Saturday, April 22, 2006

Aisha, take off that Burqa!

My multicultural country is having a serious identity crisis. These days, the country's immigrant melting pot is feeling more like a powderkeg. The latest spark in our mini culture war came this week from the social affairs alderman (who is Morrocan himself)for the city of Amsterdam, who says women who wear burqas are having trouble finding jobs. His solution? Take it off or lose your benefits.

Ahmed Aboutaleb has proposed introducing legislation that would allow the city to cut welfare payments to women who insist on wearing a burqa if it can prove the full-body covering is the reason she can't find a job.


Lindsay Lobe said...

We have been through that sort of idea over here. It’s neither sensible or practical.

Kathleen Callon said...

People should be able to wear what they want to, although I think if all the men in your country saw this image, they might want to ban all womens clothing.

Happy Earth Day.

Ruben said...

This post strikes a nerve with me, because African Americans are encouraged not to wear locks or braids because the corporate world is "uncomfortable" with them.

Mirvat said...

what's so important about the burqa' anyway. years back i remember a reportage on the news about muslim girls who were asked to take off the cover at school in france. it's just amazing to me that this is an issue.

madcapmum said...

I'm torn about this. I want people to have their freedoms, but in Canada there are Muslim groups that are trying to get Sharia law recognized in Canadian courts. I know women who have moved to Canada to escape exactly that, because they see it as a threat to their freedom. It's hard to find the balance.

Zee said...

My stance on this is: Let woman dress however they wish!
I think some burqa's are actually awesomely beautiful. There should not be any discrimination for any clothing whatsoever.
In a more "evolutionary sense", how can we "westerners" decide when it is the right timing to drop the veil for peoples who have been trained to obscure themselves for generations?

JEFM said...

I like how everyone is so liberal in their opinion here... it's refreshing. On the other hand, I don't like it a little bit when certain muslim groups want to live like they are in their country still... i respect their rights and culture, but either they adapt to Western laws or we have a HUGE problem.

Wait and see...


Ammey Kesarkar said...

Banning Burqa?
Provide an elegant alternative instead.

Sothis said...

As a woman, I have a real issue with the burqa. From what I've read and heard, women don't usually choose to wear it--they are forced to wear it. From what I've read in and about the Koran, nothing in Islam requires a woman to walk around in a tent. If it allowed to be worn in public, would that allow other women who do not wish to wear the burqa into being forced to wear it? Moreover, there is an issue of security. The burqa completely obscures the identity of the wearer.

When you emigrate to another country, you have to be prepared to try to integrate with the local culture. You don't have to try to be just like the natives, but you do have to change and learn to adapt to local customs.

Haider Droubi said...

although i beleive that burqu' is not compulsery..and even in qouran it was not described as what people might wear nowdays..but i am sure many people shall find difficulties accepting it ..i hope such things stay between individuals and not a law that shall be compulsery..
nice pics...things are more attractive when they are less exposed...arent they ;)?

Mirvat said...

'adapt to western laws or have a huge problem'.
wow! what a surprising thing to say.
Sothis, when americans live in saudi arabia, the women do not wear the burqa, so as i see it, they are not integrating in the saudi culture and society so why should muslim women have to give up their culture? what is the sari started to bother people? would you ask indian women to stop wearing it. you should all understand that the burqa you see on the news and the internet is a very extreme case of coverage that only happens in some very primitive countries (mostly kept poor and destroyed by wars and what not...) in many arabic countries this is not the custom, the burqa is mostly worn by older women as a sign of respect and it could actually look very elegant (like a nun....). i suggest people understand what they talk about fully before they attack it. i also suggest people make a discrimination between aspects of religion and aspects of our arabic culture that we actually like and do not want to give up, thank you, even if we'll "have a huge problem".
in the arabic countries i know, women are never forced to wear the burqa, islam is not about forcing anything on anyone. last time i heard no religion is and based on that people should be free to wear what they choose.
before you propose banning this, ask the jews to take away their hats and ask the nuns to take off those robes...
"Adapt to the western laws" so that we might look civilized like you do. and act civilized and be free to wear whatever we want? well we do and we wear the burqa and even if in some places some women are made to wear it, it's still as wrong as you saying, do it or you'll have a huge problem. the day people lose freedom as to what to wear, the western world becomes as free and civilized as afghanistan. we already knew freedom doesn't exist and tolerance and acceptance is a notion and fundamentalism is everywhere and in every religion. just why lie about it?

