New Age Islam
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Islam, Women and Feminism ( 19 Apr 2010, NewAgeIslam.Com)

Muslim women stage a march against terrorism in Agra

Saudi Arabia: the second sex and the third rail

Somalia: Islamist impose new rules on farmers and women in Somalia 

American Daughters: Reflections On Being Muslim in America: Panel Discussion

Canadians demonstrate against niqab-ban legislation

Ukip claims Muslim women back burqa ban

Fundamentalism inYemeni-woman related legislation

Iranian women show passion for beauty

On Quebec’s Decision to Ban the Muslim Niqab

Girl banned from school for wearing hijab

Crowd protests Quebec niqab ban

Veil of tears for expelled student

Islam and Muslim women’s social roles

The person behind the veil: Women who wear the niqab in Canada have been caricatured at worst, misunderstood at best

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islam,-women-and-feminism/muslim-women-stage-a-march-against-terrorism-in-agra/d/2728

 

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Muslim women stage a march against terrorism in Agra

19 Apr 2010

Hundreds of Muslim women took to streets in Agra on Sunday against the terror menace.

The rally was a part of the three-day National Women Muslim Conference, which concluded at Mathur Vaishya Bhavan in Agra.

carrying banners and placards with messages against terrorism, the participant said that the aim of this march is to create awareness among women especially Muslim women against the terror menace.

Shahzad Khan, organiser of the event, said that this was a three-day campaign to create awareness among the educationally backward sections of the society.

"This campaign was to create awareness among the Muslims who are educationally backward. National Muslim Front has begun this door-to-door campaign today along with Muslim women to guide children towards education," said Khan.

http://www.littleabout.com/news/92999,muslim-women-stage-march-terrorism-agra.html

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Saudi Arabia: the second sex and the third rail

Posted By F. Gregory Gause

April 19, 2010

For a country where women play such a limited public role, it is remarkable that the women's issue plays such a large role in Saudi public discourse. Nothing excites such fervent debate among Saudi intellectuals and activists, and divides them more clearly. During my stay in Saudi Arabia from mid-January to early April of this year, the issue of women's roles in the Saudi public sphere was the dominant topic for debate in the media. How the women's issue has developed in Saudi Arabia over the past few years is a good indicator of the very slow and cautious liberalization that the Saudi regime has encouraged; it is also a good example of the real limits of that liberalization.

The women's issue is the third rail of Saudi politics. Touch it and risk getting burned. The prohibition on women driving is the element that gets the most attention in the United States, and it is certainly an important element of the debate in Saudi Arabia itself. But the issue is larger than driving, encompassing the more general limitations on Saudi women's participation in public life -- in the workplace, in public spaces, in education -- and the appropriateness of the "mixing" of the genders (in Arabic, "al-‘ikhtilat") in these contexts.

King Abdallah has approached the third rail, but in a very cautious manner. His best known initiative in the West on this score is his patronage of the new King Abdallah University for Science and Technology (KAUST), where male and female students and faculty mix on campus without restrictions. Criticisms of KAUST were widespread among Islamists, particularly after pictures of mixed social events appeared on Facebook pages and were passed around by mobile phone. The King decisively intervened in this debate, in October 2009, by firing Shaykh Saad al-Shithri, a member of the Committee of Higher Ulama -- the highest clerical body in the Kingdom -- who had mildly criticized gender mixing on campus on a television program. This was a particularly strong reaction, as al-Shithri was known as a staunch regime loyalist with close family ties to the Al-Saud.

But it would be a mistake to overemphasize the importance of KAUST in the more general Saudi debate on women's issues. The University is a self-contained universe, 80 kilometers from the closest big city (Jeddah) and sealed off from the wider Saudi society. The number of Saudi students on campus is very small. Its impact on the country can only be judged years, if not decades, from now. The more immediate issue is the role of women in Saudi society more generally, and the pushback that minor advances on that score has occasioned.

