‘These outward manifestations of faith are varied and beautiful. They are not for those outside the religion to judge.’

A sweet little propaganda morsel in the Bennington Banner instructs us that women covered head to toe in black is beautiful. We are to find this beautiful.

Nowhere in her celebration of invisible women does the propagandist remember to add that we are also to find children – just little girls, of course – covered head to toe beautiful; or that we are to find compulsory female covering in Iran and other countries beautiful. Varied, beautiful, and you’re going to jail for a long time if you and your children don’t veil.

“Many modern nuns have abandoned” their black coverings, the author notes, and I wonder why. And I wonder why it doesn’t occur to her that there’s a difference between modern nuns free to abandon old ways and millions of Afghan and Saudi women (ordinary women, not people who have joined religious orders) who face imprisonment and even death if they throw off their robes. Who at the very least face physical attacks on the street from men who see them uncovered.

The author tsk-tsks all the weird unwoke anti-burqa legislation coming out of Europe, the Middle East, and Asia, but never inquires about whether that legislation means anything other than (as she believes) visceral hatred and fear.

“Within our own country and around the world, religious garments say, ‘I believe this.”

Sometimes they say that. Sometimes they say I revile what I’m wearing but I can’t do anything about it. Sometimes they say There are places in the world where men can legally fully cover women, or intimidate them into being fully covered, but this secular republic shouldn’t be one of them.

And it matters what this is, doesn’t it? Are we really not allowed to judge people who say “I believe apostates should be killed”? What about people who say “I believe we should bring back burning at the stake”?

One way to avoid writing propaganda is to read a little bit about your subject. The question of veiling is not solved by agreeing to judge something that a lot of people find appalling beautiful. The matter is complex. One might start here.

‘Pakistani Ambassador Saad Khattak tweeted that a [burqa] ban would hurt the feelings of Muslims. The U.N. special rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, Ahmed Shaheed, tweeted that a ban would be incompatible with international law and the right to free religious expression.’

Not sure what we’re supposed to do with would hurt the feelings.

As for incompatibility with the law, tell that to the 32 (at latest count) countries – possibly including Sri Lanka, which is in the news today – with full or partial burqa bans – and on this list you will find several Muslim nations. That’s a hell of a lot of scofflaws, and I trust Ahmed Shaheed plans to haul the lot of them in front of the international courts, but meanwhile can I say once again the obvious, which is that burqa bans are all the rage all over the world for a perfectly good set of reasons? Reasons endlessly elaborated ‘pon on this blog?

One thing you can say for burqa bans, burqa restrictions, populations which are … “burqa-aware”…

… is that this sort of social reality tends to make it easier to identify true burqa evil-doers. Like the Montreal father who told his four girls that if they ever took their burqas off he’d kill them. Just for good measure, he beat them all the time anyway. The teacher of one of the girls saw that things weren’t right, and reported the father to the authorities.

He has been found guilty of assault; the daughters, who were in court, are no longer under his authority.

**********

UD thanks David, a reader, for the link to ACTUALITÉ.

Mimi Mefo on Women’s Day.

[In] the 45 years since it was first officially celebrated by the UN, [International Women’s Day] feels like it marks regress rather than progress when it comes to the African context…

Let’s talk child marriage …, another great “accomplishment” for women across Africa. Let’s look at the case of Nigerian senator Ahmad Sani Yerima, who married [as his fourth wife] a 13-year-old girl from Egypt in 2010 when he was 49 years of age, defending his actions based on his religion.

Yerima told the BBC at the time that the Muslim faith permitted this union, and that he would “not respect any law that contradicts it, and whoever wants to sanction me for that is free to do that.”

‘End the Erasure of Women’ is…

… one of this blog’s categories, and it’s always easy to find oodles of news stories about our nihilation (def.: “to encase in a shell of nonbeing“). Israel’s ultraorthodox always provide comic relief on this front (though their significant responsibility for spreading catastrophic coronavirus throughout Israel is no joke – maybe the Israeli government should force a little education on the germ theory of disease onto this appalling population): Their latest is the refusal to allow women’s names on streets named after women… But when the streets are not entirely haredi-owned, some compromise is unavoidable… So okay they’ll let the women’s last names appear…

More significantly, hard-line Muslims in Malaysia are harassing social reformers who want to make veiling truly optional (the law says it is, but…) for women. Predictably, the powerful shariah courts are going after dissenters because – like the writers at Charlie Hebdo – they “insult Islam.”

