The hijab seems to freak people out. More awkward, still, is the burqa or niqab, which hide all but a woman’s eyes. The image creeps me out.
While the eyes are the windows to people’s souls, their humanity, I get the absolutely opposite feeling when they are all that I can see of someone’s face.
I’m of two clashing minds. While I feel that way, I try to be cool and accept the women’s personal and faith choice.
It’s not about me.
There is a popular and very poorly informed (extremely conservative) idea that Muslim women are compelled to submit or subjugate themselves to men or to the Quran.
More and more European and North American governments are banning the veil; it makes me shift in my seat as look around for state enforcers who lay in wait. The French are making good on their discomfort in regards to the niqab or veil.
So many people just ignore that it’s the women’s personal choice.
Here is a woman’s incisive perspective about niqab wearers being a minority among Muslims, among other points. She raises are broader and more disturbing questions.
Whether you’re of the United States or Europe, it’s too easy to see and accept either societies’ extreme, combined assumptions: that Muslim women are forced to cover themselves. Maybe those people who do this are simply very ignorant and frightened. For some reason, the majority media are simply going with that angle in their news stories. This is a problem since very few people seek their news from either public radio or public TV. That’s morose.
The idea of submission to or compliance with a Muslim higher power sits largely on our society’s margins. No matter how religious or spiritual either the United States or Europe are, that simple, and yet humbling, and challenging choice seems foreign – unAmerican.
Now the Canadian and European governments think that banning the birqa or the niqab will serve and lift these women. Why do these societies, or their respective governments, think that banning these women from making this choice is good? Isn’t that presumptuous, egotistical, or arrogant, if not all three? I find that it reflects the worst, most backward of Western thinking.
The niqab. An obligation?
Feeling uneasy around veiled women isn’t terrible. It’s disappointing, but not a character flaw. It depends on your open mind; how curious you are about those people who seem to be nothing like you. But exploiting the law to tread on someone’s, seemingly bizarre, choice for modesty is a problem. While somewhat typical (if you look at which out-dated laws are still on the books), makes that kind of ignorance palatable.
Ultimately, as with what used to be called “the negro problem,” this is an issue of provincial minds needing to open up to the fresher air that disparate cultures and beliefs can provide. So, some of us feel uncomfortable, even physically so, around these veils that hide all but the eyes?
This is also about the women’s freedom to choose how to submit to their god, Allah. It is morose – truly unconscionable – to use the mere and meager criteria of our comfort zone to dictate the boundaries of women’s human rights.
I think this means that we need to grow up some more. Even if, in so many other ways, we think we are urbane, educated, or refined, if not all three.