many parts of the world. The only times that I have ever been seriously disrespected by men has been by Muslim men. In the west, especially the U. S., people who immigrate are expected to integrate and assimilate. Even visitors must obey the laws and respect the cultures all the way, not just “somewhat.” Why is this a problem for so many Muslims?

There would be no issue at all IF Muslims simply were respectful and obeyed western laws. Since many do not, since the Friday khutbah all too often contains passages from the Qur’an regarding violent jihad and the domination of Islam, well—what do you expect?

It is the habit of Muslims to blame their self-made problems unto others. You must admit that conspiracy theories run wild in the Islamic world. Tell us when the Islamic world will stop persecuting those of other faiths or no faith at all? When will Muslims allow what they demand of the west?

minka said...

This is key:

"I'm guessing that more than a few Saudi girls wear the niqab because their husbands insist on it. The husband doesn't care whether strangers see his wife's uncovered face, but he cares a great deal that his Saudi male friends do. His selfishness and warped view of manhood are more important that his wife's safety is inexcusable."

When the western govt's ban the niqab, they are forcefully resisting this male bullying. As a western woman, I approve of that. There is one polity, one community, in a democratic country, and Muslims are not separate from that.

Allowing Muslim men to bully Muslim women in this way is detrimental to all women in the community, Muslim or not. Where the freedom of women is important, the niqab must be banned.

I do not want bullying of this kind coming in as a 'religious' import into my country.

If this causes fewer women to have a western education, well, so be it. I have heard many a lecture from Muslim women on how it is colonialist to apply feminist arguments or ideas to the experiences and customs of non-western women in non-western countries. Fine. But don't bring your anti-woman practices into my cultural sphere, either.

The Burdened Mary said...

Thank you for replying. I was actually worried that you would desert this place after your first comment.

First of all, the reason I was hurt and shocked is because I felt like you lumped many Muslims together and acted as if we were all just out there to disrespect Western ways. That simply isn't true, and I felt that what you said was an attack on me, because I fit into the group.

I'd like to continue the conversation further, but I'd also like to make sure this comment area isn't cluttered with our dialogue. If you are willing to discuss things with me please email me at burdened.mary @

I would, however, like to say two things here:
1. I have lived in an Islamic country. I am living in one right now - Saudi Arabia. I am not from here, but believe me I know of the injustices that occur here.
2. I do NOT agree with everything that goes on, even things done in the name of religion. I am much more liberal than you think. I am not apologising for some of the ridiculous and dangerous things that go on. I don't like these violent khutbahs against the US, Israel, and everywhere else. I want to see more tolerance from Muslims, believe me, but some of the tolerance also needs to come from some Westerners.

I have answers to your questions you asked but I would rather not flood this place more than I already have. Please email me.

THE Banana said...

If I may borrow the podium for just a moment:

In Sweden, we have an expression that fits Mariannes attitude on every level. The expression is “like the devil reading the bible”. As a Swede, I meet this attitude on a daily basis and it has become a widely worrying general entity throughout the west. In my judgment it all comes down a view upon the Muslim as the ever guest in the country. A guest in the west might at its peak be welcomed into the home, but he/she does not receive any special treatments. In fact, it is implied and expected that the guest is ever thankful for everything that is put forth on a plate and does not only his/her share of the house work but even compensates the efforts of the indigenous population. As for this, the hospitality of the host always seems to be superseding the position and the deeds of the Muslim, no matter of his origin. Basic human rights becomes a detail that does not equal the lack of gratitude from the Muslims´ side for being allowed to enjoy the Western free world.

As the most Western governments, organizations and individuals take pride in announcing and enjoying universal virtues such as democracy, liberty and freedom, some has turned them into conditional currencies not to be trusted into the hands of what is seen as destructive elements. While the Muslim is expected to fulfill at least the same, if not more, obligations towards the society as anyone else – by being productive, by paying taxes, by contributing to its progressive process etc – some processes in the country are viewed upon to be reserved to “only non-Muslims”. I this case, it is argued that it has to do with mental, social and intellectual maturity that the Muslims have not reached. Once they do reach that peak, which evidently is what this minority suggest it is, they no longer are the destructive threat they once were. The key here is made out of 2 parts - to obey the laws that are made in the country and to follow the dynamics of the cultural society without participating in their creations and developmental processes.