“Malaysian Muslims are unfortunately subjected to arbitrary rules like this due to our dual legal system,” [the author of a book critical of veiling] said, adding that Muslims should be allowed to opt-out of the Shariah legal system.

Yeah duh. Why does Malaysia have two legal systems? Why do some idiots want England to have shariah courts?

I’m dreaming of a white…

peace deal … Time to get our whores of all ages inside of sheets again.

Photo, by Abdul Majeed, found here.

‘He said she had since shed her niqab and took joy in wearing colors.’

How interesting! When an ISIS member’s lawyer wants to justify her having been allowed to return to Norway from Syria’s Al-Hol camp, he goes right to her niqab-dump! Why ever does he do that? How interesting that he clearly thinks we’ll be … reassured about something… consider it something positive and good… that a woman has rejected the niqab…

Yet my burqa:my freedom, and my niqab:my freedom have become international memes; the world’s press routinely publishes I love my burqa and you’ll never take it away from me opinion pieces. We are intended to find Islamophobic this man’s implication that removing the niqab – and hey wait a minute – –

How do we know she didn’t dump it under duress, desperate as she is to get Norwegian medical care for one of her children?

“The woman remains a security concern,” [a local terrorism expert] acknowledged. “But at least she will be under control and surveillance in Norway. Apart from France, no European-born returnees from the war in Syria [have] carried out new terror attacks in Europe.”

Oh yeah right apart from France… As in – apart from that, Mrs Lincoln, how was the play…

Bringing her back to Norway is bringing down the Norwegian government; but after all what a good idea to let this “ISIS Wife,” as the NYT headline absurdly calls her, back in the country.

Keep calling these chicks ISIS wives. Go ahead. I mean, that’s all the poor stupid dears were, right? Mobile vaginas immobilizing themselves for a time in ISISland in order to produce babies for one husband after another. No other personal identity here, and certainly no moral agency and certainly no slave holding or beheading applauding or propaganda issuing… The sexism with which these women are being received in Europe and America is astounding.

************

UPDATE: Norway’s ruling coalition has disbanded after the populist Progress Party (FRP) left the government, partly due to the repatriation of a mother with suspected ISIS links from Syria.

The Prime Minister said there were no options, but there were. Bring in the child for treatment while the mother stays behind and works out her citizenship options. She grew up in Norway and presumably has family there who can look after the child. She has a Pakistani background, and one of her husbands has (had?) Chilean roots – she may qualify for citizenship in those countries, or in whatever country her other husband came from (he is not identified in news stories).

****************

ANOTHER UPDATE: So as the thing becomes a big story – a whole government falls because someone thought Norway needed to repatriate and permanently surveil an ISIS militant – we can scan a big ol’ page of news stories about it and find not ONE reference to this woman as an ISIS militant. Let’s see what we find… ISIS spouse, ISIS widow, ISIS bride, ISIS wife… Occasionally we get suspect, woman, returnee… But take a look and you’ll see overwhelming use of the reductive, sexist formulation. Do we call ISIS men ISIS husbands? Why not?

More on Teaching and the Burqa.

Jocelyn Maclure and Charles Taylor write:

[A teacher cannot wear the] burqa or niqab in class and still adequately [discharge] her duties as a teacher. On one hand, teaching necessarily entails communication, and covering the face and body does not allow for nonverbal communication. On the other, one of the teacher’s missions is to contribute toward the development of the student’s sociability. It seems reasonable to think that wearing a full veil establishes too much distance between the teacher and her charges. In short pedagogical reasons may be involved to justify the prohibition of the burqa or niqab among teachers.

The ‘Fuck the Veil’ Movement Proceeds Apace.

Not that Iran cares about so many of its women – including a high-profile Olympics champ, who has defected to the Netherlands – very militantly casting off compulsory veiling. Put them in jail if they’re here; ignore them if they’re there… But swaddled masses yearning to breathe free can prove quite pesky if they’re truly able to… mass. We shall see. Indications are excellent. Even in places you’d never expect it.

M.G.’s efforts to get his wife to wear a niqab…

… had consequences.

Italy on Saturday expelled a Moroccan imam back to his home country because of what it said was his support for the Islamic State group.

Interior Minister Luciana Lamorgese cited reasons of state security in sending the 41-year-old imam, identified only as M.G., back to Casablanca.

