The Niqab Debate, 2: Picking on Muslim Women Smacks of Hypocrisy

As part of the Niqab series, we reproduce here an article by Haroon Siddiqui, the Editor Emeritus at the Canadian newspaper, Toronto Star. Haroon is an Indo-Canadian journalist who has been associated with Toronto Star for almost three decades. Toronto Star is widely regarded as a left leaning Canadian newspaper. Haroon is a member of the Order of Canada for advocating “fairness and equality of opportunity” at home and “a broader role for Canada in the global village”. Haroon has also come under criticism for being “Toronto Star’s resident Islamist”, and justifying Islamic extremist atrocities as nothing but a payback for US foreign policies.

Quebec, the French majority province in Canada, is the first North American battleground for the Niqab battle. After a woman refused to remove her Niqab in French learning class, she was removed and the Quebec Minister for Women Affairs called Niqab an “ambulatory prison”.

The new bill in the Quebec Provincial Assembly would disallow veiled women from dispensing or receiving public services. Women will not be allowed healthcare services or to attend universities if they do not show their faces. Jean Charest, the Quebec Premier (equivalent to Chief Minister of a province in Pakistan) summed up the proposed bill in two words: “Uncovered Face”.

There are almost 1 Million Muslims currently living in Canada. The Muslim society constitutes just about 3% of the Canadian population. Haroon points out that it is perfectly reasonable for a woman to show her face for identification purposes when accessing public services, applying for drivers license etc. Yet after women have shown their faces, and their identities are established, is it fair to expect them to stay unveiled against their wishes while they receive public services? Is this where state crosses the line of reasonableness and wanders into unchartered territory of imposing upon someone’s religious beliefs, no matter how radical these beliefs may appear? Particularly when Quebec Government’s own survey showed that less than a few hundred Muslim women prefer to don niqab. Questions are asked: Is the Quebec Government singling out Muslim women in the name of niqab legislation? 

The primary argument in this article is not whether the niqab is a good or a bad dress for women. The argument here is where a secular society properly balances the demands of safety and reasonableness against the rigid beliefs of its few members. I believe this debate will not remain confined to the Western societies and at some point will enter the dialogue in Muslim majority countries.

This article comes out defending the right of Muslim women to don Niqab. Tomorrow’s article will be an argument against the Niqab as a practical dress fit for a secular, or for that matter, any society.

(AZW)

 

 

 

http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/article/789267–siddiqui-picking-on-muslim-women-smacks-of-hypocrisy 

Picking on Muslim Women Smacks of Hypocricy 

By Haroon Siddiqui, Published on April 4, 2010 in The Toronto Star

I do not like the niqab/burqa. It makes me uncomfortable. But that’s not a good enough reason to argue that it be banned or, worse, that those wearing it be denied public services, including education and even health care, as Quebec is proposing.

Based on even majority public opinion, a democracy cannot discriminate because of dress – religiously dictated or otherwise. It couldn’t do it in the same way that it wouldn’t sanction lynching, should the masses be baying for it. The rule of law wouldn’t have it.

What if society collectively decided to change the law to permit lynching? It could. But citizens would retain the right to argue that such a law would be an ass.

That’s the stage we are at vis-à-vis Quebec’s bill on the niqab. Hence the myriad arguments.

 

• The niqab is just another manifestation of multiculturalism gone mad.

No, it is a case of freedom of religion, which includes “the right to show it,” as Quebec’s own commission on reasonable accommodation said in its 2008 report.

 

• The duty to accommodate religion is not limitless.

Correct.

As stated by the commission, “a request may be rejected if it leads to what the jurists call `undue hardship,’ which can take different forms such as unreasonable cost, upsetting an organization’s operation, infringing the rights of others, or prejudicing the maintenance of security and public order.”

That may have been the case with the niqabi woman in Montreal who was thrown out of two French language classes. She was said to be making excessive demands. She said she was being true to her faith. She went to the Quebec human rights commission.

That’s a good way to work through such competing claims. The case, however, is a poor excuse for Jean Charest’s legislation.

 

• The niqab may not be a religious requirement.

I agree. So do an overwhelming majority of Muslim women, including observant ones, who do not wear it.

But that does not negate the right of those who believe it is a religious requirement. That a majority of Jews do not wear the kippa, or that many Sikhs do not wear a turban, does not negate the right of those who do.

 

• It is essential to see the face for the purposes of I.D. documents and security.

Absolutely. The state can lay down the law that a niqabi show her face for a passport, driver’s license, health card (as the Quebec health board has already held). She should show her face at immigration and customs, etc., or even when collecting her child from daycare. But there are no reported cases of niqabi women objecting to any of that.

 

• The niqab is “a symbol of oppression,” decreed by Islam or the men of the household – father, brother or husband.

Let’s assume that it is. Whose business is it to end the practice – that of the state?

Let’s say that it is. But she would invoke her freedom of religion, also her freedom of choice of dress. What then?

Would our argument be that we do not recognize her sovereignty, even though we accept the right of a woman to abortion on the basis of just such individual autonomy?

Or would we argue that a niqabi woman is too dumb to decide for herself or is under the sort of severe oppression that we assume she is, without having to prove that she is?

Feminists would have had greater credibility had they also been campaigning against the inferior status of women among Catholics, Hutterites, Orthodox Jews and other faiths.

 

• The niqab impedes integration.

 Yes.

