Muslim women wearing niqab in Europe for Non-Muslims not wearing the veil in Saudi, maybe a fair trade?!


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It has been some time since the bill on banning the covering of the face in public places, which had been previously passed by the National Assembly of France, has entered the phase of implementation. As of 11 April 2011, it is illegal for all citizens regardless of gender or religion to wear a face-covering veil or other mask in public places including streets and public transportation. The bill imposes a fine up to 150 Euros and/or participation in citizenship education on those who violate it in addition to 30,000 Euros and a year imprisonment for anyone who forces another to wear face-coverings. Soon enough, other European Countries such as Holland, Belgium, Australia, Italy, Austria and Denmark all followed suit. As the arresting of violators began, Muslims residing in those countries were outraged considering the law an encroachment on individual freedoms. Muslim crowds around the globe reacted correspondently supporting their affected fellow Muslims. Expectedly, the implementation of the bill went on and the reaction subsided in time. A year later, Headlines came out of three Saudi women being deported from Charles De Gaulle Airport after they had just arrived from Saudi Arabia because they refused to take off their Niqabs in either naive ignorance about the laws of the country they are flying to or even more naive disregard of that specific law. Masses from Saudi Arabia were provoked at the incident and spoke out demanding an official apology from the French Authorities or else that the Saudi Arabian government withdraws its ambassador to France. As I reflect on that over-reaction, as I see it, I cannot help but wonder how those agitated did not bring to mind how Non-Muslims are also forced to wear the veil and head scarf by law in Saudi Arabia. Even more they are expected to sustain from eating publicly in the Holy month of Ramadan. In fact, in Europe Muslims are allowed to practice their religion freely to the extent of building mosques to pray in and worship God whereas there are no churches in Saudi Arabia.
And when Saudi Arabia’s veil policy is no more than a religious aspect, European authorities are alarmed about the security threats that the covering of the face could make possible beside the social sensitivity regarding that rather unidentified look. The truth is, there is no denying that not even the best surveillance systems can identify offenders once they cover their faces let along wearing loose Islamic veils that cover their body features. And since national security is the most critical component in any given country’s system, the justifications given for issuing this law should be understandable.
So, whether the Niqab banning law was justifiable or not, will Saudi be willing to allow Non-Muslims to go out in public without the veil and head scarf if Europe removes the ban off Niqab?
The point I want to get to and hope to make clear is that if we were to apply the essence of Islam as the prophet PBUH instructed us when he said: “None of you truly believes until he wishes for his brother what he wishes for himself” which gives the same meaning as: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”, we would stop demanding what we would not gladly give. And just like we expect visitors to abide by Saudi laws, which by the way are harder on the foreigner than any other country’s laws since they influence the dress code and even food and drink kinds and habits, it only makes sense that we respect their countries’ laws upon visiting them.

About Tamador Alyami

Saudi Columnist. An advocate of equality, peace & common sense!
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3 Responses to Muslim women wearing niqab in Europe for Non-Muslims not wearing the veil in Saudi, maybe a fair trade?!

  1. Absolutely agreed with you.
    And I am from Spain, where I must remark that also people is most completely against niqab and finds it offensive because this is a country where people looks at the face and the traditional way of presenting will easily be kissing on face for informal presentations whenever a woman is involved.

    And it’s the traditional way here. We are that close in our social behaviour. Niqab for us is offensive far beyond values of discrimination on women for having to cover. We don’t get why is it “necessary” according to faith…. to avoid provoking sinful looks on men? (0_o) …. to avoid calling attention on dressing style beyond modesty?… in first place they will awake morbous feelings on the same sinful disrespectful men that would comment about a girl doing top-less on a beach.

    Sin is inside the sinner, in their eyes, in their hearts, in their hands…. not outside. So everyone is responsible for their own behaviour and just theirs, and we don’t need anyone behavig in a way or another to protect “our virtue”.

    Regarding the calling of attention part… maybe in KSA it’s normal to find most women dressed in black abayas on street and also many wearing niqab, and even gloves… but here they are as discrete as finding a dementor from Harry Potter’s movies walking around us. Everyone immediately looks at them as a sinister figure. In our social iconography a person covered head to toes in a black robe is a sinister colour and figure. Someone dressed in black hiding from everyone as if we were going to infect them with our looks makes everyone look at them and feeling angry… I guess it may sound stupid on that side of the world to hear abt this reaction, but I prefer not to guess what would be for saudis to find a girl doing topless relaxed on a public beach in Jeddah or Al-Khobar… or walking wearing a miniskirt and a tight top while shopping in a mall in Riyadh… surely they’d be treated as whores, by men and women, … while here it’s smthg normal in summer!

    The most paradoxal fact is when you meet spanish women married to spaniards working in Saudi Arabia. They hate to be covered. even just a light headscarf is against their choice… but soon they accept the niqab as a lesser bad, when they face the looks and sometimes comments (and even the typical mobile nr offer or request thru those famous flying papers on every mall, or on car windows) as soon as someone notices they are western foreign women. In niqab they find liberation, rest, and anonimity.

    And they accept it as smthg they have to adapt to, if they go to Saudi Arabia, even hating it, because saudis are as they are. So if spanish women are able to find the point or the need of covering in KSA, even hating it, as they asume where they went to live… same lesson should be applied by muslim women on a western country as openminded as Spain is, with traditions and ways that would scandalise most americans…

    We have a saying here (we have thousands!): “If you don’t want to get dusty, don’t go to the fields!”… simple reasoning.

    Btw… our reaction towards hijab is not as negative. I am not going to say we agree with its meaning, but we accept it.

    Niqab is the issue.

    So you know, full dress supporters… if I was you, I´d apply the same judgement than a nudist would apply if he had to travel into KSA. Like it or not.

  2. Reblogged this on Al-Must'arib (a vocational Mossarab's notes) and commented:
    ….Any Opinions, please?🙂

  3. Ye Pirate says:

    Very interesting writing. I mut just add that European women do not cover up in Al Khobar. I don’t know the exact law, but it is not forced on them.

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