When you plan on amalgamating two distinct cultural countries, clashes related to customs are bound to take place. Two different lands and two different ideologies, one secular and one orthodox islamic. What should one expect when it comes to the newly emerging ideals of the west digging their way into the east, finally making their way into the lifestyles of people, especially the more oppressed gender, females? In Arab countries, where the strict sharia laws are imbedded deep inside the psyche of the land, skin showing is definitely a no-no. More so, it is a religious obligation rather than a unanimous public decision and opinion. The general public does not have the liberty to go against the sharia laws or else they shall face dire consequences for their actions. The country on the part of their laws is orthodox and impervious to western ideals or modernisation of attitude. Or it depicts so through its backward laws and mentality.
Having said so, wearing a burqa in western countries has taken a toll over the western radicals by posing a threat to their own modern outlook. It is more of a threat to the individuality of the western person wearing shorts and crop tops. Over the span of one decade, christian-muslim ties have weakened due to gruesome terror attacks by islamist groups such as the ISIS, Al-Qaeda and the Taliban, stirring a stereotype of the entire muslim population as one with their malicious deeds in the name of religion. So much so that the average muslim citizen residing in a western country fears embracing his/her religious identity as well as clothing articles outdoors.
Most countries, such as France, Belgium, Switzerland, Italy and Russia have valid arguments to support their stance on banning burqas, withstanding the wishes of the majority that is catholic which finds the veil covering the face as oppressive and derogatory to the status of women. The sentiments of the westerners have a valid and progressive argument in support of their ban, however, the sentiments of the muslims residing within their countries seem to have lost to the cons of being in a minority. In my opinion, such choices should be outside the concern of the state. It is very personal, just like religion. So western societies shouldn’t dwell too deep into such cases, unless agitation by the women wearing the veil is shown in their respective countries. I believe that the working of the state and the working of religious institutions should be aloof of an individual’s choice of dressing. It is an embracement of one’s personality and not a stamp separating one religion from another. It is an outlook that differs between the twain, it is mass agitation that requires action. Unless such protests are shown, such cases tend to take a toll on one’s self esteem. If you tell a muslim teenager in Russia that she cannot wear the burqa to school after the ban, her social confidence would go haywire and she might start doubting her roots and ‘change’ who she is, only to ‘fit in’. The chances of the occurrence of personality crisis should be taken into consideration when planning on amending or banning delicate customs such as this.
A more recent scenario took place in Australia earlier this week when two girls wearing a hijab were displayed in an advertisement promoting multiculturalism in the country on Australia Day. With the photograph depicting two young girls veiled going viral on social media and getting mocked for its sexist showcase, the advertisement had to be taken down.
Baher Ibrahim, an Egyptian doctor and writer, raised the issue in the British edition of the Guardian in 2010, saying: “The very sight of a little girl in a scarf is both disturbing and confusing.”
And I agree, every country has it’s own distinct features and expects its citizens to follow a uniform civil code, however that is not possible given the fact that migration is on the rise and more countries are opening up to people of other nationalities.
Conclusively, the state should know when to take action as serious so as to require a ‘ban’ on it. Some Feminist Muslims embrace their religious identity by wearing a burkha, whereas some feel like it is a breach of their liberty. On both the sides, there are certain desires as well as obligations. The state should mind its own business unless there is a violation of human rights.
Image Courtesy – Canadian council of muslim women