Yet the proposed cure may be worse than the disease. Charest’s bill, if passed, would isolate them even more.

 

• The niqab dilutes the secular nature of society – Quebec’s, in particular.

Not so.

The Constitution recognizes the supremacy of God. The Quebec National Assembly displays the crucifix. Some Quebec municipalities begin meetings with a prayer. Catholic and other churches are given tax breaks.

Fo Niemei, director of the Montreal-based Centre for Research on Race Relations, asks: “Do we withdraw funding for the Jewish General or require that the hospital remove its Jewishness because the state shall not fund or support religious expression?” The niqabi women are not demanding any favours anyway, only their rights.

TO SUM UP:

Picking on Muslim women smacks of hypocrisy or, worse, the pathology of “bigots and chauvinists who, like bullies, direct their vitriol toward the weak,” American academics Sener Akturk and Mujeeb Khan wrote in Turkey’s English-language newspaper Zaman in an article headlined How Western Anti-Muslim Bigotry Became Respectable.

72 Comments

Filed under Democracy, Pakistan, Religion, Rights, secularism, Women

72 responses to “The Niqab Debate, 2: Picking on Muslim Women Smacks of Hypocrisy

  1. Ganpat Ram

    It is not hypocrisy at all.

    In any country, immigrants are expected to conform with the cutoms of the natives.

    Not to do so is the style of imperialists.

    The Canadians in Quebec have their customs and traditions, which are eminently reasonable.

    If Muslims dislike these traditions, let them go to some other country.

  2. fair mind

    @ Ganpat Ram
    “If Muslims dislike these traditions, let them go to some other country.”

    Not that i’m in favor of Niqab, but i do question your opinion.
    Today in India there are over 170 million Muslims. they eat cow meat. They are NOT arabs. Their ancestors and great grandparents were HINDU.
    But then these Hindus got tired of worshipping Penis, Monkey and Cow gods. And they converted to Islam and started eating their former god (cow).
    Would you say, “they should leave India”?

  3. kumar

    @biased & shallow mind

    it is much better to worship anything which is alive and kicking then to bow in direction of stone and buildings in saudia within fix timing.ever u heard of- :
    The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.

    – American novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald

  4. @fair mind
    Ur level of intelligence is questionable….fair or foul…??

  5. OK niqab to me is sumthin really personal. People should be given a choice to as if they want to wear it or not. Wearing a veil doesn’t really show an extremist mindset so here the women should be given a right of choice. But like the northen areas where women are forced and beaten if they do not wear it is surely an extremist mindset so that must be noted. One has no right to impose principles against your choice.

  6. Yasir Qadeer

    A very interesting debate indeed. I think I will go with the views expressed by Ganpat Ram. Every country has its own sets of rules for its citizens and as a responsible immigrant; it becomes the responsibility of that specific person to abide by those rules. The religious extremists try to exploit the public by black mailing them in the name of religion to create agitation. It brings a bad name not only to the specific religion but also the country of the immigrant.

  7. Zainab Ali

    If the government should give a valid justification for the banning of Niqab, otherwise it will be against the spirit of secularism. As far as the identification of the person is concerned, a slight procedural change can cater to the needs of both the parties and this problem can be solved easily.

  8. fair mind

    @Kumar
    I’m not questioning what hindus worship. It is their pejoritive. I’m questioing Gunpat Ram for his opinion, ““If Muslims dislike these traditions, let them go to some other country.”.

    FYI, Muslims do NOT worship Kabbah (stone building in Makkah). For purpose of unity they all over prayer in one direction. Otherwise Allah is in Easts and Wests.

  9. Malahat

    The burqa and niqab are merely a mode of outer clothing, meant to satisfy a lady’s own sense of modesty. Some ladies find this mode convenient. Others find the chaadar more convenient. Some are happy with a coat. Some with a dupatta. Some without any of these. Essentially, it’s the choice of the individual that counts.

    It is interesting to note that people – in this “age of enlightenment” – are prepared to accept and endorse a certain dress code for women, only as long as it conforms to their own thinking. Some enlightenment. In the name of Women’s Liberty, the very liberty of the woman is now being questioned. If a woman opts to be a burqa-wearer, her right to choose as well as her choice, both should be respected.

    Fanaticism, in my opinion,is actually a state of mind. Those who have zero acceptance for the woman’s choice to adopt or not to adopt a certain dress code for herself, in my opinion, have the state of mind of a fanatic. Those who believe in forcing a woman to don the niqab, against her will are fanatics. Similarly, those who believe in forcing a woman to abandon the niqab, against her will, too are fanatics.

  10. QED

    Most Muslim (islamist) states don’t even have the
    courtesy to even recognize any other ideologies!!.
    This is number one hypocrisy.

    If Muslims are in a majority, they demand Islamic laws and Islamic state without any respect for minorities. And in countries where Muslims are in
    minority (all secular countries), they talk about respect and equal rights!!. IMO Muslims are the biggest gainers throughout the world coz of this attitude.

    IMO, if France or dutch for example decide that
    their citizens following a particular ideology (Islam) is a thread to their society, they *must* ban/prosecute people from practicing Islam!!. (Similar to what Islamic states follow – but the other way round).

