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Islam, Women and Feminism ( 1 Feb 2010, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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The young French women fighting to defend the full-face veil

Veil ban would harm Christians in Muslim countries, French church warns

Muslim women can be snapped without burqa: Cleric

Feminism means women are seen and heard

Two out of three Brits want ban on burkhas

Baghdad Bombing Kills Shiites at Women’s Checkpoint (Update2)

We must respect Muslim rights if we want Islamic countries to respect our rights, warns

French Catholic Church as it speaks against burka ban

Women who dared

Niqab wearers lift veil on Egyptian dispute

Now, Germany mulls burqa ban

Burqa ban wrong

What do Leicester's Muslim women think of the face veil, or niqab?

Muslim Women In 2010

Hijab... American Experience

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islam,-women-and-feminism/the-young-french-women-fighting-to-defend-the-full-face-veil/d/2443

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The young French women fighting to defend the full-face veil

31 January 2010

The debate over a proposed French law banning the niqab in public buildings features some unexpected divisions

On a grey Friday afternoon in Paris, Amina and her girlfriends are carrying fake designer handbags and wearing trainers sodden by the rain. Their heads are enveloped in the fur lining of their jacket hoods, and they are chatting vivaciously, swapping numbers on their shiny mobile phones.

But there is one factor that distinguishes this group of young women from a standard cluster of 20-somethings in the capital. Amina, 21, is dressed in a black veil that covers her entire body and most of her face. And, as she speaks, her eyes flash with pride and indignation.

"I choose to wear this. Not every day, just now and again. But when I do wear it, it is entirely of my own volition. No one is forcing me," she says, standing on a busy street corner in the heavily Muslim northern district of Barbès. "If they make us take it off, they'll be taking a part of us. I'd rather die than let them do it."

Amina, who is studying for a degree in Arabic at the university of Paris, is in the eye of a storm that in recent months has swept through France and left resentment in its wake.

Citing concerns about laïcité – secularism – and equality of the sexes, MPs voted last week to push through legislation that would forbid women from wearing the full Islamic veil in official spaces such as hospitals, post offices and buses. Figures from all political parties, feminist groups and even an imam have condemned a piece of clothing they describe as a "walking prison".

The proposals – denounced as "stigmatising" by some and as too lenient by others – were the result of a parliamentary inquiry that has raised fresh questions about what it means to be a Muslim in France. If its path through ­parliament is smooth, the partial ban could come into effect by the end of the year.

One woman determined to fight on is Faiza Silmi, a 32-year-old Moroccan woman who wore the niqab when she became more devout after coming to France in 2000. Silmi was refused French citizenship because authorities said she had failed to assimilate into French culture. She lost an appeal in 2008 to the Council of State, France's highest court, which ruled that she "adopted a radical religious practice incompatible with essential values of the French community". Silmi is taking her case to the European Court of Human Rights.

Full report at: www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/jan/31/french-muslim-burqa-veil-niqab

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Veil ban would harm Christians in Muslim countries, French church warns

01.02.10

The French Catholic Church warned today that Islamic countries would not respect their Christian minorities if Nicolas Sarkozy's government banned full-face Muslim veils.

Bishop Michel Santier, the senior French official for inter-faith relations, said very few women in France wore full veils and that Muslim leaders agreed it was not obligatory.

A parliamentary commission last week urged the National Assembly to pass a resolution condemning full veils and then work out a law to ban them.

Mr Santier said the result of a law could increase the number of women wearing a veil.

“The French, including the Catholics among them, should not let themselves be gripped by fear or a clash of civilisations' theory,” he said.

“If we want Christian minorities in Muslim majority countries to enjoy all their rights, we should in our country respect the rights of all believers to practice their faith. A dialogue in truth among believers will help us go beyond mutual mistrust. The path will be long and hard.”

The Vatican has long pointed to the rights of Muslim minorities in Western countries when pressing Islamic countries to allow more religious freedom for Christians. French Jewish leaders have also expressed concern about a veil ban.

Claude Gueant, an aide to President Sarkozy, said yesterday that he doubted a total ban would be legally possible.