There is undoubtedly more access for women to Saudi public spaces now than there has been in the past. The debate over al-‘ikhtilat is not theoretical -- it is a reaction to real changes. Two public events during my stay in the country underlined the changes. The first was an education fair where foreign universities made their pitches to Saudi students, tens of thousands of whom (both men and women) are able to study abroad under King Abdallah's scholarship program. The hall was packed with a co-ed Saudi crowd. The second was the annual Riyadh book fair, a major event on the cultural calendar. Despite the presence of the notorious Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice (which not only had members present throughout the hall, but also its own booth, handing out its publications), a completely gender-mixed Saudi crowd attended most days (a few days were limited by gender) without major incident.

It would be a mistake to exaggerate these manifestations of change. We are talking about one-off events, not major social changes. Schools are still strictly segregated through the university level. Women have separate entrances in most places of business. The Jeddah Chamber of Commerce, which has women on its elected board of directors, is instituting different work hours for men and women so they do not have to encounter each other entering and leaving the building. And the driving issue remains unchanged, despite periodic rumors that change is coming. But the trend toward greater women's participation in Saudi public life is clear. One evidence of that trend is the increasing number of female writers with their own opinion columns in Saudi newspapers, who take on these issue on a regular basis. Another is the prominence gained by a Saudi female poet, who reached the final round of a popular televised poetry contest last month by lambasting hidebound clerics in verse.

While the trend is clear, so is the pushback. Islamist activists have protested even these small forays into greater integration of Saudi women into the public sphere. Their arguments tend to revolve around a particularly narrow reading of Islamic law and a more general contention that these moves are part of a broader campaign to impose Western values on Saudi society, against the will of the majority. Much of the pushback comes from Internet websites, which have become the major forum for Islamist political discussion in Saudi Arabia. The other public location of the pushback is the religious satellite television channels, which give oodles of airtime to a wide array of clerics and activists, some very close to the government and others more critical. Some of the pushback does not become public, but is passed on to the official Saudi clergy, which then takes the complaints to senior members of the ruling family.  The more extreme and egregious reactions become the focus of public debate, as more liberal writers in the Kingdom's newspapers use them as a platform to attack the Islamists.

One such incident was the suggestion by activist Yusif al-Ahmad that the gender-mixing at the Grand Mosque in Mecca during the annual pilgrimage was un-Islamic. He called for the Saudi government to tear down the Mosque and build a new one constructed to allow the genders to remain separated during the pilgrimage rituals. His suggestion was greeted with derision among most Saudi writers. A more serious example of pushback was a very strong fatwa from activist cleric Shaykh Abd al-Rahman al-Barrak. He clearly stated that anyone who encouraged inappropriate gender mixing was an unbeliever and could be killed. Al-Barrak has a track record of extremist fatwas, but is a much more widely known and credible figure in the Saudi religious scene than al-Ahmad.

Al-Barrak's fatwa was met with a chorus of criticism in the Saudi press. Some speculate that the high profile given to extremists like al-Ahmad and al-Barrak is part of a subtle effort to discredit their point of view before the larger Saudi public. But it is interesting to note that only one member of the Committee of Higher Ulama publicly took al-Barrak to task. Moreover, over two dozen Saudi clerics and professors publicly supported his views. Unlike al-Shithri, al-Barrak has no official position from which to be fired. His personal website has been taken down, but other than that he has suffered no official sanction for a fatwa that can be construed as a call to violence against the ruling regime. This could be a wise bit of restraint on behalf of the authorities, an effort to minimize his importance by ignoring him. But it is clear that Saudi society -- both those for and those against his extreme views -- were not ignoring him.

It is no surprise that more liberal Saudis have taken on the religious extremists on women's issues in the Saudi press. The newer, and more interesting, element of this debate is the splits within the religious establishment that have emerged on women's issues. The director of the Mecca office of the Committee on the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice, Ahmad bin Qasim al-Ghamdi, gave an interview in the fall of 2009 saying that there was nothing in Islam that prevents women and men from mixing in public places like offices and schools. He has kept himself in the news since then, repeating his unorthodox (for a Saudi religious official) views on gender issues. Ahmad bin Baz, the son of the former mufti (the highest religious authority in the country), has publicly said that those who support a more lenient view on gender mixing have legitimate Islamic law bases for their position.

