After Merkel Endorses Burka Ban, A Muslim Woman Points Out The Hypocrisy Of It

Posted by Shambhavi Saxena in Cake, Cake News, GlobeScope
December 7, 2016

In a move that is as surprising as it is disappointing, Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel has endorsed a ban on the hijab or veil that is daily wear for many Muslim women in the country. Yes, the same woman who last year attended a pro-tolerance vigil in Berlin, extending her support to the Muslim population of her country.

She has until now maintained a positive attitude towards ‘cultural others’ entering Germany due to the refugee crisis, “Hatred, racism and extremism have no place in this country.” But Merkel appears to be joining the ranks of other European leaders like Nicolas Sarkozy or Nigel Farage, and several states in the EU that impose a ban on ‘Islamic clothing’. Of course, this comes at a time when she is aiming to get re-elected.

This opposition has been largely couched in language that suggests this clothing makes it easier to conceal weapons, and that the motives behind the ban are not due to Islamophobia. But the absence of any such sartorial restrictions for members of other religious communities (nuns’ habits, or the robes of priests or rabbis) lays bare the hypocrisy of it all.

With Merkel’s abrupt declaration, the hijab debate has surfaced once again, and in recent times, the issue of women’s freedoms has also been used as a talking point against the veil. A very large number of people argue that the hijab a symbol of Muslim women’s oppression, and this also comes from a largely Euro-centric idea that “women’s lib” looks like showing a lot of skin.

And twitter user @namirari has called out the bullshit in a few succinct tweets:

While the thread starts off as a response to news about Merkel, and the many similar ban that have preceded it, @namirari draws attention towards those aspects of the hijab debate that we don’t often get to see, because the discourse has so far been dominated by a white-western-saviour-complex.

The interesting point being made here is that holding all women to that same white-western standard of how bodies should exist in public actually impinges on the the basics of consent.

The double standard on women’s clothing, especially Muslim women, is nothing short of revolting. It is unlikely that many will stop seeing the hijab, burka or veil as a symbol of oppression, but it’s important to remember why many proud Muslimah (a word that many Muslim women use for themselves) find their clothing empowering:

Anxieties about women exercising choice is a hallmark of the patriarchy. But anxieties about Muslim women exercising choices that are different from one’s own is the hallmark of savarna or white feminism, and definitely something that needs dismantling.

Muslim women are constantly being told their voices do not matter. And if we want to change that, we really have to start listening. Angela, we are looking at you.