Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Dress Codes, Threats, and Common Sense

Al Qaeda never seems to run out of things to threaten its perceived enemies over. Today, according to this article from CNN, a branch of al Qaeda has threatened to "take revenge on France by every means and wherever we can reach them" for the heinous crime of debating whether or not the burqa should be permitted to be worn in France.

The horror!

In case you aren't familiar with the term, a burqa is the robe worn by some Muslim women which covers them from head to foot, leaving only the eyes exposed. As it is worn in Afghanistan, even the eyes are hidden, covered by a mesh window. Here is a picture of two Iranian women wearing burqas -

The debate over wearing of the burqa has many aspects. Some fundamentalist Muslims believe it is required by Koranic verses which require female "modesty," while others settle for a similar robe which exposes the face, and others for a simple head scarf which hides the hair and neck.

I personally believe the burqa is stupid and without social or religious justification, but my opinion tends not to carry much weight with those who believe women are a deadly threat to men's morals and need to be completely hidden so that they do not provide a temptation to evil thoughts and a distraction from prayer.

But should its wearing be illegal?

The short answer is no. Wearing a burqa may be silly, but if silliness were illegal, there wouldn't be enough people left outside of jail to guard all the inmates. A woman should be allowed to wear what she choses to wear.

Of course, in the case of the burqa, it isn't the woman who is making the decision in many - if not most - cases. It's the religious leaders (all men) who are making the rule, based on their varying translations of Koranic verses. There's a very good discussion of this - including a rundown on the various forms of burqas and the issue of what the Koran actually says in translation - in this Washington Post article by Pamela K. Taylor.

There are good reasons of public safety and security for banning wear of the burqa - not the least of which is that it offers an excellent way to hide weapons, explosives, or other contraband, and that one never can know exactly who is underneath. The most silly recent argument on the subject concerns Muslim women who insist on having their drivers license pictures taken while wearing burkas that reveal only the eyes, if that much. This one goes, in my humble opinion, far beyond the bounds of common sense and reflects an utter lack of willingness to balance their desire to be "modest" with my desire not to be blown up.

Yes, that was an oversimplification, but I think you get my point.

Ladies, if you wish to be modest, by all means, be modest. But I don't think a burqa is a sign of your modesty - if anything, it's telling me you think you're so sexy that you have to completely hide yourself or you'll drive the rest of us so wild with lust that we will forget everything else.

Modesty doesn't require hiding every bit of your body from the world. Wear a head scarf if you want. Fine. But please lose the burqa. I doubt that a God who made you in His (Her?) image is very pleased if you think that image must be hidden away from the world.

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.



The Mistress of the Dark said...

Amen, Bilbo...amen

Debbie said...

I always wear my burqua when I go out on weekends. American men tend to lust after me more wondering what is underneath! Maybe the men in the funny little turbans know more about what is sexy on women than we think...those pigs! :)

sally said...
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Amanda said...

I just don't understand how the burqa can be worn in the warm sunny climate. There are many burqa wearing women in Malaysia and it looks to me to be a multi layered garment.

Anonymous said...

To all:

The real issue to me is that the Burqa is the physical manifestation of the deepest issue in Islam. The deepest cause of the world's problem with Islam is that most Islamic societies are totally dominated by men. The problem is that these societies lose the civilizing power of women. Women brought about modern society as we know it; they invented the gathering part of hunter/gathering societies, and then they invented all that we have now--because they discovered you could live a lot better by cultivating in place rather than wandering around looking for veggies. The rest is history, as they say. The Information Age is merely the culmination of the Agricultural Age, which women invented, nurtured, and used to civilize their worser halfs (us guys!) If men could reproduce without women (and they wouldn't because they would consider it hard work) there would be nothing on earth but football and war. The greatest triumph of western society has been the acknowledgement that women are the key to civilizing men. David Landes, author of "The Wealth and Poverty of Nations," specifically stated that the USA would always triumph because it got more benefit from the brainpower in women than any other society on earth. That is because it is the freest society. The opposite holds for many (but not all) Muslim societies. They are poor and desperate because they neglect the brainpower and the civilizing power of women. The Burqa is the symbol; the underlying reality is the crippler of progress in most Islamic societies.

Eminence Grise

Mike said...
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Mike said...

I wonder how a bank teller feels when a burqa wearing person walks in?

Leslie David said...

I think France banning the burqua is a bit severe, not that I would want to wear anything like it--not my idea of a fashion statement, but I agree with you that when it comes to having your picture taken for your driver's license, well, the only way we can tell if it really is that person is to see their face, so if they insist on it, then as far as I'm concerned, if they're too modest to expose their face for an official form of ID, they're too modest to drive. Wasn't it Florida that had this issue come up?

SusieQ said...

As a fashion statement, the burqa is my idea of "what not to wear." Anyone else like that program? I certainly do.

Anonymous said...

well france doesn't allow ANY religious labeling in public, in schools, or any place... Jews are not allowed to wear Kippa ( men's head covering) this has nothing to do with " lowering of women " the france could care less about women's why are the jewish men squawking ? because the millions of arab moslems would beat them... this is an attmept at controlling the Moselms from taking over France.

macy said...

I don't think it has something to do with controlling Muslims. The French government does not ask them to remove everything about being Muslim. It simply wants to identify who's who for the protection of the public. It's like requiring a certain department in a hospital to wear only blue medical scrubs, not banning them.