  11. Nusrat Pasha

    @ QED

    Just as it would not be right to judge Christianity from the doings of people who are incidentally Christian, it would not be right to judge Islam by the doings of people who are incidentally Muslim.
    The ultimate glory of Islam is not the so called “Islamic State”. As far as “Islam” is concerned, it has nothing to do with having a state to harbour it. The true glory of Islam has always been and will forever remain its spiritual and celestial beauty. The most glorious Muslims were neither the clergymen, nor rulers who were incidentally Muslim – they were the saints and sufis – the men of God that Islam produced. These were the men who conquered hearts instead of lands, and inspired love instead of hatred.

  12. AZW

    @ Fair Mind:

    Appreciate your comments at PTH, but your comment today quoting an article by a religious scholar from an Ahmadiya website was put in the spam folder. We have had instances in the past when some individuals went on to extensively quote sectarian material from the religious websites despite several warnings. We just do not want any precedents in this regard, where comments are based on references to religious organizations’ website or propaganda.

    AZW (moderator)

  13. @AZW
    I have noted the same as in the first article in this series I have mentioned this to Fair Mind Sb that he is leading the debate on a narrow path….
    As for mentioning to his Ahmedis roots, I avoided this…

  14. B. Civilian

    AZW

    as you probably already know, Fair Mind is the same individual that we had a hard time communicating this very simple PTH policy to in the past.

    @Fair Mind / Rashid

    PTH will not allow links to similar obviously sectarian-sounding website names, whatsoever the apparent sect. this has nothing to do with the actual content, or even intent. PTH has no view on either.

    if you do not agree with this policy, you need not be at PTH.

  15. bushra naqi

    Every state has a responsibility to create harmony, uniformity and discipline amongst its citizens by promoting unanimous rules and regulations for all. It will not allow dissenting views, behavior and conduct to destroy its peace.

    If individuals in the name of religion or customs violate these laws then they are culpable of misconduct and need to be excluded. How often have we heard the adage,’In Rome do as the Romans do’. If we follow this nobody will infringe on our liberty and rights as citizens. Allegiance to a state is inclusive and cannot be exclusive and violative of the concerns of their citizens.

  16. Bin Ismail

    @ busra naqi

    “…How often have we heard the adage,’In Rome do as the Romans do’. If we follow this nobody will infringe on our liberty and rights as citizens…”

    What do you do when the Romans themselves violate the sacred laws of Rome? Do you still “do as the Romans do” or do you exercise rationality and try to do what is right? After spending centuries in the darkness of medieval trends, and mixing state and church, came the Renaissance. Finally, “Romans” realized that the church had to be separated from the state – a realization known as “enlightenment”. Then came the recent reverse trend, and a selective mixing of state and church was accommodated, with a proportionate decline in secularism and enlightenment. Romans began to drift away from their own enlightenment.

    Now, in this situation, what would be the right thing to do? Most certainly, one should not violate the law of the land. However, if the constitution and law of the country allows room for citizens to seek a reversal of an irrational law, the concerned citizens should freely exercise their constitutional right.

    Rome and Romans aside, Muslims in their own right have to realize that they do not have to necessarily go through the whole cycle and learn the hard way. Religion and State should be separated because this the right thing to do. Niqab or no niqab – is not the business of the state.

  17. iqbal akhund

    banning the niqab infringes the wearer’s liberty of choice. By the same token, so does the compulsory wearing of abayas in Saudi Arabia

  18. Mustafa Shaban

    @Malahat and iqbal akhuund: Agreed wiht you both

  19. fair mind2

    @AZW & BC:

    If you had opened the link you would have seen it only shows 3 scanned pages.
    It only gives arguments against concept of veil.
    I could have typed those arguments, but i don’t have time.
    I have said previously that ‘Islam is elephant in the room’ you can not ignore it. Unless you educate (both Muslims and Europeans) with reason and logic, you will never be able to solve conflict between Muslims and Europeans.
    Shying away from religion and not holding the bull from its horns will lead people like you no where.
    I’m 100% confident, ultimately it will come to what i’m saying. Unfortunately by then there will be more hostilities from both sides.

  20. We know the ultimate end to such fallacies/day dreams/prophecies…

  21. It reminds me of a historical event when at the peak of second world was all the major heads of states were gathered in GB, some religious peoples at India while hanging world map at their worship place and pointing to the city of world leaders gathering were praying and pleading before the almighty to please fulfil the prophecy of our grand spiritual head and give “Hidayaa” to all these non muslims leaders….with these words all the participants were crying and weeping with much noise….but Man!! There is no backgear in history…

  22. Erratum..peak of second world war

  23. B. Civilian

    @fair mind2

    I could have typed those arguments, but i don’t have time.

    don’t you have time to read either? which part of “this [policy] has nothing to do with the actual content” do you wish to be explained further?

    I’ll explain the policy once again for your benefit:

    PTH will not allow links to any obviously sectarian-sounding website names, whatsoever the apparent sect or religion. this has nothing to do with the actual content, or even intent. PTH has no view on either.

    if you do not agree with this policy, you need not be at PTH.

    you seem to have read something you totally imagined and not what has actually been written. this very simple and sensible policy has nothing to do with ‘shying away’ from any kind of actual argument, religious or secular.

  24. Niqab is, in fact, a non-issue.

  25. vajra

    @bin Ismail

    It was difficult following your argument in your recent comment, as it seems to assume certain developments and facts which are not commonly held to be true.

    You traced the course of European development through the Renaissance and the following Enlightenment. So far so good; you then went on to tie in the trend towards secularism with the onset of the Enlightenment. The connection is not direct, so it is not clear why you felt it necessary to bring it in.

