If anyone were to ask you to list the most sinister developments of our time, I guess a few of us would say the atomic bomb, the war, the HIV virus, world hunger and terrorism.
But what, dear readers, is even more sinister than disease, destruction and death? Come on, guess. Come on, I challenge you, don’t do all political correctness on me now. Why, of course! It is the burqa and the niqab, the full veil that some Muslim women wear. Don’t pretend you don’t want to add this to the list.
Last week Imam Taj Hargey, based in my hometown of Oxford, launched a scathing attack on the burqa in the Daily Mail, declaring it to be one of the “most sinister developments of our time”. Hargey’s article was accompanied by lots of dark looking women covered in niqabs, burkas were rare, but hey, let’s not get stuck on semantics when we attack Muslim women for their choice of clothing.
Hargey wrote: “Everyone in Britain, including Muslims, should oppose the insidious spread of this vile garment, which imprisons women, threatens social harmony, fuels mistrust, has serious implications for health and constitutes a potential safety risk. He then said that as a Muslim he was launching a campaign to ban the burqa. In 2010, the word mansplaining, meaning a man compelled to explain or give an opinion about everything – especially a woman, was included in the New York Times Words of the Year. This is an example of the Muslim man at his best: A man is launching a campaign in the UK to tell UK women what to wear.
Earlier this month, the European Court of Human Rights upheld the niqab ban imposed by the French government in 2010, which makes it illegal to wear all face coverings in public. There are no official figures on the number of Muslim women in the UK who wear the niqab, but they are a very small minority among the 3.3 million Muslims in the UK. A minority within a minority. What I don’t understand is why so many people are obsessed with Muslim women’s wardrobes? It is time for the Muslim mansplainers, many so called liberals, white feminists and other members of the “save Muslim women” circus to step out of the wardrobe of Muslim women and let us Muslim women decide how we are. choose to dress.
Karimah Bint Dawoud lives in West London and is a former model who has walked the runway in Paris, Zurich and around the world, working with international fashion brands. Karimah is now training as a Muslim chaplain and runs her own business. She chose to wear the niqab for three years and now, due to her work as a chaplain, she has decided not to wear it.
“I am very pragmatic in my approach to the niqab. I used to wear it and now I don’t wear it anymore. My choice to put it on and take it off is personal. However, even now I wear the niaqb every now and then. If I am traveling alone late at night to an area where I do not feel safe, I will wear the niqab.
“As a former model, I know everything about the objectification of women by all cultures, it is not specific to a group of people or a denominational group. It is a fact, society, societies Patriarchal continues to objectify women. I feel like the niqab offers my protection. It means that I am not regarded for my appearance by men. I like it. It means I have total control on how I am seen and perceived by men.
âAs a Muslim woman, my choice of dress has never stopped me from doing what I want to do with my life. I don’t need a man, Muslim or non-Muslim, to tell me how to dress. In fact I dare any man who can even think of telling me how to dress. “
Karimah says it’s not easy for British Muslims to wear the niqab, but having a good sense of humor always helps. âI was in the supermarket wearing my niqab and abaya (long Islamic robe) when an Englishman and his son spotted me in one of the aisles. He shouted at his son, ‘Oh look, Batman has arrived. ! ‘ They started laughing out loud at me. I walked over to the man and said, “Hey, you know what? Whenever I come here for shopping I keep an eye on Robin, but I never find him. I’m still so disappointed. ‘ At first the men looked confused, then they laughed. They clearly weren’t expecting that from me. Later, I heard the son of man say, “Leave her alone.” “
All kidding aside, data released last month by Teeside University and the Islamophobia monitoring group Tell MAMA (Measuring Anti-Muslim Attacks) showed that more than half of Islamophobic attacks in Britain are committed against women, targeted for wearing clothing associated with Islam. Victims reported a total of 734 incidents to the hotline between early May last year and February 28, 2014, broken down into 599 incidents of online abuse and 135 offline attacks, an increase of almost 20% by compared to the same period the previous year. In May, a Saudi Arabian Nahid Almanea was stabbed to death in Essex. Police released a statement saying they suspected she may have been attacked for wearing an abaya.
This continued targeting of a minority of women for the way they dress is fueling hysteria and misinformation about Muslims which is fueling an increase in hate crimes. It is tiring and dangerous. Suggesting a Muslim woman’s dress choice – and, yes, I am focusing on women who have chosen to wear the niqab – somehow threatens the social fabric is absurd.