French police say about 1,900 women wear the full veils, mostly niqabs which show only the eyes. Critics say they must be outlawed as an insult to women's rights and a sign of Islamic radicalism.

http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/standard/article-23801246-banning-veils-would-harm-christians-in-muslim-countries-french-church-warns.do

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Muslim women can be snapped without burqa: Cleric

Muzaffarnagar (UP), Feb 1 (PTI) In the midst of controversy over photographing of burqa-clad Muslim women for voter cards, a leading Shia cleric today said they can be snapped without the veil as Islamic law permitted it under special circumstances.

Backing the Supreme Court's rejection of the argument that women cannot be asked to lift face-covering veils for I-card photography, Maulana Kalbe Jawaad, also a member of Muslim Personal Law Board, said it was similar to women getting themselves photographed for obtaining passports for Haj pilgrimage.

He also told reporters here that Muslim women could approach Shariat courts to claim maintenance in divorce cases.

"There is provision in Shariat Law to provide 'Harjana' (maintenance) to the estranged wife in a divorce case," he said.

He said all Muslim clerics should keep an effective check on cases of harassment on women and prevent litigation regarding family disputes.

http://www.ptinews.com/news/494471_Muslim-women-can-be-snapped-without-burqa--Cleric

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Feminism means women are seen and heard

February 1, 2010

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I am sorry Fayez Lababedi (Letters, January 30-31) feels feminists have not been in an uproar about banning women wearing the veil. We remember well the restrictions put upon us for being female. I work with teenage girls who are amazed when I tell them of the many simple things they take for granted that we were unable to do.

I am thrilled that such restrictions have fallen away. However, I know I am not alone in feeling crestfallen when I see my "sisters" covered from head to toe, veiled and shrouded. I want them to have the freedom other women and their menfolk enjoy. I applaud those governments and individuals who have the courage to oppose this doctrine and effect change; to give all women the freedom and equality they deserve.

Christina Foo Wahroonga

Fayez Lababedi fails to mention that the proposals in France are not to ban any kind of veiling but specifically the niqab, which covers the whole face. Why should women or men defend a practice that denies women - literally and symbolically - a public face-to-face presence with others?

I get angry that such debates about veiling end up individualising issues of freedom, as though one person's freedom had no consequences for others - particularly in this case women as a social and political group.

Women have struggled for centuries to be part of public culture and life - to be seen and heard. Total veiling undermines and disrespects women's equality as citizens.

It is always problematic to talk about freedom without also engaging with the question of equality. Women who veil themselves totally should not have the right to undermine and negate the historical struggle for equality for all women.

Dr Margaret Gibson Senior lecturer, School of Humanities, Griffith University (Qld)

Perhaps the reason France has not heard argument from leading feminists insisting women be allowed to wear a black sack over their heads is that they don't agree with it. Black sackcloth covering the face is an affront to any person, man or woman. Positing the idea that women in Australia would choose this manner of degradation is insulting to those women forced to wear such apparel and to the wider public that is coerced into accepting such mediaeval practices.

It is, in Australia, a barrier to assimilation, a barrier to racial harmony and a barrier to future generations growing up free of archaic prejudices.

Nigel Hanley Toongabbie

I was not sure whether Fayez Lababedi was joking when he asked why feminists were not rising up against France's proposed ban on full-face veils. After the feminist movement battled for years for freedom, equality and respect for women, I cannot see how forcing women to cover themselves completely and become prisoners to man's obsessions is going to appeal to it. If wearing a full veil is so appealing, perhaps Mr Lababedi can lead the way and start wearing the garment himself.

Glenn Davis Kenthurst

Full report at: www.brisbanetimes.com.au/national/letters/feminism-means-women-are-seen-and-heard-20100201-n924.html

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Two out of three Brits want ban on burkhas

Monday, February 1, 2010

A survey suggests that the veil, worn by some Muslim women, is unpopular in Britain with 64 per cent of people believing it should be illegal to wear it in public places like banks and airports

And 61 per cent of the people polled also believe that schools should be allowed to prevent teachers wearing burkhas, the Daily Express reports.

The figures from pollster ComRes come, as a debate on whether to outlaw the veil is raging in France and Italy.