While liberal voices in the Saudi media carry much of the debate on women's issues, any substantive change in Saudi policies on women's roles in society will be justified and explained by the government in terms of Islam. So the voices of change within the religious establishment on this question are the best indication that more change might be afoot. But the pushback from the religious establishment against the very modest steps taken so far indicates that change, if it comes at all, will come slowly.

F. Gregory Gause, III is professor of political science at the University of Vermont and the author of "The International Politics of the Persian Gulf" (Cambridge University Press, 2010).

http://mideast.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2010/04/19/saudi_arabia_the_second_sex_and_the_third_rail

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Somalia: Islamist impose new rules on farmers and women in Somalia

19 April 2010

Somaliweyn – Mohammed Omar Hussein

The rival armed Islamist faction of Hizbul-Islam has imposed new rules on the farmers and the women at Afgoi district in the lower shabelle region in southern Somalia.

The farmers in Afgoi district were banned not to drive their tractors and ploughs within the

district, and the women in the district were ordered to wear heavy thick veils, and not light ones.  

The faction of Hizbul-Islam has as well banned smokers to smoke within the town, and if the feel like smoking they should go to the outskirts of the town and do their enjoyments there.

Similarly the chewers of Khat a narcotic plant grown in Kenya were instructed to do their chewing in the outskirts of the town as well.

On the other hand Hizbul-Islam faction in Baladweyn town the headquarters of Hiran region in central Somalia, has imposed rules one the vehicles which arrive and departure from Baladweyn town.

This rules which were imposed on the vehicles are that the drivers should pay a certain amount of money which they said is for the renovation of the roads and streets within the region.

The administration of Hizbul-Islam has placed gigantic boards depicted with rough roads, and writing saying that drivers should abide by the instruction given.

http://www.somaliweyn.org/pages/news/Apr_10/19Apr15.html

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"American Daughters: Reflections On Being Muslim in America" Panel Discussion at Ann Arbor District Library Thursday

Apr 20, 2010

Following Michigan Radio’s week-long series on being Muslim in America, the Ann Arbor District Library, in conjunction with the Interfaith Council for Peace and Justice and the University of Michigan Muslim Students Association, will be hosting a panel discussion about being a Muslim woman in America this Thursday, April 22, from 7:00-8:30 pm at the Downtown Ann Arbor District Library.

The panel of five women will discuss being Muslim in America from their own experiences and local perspectives. Discussion will center on the diversity of our community, how Muslims deal with the issues of multiculturalism, several tensions and barriers that exist in tackling this issue within the Muslim community as well as the broader community, and how these issues affect youth as well as adults. Discussion will follow.

The panel will feature Heather Laird, MPA, the Director for the Summer Arabic Institute and a Fellow for the Institute of Social Policy and Understanding (ISPU); Bayyinah Muhammad, ME; Stephanie Flower, ME; Mona Youseff, JD; Shirin Khan, MA & JD.

The Downtown branch of the Ann Arbor District Library is located at 343 S. Fifth Avenue in Ann Arbor. For more information on this event call the Library at 734-327-4555.

Frances Kai-Hwa Wang is a second-generation Chinese American from California who now divides her time between Ann Arbor and the Big Island of Hawaii. She is editor of IMDiversity.com Asian American Village, lead multicultural contributor for AnnArbor.com, and a contributor for New America Media's Ethnoblog. She is a popular speaker on Asian Pacific American and multicultural issues. Check out her website at franceskaihwawang.com, her blog at franceskaihwawang.blogspot.com, and she can be reached at fkwang888@gmail.com.

www.annarbor.com/passions-pursuits/american-daughters-reflections-on-being-muslim-in-america-panel-discussion-at-ann-arbor-district-lib/

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Canadians demonstrate against niqab-ban legislation

Bikya Masr Staff

20 April 2010

Scores of Canadians took to the streets outside Montreal’s City Hall on Saturday to protest against a proposed government bill that would require female public employees, education and health workers to have their faces uncovered at all times. The demonstrators said the proposed legislation reflects “cultural xenophobia” and has “no place in Quebec society.”

The law would also apply to anyone seeking government services. Saturday’s protest, organized by a group calling itself “Kill Bill 94,” lasted for some two hours and drew representatives from the South Asian Women’s Association, Jewish organizations and Montreal’s Anglican diocese. According to reports, around 150 people participated in the demonstration.

