Saima Ashraf, 39, at
the Barking Town Hall in London, where she is a leader in the local government.
She said such an achievement would not have been possible for her as a veiled
woman in her home country, France. Credit Andrew Testa for The New York Times
British Muslims How They Feel About a Burqa Ban
Condemns French Laws for 'Fuelling Intolerance and Stigmatisation of Muslims'
Charity Lecture Focuses on Women’s Rights in Islam
Our Male Colleagues Know That Women Are Here to Stay - Female Officers
Women Wear Veils to Help Integrate Into Society and Mix With Non-Muslims, Study
by New Age Islam News Bureau
People Look at Us Has Changed’: Muslim Women on Life in Europe
Ashraf, 39, at the Barking Town Hall in London, where she is a leader in the
local government. She said such an achievement would not have been possible for
her as a veiled woman in her home country, France. Credit Andrew Testa for The
New York Times
storm over bans on burkinis in more than 30 French beach towns has all but
drowned out the voices of Muslim women, for whom the full-body swimsuits were
designed. The New York Times solicited their perspective, and the responses —
more than 1,000 comments from France, Belgium and beyond — went much deeper
than the question of swimwear.
emerged was a portrait of life as a Muslim woman, veiled or not, in parts of
Europe where terrorism has put people on edge. One French term was used dozens
of times: “un combat,” or “a struggle,” to live day to day. Many who were born
and raised in France described confusion at being told to go home.
have struck down some of the bans on burkinis — the one in Nice, the site of a
horrific terror attack on Bastille Day, was overturned on Thursday — but the
debate is far from over.
years, we have had to put up with dirty looks and threatening remarks,” wrote
Taslima Amar, 30, a teacher in Pantin, a suburb of Paris. “I’ve been asked to
go back home (even though I am home).” Now, Ms. Amar said, she and her husband
were looking to leave France.
Abouzeir, 32, said she was considering starting a business caring for children
in her home in Toulouse, southern France, because that would allow her to wear
a head scarf, frowned upon and even banned in some workplaces.
women wrote that anti-Muslim bias had intensified after the attacks on Charlie
Hebdo in Paris in January 2015, and in Brussels, Paris and Nice more recently.
Halima Djalab Bouguerra, a 21-year-old student in Bourg-en-Bresse, France,
dated the change further back, to the killings by Mohammed Merah in the
southwest of the country in 2012.
people look at us has changed,” Ms. Bouguerra wrote. “Tongues have loosened. No
one is afraid of telling a Muslim to ‘go back home’ anymore.”
some excerpts from the comments we received. They have been condensed and
edited for clarity, and translated for those who wrote in French.
the Burkini came out, I was happy for my sister, who was on vacation and could
finally play with her children on the beach instead of sitting in the shadow.
At the beginning of all the drama, I thought, ‘Never mind it, Dina, it’s just a
couple of small-minded people who don’t have anything else to do than hate on
everything.’ But this? Really? This is everything I thought Europe was against.
… How is it possible that in a ‘modern’ world, tanning naked is accepted but
keeping your clothes on at the beach is not?”
Srouji, 23, Lebbeke, Belgium. Student and student reporter at the University of
Gent. Instagram: @dindinsr
reminds me of my first days in high school after French law banned the hijab in
schools. My teacher forced me to take off my head scarf in front of all the
other pupils. I was humiliated. ... Today, I felt my heart broken again. I just
looked at this woman taking off her clothes and asked myself, when will it
Zennou, 27, Lyon, France. Designer. She was referring to a woman who was
surrounded by police officers on a beach in Nice.
insulted, spat on (literally) every day in the subway, on the bus, at school.
Yet I have never insulted or hit someone. No, I am just Muslim. I am seriously
thinking of going to live elsewhere, where other people’s looks won’t make me
cry every night in my bed.
afraid of having to wear a yellow crescent on my clothes one day, like the Star
of David for Jews not so long ago.”