In this connotation it is easy to see how Mariannes posts are a manifesto of why the Muslim is malplaced in the West and why we see all the accusations, all the prejudice, all the hatred and all the belittling that we can find against Islam, Muslim societies and Muslims as individuals occurring in her mere 2 posts. While basic human rights and freedoms are dimensions of a society without the need or risk of touching each other, in the case of the Muslim they are being seen as luxuries that go from the sack of one person (the native non-Muslim Westerner) to the other (the Muslim). The Muslim cannot have equal freedom without it costing others their freedom, and whatever he/she does with the freedom it is being extracted from the labors of a native non-Muslim. The public Muslim does not have any root, place or connections to the Western home and this excluding process is what has made the racism against Muslims the growing norm it is.

As many other processes in a society, once they become normalized it is very hard for the beholder to see anything beyond the artificial universe of hate they have made for themselves. It becomes as common and conventional as a daily routine such as coffee drinking and its opposition is ridiculed as childish insubordination as its best or a foreign threat to their very existence as its worst. This normalization bares several marks of classical racism as the target population is belittled in general and as individuals, their freedom is seen as a threat, they are viewed upon as the foreign destructive infusion into what is seen as rightfully own, they are declared as guilt carriers as a global entity etc. There are a lot of us that has to deal with this kind of racism, but sometimes we feel like you are fighting a brick wall. You only have so many arguments against someone that says:

I am not prejudice or a racist! I have travelled the world and I love pizza and kabab!

Anonymous said...

Marianne behaves as if when she were a little girl who wasn't invited to her Muslim classmate's birthday party and she is taking out her anger on the Muslim world ever since. I almost have to wipe her froth from my computer screen.

I don't know of any Muslims who use the word "infidel" except people like Marianne and terrorists. So Marianne has something in common with extremism. I don't know anybody who wants cartoonists dead except terrorists. A couple hundred idiots in Pakistan urging death to cartoonists does not represent 1.5 million people. Any lucid thinker knows this, except Marianne and her like-minded friends.

Apparently Marianne knows plenty of nasty Muslims and she can enlighten us where they are right here in America

What does Marianne mean by "demands"?

Let's look at Marianne's complaints.

1). Demands for Sharia. Private arbitration has been upheld by U.S. courts for decades. The Jewish community has been using Beth Din for more than 100 years. Does Marianne suggest that Muslims be held to a different standard?

2). Muslims demand that non-Muslims wear the hijab. Where? Here in the U.S.? Out in public? Or in a Mosque? When a Jew hands a non-Jew a kippah when he enters a place of worship should he reject it as an unreasonable demand? Again, Muslims are held to a different standard.

3). Separate facilities for men and women. Hmm, now that's an unreasonable demand, isn't it. I'm not sure where to go with this gem.

4). Girls be excused from gym class. Such a rare thing, but apparently a big deal in Marianne's world. It's called religious accommodation, Marianne, and it's guaranteed to all individuals under the Civil Rights act of 1964. But apparently Muslims are not entitled to this legal right.

5). Prayer time in the workplace. Let's make sure Orthodox Jews who refuse to work on Saturday are fired because they let religion interfere with the workplace.

6). Foot-baths, dogs and alcohol. Suddenly a handful of Minneapolis Somali cab drivers represent 1.5 million people. Thanks for the enlightenment.

7). No other group gets these undemocratic considerations. Yes, they do, Marianne. It's written in the Civil Rights Act, and every groups takes advantage of them because it's their democratic right to have them. Not only religious groups, but gays and lesbians, and even Wiccans and Satan-worshippers. That's the wonder of the U.S. Constitution and Bill Rights.