    Perhaps we are following two different models of history.

    The Age of Enlightenment was a general release of intellectual energy propelled by the artistic, ethical, philosophical and scientific developments during the Renaissance. It connected with the trend towards secularism initiated and triggered by the Treaty of Westphalia which closed the Thirty Years’ War, but it supplemented that trend, it was not responsible for it. The dates don’t match, for instance.

    This is not to deny that there was a lot of influence on the concept of secularism, which essentially started in the political, not in the intellectual sphere. The intellectuals caught up with this development later, perhaps half a century or more later.

    Second, you refer to the recent reverse trend, and a selective mixing of state and church was accommodated, with a proportionate decline in secularism and enlightenment. What is this reference about? To the growth of the neo-fascists in Italy, for instance? What other political or social development do you connect with this statement? Could you explain at somewhat greater depth please?

    From where I am sitting, neither of your premises is based on fact: the rise of secularism was not connected to the Enlightenment, except indirectly, and it was a political development, taken up much later by the intellectuals, between fifty to a hundred years later.

    I am also not comfortable with your sighting of a trend against secularism; where is this to be seen? Is it that recent acts of xenophobia are seen by you as anti-secular? We are mixing up categories, I think.

  26. fair mind2

    “Niqab is, in fact, a non-issue”

    I agree. It is non-issue for people on this forum. But it’s not the case on both sides of divide in europe.

  27. bushra naqi

    I beleive controversies over niqab and abayyia only mirror the deep confusion in our muslim societies. In our desperation to revive ourselves on a national and ideological level we have picked up the guns of revolt and defiance.

    The niqab is only an external clothing and does not form the basis of a religion. But if we contend that it is essential then it cannot be only a clothing, but represents the entire categorization of muslim women, their role and position in the society. There is a deep paradox inherent in our claims and demands which shows that we do not take our theories seriously, neither do we understand the deeper ramifications of these theories. The modernists buy into these theories with the lie that they are simple demands reflective of individual needs and choices, when in reality they mirror fundamental dogmas regarding women and their demeanor.

    Lastly state laws cannot be arbitrarily implemented and are for all citizens of that state, although we continue to use arguements supporting our concepts..

  28. Bin Ismail

    @ vajra

    Thank you. When I use the term “secularism”, I refer more specifically to the segregation of state and church and keeping statecraft pure of religious biases. When I use the term “enlightenment”, I refer more specifically to the ability of the society to question and challenge edicts of the clergy. The benefits drawn from this ability, tend to manifest themselves in science, arts, philosophy, politics and even religion. You may choose not to endorse my usage of these terms, if you deem it that way. In my opinion,however, secularism and enlightenment, both were mutually supportive. On the plain of religion / statecraft, the greatest progress made was that the awe of the clergy was diluted in the sphere of politics.

    What we see now is that this hard-earned quality of keeping religion out of politics, is being perceivably compromised. This is what I meant when I suggested that the Romans had themselves turned against the best principles of Rome. Again, I suppose, my usage of the adage of “Rome/Romans” is more idiomatic than its usual one.

    What I find not very encouraging, is that this “xenophobia” as some call it, is less xenophobic and more “anti-Muslim”. The real issue is not foreign culture. The hijab will ride nerves, while the kippah will be appreciated. The minaret is banned, while the bells of a Buddhist temple toll freely. Even without extra-sensory perceptions, this recent surge in allowing religious biases into politics, can indeed be perceived.

  29. Bin Ismail

    @ vajra

    I am fully cognizant of the fact that the Muslim clergy has had a role to play in this recent surge in anti-Islam attitudes of the West. But one cannot help noticing the fact that when the Soviets took charge of Afghanistan, and the US was somewhat foreseeing a new Soviet access to the Oil-rich Arabian zone, these same fanatical and abominable mullahs became the apple of the US eye. It is interesting that the Jihad-haters were back then, busy promoting jihad. Religion was ruthlessly, dragged into politics. Once the cat was out of the bag, or should I say the genie was out the magic lamp, the West realized that they could not convince it to go back inside.

    This, my friend, is the dark side of the moon.

    Regards.

  30. Malahat

    @bushra naqi

    I wear the burqa and niqab :

    1. without any “deep confusion”
    2. without any “guns of revolt and defiance”
    3. without any “deep paradox” in my claims and demands.

    I’ve said this earlier. Let me repeat: The burqa and niqab are merely a mode of outer clothing, meant to satisfy a lady’s own sense of modesty. I wear these by choice, under no compulsion, with peace of mind and with conviction – and without any confusion, defiance and paradox.

    I believe I am not a fanatic because I do not thrust my choice on others nor do I look down upon those who do not wear the burqa.

  31. Khullat

    Now let’s see. We should be just – right? No biases for or against – right? Muslim women should not be allowed to wear the hijab – right? Nuns should not be allowed to wear their headgear – right? Sikh men should not be allowed to wear turbans – right? Sikhs should not be allowed to carry kirpans – right? Christians should not be allowed to wear the Cross-pendants – right? Hindu women should not be allowed to wear the tilak – right? The Pope should not be allowed to wear his Papal tiara – right? Women in West Africa should not be allowed to wear turbans, which by the way are not Muslim-specific, – right? The Dalai Lama should not be allowed to wear his Red robe – right? Jews should not be allowed to wear the kippah – right?

    Right.