Haider Droubi said...

mirvat.....i agree with y..since the west is all should feel free to wear what ever they want..this simple...

hashem said...

Banning burqa...banning culture....banning a lifestyle....banning... banning... banning...
And our freedom is being blown away...!
When we force them to take it off, how different we will be from those who forced them to wear it?
just a thought.
What is more sad, however, is to do that under the title of "integrating"..."getting along" the rest of the society....
That's so dangerous. In a time when people are getting to know more about each others, the intolerance growing bigger!
How about making trees, houses, cars, all one color?
More harmonious!
How about we all think the same?
eat the same!
and dress the same!!!
a perfect peaceful world...heh?
the only problem, it will be "boring"..."tasteless"....and "retarded" world.
diversity....tolerance...that's what we need.

The Eyewitness said...

And the weaver said, "Speak to us of Clothes."

And he answered:

Your clothes conceal much of your beauty, yet they hide not the unbeautiful.

And though you seek in garments the freedom of privacy you may find in them a harness and a chain.

Would that you could meet the sun and the wind with more of your skin and less of your raiment,

For the breath of life is in the sunlight and the hand of life is in the wind.

Some of you say, "It is the north wind who has woven the clothes to wear."

But shame was his loom, and the softening of the sinews was his thread.

And when his work was done he laughed in the forest.

Forget not that modesty is for a shield against the eye of the unclean.

And when the unclean shall be no more, what were modesty but a fetter and a fouling of the mind?

And forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair.

By Khalil Gibran

Sothis said...

You wrote (about my comment)-- 'adapt to western laws or have a huge problem'.
wow! what a surprising thing to say.

Really surprising, since I didn't say it. Please reread it. My belief if that people should try to adapt. You want to run around in a Burqa or a bikini, fine with me as long as it is the woman's choice.

I believe you refer Jon's comment, not mine.

Mirvat said...

yes i did refer to jon's comment which i didn't have anything to say about it really.
then i started responding to your comment which made more sense.
sorry if it came out confusing

JEFM said...

I'm glad that you are such a tolerant person Mirvat. (smirk)

I do think we will have a huge problem with extreme muslim immigrants in the Western countries WHO WON'T ADAPT to Western Law (forced marriages, clitoris removal and such costumes)... What they do in their own countries, is THEIR problem as long as it directly doesn't affect me or my security.

I don't like the jewish kippa or the western cross at schools anymore than I like the burqa in Western schools. (smirk)

I'll go read some books now since I'm such an ignorant and will try to have a better understanding of this issues (as you do). Maybe you can help me better understand it... no?



FZ said...


The heart of Western Law includes a tolerance of minority rights. The majority doesn't just overrun the minority; protection of individuals is a major part of the American constitution. The reason it's built into the law is because of the natural group tendency toward an insistence on homogeneity and discrimination of perceived others (back in the day that could include Quaker, Shaker, Jew, Protestant, Anglican etc.) I wholeheartedly believe freedom of self-expression is central to any modern society, East or West, North or South.

Radical Islam isn't affecting you or your "security" in the form of the neighbor lady employed at the deli in her shalwar kameez and scarf. In fact, economic mobility is probably the best way to counteract extremist doctrine. Islamist ideology finds fringe appeal in desperate people powered by distorted concepts of shame, pride, rage, justice.

It seems to me that the central problem raised by DA's post was how to respond to the difficulties of people wearing burqas finding employment in Amsterdam. In my humble opinion, until the Dutch government takes a stand encouraging places of employment to be more affirmative in their action (rather than placing the blame on the potential workforce), de facto segregation will rule the day. As countless sociological studies show, immigrant women are best empowered by employment. Telling a woman to take off her burqa is such a radical and backward answer to the problem.

I live in NYC, where Hasidic Jews in full black cloaks and hats, Catholic nuns in habits, and Muslim girls in scarves ride the same mass transit bus lines. Frankly, I find safety in encouraging openness and diversity. If that ain't modern, what is?

My two cents.

JEFM said...

I'm glad you feel that way "fz".

As you can see, we don't agree in certain things. We do agree in where "radical Islam" gets its stronghold.

I don't believe in "affirmative action" thou, sorry... and I'm not modern either :)

PS: You're right, it is modern.