UK Independence Party MEP Nigel Farage said: "Most shopping centres forbid hoodies because they disguise the wearer. The Muslim veils are no different." (ANI)

http://news.oneindia.in/2010/02/01/twoout-of-three-brits-want-ban-onburkhas.html

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Baghdad Bombing Kills Shiites at Women’s Checkpoint (Update2)

February 01, 2010,

A female suicide bomber killed at least 13 Shiite Muslim pilgrims and wounded 38 others in Baghdad, state-run al-Iraqiya television said. The Associated Press later put the toll at 54 dead.

The attacker denoted her explosives vest among a group of pilgrims today at a checkpoint for women in the capital’s northeastern neighborhood of Bab al-Sham, al-Iraqiya reported.

The pilgrims were among more than 30,000 Shiites who have arrived in Iraq so far for Arbaeen, an annual observance marking the end of 40 days of mourning for the Prophet Muhammad’s grandson Hussein, according to the state-run al-Sabah newspaper. They are heading on foot along a 70-mile (112-kilometer) route to Shiite holy sites in the southern city of Karbala.

Shiite pilgrims have been targeted in previous years by al- Qaeda-linked groups in an attempt to fuel tensions between the Shiite majority and the Sunni Muslim minority. In February 2009, a female suicide bomber killed 35 Shiite pilgrims, mostly women and children, who had stopped to eat on their way to Karbala.

Arbaeen falls this year during an already tense period before national parliamentary elections. U.S. and Iraqi officials have warned that militants may increase attacks in the run-up to the vote, set for March 7. The U.S. administration has emphasized the need for Iraq to cement gains in democracy as it plans for the withdrawal of American combat troops, due to begin this year and be completed in 2011.

Iraqi security forces last week deployed 15,000 policemen to protect pilgrims, the privately owned Aswat al-Iraq news agency reported.

Hussein’s death, in fighting in Karbala in A.D. 680, was a key event leading to the split between Sunni and Shiites.

--Editors: Heather Langan, Philip Sanders

To contact the reporter on this story: Caroline Alexander in London at +44-20-7073-3383 or calexander1@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Peter Hirschberg at +972-2-640-1104 or phirschberg@bloomberg.net.

http://www.businessweek.com/news/2010-02-01/baghdad-bombing-kills-shiites-at-women-s-checkpoint-update2-.html

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We must respect Muslim rights if we want Islamic countries to respect our rights, warns French Catholic Church as it speaks against burka ban

01st February 2010

The French Catholic Church warned Paris today against banning Muslim full-face veils.

It said France must respect the rights of its Muslims if it wanted Islamic countries to do the same for their Christian minorities.

Bishop Michel Santier, the top French Catholic official for inter-religious dialogue, said very few women in France wore full veils and Muslim leaders agreed it was not obligatory in Islam.

A parliamentary commission last week urged the National Assembly to pass a non-binding resolution condemning full veils and then work out a law banning them.

Deputies say a total ban may not be legal but certain limits could be approved.

If Paris passed a law, Santier said, 'the result could be the opposite of what is desired and lead to a reaction that increases the number of women wearing this garment.

'The French, including the Catholics among them, should not let themselves be gripped by fear or a "clash of civilisations" theory,' he said in a statement calling for distinctions between the majority of peaceful Muslims and a minority of radicals.

'If we want Christian minorities in Muslim majority countries to enjoy all their rights, we should in our country respect the rights of all believers to practice their faith.

'A dialogue in truth among believers will help us go beyond mutual mistrust. The path will be long and hard,' he said.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/worldnews/article-1247755/We-respect-Muslim-rights-

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Women who dared

By Asghar Ali Engineer,

30 January 2010

Women generally are considered weak in our patriarchal society and men feel they need to be protected. Is it true? Well it may be true in some contexts but there are instances where women have dared where men chicken out or ‘weaker’ women have proved to be morally much stronger. Here it also needs to be stressed that only physical strength or strength of arms is not real strength, it is moral values which make really strong. Those who have moral superiority need not fear anyone and cannot be defeated.

Though no one can say women are inherently morally stronger but women tend to have better morals than men. There are number of reasons for that. Men aspire more for power and domination than women and hence resort to more morally unsound practices. They are involved more in crime than women and women tend to be more ethical in their behavior.