Charlotte Monnier, 23, Toulouse, France. Architecture student.
curious to see if, in the cities where they forbade women in burkinis, dogs
could swim. The answer was yes for some of them. Personally, I am scandalized
that dogs can have more rights than a scarfed woman.”
I am a
social worker and I do my best to strive for a fair and free society. To me,
wearing the veil does not mean being enslaved by a man. On the contrary, it
means reappropriating the body and femininity.”
Afkir, 25, Brussels
time I visit Morocco, I feel and see more freedom than here in the West.”
el Bouchihati, 26, Gouda, the Netherlands. Social worker.
mind removing my veil to work. What bothers me is hiding it from my colleagues.
... Of course, I did not hide for very long. I ran into my colleague as I was
shopping with a friend, and I was wearing my veil. We said hello, and I
whispered to her I would explain. I felt so bad about lying to her all this
time. It was hell! So I sent her a text message to tell her the truth. She told
me that she understood, and that she wouldn’t repeat it.”
Hadjira Skoundri, 22, Toulouse, France. Administrative agent in the local
we make every effort and try to be ‘integrated,’ we are constantly reminded
that to be properly and completely integrated, we must give up our principles
and our religion. In our homes, at work, or among our friends, there is a kind
of pressure. We don’t dare accept invitations from friends because we’re sick
of having to say no to alcohol and to politely justify ourselves, walking on
eggshells while making sure we don’t say anything that could be taken the wrong
way. At work, there have been little jokes along the lines of ‘Did you help
your cousins?’ after the terrorist attacks. And our families who curse the
terrorists at mealtime are then insulted by these new laws.
what? We isolate ourselves. And once you start isolating yourself, you’re no
Hassine, 27, Orléans, France. Administrator at a construction company and a
practicing Muslim who does not wear a veil.
“To be a
Muslim woman in France is to live in an apartheid system of which the beach
bans are just the latest incarnation. ... I think that French Muslim women
would be justified to request asylum in the United States, for instance, given
how many persecutions we are subjected to.”
Mondon, 37. French teacher who recently moved to Casablanca, Morocco, from
“I am a
Muslim French woman. I live in London. As a Frenchwoman, I would never have
achieved what I have in London while wearing the veil. I am a politician in
local government, deputy leader of my borough, and I wear the scarf. If I were
in France, forget about it.”
Ashraf, 39, London. Twitter: @saimaashraf25
“I am a
nurse and I wear the veil. At work, it is impossible for me to wear my veil. I
remove it upon arrival. Nothing on the head, no long sleeves, nothing that
might cover me up to adhere to my way of living. … We are denied the
possibility of going to the pool and now to the beach. What is the next step?
Are we going to wear crescents to be recognized?”
Alem, 27, Paris. Nurse at a dialysis center.
unwell to the point of becoming paranoid! As a student, I had a classmate call
me a Salafist and make a death threat against me. Why? Because he saw me
wearing a veil in the street. When I went to see the school’s assistant
principal, the only solution she found was to expel both of us if we did not
lessen the tensions that he had caused. A real nightmare, where all roads lead
to injustice. ... I have tears in my eyes as I write these words, and while I
don’t want to present us as victims, their relentlessness is such that I am
going to leave this country sooner or later. They will surely have obtained
what they wanted, but I don’t have the strength of Rosa Parks. One less
engineer in France — that’s their punishment.”
Mahboub, 21, Paris. Engineering student.
though I have a master’s degree, I couldn’t find a job related to my studies. …
I see no hope for our future, and like many others, I intend to go abroad. My
heart is 100 percent French, but it feels like I have to prove my ‘Frenchness,’
and with everything happening currently, I’m tired of justifying my identity.”
Ferhat-Basset, 29, Drancy, France. Former receptionist.
my studies, I was someone who worked hard. I loved to learn. But as I continued
my schooling, I lost all motivation. I knew that as a veiled Muslim woman, I
had no future in the professional world. We are being asked to integrate, but
unfortunately, they don’t integrate us.”
Akessour, 31, Liège, Belgium. Stay-at-home mother who had to remove her veil
during a midwifery internship and has since abandoned her studies.
summer, I went swimming near Hendaye, in southwestern France. I was a bit of a
local curiosity, but I found that people were kind. It seems that the news
media and politicians are not in sync with what the people think.”