  32. AZW

    Malahat:

    Thanks for commenting here. Indeed many women wear burqa due to their own free will. In this whole debate, never have we hinted that coercion be considered a deciding factor behind the garb of niqab. That being said, a woman in Afghanistan may differ from us, as only reason for her to wear the niqab is the society pressure, or the fact that it is unthinkable for a women not to be wearing a niqab at all. We can’t call it free will here, but there is no way of distinguishing between those who wear it of their own accord or otherwise. Doing so will lead us to the slippery slope where in absence of clear evidence, society will arbitrarily impose its own values on its free citizens.

    If niqab is a religious garb and has no safety implications for others, it is perfectly fine for anyone to wear it. The only factor that matters to me is whether the facial and body anonymity that this all covering dress brings with it. It robs others of the first line of defence they have against being mugged, defrauded or at worst, being killed. There are already instances of targeted killings with men in burqas, robberies by men appearing in burqa, and it is not a leap of imagination to think that suicide bombers will conveniently use this dress to inflict maximum damage. It is the absence of the facial recognition that is the problem with niqab. These issues are not present for hijab, kippas, or long beards. The third part of the niqab series “Niqab is not a religious issue” deals exactly with this point.

    https://pakteahouse.wordpress.com/2010/04/08/the-niqab-debate-niqab-is-not-a-religious-argument/

    We can be sure that if terrorists start using burqa for suicide bombings, this dress will be outlawed in a matter of days.

    For your choice of niqab, I completely respect your right to be modest any way you see fit. It is your right and no one should take away that right in the name of curbing extreme religious practice. But the right cannot come at a cost of safety issue for the other members of the society, and this is the central argument here.

    Khullat:

    Niqab at its core is not a religious argument. If there are no safety implications for others, I will agree with your slippery slope argument. But the examples you are quoting are not relevant as none of them entail facial anonymity that a niqab brings with it.

  33. vajra

    @Bin Ismail

    We are quite agreed on the meaning of ‘secularism’.

    As you are already aware, there is a minimalist and a maximalist way of looking at this concept, and you and I seem to share the minimalist concept. This is in contrast to the current British and Indian ways of looking at secularism, where, instead of matters of state being kept free of all religious biases, all religions are given equal air time – an unfortunate aberration, in my opinion.

    On the term ‘Enlightenment’, I was using it in the technical, historical sense. Here, too, I have no quarrel with either your definition or with your drawing lines between it and the developments in various fields that you have mentioned.

    Do we differ?

    Only in matters of detail. I was merely moaning about some anachronisms which appear to have crept in, inadvertently, I am sure. So we can agree happily that secularism and Enlightenment mean more or less the same to us. You will not grudge me my pedantic muttering about the disconnect between the roots of secularism and the Enlightenment, which does not in any way deny that each draws sustenance from the other.

    Regarding the substantive part of your post, if I could call a spade a spade, you are apparently saying that secularism lasted just as long as Christians were dealing with other Christians, and it started breaking down when other religions entered the mix. Specifically, Islam. Which brings us to the last para. of your post of 1:00 pm.

    What you say is moot. It is not that Buddhist temples have been quite so acceptable as all that. Nor, for that matter, Hindus and Hindu temples and Hindu customs or practices. And so on and so forth. I speak here from the point of view of an agnostic, not committed to a fierce, tooth-and-nail defence of any one religion. Even then, it is possible to see that a staunch Hindu, or a Sikh, or a Buddhist would have problems, recurring problems, in coping with Western society and their mores and expectations in general. I am not as sure as you seem to be that Islam has been singled out for persecution.

    Regarding the toleration accorded to the kippah, this seems to be an unfair accusation. Jews have been in Europe, in various parts of Europe, since Roman times, to be precise, from the demolition of the Temple onwards. The history of Judaeo-Christian friction has been recorded and commented on sufficiently to require no particular mention. A world war was fought in which the persecution of the Jews was part of the integral platform of one side. What we see today is the shamed, guilty acceptance by Western Europe (still not by Eastern Europe) of the crimes committed by them against Jews.

    Your basic point was sufficiently well made, whether or not everybody agrees with it (as, for instance, I don’t), without dragging the Jews into it. I say this with no element of censure, merely as an observation.

    The interesting post you made at 2:14 is refreshingly direct. I agree that there were wrongs on both sides, both on the side of the frothing priest and on the side of the cynical manipulators from the spy agencies.

    My personal point of view is that the maximum damage has been caused to the world, after the death of Mao and Pol Pot, by Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher. Their actions caused incalculable harm. The world is still to recover from this time, and I personally doubt that we will at all recover fully.

    I empathise with your sentiments about Western Europe and America having used Islam when it suited them, and demonising it when circumstances changed, but would like to caution you and remind you that they are not alone in using religion for political purposes. You are aware of the BJP and the Sangh Parivar in India; I am referring to a wider phenomenon as well.

  34. Hayyer

    Khullat:
    That’s taking it too far, in fact out of context. Objections to the hijab are not merely religious, quite apart from the controversy about whether it is at all required by religion.
    It is the social and gender implications of the dress that create controversy. If a Muslim woman wants to wear one, without social or family pressure she should be allowed. If the majority of her countrymen find her dress odd or eccentric it is only natural, as they must find turbans, kirpans and other accouterments peculiar to foreign cultures and religions . It is not incumbent upon governments of such countries to adjust their laws and behaviour to such perceived eccentricity.

