Thursday, February 4, 2010
Burqa a Boon or a Curse?
I decided to write this post on the recent “Ban Burqa” issues which have received some graceful media attention. Most of the readers from India would have a moderate approach on women wearing a burqa; I was interested on the decision of the French government for banning a burqa on public places and comments by the French President Nicholas Sarkozy. France, as I know is a secular democracy and a Catholic Christian nation, from many centuries, however to seek the answers for my question I did a small research which includes Islamic history in France and Europe, recent developments of the Islamic law and practices.
Arrival of Islam in France can be dated back to 800AD, and is currently the second most prominent religion in France. Soon after WWII there was a rush of immigrants into France mainly to exploit the opportunities in various fields the French progress had to offer. Although the French republic had a law from 1872 performing census based on religion (which they feared create distinctions between citizens), information from various other agencies shows us that the present population of French muslims are immigrants from North Africa, Middle east, Asia and a vast number of Illegal Immigrants. Immigration is a privilege not a right.
The controversial issue of banning a Hijab had first come out during 1989 since then had been involved in debates around the country at various instances. The scope of the issue is wider than what we think. There are no official figures, but around 100,000 women are thought to wear burqa in France. Home to almost 5 million Muslims, the country had passed a law in 2004 banning use of head scarves or any other religious symbols in state schools. They claim it to be a move towards Secularism. The French claim, wearing burqa at public places differentiates the citizens and makes them an easy prey for racists. At Many instances Sarkozy had made statements such as “Burqas not welcome to France”, “A sign of subservience and debasement”, he has made no secret on his dislike to garbs and full scale veils. According to his statements, a country that serves equal rights for Men and Women, he does not want to see those rights debased. He is running towards adopting a resolution that would unequivocally condemn and then pass a bill on banning Burqa.
Is it really secularism that made the French republic decide on the recent law on banning burqa and is it just France that is looking forward to adopt a Ban? If so Why?
Is it secularism?
There had been some seldom criminal activities that were related to Burqas in and around the world. A famous one that I remember is Maulana Abdul Aziz attempting to flee Red Mousque in Pakistan during an army rush to end extremism during 2007. In 2005 London bombers took on a burqa twice when fleeing the crime scene and then later on fleeing London.
Burqas are also associated with non political criminal activities. Famous robberies of Jeweler stores and Banks In the West and in India were undertaken in the cover of Burqa. There had been another study shown by British researchers which states that women wearing Burqa lacked in Vitamin D since there is no exposure to sun which results in serious risks from Rickets and harms breast feeding mothers and babies.
Is it in France alone?
Apart from being banned in French public schools, Burqa has been discouraged by IFAB, court in US state of Georgia, Quebec election authorities, Florida drivers liscence, classrooms in UK, Public places in some of the Belgian towns, Dutch legislature and recently by Indian SC in regards to ID cards for citizens.
There has been another Canadian Muslim group who is calling on Ban to burqa in public places. Many claim the woman who cover their faces in public are being forced by their husbands and family. This goes against the Canadian Law of equal rights for Men and Women and helps in marginalizing women and showing an absolute gender quality.
As on my stand in the situation, I dislike the practice and consider it as a dominant male implimentation but I don’t think wearing a burqa should be banned. It goes against the general right of practicing ones religion. If we are to ask every man and woman in the muslims world on wearing a Burqa, I am certain everyone would answer differently. My statement has its limitations as my understanding on the political situations of these countries stay limited. My idea will be conflicted when I have to consider the security threats and constitutional rights and legislations previously existing in these countries.
I would consider giving importance to Law of the Land over my personal beliefs, feelings and ideologies.