Friday, June 26, 2009

To Veil Or Not To Veil.

Picture From Yahoo News.

France is concerned about the increase in the number of women wearing the Burqa within its borders. It seems a showdown is looming between Muslims and the French Government after President Sarkozy hinted on banning the garment in public places, a move sure to create some tension.

A burqa is described by Wisegeek as a piece of clothing that covers a woman from head to foot. There is an opening for the eyes but the rest of the body, except the hands, is covered.

France views the garment as an infringement of women’s rights and a breach to individual freedoms. Furthermore the Burqa is said to hinder good communication especially among public servants and students.

As expected, there is a backlash already and it may get worse. Muslims feel attacked yet again after the banning in 2004 of the Islamic head gear along with any visible symbols of religious inclinations in public places especially schools.

There is quite a debate on Debatepedia and more information on sites like Peace Women, Innovative Minds and Huffington Post.


Tamaku said...

Without a doubt the burqa is a barrier to communication, some may want it that way.

SymonSig said...

Hi Shiko,

The Burqa I've seen covers even the hands and the eyes are covered but meshed.

I think France as a Government is taking the right steps because it has an obligation to keep it's population safe. Any good idea is bound to be misused by someone and religious clothing is no exception. In these days of rising insecurity, terrorism and suicide bombings, it cannot afford to have people clad like that in high risk areas like schools and public buildings. If there's someone all covered up how would you know if it's not a man/woman on an evil mission? Are government forces allowed to inspect veiled ladies in case of suspicion?

If I've read right it's being banned in public places not homes. Good communication includes eye contact, gestures and lip movement and these are hindered if someone is covered up.

Nice blog by the way.

Mama said...


I completely understand the authorities. You are aware of people using religious dressing to commit crimes and to engage in other immoral activities (very common in Nairobi). Sad as it is, someone has got to suffer and in this case the Muslim women.

The government is simply trying to protect its citizenry....what else can it do?

kenyantykoon said...

i really feel sorry for them ladies. You might find that under those black veils lies the most beautifil women on earth (with really nice figures)

Our Kid said...

@ Kenyantytoon... you should then be feeling sorry for the men, instead.

I think each government has a a duty to make rules and regulations and we have a duty to simply obey them. Oh wait.. unless they are oppressive. And I think hiding away beautiful bodies is oppressive.

PKW said...

Doesn't freedom include a woman's the righ to be dressed/undressed as she wishes?

Peperuka said...

I am French (living in Kenya)...

For your information, laicity is a pillar to the French constitution.

In fact, pupils are not allow to wear religious signs in public schools/universities = it means, for example, that wearing a cross is forbidden = NO RELIGION IN SCHOOL (no cross, no shawl, no hijab, no Sikh turban, etc..)
- Seeïcité

You do whatever you want at home and in private schools/places but in public places, you must follow our republican principles (without distinction of religion, gender).

The problem is that we are starting to see swimming pools/sport club, hospitals and other public institution for women only or muslims only, etc... It's pure discrimination and against French's idea of laicity (and liberty, equality, fraternity). If you want to live in France, then you must accept this (hey !! we didn't kill our king Louis XVI and separate State from Church for NOTHING)

I personnally think that the French government is wrong to say that it is an infringement of women’s rights and a breach to individual freedoms, as it is not always true. The religious and women rights issues shoud be dropped and they better focus on the security issue by saying that it is a breach to national security (would you feel safe surrounded by people covered up - not really).

Shiko-Msa said...

Tamaku if someone likes it fine. If not but they have to do it anyway then we have a problem.

Symonsig thanks and welcome. It’s public places yes. But I think at home in the midst of family the ladies are not required to veil so it's 0+0 math. I don’t know but I think inspecting veiled ladies is one idea that would be vehemently opposed. I’m sure there are special arrangements for them to be inspected by fellow ladies if the need arises though.

Mama speak of Nairobi! Imagine what goes on here as far as misusing especially the Bui Bui is concerned. And secondary school uniforms too are misused to no end.

Peperuka thanks for that very interesting and enlightening link. I see that laicity is a 2 way affair. By the way add also the Jewish caps to your list. During the Chirac debate I remember wondering why the debate seemed one sided and yet it was affecting all religions. I hear the liberation voice although I too don’t think it should be coming from a Government. Maybe other bodies. Governments should concentrate on issues like Security and I do agree that complete covering be it with the Burqa or any other type of clothing is an added threat to security.

