Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Battle of the niqab in the world

19 October 2009 in Featured Blogumnist, Morris Sadek
I do agree that niqab would be a sign of debasement if women were forced to wear it. The Taliban’s government forced Afghani women to wear it and the Saudi regime forces still beat men whose wives walk around the streets of Riyadh without a face veil. Both regimes have been constantly criticized by Muslims and Westerners alike for their human rights abuses and discriminatory positions. But these positions are not any better than that adopted by the French president, forcing women not to wear niqab.
Both positions reflect a belief that an individual woman is unqualified and incapable of making decisions for herself.
Al-Azhar Sheikh Mohamed Tantawi said the full-face veiling, or niqab, is merely a tradition that has nothing to do with the Islamic faith.
He recently said that students and teachers who wear the niqab in female-only classrooms should be barred because this kind of veil is un-Islamic.
Although most Muslim women in Egypt wear the Islamic headscarf, or higab, increasing numbers are adopting the niqab as well.
The niqab question reportedly arose when Sheikh Tantawi was visiting a girls’ school in Cairo two weeks ago and asked one of the students to remove her niqab, saying the garment has “nothing to do with Islam.”
Shaikh Ali Abu al-Hasan, the former head of the Fatwa Council at the Islamic Studies Institute (ISI) in Cairo, says that although women are not required by Islam to cover their faces, “the niqab is not in contravention of the sharia or Egyptian law.”
Kuwaiti female lawmaker Rula Dashti wants to amend the Gulf state’s electoral law in order to scrap a requirement that women must comply with Sharia guidelines. Her action comes at a time when a number of Muslim scholars are split over the issue of the Islamic head cover.
The rules were introduced four years ago, when Parliament voted to grant women full political rights, adding a precondition that both women voters and candidates must comply with regulations dictated by Islamic law (Sharia).
The law does not explain the nature of the regulations, but last week, the Kingdom’s Fatwa Department ruled that under Islamic law, it is an obligation for Muslim women to wear the higab, or veil that covers the hair.
In Canada, a Muslim organization has called on the Canadian government to ban the niqab, claiming it was a “medieval and misogynist symbol of extremism.”
The Grand Mufti of Dubai disagrees. In his opinion, the “niqab is never related to fanaticism or terrorism,” adding that “Muslim women have never been forced to wear the niqab.”
Forcing any Muslim woman to abandon the niqab would thus be “utter disrespect to her and to her creed, culture and traditions.”
In the conclusion, we, as human rights supporters, ask for more freedom for women. Also, we support all efforts by women to ban the niqab in Egypt.

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