Marianne has a tendency to repeat herself loud and often, but offers no facts to back any of her allegations. She uses the same talking points as the anti-Muslim websites that have organized the Stop Islamization of America. This is the group that opposes construction of mosque in NY and is preoccupied with the safety of teen girls. Marianne steals the hot-button words and language of the NY Times' Tom Friedman, which is evidence she doesn't have an original thought in her head.

The weird thing about Marianne and the brown shirts like her is they want to deny Muslims the rights guaranteed to then under the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. She calls them demands. Okay, they're demands. But why not? Everybody should demand their legal and constitutional rights.

Marianne said...

The Burdened Mary said... “@Marianne:
Thank you for replying. I was actually worried that you would desert this place after your first comment.

Why would you think that, unless Sabria is censoring. ;)

I believe that debating is better done in public. Besides, Sabria said she wants debates. Therefore, please make your points.

“I want to see more tolerance from Muslims, believe me, but some of the tolerance also needs to come from some Westerners.”

Tolerance runs both ways. It is constantly demanded of westerners that they “win hearts and minds,” when Muslims appear to be making no effort at all. They simply, incessantly demand that everything be done to accommodate them and their intolerant, totalitarian, supremacist “complete way of life”. They are not protesting en masse against the daily Islamic carnage; yet, for something as pathetic as Muhammad cartoons they can get up thousands and slaughter each other in the process. Some true believers have even tried to kill the cartoonists who must live with 24/7 protection.

We have put hundreds of billions into the Islamic world for development most of which has disappeared down a black hole of corruption; and still they demand more. “Show me the money,” says Karzai and every other Islamic leader including even filthy rich Saudi Arabia to which we give money to “fight terrorism.” (A bit of a joke, given that KSA is the crucible of Islam.)

The west appears to have had it in that department, if you note the polls.

Have you not read your Qur’an with its countless surah of hatred, misanthropy and misogyny? Ever read the chapter on war booty? It’s very enlightening. Now, tell us what other holy book has a whole chapter, verse after verse, on how to handle war and its booty? One fifth of the booty goes to warlord Muhammad, so he can distribute the booty to the widows and orphans that HE made.

Surah 8. Al-Anfal (Spoils Of War, Booty)

Qur’an 8.41. And know that out of all the booty that ye may acquire (in war), a fifth share is assigned to Allah,- and to the Messenger, and to near relatives, orphans, the needy, and the wayfarer,- if ye do believe in Allah and in the revelation We sent down to Our servant on the Day of Testing,- the Day of the meeting of the two forces. For Allah hath power over all things.

Sabria is concerned about my hiding in “anonymity” but, seems to have no problem with certain anonymous ranters. FYI, no one is anonymous on the net.

Anonymous and THE Banana seem to be claiming that Muslims can enforce their Islamic standards on “guests” and immigrants to obey the laws and respect the customs of their lands, but the west can’t do the same? Um—sorry—what’s good for the goose, is good for the gander.

Suffice it to say that the Swedes, the Danes, the Dutch, the Germans, the Belgians, the French, the Italians, the Spanish, the Brits and the rest of the west are not pleased with the Islamic “guests” and immigrants in their midsts because, so many of these insist in bringing oppressive Islam to their enlightened, secular, democratic nations. (Please note I didn’t say “all.”) However, evidently it is enough that laws are now being passed.

As to the “racism” of enforcing our laws and demanding respect of western cultures: What “race” are Muslims again? Can a non-Muslim woman visit Saudi Arabia without having to wear a shroud? Can she bring a holy book of another faith? Could she build a house of worship? How about those school books? Have they taken the “Jews are of apes and pigs” parts out yet?

I know many Muslims who use the word “infidel.” Plenty of Muslim clerics, politicians and ordinary people also use the word. One can read it and hear it in the media any day of the week. The terrorists tend to use the pejorative “kuffar.”