[T]he imam had expressed support for the late IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, and shared jihadi propaganda on Facebook. [H]is Moroccan wife … also filed a formal complaint against him for abusing her because she refused to wear the covering niqab.

The article goes to note that Italy has been spared much of the terrorist violence other countries in the region have suffered, no doubt in part because of

its program of expelling suspected extremists. Since it began in 2015, the program has resulted in 462 people being sent home, including 98 last year.

An honest and thoughtful take on the burqa from Brandon Robshaw.

It’s rare – because politically incorrect – for academics to admit that burqas pose a real problem in intellectual settings. Instead they end up saying the most moronic shit about the glories of teaching silent invisible women. So bravo Robshaw for stating the obvious but still socially unacceptable: Burqas make teaching pretty much impossible. Good on Robshaw, too, for disposing of the whole Islamophobe thing.

If someone offers arguments why the burqa should be banned, you can call them an Islamophobe if you like – you might even be right – but you haven’t engaged with their arguments. Even if the arguments are advanced without sincerity, they still need to be judged on their merits. Someone else who decidedly wasn’t an Islamophobe could come along and advance the same arguments, and then what could you say?

We’re getting there, folks.

Although she opts for the conventional bookending approach, Jillian Kestler-D’Amours nonetheless demonstrates how far we’ve come in press coverage of the international, ongoing, burqa-banning story.

Yes, in covering the ban in Quebec, the writer begins and ends with the difficulties one Muslim woman there has had because she veils. UD looks forward to the day when at least a few writers covering burqa and/or hijab bans will bookend their articles with arguments that some forms of veiling represent “an affront to Muslim women.” Or begin by noting the women of Iran and Saudi Arabia who are organizing, at great personal risk, to rid themselves of veils. Or how about bookending articles with comments from Frenchwomen who used to veil and now don’t (because it’s illegal), and who report feeling as if they have been freed from prison.

But this is only a quibble. UD is actually thrilled by this article, because it’s yet another indication that under the pressure of rapidly globalizing burqa bans in Muslim and non-Muslim countries, more and more journalists are finally approaching the subject with a sense of balance. Kestler-D’Amours acknowledges up front the popularity of veiling bans in Quebec; she quotes generously from government officials making the case for integration, and at no point calls anyone in favor of bans islamophobic. She is, in short, even-handed; like most rational people reporting on the subject, she has surveyed the spectacular majorities for banning in most countries of the world (here’s an example, from one of Europe’s holdouts), and, whatever her personal views, has accepted this as a reality to be taken seriously.

****************

Indeed it’s time opponents of veil bans (which means virtually all journalists) grew up and stopped with the nahnahnah islamophobe business. The numbers (over 80% of the French supported the ban; over 70% of Germans would support one) and the laws are against them; it’s getting worse every day; and the only sensible route, it seems to ol’ UD, is for people writing about bans to make an effort to put themselves inside the heads not merely of people who want to wear veils, but also of people who object to them. In the immortal words of the immortal: You know something’s happening but you don’t know what it is. Do you, Mr. Jones?

‘Chris Melzer, a spokesman at the Berlin office of UNHCR, said German attitudes toward the hijab do not necessarily emanate out of Islamophobia. “Many in Germany think that headscarves display inequality, and women’s equality is very important in Germany,” he said. Other than Islamophobes, a section of German intellectuals see the hijab as a symbol of oppression, a misogynous tradition.’

Again, hurray. More and more often, as UD has been noting here, articles about various forms of resistance to women who veil dedicate at least a few sentences to the possibility that this resistance is not islamophobic.

*********************

The term Islamophobia is … used to silence discussion on issues like the niqab – despite the fact that its use is hotly debated by Muslims around the world. Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria have all passed various laws opposing the wearing of garments like the burqa and niqab. These bans are often motivated by security concerns, but they also make it clear that face-covering is not a central practice in Islam. These nations see the niqab as deeply divisive, not only in Western societies, but in their own Muslim-majority societies too.

But rather than argue its case, groups like the Muslim Council of Britain seek to shut down debate altogether. By painting arguments like mine as bigoted and beyond-the-pale, they aim to wrest control of the conversation in favour of another view: that Muslims are perennially demonised and objectified by the very same societies, and media outlets, which allow us to freely express our views.

  Qanta Ahmed

Lord of the Flies…

ladies’ version.

Oh, those girls!

Get longer lashes…

… the sharia way.

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