  35. Khullat

    @ AZW

    Of all the suicide bombings that have taken place, in Pakistan recently, it is a known fact that the explosives were conveniently concealed beneath standard men’s wear. If the government and society are serious about confronting prevailing security issues, religious fanaticism and terrorism, they will have to consider the more relevant factors. Issues such as burqa and niqab will only serve the purpose of distracting attention from the real challenges.

    @ Hayyer

    “It is the social and gender implications of the dress that create controversy”

    In a pluralistic world, there will always be social and gender implications. Other than Scotland, the skirt will remain a gender-specific attire. So there will always be social and gender implications.

    In my opinion, denouncing the burqa and niqab has become, more or less, a popular fashion.

  36. Bin Ismail

    @ vajra

    “…What we see today is the shamed, guilty acceptance by Western Europe (still not by Eastern Europe) of the crimes committed by them against Jews…”

    Secularism, tolerance and accommodation based on principles and insight is true enlightenment. I certainly hope that the West will not require a preceding phase of “crime” followed by guilt, each time, before arriving at the state of “acceptance”.

  37. Malahat

    @ AZW

    “It is the absence of the facial recognition that is the problem with niqab.”

    Interesting. Somehow, nobody ever complained about the “facial recognition” of the political leaders who caused the deaths of millions of innocent civilians, under the garb of war casualties and collateral damage. In Pakistan too, the fanatics who are a continuous source of death and destruction, and all the so-called scholars who extend their tacit approval and sympathies to these terrorists, are all known without any facial anonymity.

    Clearly, the burqa and niqab are not the real issues.

  38. Hayyer

    Khullat:
    It may be fashionable to denounce the burka but never did a fashion such as the burka stand more in need of rationalization. About the same probably as the turban and long hair in the case of the Sikhs. However a hirsute appearance is common enough, and long hair in a pony tail can even be trendy and a beard can make you look like an intellectual.

  39. Ganpat Ram

    All this talk of secualarism for and against is pointless.

    The attack on the niqab is not about secularism.

    The blunt truth is that many Westerners more and more fear the Islamisation of their societies. They see people behaving in ways that are remniscent of oppressive and tyrannical Muslim lands and they do not want this baleful development to overtake their countries. They know that even a minority, if aggressive enough, can cow majorities and impose its own demands – for instance, demanding censorship of books and films that it claims are offensive.

    They see this happening in India.

    The French and some other Western societies hit back by saying, in effect: Muslims can live here, but only according to our patterns of behaviour. If they try to transgress these in the name of Islam, they will have no place here.

    This trend in the West is unstoppable.

  40. Ganpat Ram

    If Muslims are wise they will try to fit in with the societies where they are minorities or immigrants.

    If they are unwise they will refuse to do so.

    They will then suffer the most.

  41. vajra

    @Bin Ismail

    Secularism, tolerance and accommodation based on principles and insight is true enlightenment

    Oh, without any doubt.

    At the cost of nit-picking, my point was that the present acceptance of the kippah is not due to an Islam-centric xenophobia, with all others excluded; or, conversely, it is not that secularism is selectively applied to some sets of religions and not to others. All non-Christian religion has had a mixed reception, with exceptional acceptance in some regions and hostility in others.

    The reason for the seeming exceptional bias against Islam has to be sought in the increasingly aggressive social and political posturing of its proponents, Mullahs and laity alike. The Buddhists have no equivalent, for instance, of Amjed Chaudhury. Where there have been such instances, secularism has broken down in their case equally rapidly; remember what happened to Osho in the US.

    It is about society and about politics, not about religion. Not that things become better thereby.

  42. Ganpat Ram

    Vajra:

    Agreed.

    Even the most tolerant start to become intolerant of those who themselves are bent on expanding the ambit of the intolerant Islamic society.

    Just as in Germany there are limits on Nazi agitation, despite German belief in free speech.

  43. Ganpat Ram

    Muslims have a strong tendency to impose ruthless Islamic intolerance wherever they are a majority and to demand the right to export their social norms in non-Muslim societies.

    This is going to be resisted.

  44. AZW

    Malahat:

    Interesting. Somehow, nobody ever complained about the “facial recognition” of the political leaders who caused the deaths of millions of innocent civilians, under the garb of war casualties and collateral damage. In Pakistan too, the fanatics who are a continuous source of death and destruction, and all the so-called scholars who extend their tacit approval and sympathies to these terrorists, are all known without any facial anonymity

    An issue does not cease to be an issue if there are bigger issues around. We are talking about niqab here. Leave the political leaders and “millions” of civilian deaths talk to the other threads where they are discussed to the bare bones.

    Khullat:

    Of all the suicide bombings that have taken place, in Pakistan recently, it is a known fact that the explosives were conveniently concealed beneath standard men’s wear. If the government and society are serious about confronting prevailing security issues, religious fanaticism and terrorism, they will have to consider the more relevant factors. Issues such as burqa and niqab will only serve the purpose of distracting attention from the real challenges

    First of all, the discussion of Niqab is done here with reference to European and Canadian legislations that are being discussed in their respective assemblies. We are talking specifically about the merits of niqab in a multicultural society that includes Muslims as well as non Muslims. While these points are being raised in the West, it is likely that they will find an audience sometime down the road in Pakistan too.

    Second, there have been more than a few instances where robberies were committed by burqa clad men in Ontario, Canada as well as in the UK. In Pakistan, there have been burqa clad guys killing their targets in broad day light. Yes there have been no suicide bombings yet by niqab wearing bombers, but do you really want to wait for it to happen and then see how an invisible person walking among the crowd can use it for massive destruction?

