Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Hijab Hijinks

Jack Straw writes that "wearing the full veil was bound to make better, positive relations between the two communities more difficult".

A British education minister says he supports universities that ban Islamic students from wearing veils.

Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi said on Tuesday that Muslim immigrant women should not be completely “hidden” behind full veils if they want to integrate and become part of Italy’s future.

Tony Blair said the full face veils by Muslim women is a "mark of separation" and made some "outside the community feel uncomfortable".

Allahpundit notes that the latest opposition to the veil comes from...Egypt:

Saleh, known in Egypt as “the women’s mufti” for her numerous fatwas, or religious edicts relating to women, rebutted on daily al-Sharq Al-Awsat, that hers was “a personal comment on an increasingly common phenomenon but which was not meant in any way to offend women.”

“There is a significant difference between the hijab, a simple veil which frames the face, and the niqab, which leaves only the eyes visible” she added. “The first is a religious duty, but the second is a sheer cultural convention, which has no raison d’etre in Islamic sources” she said.

Saleh seems to be echoing something more controversial that Amir Taheri wrote back in 2004:
The headgear in question has nothing to do with Islam as a religion. It is not sanctioned anywhere in the Koran, the fundamental text of Islam, or the hadith (traditions) attributed to the Prophet.

This headgear was invented in the early 1970s by Mussa Sadr, an Iranian mullah who had won the leadership of the Lebanese Shi'ite community.

In an interview in 1975 in Beirut, Sadr told this writer that the hijab he had invented was inspired by the headgear of Lebanese Catholic nuns, itself inspired by that of Christian women in classical Western paintings. (A casual visit to the Metropolitan Museum in New York, or the Louvres in Paris, would reveal the original of the neo-Islamist hijab in numerous paintings depicting Virgin Mary and other female figures from the Old and New Testament.)

Sadr's idea was that, by wearing the headgear, Shi'ite women would be clearly marked out, and thus spared sexual harassment, and rape, by Yasser Arafat's Palestinian gunmen who at the time controlled southern Lebanon.

Sadr's neo-hijab made its first appearance in Iran in 1977 as a symbol of Islamist-Marxist opposition to the Shah's regime. When the mullahs seized power in Tehran in 1979, the number of women wearing the hijab exploded into tens of thousands.

In 1981, Abol-Hassan Bani-Sadr, the first president of the Islamic Republic, announced that "scientific research had shown that women's hair emitted rays that drove men insane." To protect the public, the new Islamist regime passed a law in 1982 making the hijab mandatory for females aged above six, regardless of religious faith. Violating the hijab code was made punishable by 100 lashes of the cane and six months imprisonment.

By the mid 1980s, a form of hijab never seen in Islam before the 1970s had become standard gear for millions of women all over the world, including Europe and America.

But the bottom line is, just what does Europe think they are doing?

Of all the ways to confront the growing problem of Islamist violence in Europe, why tackle an issue that is more likely to encourage moderates to join the extremists in protesting what they interpret as an assault on their religion?

Europe is going after veils while failing to go after those who in speech and action encourage the Islamist extremists.

They are likely to fail in the former while losing the war against the latter.

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Anonymous said...

Good point - the veil isn't causing problems, but using it as an issue seems likely to create big problems.

Annie said...

At Jewbiquitous we have a post that discusses the ramifications of banning headscarves.