Hachimi, 41, Les Lilas, France. Purchasing assistant.
like an outlaw, a kind of criminal who is demanding something illegal, even
though I am demanding nothing but the right to be free.”
Lamarti, 35, Zellik, Belgium. Mother of four daughters who has trained as a
it crazy that the French appear to be discovering Islam and are still talking
to us about integration, even though we are now in the third or even fourth
generation of Muslims of North African descent living in France.”
Boukhelifa, 22, Lille. Political science student.
“I am a
woman who wears this full-coverage swimsuit. (“Burkini” is a term that is too
loaded.) I used to settle for watching others enjoy the pleasures of swimming —
at most I would go into the water in my street clothes, which is absolutely
impractical. This piece of clothing has broken my chains.”
Loubna, 30, Perpignan, France. Studying for a master’s in sociology.
you ever so much for viewing us as human beings and for taking into account our
opinions. In Belgium, as in France for that matter, we never get the chance to
speak, even though we Muslims (veiled or not) are the main people concerned by
these recurrent controversies on Islam and women. We are seen as brainless
bigots who are submissive to our husbands or fathers. I myself am a Muslim, a
teacher, tolerant, feminist AND veiled.”
Khadija Manouach, 29, Brussels. Teacher in an elementary school.
Muslim young woman, I do not feel safe anymore. … I am preparing to go to the
U.K., where I can work and live normally — which makes me sad, because I do
love my country.”
Nahal, Grenoble, France. Student in economics and management.
father has lived in France since age 8, and he has been working since age 14,
but despite everything, this isn’t enough for France to view us as ordinary
fellow citizens, since my veil bothers them. … What can we do? Take courage
into our own hands and fight with the weapons that we have at our disposal:
knowledge, diplomas and willpower!”
reading the main story
Benabdelkader, 25, Roubaix, France. Student.
week, a YouGov survey found that 57 percent of Brits were in favour of banning
the burqa in public places. And hot on its heels was the burkini – 46 percent
would like it to be outlawed. It seems like the British people still aren't on
board with the idea that Muslim women are fed up of being spoken for. With that
in mind, I spoke to British Muslims to find out if they really do want your
advice on what to wear. (They don't.)
choose to wear the veil but I stand up and support women who want to wear it. I
believe any man or woman should be able to express themselves in any way they
want. The veil might not banned in the UK but it doesn't as a surprise that
Brits are in favour of a ban. I see the way people treat my family members
compared to when they see me, an unveiled woman, when being served at an ice
cream stall, for example.
a ban is a slippery slope. Muslims who already feel under attack will feel even
more marginalised. I can already imagine the conversations that will be
happening: 'First they came for the veil, next they'll come for the headscarf.'
an idea for anyone who feels uncomfortable with a veiled woman: next time you
see a veiled woman, do the most un-British thing, and strike up a conversation
with her. You'll be surprised by how underneath that veil is a very normal
woman who's as British as they come.
surprised by the data – I mean, hostility toward the burqa (and it's not even a
burqa) has been there since way before 7/7, and thanks to a cocktail of sleazy
tabloids and stoked up patriotism, the burqa has basically become a symbol of
everything that's anti-Western. Our current conversation pits women who wear
burqas against women who wear bikinis as a way to characterise this supposed
clash of civilisations.
French Laws for 'Fuelling Intolerance and Stigmatisation Of Muslims'
United Nations has condemned Burkini bans for “fuelling religious intolerance
and the stigmatisation of Muslims in France” after the country’s highest court
ruled they were illegal.
Colville, a spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights,
welcomed the State Council’s finding that prohibiting beachwear worn by some
women to cover the face and body was a grave and illegal breach of fundamental
fully understand - and share - the grief and anger generated by the terrorist
attacks carried out in France in recent months,” he told a briefing in Geneva.
these decrees do not improve the security situation but rather fuel religious
intolerance and the stigmatisation of Muslims in France, especially women.
stimulating polarisation between communities, these clothing bans have only
succeeded in increasing tensions and as a result may actually undermine the
effort to fight and prevent violent extremism.”