    Here is a real account. A few months ago, two burqa clad women were milling around in a shopping mall here in Ontario. It was a busy weekend, and right after I looked at them, I found it troubling to see two faceless women walking awkwardly in the middle of a packed crowd. Pretty much everyone in that mall subtly moved away from them; not out of hatred, but just due to the fact that they did not know what to expect from two faceless people. The anonymity of an all covering black dress can be quite disturbing for all people; whether they happen to be black, white, or brown.

  45. Bin Ismail

    @ vajra

    “…It is about society and about politics, not about religion. Not that things become better thereby…”

    Well said. This is precisely why I keep on insisting that State and Religion must be separated. Perceptive people like you, are not a common commodity. The overwhelming majority, for many ages to come may never actually be able to even differentiate between society, politics and religion. These entities will remain susceptible to inadvertent blending. Hence, the greater responsibility will always rest on the state, to ensure that statecraft and religion are kept distinctly apart.

  46. Ganpat Ram

    Free expression is all very well.

    But you have to realistically ask what will be the long term result if Islamic norms are accepted in the name of free expression.

    As society becomes Islamised, what may have begun as free expression becomes a coercive instrument for frightening women. In some French areas with heavy Muslim population, even native French women feel frightened to go out without hijab. In Western countries, the media out of sheer fear censor criticisms of Islam that are thought dangerous.

    The same happens in India.

    Thus Muslims, through fear, are exercising control even in non-Muslim countries.

    The niqab controversy belongs in this context. It is seen as the advance signal of approaching Islamisation. The free societies are fighting back.

  47. Ganpat Ram

    Mke no mistake.

    In the West, in India, people are frightened of Islamisation.

    They mean to fight back.

  48. Khullat

    @ AZW

    I appreciate the over-all logic of your argument. Point well taken.

    The results of a quantitative comparison between “suspected burqa-clad persons” and “established burqa-less terrorists” are so glaring, that the “burqa issue” appears to serve only as a decoy. The remains of successful suicide bombers have revealed shalwar-kameez-clad bombers as well as shirts&trousers-clad ones. To conceal the explosive, a terrorist would most likely opt for a loose-fit jacket or even an over-coat than a burqa.

    If the concern is security, and governments are serious, the ban should be a realistic one, encompassing jackets, coats, over-coats, cloaks, woolen shawls and even ajraks.

  49. Ganpat Ram

    KHULLAT:

    In the long run, the concern IS security.

    Security from an Islamised society where the freedoms currently enjoyed will be gone.

    Banning the niqab and other manifestations of Islamism CERTAINLY violates free expression.

    You are dead right on that.

    But Western societies are beginning to think such violations of free expression for ISLAM is what it will take to preserve the existing freedoms of the non-Muslims.

  50. Khullat

    @ Ganpat Ram

    “But Western societies are beginning to think such violations of free expression for ISLAM is what it will take to preserve the existing freedoms of the non-Muslims.”

    This thinking so closely resembles the thinking of the Mullahs. The Mullahs, too, believe in violating the other’s freedom for the sake of what they deem as their own. “Great people” think alike.

  51. Malahat

    @ Khullat

    “…“Great people” think alike…”

    …and fools seldom differ.

  52. jibran ahmed

    why doesn’t PTH have a facebook page like ATP does???every article uploaded automatically shows up on facebook homepage, not having a facebook page has severely restricted the audience for this site.Also, there is no option of sharing these articles by email or by posting it to one’s facebook page for others to see.On the mainstream media one doesn’t get the chance to hear or be exposed to alternative views.It is the same rigid,intolerant,unquestioning bs that everyone believes in.

  53. vajra

    @Bin Ismail

    Again, it seems that we agree on the premises, not necessarily entirely on the conclusions.

    It is quite evident from even a cursory study of recent history (or ancient history, for that matter) that the state is not to be trusted. Without going so far as BCiv’s views on the state, I would imagine that the state must indeed perform some minimal duties in keeping governance and religion apart, I put it to you that what is needed in addition is an active body of citizens keeping a watchful eye on the state, including their elected representatives.

    Gorki would have it that the American state is among the best ordered. Look at the sewage that is emerging from its secret video records of military action. Who can trust the state?

  54. Ganpat Ram

    KHULLAT:

    The existing freedoms of Western society are real enough.

    They are well worth making sure that society does not become Islamised, when we know well the consequences of that.

    Muslims tend to suppress ruthlessly every non-Muslim current in their societies, and demand unlimited right to Islamise non-Muslim ones.

    This tendency will be resisted.

  55. Ganpat Ram

    KHULLAT:

    By the way, western freedoms are for practically anyone who plays by the rules of reciporocal tolerance.

    Westerners draw the line (or are beginning to) only with those who obviously mean to destroy that freewheeling society.

  56. Ganpat Ram

    Canada is NOT rejecting multiculturalism.

    Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Sikhism, moderate Islam, etc are flourishing there.

    Canada is rejecting Islamism, which it correctly recognises as a force for inculcating a mentality of violent alienation.

  57. Khullat

    @ Ganpat Ram

    Thank you for elucidating. Most certainly, I would agree with you on the following points:

    1. Nobody will be prepared to accept someone who is inclined to even attempt to “ruthlessly suppress” other members of the society. The clergy as well as the pro-clergy tend to have this inclination, which rightfully makes them unacceptable. Of course we must realize that coercion can be of many kinds, and also this inclination is not found exclusively in the Muslim clergy.