With very few exceptions women have not waged wars. Most of the ferocious and highly destructive wars in which millions of innocent human beings were killed were launched by men. In the last century two world wars were launched and fought by men, women only suffered. Women are far more sensitive to human life than men. It is women who give birth to life and sustain it. She carries human life for nine long months in her womb and than, after giving birth, nurtures it for years before child becomes self sufficient.

Men, on the other hand, to realize their own ambitions or wealth or power, would kill thousands of human beings within few seconds by dropping bombs or launching deadly missiles. Who caused atom bomb to be dropped on Nagasaki and Hiroshima killing more than two lakh people at a time? Not a woman. For men, power and authority are far more important than sensitivity to human life.

In communal riots in India too men have been real culprits than women. In my 40 years of investigating and monitoring communal riots in India I have not find a single instance in which any woman plotted and executed riots, much less killed any Hindu or Muslim. It was only in Gujarat that one Maya Kodnani is alleged to have instigated men to kill innocent human beings in Narodia Patia. I have found no other instance.

However, I have come across several instances in which women have saved the lives of innocent people. These women are real inspiration for peace loving people. I would like to throw some light here on the role of these women. Some I discovered while investigating riots and some I read about in newspapers and subsequently met them and some we had occasion to felicitate them on behalf of Women for Secularism, an organization working for rights of women at grassroots.

I came first such instance during investigation of communal riots in Ahmedabad in 1969. Now I do not remember her name but she was a vegetable vendor living in Jalimsingh Ni Chawl in Ahmedabad where there were two Muslim families as her neighbors. During the riots of 1969 a mob surrounded the Chawl and demanded that the Muslims be handed over to them to be killed and their household looted.

This woman the vegetable vendor, heard this and came out of her room with her sickle with which she used to cut her vegetables, came down the stairs and stood at the entrance challenging the mob to step forward to kill Muslims. I will cut the head of anyone stepping forward with this sickle, then you can kill me and walk over my dead body to kill the Muslims. None came forward and the mob of 500 dispersed.

I met this lady during my investigation and asked her why did you risk your life to save Muslims? She said first of all they were my neighbors and it was my duty to save their lives or die before they were killed. Secondly they were from my own village in Rajasthan. What face I would have shown to my villagers if they were killed. Thirdly, it was my duty to save human lives. They were innocent and had nothing to do with the ongoing violence.

But there were men in the Chawl, they could have come forward to save their neighbors’ lives. If these men had no courage, what could I do? I did what I could to save my Muslim neighbors. She was indeed an inspiration for hundreds of men. These men hid inside their homes while this woman alone took the challenge.

Another instance I know of was of Mrs. Yadav from Aligarh when communal riots broke out there in 1994. A bus carrying baraat (marriage party) going towards Lucknow was parked in the bazaar and driver had gone for some work. A Hindu mob came to set fire to the bus. They were mostly women and children going for the marriage. Mrs. Yadav was passing from there along with her son.

She saw that bus will be set afire killing 40 women and children. She looked around for something with which she could ward off the mob. She found an iron rod, picked it up and charged the mob with it. The mob ran away and she asked her son to drive the bus towards their house. Fortunately the driver had left the ignition key in the bus itself enabling her son to drive the bus off to their compound thus saving 40 lives single-handedly.

The Chief Minister Mulayamsingh Yadav himself met the lady and rewarded her with 1 lakh of rupees for her courage. I also met her when I went to Aligarh for investigation. She told me she was not sure whether she would be able to save their lives but I considered it my duty to at least make an attempt. More than courage, she said, it was my duty to save innocent lives, especially women and children. They all would have been reduced to ashes. I am fortunate to save their lives.

In this case too there were many men around but none showed courage or interest to save these innocent lives where a woman alone could pick courage and wielded rod and saved these lives. More than any thing else women after all are more sensitive to human life. She became talk of the town in Aligarh for her unusual feat.

In 2008 riots broke out in Bhainsa in Adilabad district of Andhra Pradesh. A house of Muslim Syed Osman was set afire on October 10 in which whole family including women and children would have been burnt alive but for the courage of Tuljabai 61 and her son and other women members of her family who saved their lives. Others looked on. Again a woman came forward showing extra-ordinary courage and others showed no concern. Communal minded men were busy killing and destroying.