Canada is the most recent Western country to look into banning the niqab – the full-face covering that a tiny percentage of Muslim women wear. In Europe, the battle has been most tense, with France beginning the controversy after President Nicolas Sarkozy said the veil was “backward” and called on Parliament to issue a full ban on the clothing worn by less than 2,000 women in France.

Belgium earlier this month passed through a Parliamentary committee a proposal that would make it the first nation to officially ban the niqab from the streets. It has left outrage among Muslims and human rights groups across Europe and the world.

Full report at: http://bikyamasr.com/?p=11770

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Ukip claims Muslim women back burqa ban

20th Apr 2010

The leader of the UK Independence Party has said "quite a lot" of Muslim women support a ban on the burqa.

Lord Pearson told Jon Sopel on the BBC Campaign Show that the women "can't be discovered" voting for Ukip "by their menfolk under Sharia law".

The party's manifesto promises to "tackle extremist Islam by banning the burqa or veiled niqab in public buildings and certain private buildings".

A policy document on the Ukip website explains that "people will be required to have uncovered faces in all public buildings and premises" and "private organisations, businesses, and institutions will be given the option of imposing the same rule, that faces must be uncovered, in their buildings, premises and conveyances".

Lord Pearson also defended his party's view that building societies and banks should self-regulate themselves responsibly in the future without government interference in order to avoid a future repeat of the current recession.

"The cowboy type activities which we've seen which should clearly be in a separate category and we wouldn't see the building societies and the high street banks in that category at all," he said.

Full report at: www.epolitix.com/latestnews/article-detail/newsarticle/ukip-claims-muslim-women-back-burqa-ban

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Fundamentalism inYemeni-woman related legislation

By: Shuaib M. al-Mosawa

Apr 18, 2010

During the past two decades of Yemen’s unity, the Yemeni woman has been oscillating between the quota and the Bait al-Ta’ah- Obedience House. Although some consider that Yemeni unity is a move towards and a victory for the woman’s issue, others think that there is regression either in the practical or legislative sphere and see that of the Yemeni set of laws and legislation, some still provide a basis for discrimination and do not make progress towards the civil plan of the democratic Yemen. Of those is the writer, intellectual, and researcher, Ahmed al-Hasani whom Yemen Observer met to find out some aspects of the regression that the Yemeni woman witnesses.

Yemen Observer: When you talk about regression in the Yemeni woman issue, can we conclude that the situation of the pre-unity woman was better?

Al-Hasani: Generalization is inaccurate. However, if you say that the proportion of discrimination against women under the unity state is higher than that of what was known as the Democratic Yemeni Republic, I would say yes.

YO: Under the totalitarian rule?

Al-Hasani: I am talking about equality. The woman under the totalitarian regime was deprived of many of her political rights, the same as the man was.

YO: So, you think that equality of injustice is fair, don’t you?

Al-Hasani: No, equality of injustice is injustice, but injustice was not aimed at women because of their sex; it was the nature of the ruling system. The woman is better off in democracies as being the best picture of civilization. Discrimination against the woman is not a problem of a ruling system as it is of primitiveness and civilization. There have been examples in the human history where the woman was on top of the power pyramid under authoritarian regimes, of whom were Isabella in Aspin, Cleopatra in Egypt, Catherine in Russia, and Balqis in Yemen.

Full report at: http://www.yobserver.com/reports/10018536.html

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Iranian women show passion for beauty

By Maryam Sinaiee

April 17. 2010

TEHRAN // Iranians are the seventh largest consumers of cosmetics in the world, a study has found, despite the disapproval of much of the country’s officialdom and religious establishment.

The study by TMBA, a private Iranian market research company, published in Faslnameh Tose’e Mohandesi Bazar (The Marketing Magazine) this month, found that the Islamic republic is the second largest cosmetics market in the Middle East after Saudi Arabia, accounting for 29 per cent of the region’s cosmetics consumption.

It shows that women aged between 15 and 45 living in six major Iranian cities spend an average of US$12 per month on beauty products.