Actually, many believers of other faiths would say that Muslims are infidels. ;)

To be continued. . .

Marianne said...

Here are some realities for you all:

Sheikh Al-Azhar (Head of Al-Azhar Mosque and University) in Egypt has recently decided to ban the niquab or burqa in Al-Azhar University, the top Islamic University in the world.

The burqa battle should not make us ignore the threat of the hejab, which represents — based on the percentage of Muslim women wearing it in France — more threat to the values of liberty in the West than the burqa. 

The hejab as a widespread phenomenon in many Muslim communities represents a trend toward implementing Shariah laws. This can lead to civil wars in the future if Muslims reached sufficient numbers in the West to demand the implementation of Shariah laws or the use force to achieve an Islamic state in Europe.

Free societies in the West need to protect themselves from this situation by limiting the growth of radical Islam in their societies.

“Caveat to Muslims in the West?”

“A resounding majority of the British population (75%) believe that “Islam is negative for Britain.”

...We are witnessing unprecedented movements all over Europe against the infringement of Muslim culture, religion and dress code on European societies. Europeans and outspoken Americans are taking actions to ban Muslim cultural encroachment into their lives and on their democratic values…

…Based on what non-Muslims see on the news, experience, and hear in the streets, mosques and Muslim schools in Britain, let alone in Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Afghanistan, Iran, and Saudi Arabia among other places, the overwhelming majority of the British (77%) do not want to have anything to do with Islam. Unlike most Muslims, the majority of Westerners relate to each other and to other people through social interaction, merits, common values, tangible contributions and tolerance of differences. Most Muslims, on the other hand, relate to others through religious orientation…”

According to the article: ‘94% agreed that “Islam oppresses women”

Across Nation, Mosque Projects Meet Opposition

Here is what Muslims should be concentrating on rather than the veiling and repression of their women and men:

Continued below. . .

Marianne said...

Here is what Muslims should be concentrating on rather than the veiling and repression of their women and men:

"● In 57 Muslim countries, there are only 500 universities currently, while in the U.S. alone there are 5,758 universities.

"● There are more universities in India than the U.S.; there are 8,407 universities in India alone.

"● Among the 57 Muslim nations, the average number of universities comes to only nine per country.

"● Only nine of those 500 universities figure in the world's top 200 universities; eight of the nine universities belong to Turkey, while one is in Indonesia.

"● Literacy in the Christian world is 90% while literacy in the Muslim world is only about 40%....

"● There are 15 Christian-majority countries where the literacy rate is 100%, while there is no Muslim country which has a 100% literacy rate.

"● 98% of children in Christian countries complete primary education while only 45% of children in Muslim countries complete primary education.

"● 40% in Christian countries attended university while in Muslim countries a dismal 2% get university level education.

"● Muslim-majority countries have 230 scientists per million while the U.S. has 5,000 per million; and there are 3,900 scientists per million in European countries.

"● There are 4,000 engineers per million people in Christian countries while there are only 150 engineers per million population in the Muslim countries.

"● Christian countries spend 5% of their GDP on Research and Development programs while Muslim countries spend only 0.2% of their GDP on it.

"● There are 3,950 doctors per one million people in Christian countries while there are only 100 doctors per million in Muslim countries.

"● Christian countries have 1,000 technicians per million while Muslim countries have only 50 technicians per million.

"● Five Indian universities come in the top 200 universities of the world while there is no Pakistani university in the list.

"● 72 universities from the U.S., 7 from Britain, and 8 from China make their way in the top 200 universities of the world.

"● There are four times more PhD degree holders in India than in Pakistan, and every year India is adding to its number while in Pakistan there is no progress in this field."

Everyone is welcome in the west, especially in the U. S. which is the most accommodating, tolerant nation on earth. What is not welcome is radicalism, supremacism and oppression. There are no constitutional rights to those!

The tolerant will accommodate all cultures and beliefs except— cultures of intolerance!

Jose M said...