Colville urged all French seaside resorts to have brought in burkini bans to
heed last week’s court ruling and not maintain “discriminatory” systems
allowing fines and arrests until the end of the holiday season.
specifically related to rules brought in by the commune of Villeneuve-Loubet
but set a nationwide precedent, incensing local mayors attempting to implement
the controversial prohibitions.
human rights law only allows limitations on manifestations of religious belief
in strict circumstances, such as for public order or safety, and only then when
they are demonstrably necessary and proportionate.
arguments made by French officials over hygiene and a supposed risk to public
order, Mr Colville said women choosing to wear a burkini “cannot be blamed for
the violent or hostile reactions of others”, adding: “Any public order concerns
should be addressed by targeting those who incite hatred or react violently,
and not by targeting women who simply want to walk on the beach or go for a
swim wearing clothing they feel comfortable in.
it be claimed that such a ban on beachwear is necessary on grounds of hygiene
or public health.”
dismissed arguments made by supporters of the ban claiming it supported gender
equality by combating restrictive clothing, saying “humiliating and degrading”
law enforcement cannot enhance freedom.
court overturned a ban on burkinis issued in Cannes on Tuesday, finding no
proven risks to outweigh the restriction.
debates on the issue have been closely watched after photos of armed police
surrounding a Muslim woman as she removed her top on a beach in Nice sparked
Minister Manual Valls, who supported the bans saying they represented the
“enslavement of women”, made a new reference to the controversy with a comment
on Marianne, an allegorical figure of the French Republic.
socialist meeting in southern France he said: “Marianne, the symbol of the
Republic, is bare breasted because she's feeding the people, she doesn't wear a
veil because she's free.”
attacked Mr Valls for allegedly misinterpreting the allegorical figure, who is
sometimes shown wearing clothes and with her had covered.
Charity Lecture Focuses on Women’s Rights In Islam
Qatar Charity (QC) Centre for Social Development, Al Rayyan women’s branch, has
hosted an educational lecture titled “Aggression against Women” in co-operation
with the Protection and Social Rehabilitation Centre.
lecture was attended by 40 women, QC said in a press statement.
Ibrahim al-Ghareeb, programmes and centres director at the Local Development
Executive Management in QC, said: “The exclusive lecture comes as part of the
implementation of plans on co-operation with local community institutions and
aims to raise awareness among mothers and girls about the importance of women’s
rights in Islam. It also aims to shed light on the role Qatar in providing the
required protection through specialised centres such as the Protection and
Social Rehabilitation Centre.”
the participants of the event were Dr Ahmed al-Farajabi, Shariah expert at the
Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs, and Zeinab al-Mahmoud, in co-operation
with the Protection and Social Rehabilitation Centre.
lecture commenced with a speech by al-Mahmoud.
introduced the role of the Protection and Social Rehabilitation Centre and the
importance given by Qatar towards protecting the rights of women and children.
spoke on the Islamic perspective towards the issue.
Dr al-Farajabi urged mothers to raise their children well and not to resort to
aggression while raising them.
end of the lecture, the Shariah expert extended his gratitude and said: “I
would like to thank all our virtuous sisters at the Qatar Charity Centre for
Social Development – Al Rayyan women’s branch and the management of the
Protection and Social Rehabilitation Centre for this activity, which aimed to
explain our Islamic religion’s approach towards protecting women from all types
and forms of aggression.”
lecture was characterised by the women’s interactions and interest in attending
the event right until the end to benefit from the information shared on the
the framework of its future activities, the Qatar Charity Centre for Social
Development – Al Rayyan women’s branch aims to provide a number of
distinguished programmes and national campaigns in the final quarter of 2016.