Communal riots broke out in Sangli, Miraj, Ichalkaranji and Kolhapur district in early September 2009 on the eve of Ganesh festival 7-9 September 2009. During these riots 60 mosques and dargahs (mausoleums) were destroyed or damaged. But several Hindu women from these villages not only saved Muslim lives but also repaired these mosques and dargahs. For example the Gram Panchayat of Kavthepiran, which is run by women, decided to repair the damaged Muslim religious places and try to get life back to normal. These Hindu women said, “Our Muslim sisters played an equal role in getting the award for our village. There are over 100 Muslim houses in the village and some had started leaving the village after the riots. But we stopped them. All women from the village visited the Muslim houses and assured to protect them.” Thus they prevented Muslims from migrating from villages and assured them of security to their lives and properties. This sanity in the midst of communal frenzy by men was shown by illiterate rural women.

Some of these women were Hasubai Buchare, Rekha Chanade, Vandana Gaikwad and Nisha Butade, all grassroot workers. I met them in Icchalkaranji where we felicitated them on behalf of Women for Secularism in a convention held on 13th November 2009. I found them very courageous and though some of them illiterate or with very little education, spoke with great verve against those who organize communal violence to serve their political ends and vowed never to allow such violence in their village.

The communal violence in Kandhmal district wherein about 40 Christians were killed by some Hindu fanatics, also saw many Hindu courageous women who came forward to save lives of Christians fellow villagers in 2008. Some of these women were Ms. Ranchi Pradhan, Ms. Suruchi Pradhan of Rudenia village, Ms. Satyabhama Nayak and Ms. Nabojini Pradhan who showed exceptional courage in saving lives of many Christians or protect their houses. We felicitated all of them in the convention of All India Secular Forum. (Pradhan is the title used by Hindu tribals of Kandhmal)

These women are also all illiterate and grass root workers. Their humanism is very much alive and are free of communal prejudices. They proved to be more of human being than Hindu, Christian or Muslim. It gives us great hope and proves two things: one, that women are far more compassionate than men and two, illiterate women are far more free of communal prejudices than highly educated urban people.

The Women for Secularism is, therefore, concentrating on these grass root women and mainly working among them. These women suffer much more at the hands of tradition bound men, especially those men who are votaries of communal ideologies and yet these women are far less prejudiced and are more humane. They are our asset and we must see that they get their Constitutional rights. They need to be better organized than they are today. There is also great need to build awareness of their rights.

http://twocircles.net/2010jan30/women_who_dared.html

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Niqab wearers lift veil on Egyptian dispute

Sun, Jan 31, 2010, AFP

FEMALE students at Cairo University in Egypt are defying religious and state efforts to ban the controversial niqab from schools and colleges, saying that wearing the controversial face veil is a religious obligation that also protects against sexual harassment.

"I wear the niqab to avoid harassment on the street and on public transport," said law student Marwa Mohammed, 19, her eyes visible only through the slits in the black veil that covers her entire face.

But if conditions changed and she was not subjected to harassment, would she take it off?

She would not, because "the veil gives me respect, and people look at me differently".

She implied that sexual harassment would exist as long as young men looking for work and housing remained frustrated in their efforts.

"What will change? The cost of living?

"Unemployment? Or the excessively high cost of housing?" Marwa asked, her kohl-stained eyes giving away a hidden smile.

"As long as young people don't have the means to get married, harassment will continue."

The hijab, the headscarf that covers the hair and neck, is worn by most Muslim women in conservative Egypt, and religious authorities say that wearing it is an obligation of the faith.

But the niqab, which has been gaining in popularity, has been driving a wedge between women such as Marwa and Egypt's highest religious authorities.

In October, Sheikh Mohammed Sayyed Tantawi, grand imam of the Al-Azhar, Sunni Islam's highest seat of learning, ignited a heated debate when he said the niqab was merely a tradition not linked to religion, and that women would be banned from wearing it in schools and universities.

But on Wednesday, an Egyptian court caved in to opposition to the religious ruling and placed a stay on the ban.

Now, religious authorities who oppose the niqab and women who favour it are polarised over the issue.

The niqab-wearing students at Cairo University say they are adhering to a precept and repeat what seems to have become their mantra: "Of course, the niqab is an obligation."

It is an Islamic duty, "particularly in the times we live in, where sexual harassment is so common," said 18-year-old Aya, who studies Arabic literature and has been wearing the niqab for three months.

