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Big burqa debate

Hijab - Veiled Muslim women are victims of male-imposed bondage
Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania is an award winning columnist, author and standup comedian. Contact him at ].



As usual, the only people debating the wearing or not wearing of the obscene "burqa" are men.


The voices of very few women have engaged in this high profile debate that has been going on for years but was elevated recently when former British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw complained that women visiting his office should "unveil."


I agree with him, because I believe women need to be freed from male-imposed bondage.


Those few women who have entered the debate are mainly the marginalized screamers, Muslim-bashers whose years of pent-up abuse by men have turned legitimate protests into strident screams of hatred.


Why haven't more women engaged in this debate? Their husbands will beat the living heck out of them, or worse. And, rather than be prosecuted for violence, the men will be celebrated, cheered and "honored," a custom whose tradition in not just Muslim culture, but Christian and even Jewish culture.


Some people say the issue is religious freedom. Women, according to this logic, are "required" by religious belief to wear the "veil" and cover themselves up completely, because God ordered it.


Not quite.


Men, who interpret God's word - be they Jews, Christians or Muslims - always seem to rule on the harsh end when it comes to the issue of how to treat women. They insist that's what God wants.


Nowhere in the Old Testament, the New Testament or in the Qu'ran is there a directive from the Almighty that women must cover themselves up like a sack of potatoes or walk five feet behind men with their mouths and minds shuttered.


Hijab is respectful

In my opinion, the burqa and the face veil are obscene, relics of the "dark ages" that consumed all societies. I don't care whether it's a burlap-like covering worn by Bedouin women in the desert, or a USD 10,000 Chanel burqa favored by more fashionable women in Dubai.


What are we talking about here?


The burqa is not a hijab. A hijab is a respectful head covering that is related to religious belief and customs. Although it is most often associated with Muslim women, it is also worn by Christian Arab women and by Catholic women in Europe, too. We call it a head scarf.


But when we discuss the term "veil" we are talking about forcing women not to cover their heads, but to cover their faces, which is the ultimate way to bind one's mind. A veil is a burqa, which is the most sinister invention that man has ever imposed on women.


Any woman who is forced to "veil" is being abused. They may not want to admit it, but they are victims of oppression.


Remember, victimization involves acquiescence to subjugation. Victims often defend their victimizers because it's easier than fighting back.


Women who wear the veil obviously find it easier to argue against the "infidels" who denounce the burqa and veils than it is to argue with their husbands, fathers, brothers or strange men who have more power over their conduct than they do. If they do argue, they could be killed, and their killers will be "honored" for slaying the "shame."


I think more women should be standing up and speaking out against the burqa, which is not a religious garb, but rather a symbol of oppression.


Many women wear a burqa out of cultural habit imposed by men, and they justify it as a demonstration of their love for their religion. Like I said, victims often justify their suffering rather than confront the oppressor, especially when the societies they live in also ignore their suffering and allow their oppressors to oppress so obscenely.


Driving in America

This issue of the burqa and "veil" also enters into the public arena, as do most restrictions on women such as denying them the right to vote, express or do simple things many take for granted like drive a car.


Veiled women who come to the United States discover they can drive, mainly because their husbands need them to do so, not because they are being allowed to experience Western-style freedom.


We've seen instances where veiled women have applied for a driver's license, which is a form of identification and includes a photograph of the driver's face. Of course, if the face is veiled, you can't see the face so you can't identify the driver.


I don't think anyone who wears a veil should be allowed to drive a car unless they are prepared to remove the veil while driving or when stopped by police. If you have issues with it, then don't drive. It's the law. Your face must be exposed in order to be identified, otherwise every male scoundrel avoiding criminal capture would dress up in a burqa the way many of Saddam Hussein's conspirators tried to escape arrest in Iraq.


The problem is that when any issue is discussed involving Islam, the extremists and fanatics are the ones that take to the public stage and denounce the "criticism" as attacks against Islam. The majority of Muslims often remain silent because they know firsthand what it's like to be attacked by the freaks and extremists in their community. So the fanatics say whatever they want.


It's like the issue with Pope Benedict who expressed a view on Islam and was immediately criticized. Some of the criticism called for his murder, typically in a response like this. And many extremists took to the streets and burned down churches, murdered a nun and destroyed other Christian centers.


Not surprisingly, and reflecting the weak relations between Muslims and Christians in the Arab World, the majority of attacks were directed against Christians who happened to be Arab and are not even Catholic like the Pope.


Hey. Apparently to the extremists, all us Christians look the same, don't we?  I don't care what your religion or your belief or even your politics is. If you are a male and you support forcing women to wear a burqa, you don't belong in any position of authority.


Sadly, too many men who hold power do insist women should be burqa'd, veiled, silenced and prohibited from playing any constructive role in the molding of our world.


Maybe that's why in this male-dominated world, especially in the Middle East, we have so much conflict.


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