PKW the whole debate will rope in the idea of women finally wanting to get out of what some view as restrictive culture, go out there and join the world, do business, get jobs, etc etc. They’ve found the world running in a certain direction which is in complete, infact I’d say extreme contrast to the Islamic way of life. Personally if I felt constrained in any way, I’d probably be at the forefront campaigning for liberation.

And you two naughty boys over there, the men find the women at home unveiled. So the beauty and the wonderful figures are all theirs to behold. Kenyan tycoon you can say that again – and remove the might.

Darius Stone said...

This is one of them issues that will always give reason for controversy.

I agree with the French government about their right to create a non-religious level playing field in public arenas like school - so if a Sikh can't use a turban or a catholic can't don a rosary to school - there's absolutely no reason for a muslim to insist on their religious right to clothing. That's a non-starter.

If they want, they can wear it and stay away from school.

Any argument for the right to wear what one wants is as flawed as a smoker arguing that its their right to smoke in public places. No one is stopping them, just go do it somewhere else.

Pathfinder said...

Frankly speaking to veil or not veil should be the choice of the Muslim lady. What I can’t understand is why the French government wants to control the content of a woman’s wardrobe ama in France, the French man has the right to see the nudity of every woman that steps in their country.

Although the Muslim lady in France has all the liberty to buy and wear the “miniest” of all mini skirts in public or private she opted to where burqa, so what is worrying the French government. The notion that the burqa is a security risk holds no water and I believe it isn’t a major concern, even the French president Sarkozy didn’t mention that. In all cases it is the duty of that government to put in place all necessary measures safe guarding its citizens other than denying the Muslim lady her freedom to wear what she wants best.

Some few years back the world, France being at forefront , was up in arms against the Taliban , the hue and cry then was that the women were oppressed and that Taliban were forcing the woman to where burqa , am sure then, the world was not against the burqa, no one was saying how dangerous the burqa could be to the society ,what everyone was against was Taliban denying the woman the freedom to where what she wanted, isn’t France doing the same if they deny the Muslim lady to wear the burqa, the dress of her choice why the double standard then.
In my view, What is putting in danger the European and the French man in particular is not the burqa as such but the ideology that is behind the veil. France has the largest Muslim population and that population is growing very first . Of late the number of French natives converting to Islam is increasing and thus the ladies that are wearing the burgas are not only the immigrants ( as it used be previously) but the natives too.
According to Prof. Raphael Israeli Hebrew University “As many as 100,000 French and British citizens have converted to Islam over the last decade, The figures cited by Hebrew University Prof. Raphael Israeli in his upcoming book The Third Islamic Invasion of Europe are representative of the fast-changing face of Europe, which the Islamic history professor says is in danger of becoming "Eurabia" within half a century. He noted that about 30 million Muslims currently live in Europe, out of a total population of 380 million., adding that with a high Muslim birthrate in Europe, the number of Muslims living in the continent is likely to double within 25 years……Muslims will have a more and more decisive voice in the makeup of European governments……. The sheer weight of demography will produce a situation where no Frenchman or Dutchman could be elected to parliament without the support of the Muslim minority, every European with a right mind has every reason to be frightened” see link

kachwanya said...

The government should not enact laws or policies which restrict on how people dress. I mean when you look at the country like Saudi Arabia or the Taliban and their strange policies of forcing women to dress in certain ways, you feel sorry for women in those countries and thought you backward thinking come to mind. How about the opposite of that where you force women not wear what they want to. More backward or what??? The government should simply get a way of dealing with security situation forced by such circumstances, coz i bet criminals will still get away of committing crimes with or without the Burga.

Small question... why do muslims feel like they attacked whenever there is a discussion on what they do or not do. I find it funny, almost bordering inferiority complex.

Shiko-Msa said...

Pathfinder once again if the women are doing it by choice well and good. I know there are women who veil by choice in subservience to God. But like any other large religion, there are bound to be different interpretations of ideologies. There is word that the Burqa is not specifically mentioned in the Holy Quran and that it's as a result of different interpretations of modest dressing. Might the Taliban issue have been a case in point?

Jeez I'm sure the French Man will certainly not go as far as wanting to see the nudity of every woman that steps in their country! Lol.

The political bit is touchy and I'll admit I know almost zip about European politics and their relation with religion. But thanks for the insight and the site.

Kachwanya check Peperuka's link. The government may actually have some constitutional ground to restrict dressing.

Shiko-Msa said...