: Our Male Colleagues Know That Women Are Here to Stay - Female Officers
who have forged their way into law enforcement and have made their mark in the
sector took to the streets of Johannesburg on Thursday to acknowledge the
struggles women still face today.
of women from the departments of correctional services, home affairs, metro
police as well as the SA Police Service took to the streets of the Johannesburg
CBD and marched to commemorate the end of Women's Month.
women, dressed in their respective uniforms, marched in single file with a
marching band leading them through the streets.
march was also to highlight the difficulties women in the sector often faced
while at work.
a woman you get resistance from other male colleagues. Some of them have a
problem taking instructions from a female, moreover a young female," Chief
Superintendent at the Johannesburg Metro Police Department (JMPD) Angie Mokasi
was fortunate that when I joined the department I was very young and there were
so many opportunities. I headed a unit where I was the only female and it was a
specialised unit and I had 60 males reporting under me.
imagine, as a female it was not easy, however, there were those who were very
supportive on anything I was telling them to do."
were still problems at the department, but they were not as bad as they had
been in the past, she said.
most males have accepted that women are here and they are here to stay and
whether they like it or not, we're going nowhere."
female traffic officer had its obstacles, especially on the road, she said.
Most men tended to assume they could get away with traffic fines by sweet
talking the officers and asking for their contact details.
will always be males; they will always try to find a way of not getting a
is very important for us women to know where your boundaries are. You will
charm me, you will smile with me but at the end of the day, I will give you
your ticket with a smile, and you will take it with a smile."
Department of Home Affairs' acting head of immigration inspectorate in Gauteng,
Heidi Malesa, said most of the men they dealt with did not acknowledge female
do [experience gender discrimination] with [African foreigners]; and most of
the Africans don't respect women, so even if you want to give them instructions
as women, they don't take you seriously because some of the people that you are
dealing with are from Muslim backgrounds so when you want to arrest them as
women, they resist arrest because according to their culture, they cannot be
addressed by women."
the number of females in her department as well as the level of protection
needed to increase drastically.
challenge we are facing as women is that we are less capacitated in the field,
we would like to be more capacitated.
[also] feel less protected as women but because we are called by duty, we
Ratlhogo, who is a member of the Johannesburg Emergency Management Services,
said some work-related issues were not internal, but were rather caused by
members of the public.
while attending to a fire with her colleagues, members of the public robbed
them of their belongings and attacked them.
us it is like, this is not safe, we are trying to help the public and the very
people we are trying to help are the ones who are robbing us. We are not
feeling safe any more.
job is to save property and save lives, and we love to do it. We love it and it
is a passion," Ratlhogo said.
women wear veils to help integrate into society and mix with non-Muslims, study
may help young, educated Muslim women to mix with non-Muslim friends, work
outside the home and speak to strangers.
because it provides a 'strategic response' to the temptations and threats of
modern western life into which they are integrating, according to research by
Oxford University professors.
Ozan Aksoy and Diego Gambetta wanted to find out why modernisation does not
always cause a decrease in Islamic religious behaviour.
study found that education, occupation, higher income, urban living, and
contacts with non-Muslims has decreased veiling among averagely religious
among highly religious women, those same modernising forces have increased the
use of the veil.
authors speculate that this is because women use the veil to as a 'strategic
response' to threats to their modesty.
conclude: 'We find that among highly religious women the modernizing forces -
education, occupation and higher income, urban living, and contacts with
non-Muslims - increase veiling.
conjecture that for highly religious women modernizing factors raise the risk
and temptation in women's environments that imperil their reputation for
modesty: veiling would then be a strategic response, a form either of to
prevent the breach of religious norms or women’s piety to their communities.'
the co-authors of the report, Professor Gambetta of Oxford University, said:
'Highly religious women who have more native friends and live in areas
dominated by natives use the veil to keep their pious reputation while being
integrated,' reports The Guardian.
or shunning veiling would deprive them of a means that allow them more
opportunity for integration rather than marking their differences.'
conclusion is that banning the veil will not help Muslim women integrate but
will prevent them from doing so.
study by Ozan Aksoy and Diego Gambetta called Behind the Veil: The Strategic
Use of Religious Garb was published in the European Sociological Review.
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