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Islam, Women and Feminism ( 23 March 2015, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Niqab – The Saga Continues


By Aki Muthali

March 22, 2015

Niqab, the saga continues – where society valiantly fights for the right of women and girls to subjugate themselves as objects of modesty by concealing their entire identity so no “indecent” thoughts are aroused in strangers by a mere glimpse at their feminine features – like, the face!

What’s amusing is I’ve received a great amount of backlash for my previous Niqab article than any other articles I’ve written. I can only imagine why people preferred to hate that article among the rest of my other work – could it be – the obsession with female modesty?! People made ludicrous conflations of the Niqab with their straw man logic while conveniently experiencing a disconnection from reality where the Niqab’s sole prescription is to deem the female wearer a property of her husband or her immediate family [until she gets a husband, of course!].

Commenters lavished the feedback section with great, awe-inspiring wisdom – consisting of profanity to lewd and barbaric statements calling for the rape of my mother to inflicting physical harm to me. And then there were those who trivialized the issue by claiming there are people dying of hunger while I am worried about the “Burqa” as if 70% of those hit hardest by poverty were not women [and children—especially female children!].

In Islamic nations, working women are frowned upon because it’s a state of indecency for women to be seen as the breadwinner as it takes honour away from the patriarchs of society. Attire enforcement isn’t enough in orthodox Islam – women and girls must also face a multitude of other restrictions that literally cripple them from participating in their own survival, like gaining income, which makes them the poorest Muslims [if they have no personal wealth] – but hey, according to one reader, the expectation of female modesty that conforms Muslim women and girls to the Hijab/Niqab/Burqa shouldn’t even be an issue because it takes away from far more pressing matters like people “dying of hunger” – a stark reality faced by Sisa Abu Daooh, a widowed single mother denied employment [in Egypt] due to her gender. Daooh was forced to deceive society by dressing up as a man for 43 long years, doing menial jobs like polishing shoes and building bricks, just to provide basic living for her daughter. So, my dear concerned reader of ‘world hunger’, Muslim woman and girls struggling to survive due to restrictions on financial independence because of sexist gender expectations [as the Niqab!] also stemming from female modesty must be addressed as well – thanks for notifying me of this oversight!

Then came the long tirade of comparisons to Christian nuns – because a nun who is supposedly married to her magical sky daddy is on the same footing to a woman/girl who is regarded as sexual property of a male – right?

And who can forget the banshees that shrieked about how conforming to the Niqab is better than streaking naked down the street with a thick layer of makeup on – because a Niqab is apparently the lesser form of oppression a woman or girl can embrace that is totally beneficial to her dehumanizing status of lust-inducing-provocative-sex-object that is always “asking for it”! See – such narratives are definitely expressive of how much of a “choice” a Niqab truly is for Muslim women and girls!

Amazing that Muslim women and girls get their faces and bodies censored like profanity in a publication because “god” has deemed them objects of modesty with the onus of sexual assault prevention which is the number one component to rape culture, sexism and misogyny in the Islamic world. So, is Stephen Harper correct in declaring the Niqab "anti-women"? Yes, he was correct and I must muster up a great deal of honesty to ever agree with a man like him.

This isn't an endorsement for the ban of the Niqab – but rather an appeal to remove the Niqab during legal procedures to verify identity without imposing Sharia’s gender-segregation on other Canadians. I wonder how white liberals and feminists will react if white women/girls in the west were being subjected to the same standards of female modesty – you and I both know we’d have a different coloured ribbon campaign on the tail by now.

Denying female liberty is consistent with Islamism – and the Niqab/Hijab/Burqa are all representative of that. The authenticity of this fact can be verified when you analyze the state of being a Muslim woman or girl in Saudi Arabia, Iran, Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Malaysia, etc.

How flippant can society be to defend ideological misogyny in a misguided sense of tolerance – at what point can women and girls finally have their dignity without being collectively damned by the conformity to female modesty foisted by patriarchy? When did this Canadian society support women and girls coerced to wear the Hijab/Niqab/Burqa…? When were these women/girls’ voices ever acknowledged by the same western society that is so riled up to defend a Niqabi who demands sexist accommodations [which can only be defined as a violation of human rights of other Canadians to be free of gender-based discrimination]?

The same people who defend the Niqab have claimed Canada’s arms trade with Saudi Arabia is “more dangerous” than a Niqab – yet they shamelessly double down on hypocrisy and contradiction by embracing the Niqab that is coerced on by rape-culture which is literally deadly for all women and girls around the world. Pseudo liberals have no problem embracing Saudi Arabia’s rape-culture and casual misogyny as an innocuous element but the conservative government must be damned for eternity for their financial gains with the same country – and apparently, such doubletalk must be accepted and echoed and if any woman of colour denounces such egregious idiocy, we get accused of being “intolerant”. It’s obvious that such asinine beliefs are compelled by political tribalism rather than principles.

A society that proactively advocates for the tolerance of expressions that define women/girls as sexual property of the heterosexual male and deceitfully labels it a religious law to prevent a woman or girl from taking a different course away from patriarchal tyranny will indefinitely delay the implementation and acceptance of equality free of gender-based discrimination in all society – and that is what we are witnessing in Canada. If Saudis are evil for their human rights abuses [which they are!] – why garner support for their abuse against women and girls – where is your moral high-ground now? Or is political opportunism more important than considering what you are truly advocating for – the collective oppression of women and girls everywhere?

I’ll be redundant and bring up the case of polygamy – there’s a minority that do prefer polygamy as much as the minority preferring the Niqab – yet only one is branded a violation of dignity for women and girls while the other remains legal. When it comes to human rights – it’s universal and can only be witnessed as a singular society of elements that affect one another – and a Niqab imposes gender-segregation on every society it demands tolerance from. So where do you draw the line? Rather than banning it – Niqabs should be free to wear their masks but must remove it during legal practices without imposing Sharia’s requirement of gender-discrimination.  

When the Charlie Hebdo massacre took place, pseudo liberals all condemned the cartoonists and called them bigots for expressing ideological idiocy with satire and provided apologies for the Kouachi brothers’ abhorrent crimes by denouncing criticism of Islam. Do you feel you have done your liberal duty by exploiting ‘freedom of expression’…? Do you feel valiant after trivializing the gender-based terror endured by millions of women and girls forced to wear the Hijab/Burqa/Niqab…? Two things are very obvious – western privilege and Sharia’s ability to conform human rights to its primitive policies.

The stigma created by the Niqab isn’t harmless – it operates like a weed by draining the common sense out of those around to justify ideological misogyny – it leaves a permanent mark of sexism and gender abuse. If you’re a decent human being – you will acknowledge how serious the demand for gender-segregation through religious/cultural sentiments is – we women of colour will not lose our dignity due to your racism of lowered expectations.

There are people who keep telling me to “mind your own business!!! Arr! Grr!! Rawr!” – it is my business because my sons or daughters will not grow up in the tolerance for 7th century misogyny and sexism [which is a far more permanent threat than arms deal with the Saudis] in the country I call my home.

It seems fighting for women and girls’ rights in the 21st century has become a blood sport all because privilege of the west obscures the reality of women and girls in the east, especially where religion and culture is concerned. Pseudo Liberalism is as vile and despicable as the Conservatism limiting human rights in all societies – I give you my eternal gratitude for being exemplary evidence that backs up my entire narrative on sexism and misogyny – without your massive intellectual dishonesty – there would be no reason for me to be a feminist.

Aki Muthali is a freelance writer, who's a feminist. Born and raised in Sri Lanka, she currently lives in Canada. She’s also an illustrator and a painter.