Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Burqa to no Burqa

Burqa to no Burqa
Mike Ghouse, July 4, 2007

When the President of the United States abuses the authority given to him and violates the constitution and trust of the people (low approval ratings), when the Pope abuses his authority and utters words that create gratuitous chaos, when the Mufti of Saudi Arabia abuses his authority in pre-empting God’s authority and issues a fatwa declaring another Muslim as a non-Muslim, and when people in power abuse their authority; the people in power over their family also abuse the imposition of Burqa as an instrument of control. However, not all the Presidents, not all the Pope’s, not all the Clerics and not all the people abuse the privileges, some do and I estimate that to be no more than 1/10th of 1% when it comes to the general public.

A majority of Muslim women wear the Burqa out of their own volition, however there are a few men out there who compel them to wear, and it is certainly an oppressive situation. When you take a principled stand, women are indeed oppressed by all societies, The insecure men; whether it is a Bubba, Mullah or a Prince, be it in China, United States, India, Brazil or Saudi Arabia, they all behave the same, take it out on their women. Idiots do not have the guts to fight some one equally strong or independent; but they always prey on the weak or the dependent. They are the one’s that need education and not the Burqa elimination. Once we learn about the essence of Burqa, we may find oursleves to become pro-choicers, i.e., respecting the right of choice of the woman and not dictate what she does and does not wear, just as we are divided on Roe V. Wade.

Burqa is used from the Shuttle-Cock format in Afghanistan to the Hijab format (a bare scarf in the United States, Canada, India, Turkey, Bangladesh, Pakistan and some other nations. The Original Islamic idea was for a woman to be modest in public places, hold on from jumping to conclusions, it is not only women, it is men as well. Men in most Muslim societies do not wear shorts, they wear full length pants, they do not go bare chested even in their homes. That is range of modesty in practice. For an average American to understand this concept of modesty, all they have to do is compare the society of a higher threshold where, some families walk around the house with barely any clothes on, but most American families have modesty, what they wear in front of their children, especially of the opposite gender, when their sister, daughters or cousins are around is not the same.

If some woman wants to drop the Hijab, she can, but she has to feel comfortable with it. It would be hypocritical of us to impose our values onto others, let alone our own relatives.
We have an obligation to maintain a balance in the society and it is our duty to keep law and order and faithfully guard the safety of every citizen. If we can learn to accept and respect the God given uniqueness of each individual, then conflicts fade and solutions emerge.
Prejudice against any one is one of the many sources of disrupting the peace in a society and it is our duty to track down the source of such hate and work on mitigating it. if we let hate mongers, hate sermons and hate lectures creep in our societies, we lose that desired balance in the society.

First, we have to believe that the societal balance begins with each one of us; we see goodness around if we upload good values in ourselves. It is in our interest to treat the world as one nation under God, one family and one people with liberty and justice for all. We are on the bus.

Mike Ghouse is a Speaker, Thinker, Writer and a Moderator. He is president of the Foundation for Pluralism and is a frequent guest on talk radio, discussing interfaith, political and civic issues. He founded the World Muslim Congress with a simple theme: "good for Muslims and good for the world." His personal Website is and his articles can be found on the Websites mentioned above and in his Blogs: and . He can be reached at . Mike lives in Carrollton with his family and has been a Dallasite since 1980

Two articles to refer to:

Pakistani cleric captured under Burqa

By MUNIR AHMED, Associated Press Writer1 hour, 34 minutes ago
Security forces besieging a radical mosque in the Pakistani capital captured its top cleric Wednesday as he tried to sneak out of the complex in a woman's Burqa, and more than 1,000 of his followers surrendered.

But heavy gunfire raged into the night, and it was unclear if his capture would lead other hard-liners to give up the fight at the mosque.

President Gen. Pervez Musharraf deployed the army to subdue the militants holed up at Lal Masjid, or Red Mosque, whose clerics have boldly challenged the government for months with a drive to impose a Taliban-style version of Islamic law in Islamabad.