Sexual harassment is common in Egypt. According to a 2008 study by the Egyptian Centre for Women's Rights, 83 per cent of the country's women had experienced sexual harassment.

There is growing concern by the government and Al-Azhar authorities over the niqab, which is associated in Egypt with the ultra-conservative Salafi school of thought, that is practised mostly in Saudi Arabia and parts of Yemen.

Authorities say the niqab is also linked to security, allowing anyone to hide behind the veil.

In schools, they say, anyone can pose as a student and sit for an exam in the place of another.

Some university officials have even cited instances in which male students have tried to enter female dormitories by wearing the niqab as a disguise.

One female student at Cairo University charged that the authorities are trying to ban the niqab to paint Egypt's conservative society in a different light, one more acceptable to the West.

Student Fatma Nasser said: "The government wants to ban the niqab to copy Americans and foreigners, to say that Egypt is a modern, developed country."

http://news.asiaone.com/News/AsiaOne%2BNews/World/Story/A1Story20100131-195553.html

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Now, Germany mulls burqa ban

IANS, 31 January 2010

BERLIN: As France has moved closer to a ban on burqas, German politicians are debating whether a similar measure was necessary in their owncountry, media reports said.

After a French parliamentary commission ruled earlier this week that the enveloping garment worn by some Islamic women is unacceptable and recommended a ban in schools and public offices, former Social Democratic parliamentarian, Turkish-German Lale Akgun urged for a similar ban in Germany.

"The burqa is a full-body prison that deeply threatens human rights," she told the Frankfurter Rundschau daily. "It would be an important signal for Germany to ban the burqa."

A burqa ban in German should include schools, universities, and high-security zones such as banks and airports, the daily quoted her as saying on Saturday.

However, fellow party member Dieter Wiefelsptz rejected the suggestion.

"We have a different understanding of freedom than the French," he told the paper, adding that an enlightened Islam could not be forced.

Green party leader Cem Ozdemir said the debate overlooked the real conflict of integration, stressing that the number of women who wear burqas in Germany is low.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/europe/Now-Germany-mulls-burqa-ban/articleshow/5519391.cms

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Burqa ban wrong

January 30, 2010

Viewpoint: Christian Science Monitor (excerpted)

The world's arbiter of fashion, France, may soon ban the Muslim burqa. A French parliamentary report has called the full veil "unacceptable" and concluded: "We must condemn this excess." It recommends forbidding it in many public places.

But the proposal itself is excessive -- for stepping on basic rights.

French authorities say that only about 1,900 women wear the burqa or the niqab, two versions of the full covering with a mesh or slit for the eyes. That's .038 per cent of France's Muslim population of about 5 million that's now deemed a threat to the French Republic and its values.

The burqa does not fit comfortably with Western sentiments. It's closed; Westerners are open. It's also viewed as a prison for women -- even if Muslim women are free to choose it. And it symbolizes fundamentalist Islam, which conjures up images of terrorism. That's perhaps why the Dutch and Austrians are also discussing a burqa ban.

But sentiments shouldn't be confused with bedrock freedoms, including the right to practise one's religion. Being uncomfortable with another's faith or even dress -- and encoding that discomfort in law -- puts one on the slippery slope to official discrimination.

As President Barack Obama says, "In the United States our basic attitude is that we're not going to tell people what to wear."

Close to 60 per cent of French don't see it that way, including President Nicolas Sarkozy. He supports a burqa ban as a way to uphold France's principles of secularism and equality.

In 2004, the French banned all ostentatious religious symbols in public schools. In practice, it affected mostly Muslim girls, who could no longer wear the head scarf in the classroom.

If the recommendations on the full veil become law, it will be illegal to wear it in state venues such as hospitals, public buildings, and on trains and buses. Its supporters see it as consistent with the head-scarf ban, but at least with that Muslim girls had a choice to go to a religious school. If the burqa is banned, what's the choice for the women who wear it?

To outsiders, the oversized reaction to the full veil looks like the French trying to hide their Muslim integration problems. Actually, they've made progress integrating Muslims in recent years, with controversies over building mosques dying down, city halls reaching out to local Muslim leaders, and interfaith marriages increasing.