Marianne, you know you totally peed in this thread. You know it and you're probably cool with it because you tell yourself you're fighting the good fight, running roughshod over other people's comments, interpreting them in the worst possible light, copy/paste dumping long passages from no doubt well-worn sources.

And the irony is, if you weren't so hooked on scoring points (by changing the topic, no less), you'd realize the only way for you to really make a positive change is to find common cause with people unlike you.

Here you have an open door and you miss it because your only mode is to knock down doors. Brilliant. If you've ever wondered why your "opponents" are so dumb and intractable please consider the possibility that you kind of suck at the gentle art of persuasion.

No hard feelings.

@ the author, this was a brilliant -- pithy, counter-intuitive -- observation. Thanks for posting.

Anonymous said...

I generally agree with the comments of Marianne. Respect must be mutual. Unfortunately, a large proportion of Muslims are not able to understand this.

ابو عبد الله وسيم said...

So according to you anything that is deemed out of purpose in the West should be abandoned by the Muslims just because it invites undue attention. So what is the limit for this ? Tomorrow if Non Muslims start hting the Muslim prayer & attack them for pryaing it, then will you say its just 'plain stupid'. God's legislation will not be changed if it is unacceptable to some.

THE Banana said...

Once again Marianne proves the efficiency of the Swedish proverb to describe her attitude. In a 3 post armada of neocon post-911 islamology, we witness what have become the core and the body of the racism against Muslims. Through a mishmash of pseudo-intellectualism, subjects from a wide range of issues, each with their own dynamic state of history and development, each with their own academic research and analytic outcomes, the world of the Muslim is reduced to a single common and rejected denominator – his religious lifestyle. Hence, why bother to deal with factors such as history, ethnicity, national interests, geopolitics, conflicts, socioeconomic influences and all the other irrelevant distractions, when you can reduce all the studious approaches into 1 institution, the renowned right-wing initiated Western academy of “why you suck and we rock”. There is no way to logically refute such outlandishness unless the person opens his/her heart to common sense, reality, fairness, rationality and truth. However, it is of utter importance not to let it flow like the lethal gas it is.

The attitude is a way of life, filled with superiority complex and a morbid contempt towards the Muslim. In this, an equation of humanity is created where precedence over Muslims come as a natural order. With this in mind, there is also the claim to be the “most tolerant nation on earth”. Of course, as a Swede, find the claim to be delusively tragic and laughable. As such, it concentrates the essence of the attitude of the superiority complex. Never the less, this is open to public eye, which makes its defence so pitiable. The hatred and contempt has its theoretical and practical significance in its purpose and consequences. It is defined by how it affects other people’s lives and how it treats their individual and collective sanctuaries. What is often used as the defence is a semantic word game that aims at vilifying valid associations. Racism is as old as the oldest profession and has gone through epic shift changes. In the world of today, we still deal with a heritage of peaked 19th century scientific (biological) racism that globally justified catastrophic political decisions. Hence, links to eugenics and racial hygiene theories is associated with major stigma and thus avoided by all means.

The argument has thereby turned into affiliations that are thought to be isolated from the whole race issue. “Since they are not a race – the behavioural pattern cannot be called racism”. However, this is a failed disassociation bought only by the simpleton and those sharing the same views seeking to deceive. Culture/religion is nothing more but a semantic excuse. It is a mere substitute for race, as it does not take more than exchanging the words to see that every other practical application fits in. The redefinition of universal topics and their practical consequences shouldn’t come as a surprise. We’ve seen it before, amongst the most recent being the US government redefinition of human in accordance to human rights. We witnessed the conservative government define the human, deserving human treatment, and whom does not qualify as one and therefore does not deserve universal rights.

THE Banana said...