The peaceful arrest of the mosque's prayer leader, Maulana Abdul Aziz, was a coup for the government. The firebrand Aziz has been a vociferous opponent of Musharraf and threatened suicide attacks to defend the mosque. His thousands of male students have been at the forefront of anti-government and anti-U.S. rallies.

Tensions exploded into a daylong battle Tuesday between security forces and militant students, some heavily armed and masked. Officials said 16 people died, including militants, security officers and bystanders. Mosque leaders put the death toll among just students at 20.

The government ordered the militants to lay down their arms and surrender by Wednesday morning as it positioned armored vehicles and helicopters around the mosque in a show of strength.

A security official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to journalists, said Aziz was captured when he tried to get away disguised as a woman, wearing a full-length black burqa, and a female police officer tried to search him.

The officer began shouting "This is not a woman," the official said, prompting male officers to seize Aziz. "The suspect later turned out to be the mosque's chief cleric," the official said.
An AP Television News cameraman saw plainclothes police bundling the gray-bearded cleric into the back of a car, which sped away.

Javed Iqbal Cheeman, an Interior Ministry official, said Aziz's wife, the principal of the mosque's religious school, was also arrested.

"The entire operation will end in further success, and we will be able to give you and the nation more good news," Deputy Interior Minister Zafar Iqbal Warriach said.

He said the whereabouts of the mosque's deputy leader, Abdul Rashid Ghazi, who is Aziz's brother, was unclear. Ghazi said earlier Wednesday that "we will continue to defend ourselves."

Cheema said at least 1,100 people surrendered during the day, with some of the women in tears. All women and children will be granted amnesty, but males involved in killings and the top mosque leaders will face legal action, Deputy Information Minister Tariq Azim said.
Cheema claimed that "not many more" people were left inside the mosque complex.
One who decided to give up, 15-year-old Maryam Qayyeum, said those who stayed in the seminary "only want martyrdom."

"They are happy," she said. "They don't want to go home."
Qayyeum said mosque leaders were not trying to stop students from giving up. But her mother, who had come to take her home, disputed that "They are making speeches. They want to incite them," she said of the leaders.

Over the past six months, the Red Mosque clerics have challenged the government by sending students to kidnap alleged prostitutes and police in an anti-vice campaign.
The bloodshed has added to a sense of crisis in Pakistan, where Musharraf — a major ally of President Bush — already faces emboldened militants near the Afghan border and a democracy movement triggered by his botched attempt to fire the country's chief justice.
The mosque siege sparked street protests Tuesday in the cities of Lahore and Quetta organized by radical religious parties.

On Wednesday, officials said a suicide car bomber rammed a vehicle into a Pakistan army convoy near the Afghan border, killing five soldiers and five civilians. In northwestern Pakistan, unidentified assailants fired a rocket at a police station, killing one officer and wounding four, and an explosive killed four people and injured two district officials.
It was not known if the incidents were linked to the mosque crisis.
Associated Press reporters Sadaqat Jan and Stephen Graham in Islamabad and Riaz Khan in Peshawar contributed to this report.


International Herald Tribune.

Head-to-toe Muslim veils test tolerance of stridently secular Britain
By Jane Perlez
Thursday, June 21, 2007

LONDON: Increasingly, Muslim women in Britain take their children to school and run errands covered head to toe in flowing black gowns that allow only a slit for their eyes.
Like little else, their appearance has unnerved Britons, testing the limits of tolerance in this stridently secular nation. Many veiled women say they are targets of abuse. At the same time, efforts are growing to place legal curbs on the full Muslim veil, known as the niqab.
The past year has seen numerous examples: A lawyer dressed in a niqab was told by an immigration judge that she could not represent a client because, he said, he could not hear her. A teacher wearing a niqab was told by a provincial school to go home. A student who was barred from wearing a niqab took her case to the courts, and lost. In fact, the British education authorities are proposing a ban on the niqab in schools altogether.