“I’ve always had an obsession with cosmetics and spend between one and one and a half million rials (Dh372-Dh560) – about one-fifth of my monthly salary – on things like lipsticks, nail polishes and perfumes,” said Solmaz Nabilou, 27, an office worker. “I’m not the only one spending so much to become more beautiful. Beauticians who charge over 10,000,000 rials for wedding night make-up are not few, at least here in Tehran.”

Iranians, especially those belonging to the middle and upper classes, attach great importance to appearance, and cosmetic surgery, such as nose jobs and cheek and chin lifting, are popular among Iranian women. Iran in fact has become known as one of the nose-job capitals of the world.

Full report at: www.thenational.ae/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20100418/FOREIGN/704179954/1002/NEWS

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On Quebec’s Decision to Ban the Muslim Niqab

by Ghada Al Atrash Janbey

April 17th, 2010

One of the most frustrating battles I have had to fight as an Arab woman living in the West is that of breaking down the pervasive Western stereotypes of Arab women. Indeed, it is a most difficult task to decode that which has been encoded in Western minds for centuries on the East (or the Orient as per Edward Said’s words), and to counterpart the misconceptions with a true existing representation of a changing, progressive modern-day reality, one characteristic of Arab women standing defiant to oppression and to any practices that may bring about gender bias and inequality.

However, all progress is decelerated when an incident as the recent one in Quebec takes place where a Muslim woman demands her right to wearing the niqab (a Muslim headwear which covers the whole head leaving only the eyes exposed)!

Last Wednesday, March 25, Quebec legislation tabled the decision mandating that all Muslim women and others will have to uncover their concealed faces when dealing with Quebec government services. The bill dictates that anyone obtaining, or delivering, services at places like the provincial health or auto-insurance boards will need to do so with their faces uncovered. The legislation also states that face coverings will not be tolerated if they hinder communication or visual identification.

Full report at: dissidentvoice.org/2010/04/on-quebec%E2%80%99s-decision-to-ban-the-muslim-niqab/

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Girl banned from school for wearing hijab

Saturday, April 17, 2010

A 16-year-old schoolgirl has been banned from classes in Spain after refusing to remove her Islamic headscarf, re-igniting the national debate over the hijab.

Najwa Malha, who was born is Spain to Moroccan immigrants, has been excluded from classes at the state-run Camilo Jose Cela School in the Madrid suburb of Pozuelo after being told that her hijab was in violation of school dress code.

The decision has sparked debate in Spain where there are no clear guidelines over the wearing of Islamic headdress in state schools.

The enforcement of dress codes is left up to individual school boards but previous cases of exclusion have been overturned by the state with the argument that the constitutional right to an educational overrides the school's right to determine its own policies.

"I feel totally discriminated against," said Miss Malha stating that she began wearing the hijab two months ago as an expression of her religious belief.

Her father, Mohamed, told Spanish newspaper El Pais that he had originally objected to his daughter wearing the hijab to school.

"I asked her to reconsider [...] because I figured it would cause her problems," he said.

Last November, a Muslim lawyer was ejected from Spain's national court, where she was defending a client, because she refused to remove her headscarf.

http://www.ummid.com/news/2010/April/17.04.2010/girl_banned_from_school_bcos_of_hijab.htm

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Crowd protests Quebec niqab ban

Montreal Gazette

APRIL 17, 2010

MONTREAL — About 120 people turned up Saturday afternoon outside Montreal City Hall to express their opposition to Bill 94, saying the legislation reflects cultural xenophobia and has no place in Quebec society.

The legislation, which would predominantly affect women who wear the Islamic niqab or burka, would require public employees, education and health workers to have their faces uncovered at all times.

The law would also apply to anyone seeking government services. Saturday’s protest, organized by a group calling itself simply “Kill Bill 94,” lasted for about two hours and drew representatives from the South Asian Women’s Association, Jewish organizations and Montreal’s Anglican diocese.

http://www.montrealgazette.com/life/Crowd+protests+Quebec+niqab/2920476/story.html

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Veil of tears for expelled student

By Katherine Wilton

April 18, 2010

Last month, Quebec Immigration Minister Yolande James announced Muslim women enrolled in government-sponsored French courses would have to remove their niqabs to attend classes.