Part 2:

Unfortunately, this has turned into a beast that scares every peace-loving human on this planet. With the establishment of human rights after WW2, the first global attempt failed miserably due to severe protests from different countries. USA was one of the objectors opposing a proposition by China to include “equality of all races”. A lot has changed since then, and they are not all in a progressive direction. With the establishment of the declaration of universal human rights, the concept was turned into a general institution beyond the reach of the human race. The deal was supposed to prevent, to pressure and to punish autocrats whom wilfully abused people’s equitable rights. Today, it has become more obvious than ever that it was equally important to make human rights an institution above human power. The fact that democracy can turn impotent and deviant is more evident than ever, as seen in cultures where it is being used to cultivate, nurture and savour hatred, demagogy and ultimately institutionalised racism. Human rights are beyond the reach of human power not only to prevent dictators from controlling them or using them as tools against the nation, but also to prevent a people doing the same under the chaperon of democracy.

It is always easier to compromise with other people’s rights, and when the base of one’s argument is hatred and contempt, support is sought in soul mates. This will not stop, because the strategy of this tsunami of hate is to gain democratic power through propaganda. It is also obvious that, just like in the case of the autocrat, universal human rights will be pushed aside the more the hatred is nurtured to glow. Muslims do not require more than others and they should not settle for less. Once 1 right is gone, it will be followed by a chain reaction. This pattern is way too obvious to miss.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Sabria, this was a great blog. Thanks Marianne for making it even more interresting.

Sabria, as you can see, your fears are rooted in the truth. You see the world has fought these same battles before. Remeber all western countries have experienced this state under strict Catholic rule. The woman of the western world have fought hard for civil liberty and rights. To them, seeing a woman in a Burka and niquab reminds them of a past they hate. Thus they do not measure a Saudi lady by Saudi standards, but by their own experience of opressed mothers and daughters. Hence the violent protest. Don't judge the critics to harsly.

Laws are comonly made to protect people. All Western countries have experienced the vindictiveness of prejudice. I read from your blog that you think westerners pass these laws to protect themselves against Muslims. To the contirary, these laws are passed to protect Muslims from the prejudice that you fear. Remember, western countries have learned from the past. In the fifties it was improper for a woman to wear trousers. Woman were victimized because of this.

It seems that the saying: "When in Rome, you do like the Romans do" comes to light. This doesn't mean you have to abandon your own customs, just you have to utilize some discretion.

Wearing a Burka an especially a niquab in western society is like a westerner showing you the bottom of his feet. It's disrepectfull to the woman who faught for equality in the past.

Prisms said...

This why I love reading your blogs Sabria..... It is like opening a box of secrets held sacred for decades and now carefully unopened, it reveals the most precious of mistic values!!!!

The Burka comforts......naquib disguises the fears and emotions and insecurities. The veil, hides the joys and deep felt emotions of the Saudi lady. She feels comfortable, safe and secure behind it. Safe and secure from a society and people she doesn't really understand and isn't really apart of.

It must hurt to see emotion-hardend Westerners hurling abuse and insults at an inocent, good hearted lady that's only sin is the fact that she is a foreigner in a foreign country. Well be assured, that as a western man, it hurts me as well.

It hurts just as much as the fact that an good hearted, innocent woman has to hide her face from me, in fear that I will sexually abuse her or rape her with my eyes. It hurts just as much as my friendly smile and "Good morning", is treated as an act of infidelity and sexual advance. As if I have no control over my lust and apetite.

Indeed, like showing the soles of one's feet to an Arab person is a sign of disrespect. So is hiding one's face and eyes a sign of disrespect in the western world.

As a little boy I was taught that if someone doesn't look you in the eye....that someone has something to hide.....

The saying: "Looking down on somebody", has a totally different meaning outside of Saudi. But all this you know......

Anonymous said...

While I do agree with some of your views regarding some of us Muslims' behavior, conduct, attitude, etc., towards the west, I can assure you that there's more to it than meets the eye. Every society, in every era, has displayed such evil characteristics as you now exclusively attribute to Islam and Muslims, both inwardly and outwardly. Hasn't the west remained under the spell of dark ages for a considerable while? And is it not the fact that extreme racism has been a privilege of modern day America till not very long ago? Should then all evils be necessarily attached to the west for the plain reason that at certain point in time there have been peculiar acts and that the entire fault therefore lies with Christianity? Sadly enough, this is how you seem to view Islam and us Muslims--judging the majority upon the conduct of few misguided zealots who can't even be categorized as minority.