David Sexton, a columnist for The Evening Standard, wrote recently that Britain has been "too deferential" toward the veil. "I find such garb, in the context of a London street, first ridiculous and then directly offensive," he said.

Although the number of women wearing the niqab has increased in the past several years, only a tiny percentage of women among Britain's two million Muslims cover themselves completely. It is impossible to say how many exactly.

Some who wear the niqab, particularly younger women who have taken it up recently, concede that it is a frontal expression of Islamic identity, which they have embraced since Sept. 11, 2001, as a form of rebellion against the policies of the Blair government in Iraq and at home.

"For me it is not just a piece of clothing, it's an act of faith, it's solidarity," said a 24-year-old program scheduler at a broadcasting company in London, who would allow only her last name, Al Shaikh, to be printed, saying she wanted to protect her privacy. "9/11 was a wake-up call for young Muslims," she said.

At times she receives rude comments, including, Shaikh said, when a woman at her workplace told her she had no right to be there. Shaikh said she planned to file a complaint.
When she is on the street, she often answers barbs. "A few weeks ago a lady said: 'I think you look crazy.' I said: 'How dare you go around telling people how to dress,' and walked off. Sometimes I feel I have to reply. Islam does teach you that you must defend your religion."
Other Muslims find the niqab objectionable, a step backward for an immigrant group that is under pressure after the terror attack on London's transit system in July 2005.

"After the July 7 attacks, this is not the time to be antagonizing Britain by presenting Muslims as something sinister," said Imran Ahmad, author of "Unimagined," an autobiography of growing up Muslim in Britain, and the head of British Muslims for Secular Democracy. "The veil is so steeped in subjugation, I find it so offensive someone would want to create such barriers. It's retrograde."

Since South Asians started coming to Britain in large numbers in the 1960s, a small group of usually older, undereducated women have worn the niqab. It was most often seen as a sign of subjugation.

Many more Muslim women wear the headscarf, called the hijab, covering all or some of their hair. Unlike in France, Turkey and Tunisia, where students in state schools and female civil servants are banned from covering their hair, British Muslim women can wear the headscarf, and indeed the niqab, almost anywhere, for now.

But that tolerance is eroding. Even some who wear the niqab, like Faatema Mayata, a 24-year-old psychology and religious studies teacher, agreed there were limits. "How can you teach when you are covering your face?" she said, sitting with a cup of tea in her living room in Blackburn, a town in the north of England, her niqab tucked away because she was within the confines of her home.

She has worn the niqab since she was 12, when she was sent by her parents to an all-girls boarding school. The niqab was not, as many Britons seemed to think, a sign of extremism, she said. The niqab, to her, was about identity. "If I dressed in a Western way I could be a Hindu, I could be anything," she said. "This way I feel comfortable in my identity as a Muslim woman."

No one else in the family wore the niqab. Her husband, Ibrahim Boodi, a social worker, was indifferent, she said. "If I took it off today, he wouldn't care."

When she is walking, she is often stopped, she said. "People ask, 'Why do you wear that?' A lot of people assume I'm oppressed, that I don't speak English. I don't care, I've got a brain."

Some commentators have complained that mosques encourage women to wear the niqab, a practice they have said should be stopped. At the East London Mosque, one of the largest in the capital, the chief imam, Abdul Qayyum, studied in Saudi Arabia and is trained in the Wahhabi school of Islam. According to the community relations officer at the mosque, Ehsan Abdullah Hannan, the imam's daughter wears the niqab.

At Friday prayers recently, the women worshipers were crowded into a small upstairs windowless room away from the main hall for the men.

A handful of young women wore the niqab and spoke effusively about their reasons. "Wearing the niqab means you will get a good grade and go to paradise," said Hodo Muse, 19, a Somali woman. "Every day people are giving me dirty looks for wearing it, but when you wear something for Allah you get a boost."

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