Three days later, two Immigration Department officials turned up at a Montreal-area centre that offers the free French classes and told an Indian immigrant she would have to follow the rules or would have to leave her class.

Unwilling to remove the Islamic face veil, the distraught 25-year-old woman left the centre in tears.

"She was one of the best students, she wants to learn French, she participated in class and worked with men," said Joanie Lavoie, co-ordinator of the centre in the west end of Montreal Island, which offers French courses to help immigrants integrate into Quebec society.

The student is the second niqab-wearing Muslim woman to be forced out of her French class after refusing to remove her face veil.

Lavoie said her student should have been given more time to think about removing her niqab before being asked to leave class. She also said government officials should have given the centre time to prepare the student for the meeting.

Full report at: www.edmontonjournal.com/life/Veil+tears+expelled+student/2921219/story.html

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Islam and Muslim women’s social roles

By Maulana Waris Mazhari,

(Translated from Urdu by Yoginder Sikand)

20 April 2010

The issue of Muslim women’s freedom is a much-debated subject today. The traditional ulema and the modern educated Muslim intelligentsia appear to be completely at loggerheads on the issue. The former insist that women must be controlled as much as possible in order to protect Muslim society from immorality and sexual licentiousness, and that they must remain confined to their homes. They believe that women must play no social roles outside the domestic sphere whatsoever. If women are permitted to do so, they argue, it would open to floodgates of chaos and lead to a breakdown of society. On the other hand, the modern-educated Muslim intelligentsia is in favour of expanding women’s roles outside the narrow domestic sphere, and many of them go so far as to consider the hijab or modest dress for women as a symbol of oppression.

The female personality, it must be admitted, is extremely sensitive. On women the character of a society depends as much as it does on men. It must also be admitted that the attitude of Muslim religious circles towards women and women’s issues is influenced less by Islam and shariah norms than by other factors, among these being a marked reaction to the perceived widespread immorality in the West as a result of the free intermingling of sexes in Western societies. While in the West women have made important gains in several respects, it cannot be denied that in the name of women’s liberation and freedom they have been turned into sexual beings and commodities. This unfortunate phenomenon has led to a reaction among the ulema, leading them to insist on the control of women and on confining them to the domestic sphere as a defence mechanism for fear of Muslim society also falling prey to the same social ills that today plague the West. This stance may have had some temporary benefits, but it has caused a tragic loss to the Muslim community by denying half its population—Muslim women—the opportunity to develop and put to proper use their talents, skills and capacities.

Full report at: twocircles.net/2010apr20/islam_and_muslim_women_s_social_roles.html

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The person behind the veil: Women who wear the niqab in Canada have been caricatured at worst, misunderstood at best

By Hajera Khaja

April 20, 2010

A bleak picture has been painted of the niqab in our secular society -- it must be that the women donning them are oppressed and forced to subject to the will of their fundamentalist husbands. Even if it is an independent choice, the mere act of covering one's face is said to fly in the face of all that Canada stands for.

Many words on both sides of the spectrum have been written in consideration of Quebec's Bill 94, which proposes a ban on the niqab for public employees and those seeking services from the government or government-funded institutions in Quebec.

The bill has been applauded by Conservative and Liberal leaders alike, and along with them, 80 per cent of Canadians are rooting for Quebec.

In the balance hangs the fate of the women who wear the face veil, who will effectively have been slapped with a restraining order once the bill passes -- remove the face veil or remove yourself from society. Seems like a divorce is in order in the marriage of secularism and religious freedom.

Thankfully, there are a few who see the bill for the affront that it is to democratic values. We struggle, though, to hear their reasoned voices above the cacophony of vitriol that dominates this discourse.

The marriage between the niqab and secularism is performed in the witness of democracy.

Equality of the sexes dictates that a woman wearing a face veil is treated the same as a Sikh man wearing a turban, a Jewish man wearing a skull cap, or any Average Joe wearing a baseball cap.

Full report at: http://www.ottawacitizen.com/life/person+behind+veil/2927253/story.html

 

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islam,-women-and-feminism/muslim-women-stage-a-march-against-terrorism-in-agra/d/2728


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