Yes, sadly enough we have our dark sides and your quoted statistics point toward that already. Yes, there's much wanting in us so that we be able to rub shoulders with the rest of the world. But, my only question: can't you see that a silent majority of us is already sharing with the world its joys and sorrows like in your own blessed land? Why, then, such a fuss on an enlightened article on Burqa by Sabria? Please go back to Sabria's original post and tell me where in heaven's name did she ever malign west or Christianity.

And yet you call us intolerant?

Sorry to say, your knowledge about Islam and Muslim history is too limited as to warrant a point wise rejoinder to your objections. If you really want to have even an inkling of understanding about Islam, I'd advise you to please read the following two books:

a. The Message of the Quran (Quranic translation and commentary)

b. The Road to Mecca (autobiography)

both by Muhammad Asad (formerly Leopold Weiss).

That may help you soften up a bit.


Curious Pakistani

Abu Layth said...

Well I certainly do agree that Niqaab can attract unwanted attention. I feel though, that you have minimized what the niqaab really is to those who wear it in the west. It is more than just a "cultural" piece of cloth. It is, in their view, devout obedience to their Lord - a personal matter between them and God as it be.

There is another aspect to your critique of the niqab that I feel that you have missed. You argue that the niqab:

a) Causes unwanted attention
b) therefore can cause harm to the woman due to ignorant violence...

What then of the khimaar *headscarf? Does Marwa al-Shirbini ring a bell in Germany? What of the woman who was threatened to have her "genitals" cut in seattle:

or here

and the list goes on and on...

Simply looking different can cause "unwanted attention" - such as the many Sikhs who get attacked in America as well. The fact is no matter where you go there is always a possibility of someone crazy or stupid causing harm. Such should not be grounds for women to fear implementing their right to implement their faith as they see fit!

Your diatribe about Saudi men and their machismo attitudes is also stereotypical and furthermore, unwarranted in this discussion. My own wife chooses to wear Niqab, even though I and others have encouraged her not to because of safety concerns in the midwest of America, though I certainly support her bravery and committment to her faith ! She feels it is a matter between her and her Lord, "and no one elses' business!"

All of the women our family knows here in the states wear niqaab on their own free will, without a Husband intervening - many times to their husbands' disatisfaction.

Sabrina, I like reading your comments, but you are certainly playing the fear card way too much! Should jews stop wearing yamakas because of antisemitism? Should nuns stop wearing their modest dress because of the anti catholic spurge in the media?

Should anyone truly sacrifice what they believe to be right and moral for what MAY happen to them?

God bless those Muslim women who do not fear the ignorant and are brave in the face of intimidation!

Tired said...

The _extremes_ of both cultures are not compatible. I feel uncomfortable when I see a burqa. It represents the oppression of not just the woman, but my way of life. You may laugh, you may scoff, you may call me intolerant, but years down the track you will wish something had been done before the violence began.

sunrunner said...

Such a wonderfully thought out post, and it reminds me of my decision to wear a head scarf (never wore a niqab) when in public in Riyadh in the couple of years I lived there during the 90s. No it wasn't "required" but it helped keep the peace for me and those around me. A lot of my western women friends thought I was "giving in" but to me it was a matter of a equal measures of "when in Rome..." and "respect." And there was a practical consideration - as a flaming red head, it kept the muttawa off my tail!

Sarah B. Haider said...

When one can do away with the niqaab during Hajj why not do away with it on other occasions?

Al Saud said...

If a woman chooses to wear the Niqab, why does everyone have a problem.

If some one wants to dance around naked, it does not mean others have to join in.

To you your way of Life, to me mine.

Al Saud