Darius Stone such matters are always emotive and controversial. I hear you loud and clear.

Anonymous said...

The worth of a woman--any woman--should not be determined by the length of her skirt, but by the dedication, knowledge and skills she brings to the task at hand. At the same time, there is no denying that in many Muslim countries, dress has been used as a tool to wield power over women.


nothing good can come from the French government's approach to this issue.

Anonymous said...

Ever Wonder........
Why can a nun be covered from head to toe and she's respected for devoting herself to God, but when a Muslim woman does that, she's "oppressed" ?

Why can a jew grow a beard and he's just practicing his faith, and when a Muslim does that, he's an extremist?

When a western woman stays at home to look after the house and kids she's sacrificing herself and doing good for the household, but when a Muslim woman does so, she "needs to be liberated"?

What’s the difference between the dress of the Virgin Mary (always shown by Christians to be wearing hijab) and that of a Muslim woman.

.......double standards

UrXlnc said...


i'm confused

is it a clash of political ideology (socio-religious based gender opression vs freedom)

is it a concern with potential security breaches (cloaked criminals)

is it a clash of fashion (western vs islamic)

the line about communication is a poor excuse. most public service functions can be carried out by a robot or automated machine that is even more impersonal than a head to toe covered operator.

of course i personally am not sure i'll be comfortable say visiting a doctor that i cannot see, reminds me of those confession corners in catholic churches. but in reality surgeons in operation theaters are actually dressed in some kind of multi coloured burqa hehehehe but with a lot more open spaces

savvy said...

I am thoroughly confused after reading this.

I have agreed and disagreed with everyone's opinion.

Let's see how it turns out.

Anonymous said...

"This is one of them issues that will always give reason for controversy." - It is, indeed

About the veil/shawl issue in France, Darius is right by saying "I agree with the French government about their right to create a non-religious level playing field in public arenas like school [...] there's absolutely no reason for a muslim to insist on their religious right to clothing. That's a non-starter."

@pathfinder - Actually, public nudity is banned in most places in France.

I agree with Shiro, from what I know the Burqa was intepretation made by small radical groups.

Burqa should be forbidden in public places (e.g. street, station, etc.) as complete covering is threat to security. For you information, Sarkozy has even introduced a law banning groups of people wearing cagoule/kagool or any other form of cloth that cover the head of a person - to fight against crime groups. It is wrong to focus on the religious issues of the burqa.

"Why can a nun be covered from head to toe [...] but when a Muslim woman does that, she's "oppressed" ?" - not really, they are many free non-oppressed covered (wearing shawl/veil) muslim in France. The problem again is the fact that you fully cover your body, face included.

"Why can a jew grow a beard [...] and when a Muslim does that, he's an extremist?" - You are so wrong, do you that Islam is the second religion in France. Do you know Marseille, Roubaix/Lille, Paris ? I love beard !!

There are no double standard

"ladies that are wearing the burgas are not only the immigrants (as it used be previously) but the natives too." - indeed, saw one lady on TV who said that even her parents were against it and she was wearing it (may be for fun or make herself seen by boys)

@Pathfinder @Shiro - Yes, Islam is the seconde religion of France and Muslim is the second population. Why do you think Sarkozy is now President of France ? Because he manage to create the French Council of Muslim Faith !! Sarkozy has even backed the funding for mosques by State (despite the 1905 law separating State and religion). Nowadays, there are more and more mosques in French cities - please read this to know how Sarkozy reduced the gap between Muslims and Europeans (

Shiko-Msa said...

Sollomonsydelle, Anon 3.04, Anon 7.49 thanks ya'all for your inputs.

Savvy, Your Excellency at some point there it got thoroughly confusing and I wondered what sort of fire I've lit. I'll take what is there already and get outa here.

Anon 1.39 special thanks for the answers and the link.

Mama Shujaa said...

Good discussion!

Shiko-Msa said...

Thanks Mama Shujaa. And nice ka-snap!

UrXlnc said...


concur with mama shujaa, your posts are thought provoking keep up the good work

Shiko-Msa said...

Your Excellency thanks. You make a girl smile.

Mo said...

Anonymous 2 and PKW hit the nail on the head.

If they French govt wants to ban wearing of the burqa (security reasons? Bah! Who're they kidding?) in public, then what's to stop them dictating an Orwellian, rigid, acceptable dress code?

'Security' is but a smokescreen and what lies at the heart of this is am irrational fear of 'Eurabia' coming to pass.