United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s remarks on Muslim get dressed precipitated a tsunami closing year, and the ripples are nonetheless being felt. He asked why Muslim ladies must wear a burka or niqab, which makes them appear like “letterboxes”.
It in reality wasn’t prudent for a high minister to poke amusing at Muslim girls, and some alleged his analogy induced a spike in anti-Muslim sentiment. In his protection, Johnson did help a Muslim girl’s right to wear some thing she chooses, but his implied query stays a pertinent one: Why pick one of these garment while all it ever does is supply Islam a horrific call?
Predictably, the “letterbox” jibe drew out Muslim activists. They defended the niqab as a non-public desire or as something that makes ladies sense relaxed. Yet, irrespective of how they are attempting to shield it, such Muslim clothing is cumbersome, patriarchal or even risky, and it limits opportunities for girls in in any other case unfastened and open societies.
An article by way of Sarah Baxter in this difficulty in The Times of London this week stuck my eye. It became entitled I am no snowflake, but the niqab scares me. To Baxter, if the niqab symbolizes whatever it’s miles the unsettling reminder that girls in plenty of the arena are nevertheless repressed, and the beyond century’s development in women’s emancipation in developed nations may be “only a blip in history”.
Baxter’s disdain and worry are justified. Why create a taking walks barrier between the wearer and the optimistically unmasked relaxation of the arena? Concealment is what the niqab does best; its very purpose for being is to conceal that girl charm. But can’t it additionally conceal a whole lot greater, even guns?
The trustworthy provide endless justifications, aside from the same old one approximately looking unsexy: to “reap closeness” with Allah, to make a political announcement, and to ensure Islam’s precepts are being fully observed. Advocates here in Canada have even provided the specious argument that, far from being patriarchal, wearing the niqab is a feminist preference for a female. Perhaps they’re implying that in this #MeToo era, swaddling medieval garb will maintain them safe!
Retreating at the back of a masks is an strange motion to call feminist. The maximum excessive Muslim garment, the burka, reflects extremely-conservative interpretations by way of guys. It is valued by means of merciless misogynists just like the Taliban as a convenient means of repressing women. The reasonably less restrictive niqab serves to marginalize women in Saudi Arabia. All of this garb is nothing however an endorsement of the chauvinism and patriarchy that defined seventh-century Arabia.
And it has nothing to do with Islam. In reality, overlaying the hair and face is a practice uncritically inherited from the patriarchal cultures that preceded Islam. Women who don the niqab need to take a closer take a look at the requirements in their faith. The recommendation is merely to dress modestly. The language of the Quran is indistinct and usually observed by means of a reassurance of forgiveness if its injunctions on the matter can’t be met.
In fact, the main precept in the back of Islam’s modest apparel is not to attract attention to women. But the political statement women make by way of carrying the niqab has the opposite impact. If they care approximately the reputation of the faith they profess to love, they ought to recall how the burka and niqab, as diagnosed symbols of separation and oppression, maintain to give Islam a terrible call.