    2. There is a difference between what is now being termed as “Islamism” and what is now being termed as “moderate Islam”. I have used the phrase {what is now being termed as} because in principle, I consider both these terms, Islamism and moderate Islam, as incorrect. Islam is Islam. The suffix of ‘ism’ suggests a political form of Islam, but again, in my opinion, the term ‘politicized Islam’ would perhaps have been more appropriate. But then again, it depends on which interpretation of Islam is being politicized. The problem with the term of ‘moderate Islam’ is that to my understanding, Islam is innately moderate. As far as the cleric’s Islam is concerned, it is about as rigid as the pundit’s Hinduism or the padre’s Christianity.

  58. Bin Ismail

    @ vajra

    True. I couldn’t possibly disagree with you on that. The state alone would never be enough. The entire society has to be sensitized. The clergy has to be kept at bay. As far as corruptibility goes, politicians are as corruptible as the clergy. Why I tend to emphasize on separating state from religion, is because by mingling the two, the process of legislation is influenced.

  59. Ganpat Ram

    KHULLAT:

    No one in Canada is afraid of pundits or padres. Countless people fear Islam and do NOT (repeat: N-O-T) want Canada Islamised.

    The niqab is rejected for that reason.

  60. Khullat

    @ Ganpat Ram

    This is because Islam is taken as the Islam of the Mullah. If you offer the Canadians the Christianity of the Clergy responsible for the infamous Spanish Inquisition, they would NOT (repeat:N-O-T) want Canada Christianized either.

  61. Ganpat Ram

    KHULLAT:

    No-one, thank God, is offering Canada the Christianity of the Inquision.

    The only Inquisition-type religion today trying to gain a foothold in Canada through such tactics as spreading the use of the niqab is Islam, and Canadians say: “No, thank you.”

  62. Prasad

    @fair mind


    Today in India there are over 170 million Muslims. they eat cow meat. They are NOT arabs. Their ancestors and great grandparents were HINDU.
    But then these Hindus got tired of worshipping Penis, Monkey and Cow gods. And they converted to Islam and started eating their former god (cow).
    Would you say, “they should leave India”? ”

    well said indeed. shows what your mom taught you. It is only ‘this’ attitude of offensive justifications that has brought Muslims tremendous disrepute worldwide. Every remark is attacked vociferously. Pray tell me what part of comment from Ganpat prompted you to writing such UTTERLY derogatory comments on Hindu practices ( i am not even sure you even understand 0.5% of the religion to make such remarks)?? Look at the difference between a so called ‘fundamental’ Ganpat’s comments v/s your ‘secular’ justification.

    God help your tribe.

  63. Khullat

    @ Ganpat Ram

    You may not agree with me, and I’m quite sure that you won’t. However, if the clergy of any religion – Islam, Christianity, Hinduism or Judaism is given inroads into politics, they are all capable of Inquisitions. They all have had their own days of Inquisition-style politics. They are all capable of repeating history. To imagine otherwise would be a classic demonstration of unpragmatic naivety.

    Meanwhile, my response to your “no thank you” is “thank you”.

  64. Ganpat Ram

    If Muslims get a reputatuion for terrible intolerance, people everywhere will start being tough and intolerant with THEM.

    They are a big community. Their intolerance is a very serious and threatening matter.

    It’s as simple as that.

  65. Khullat

    @ Ganpat Ram

    From the topic of “niqab”, you have with impressive adroitness, shifted the discussion to what you categorize as the “terrible intolerance of Muslims”. Speaking in earnest, if this debate is to be further pursued along your proposed lines of religious prejudice, a decent discussion is not very likely.

    Amusingly, you exhibit “terrible intolerance” for the Muslims you hold guilty of “terrible intolerance”. Your “intolerance is a very serious and threatening matter” too.

    Physician, heal thyself.

  66. Luq

    @Khullat

    Very well said. But all water off a ducks back.
    The diagnosis is chronic Islamophobia.
    BTW, the trolls getting a royal ignore here, if you’ve noticed.

    Luq

  67. Prasad

    somebody is getting smarter by the hour!!

  68. Luq

    yea Milind.🙂

    Luq

  69. Ganpat Ram

    Khullat:

    There is indeed a limit beyond which even the most tolerant people – which Westerners certainly are – will not tolerate the intolerant.

    The Nazis found that out, too.

    The real danger is Muslim intolerance.

  70. Khullat

    @Ganpat Ram

    Quoting you:”The real danger is Muslim intolerance”

    You have so eloquently revealed both your own awe-inspiring tolerance and your amazingly bias-free thoughts.

    I would have simply put it this way: the real danger is “intolerance”.

    Goodbye for now.

  71. Ganpat Ram

    Here is a report about burka-clad suicide bombers killing 38 people in Pakistan:

    http://news.outlookindia.com/item.aspx?679625

    Maybe that is why westerners have doubts about the burka and nikab.

  72. Khullat

    @ Ganpat Ram

    One can’t help but admire your objectivity. I can only guess how many links you may have collected – links revealing stories of suicide bombers who somehow – to your disappointment, forgot to slip into their standard outfit of the burqa, prior to blowing themselves up.

    @ silk router

    I’m sure you may have already examined, with equal keenness, the features of the “godless totalitarianism” of the Stalin era.