Full report at: http://www.thespec.com/Opinions/article/714798

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What do Leicester's Muslim women think of the face veil, or niqab?

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Black for Monday. Black for Tuesday. Black for Wednesday. And so it goes on. A clothes rail filled with almost identical, same colour, shapeless, top-to-toe outfits, writes Adam Wakelin.

You might not think it would take Noorjahan Khonat long to pluck one from a hanger, but it nearly always does.

The daily whims and tiny agonies of what to wear don't stop at the wardrobe door of a devout Muslim.

Noorjahan has her favourites, the ones that make her feel good.

Only someone who didn't understand would think they all looked the same. That's part of the problem.

It can still give her a jolt, just how much fury those baggy black clothes and head scarves can provoke.

"I've had boys come up to me in town and try to tear them off," she says "They call me ninja and laugh, like it's funny.

"I try to talk to the younger ones, but some of the bigger boys can make you really frightened."

Noorjahan wears a face veil, a niqab.

For some, that makes the 42-year-old from Highfields the ultimate faceless victim.

Not just to those boys, but to the French government and a growing clamour of critics over here who would like to follow France's lead by banning the burka and the niqab from public places.

It is a curious coalition; an unlikely alliance of well-meaning liberals and none-too-clever closet racists.

As of last week, in the words of French president Nicolas Sarkozy, the veil was "not welcome" in a country which values sexual equality.

Full report at: www.thisisleicestershire.co.uk/news/Leicester-s-Muslim-women-think-face-veil-niqab/article-1796646-detail/article.html

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Muslim Women In 2010

Feb 02, 2010

MEETING THE CHALLENGES OF A NEW DECADE

Women are key to the development and prosperity of any society and Muslim women are no exception; yet their voices go unheard as they face barriers to their participation. A strong society however needs the full contribution of all its members at every level of life and leadership. Muslim women are capable of being at the forefront of tackling problems both home and abroad, it is critical therefore that they step forward to help face challenges head on.

The new decade is a time of instability, yet a time of great opportunity. The world is witnessing fast moving change from the recession, to growing poverty to a global escalation in violence, human rights abuses and climate change. These challenges need to be addressed urgently to ensure a more optimistic future for coming generations. There has never been a more important time for Muslim women to stand up and to be counted.

The conference will give a confident, positive and dynamic vision for Muslim women in 2010 - for those wanting to transform lives and transform societies.

Date: Saturday March 6, 2010

Venue:        Hounslow Civic Centre

                    Lampton Road

                    Hounslow, TW3 4DN

                    Time:  9.00am - 5.15pm

Speakers:  Gill Hicks, Sara Silvestri, Aftab Malik

                    Daisy Khan, Sara Khan and others

                    Live performances by: Dawud Wharnsby and Helen Andrews

BOOK ONLINE

Book early as places are limited. (Lunch and refreshments are provided). For more information and booking enquiries please contact us:

http://www.emgonline.co.uk/news.php?news=8733

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Hijab... American Experience

Feb. 2, 2010

WASHINGTON – Sara Uddin smiles as she adjusts her black hijab after performing Friday prayers with scores other Muslim girls and women.

Now it is time to go out again, and Sara is always ready for any questions, stares or even negative misconceptions about the small piece of cloth that covers her head.

"I want to defeat all stereotypes with my hijab and the only way to do it is to speak out about it," she told IslamOnline.net.

Sara, 22, has been wearing hijab for nearly 4 years now.

"When I first wore it I was in high school in San Diego, California, and it was great. The place is so much diverse there and people are exposed to different cultures and different faiths," she recalled.

"But when I came back to Washington I did notice a couple of stares from the non-Muslim community, I knew they might not be the same."

Sara says that though she does not receive any real attacks because of her hijab, negative viewpoints are something she certainly faces.

"I feel that it is a good thing whenever I get comments because it gets me to explain that this is who I am and this is why I do it."

Islam sees hijab as an obligatory code of dress, not a religious symbol displaying one’s affiliations.

Full report at: www.islamonline.net/servlet/Satellite?c=Article_C&cid=1264249978620&pagename=Zone-English-News/NWELayout

URL of this Page: http://www.newageislam.com/islam,-women-and-feminism/the-young-french-women-fighting-to-defend-the-full-face-veil/d/2443


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