Sunday, October 31, 2010

Behind the Veil: Sharia

Is it unfair to point to the growing number of women and girls in hijab as evidence of the Sharia law the mayor and others flatly deny exists here in Dearborn?

In my unscientific reckoning the number of women in Dearborn wearing hijab is increasing. Whether or not this means that more Sharia-compliant women are immigrating to Dearborn, or that more assimilated women who’ve been living here are being pressured to adopt hijab, I can’t say. I can say that the choice to cover is inconsistent with a desire to assimilate into American culture. I say that even more emphatically for the niqab and the chador. It’s possible to be modest without hiding your hair.

The hijab isn’t only an ethnic or cultural phenomenon, like the hookah or lamb dishes. It’s strictly religious. It’s Sharia. And if the headscarf as a gesture of female modesty in dress were the extent of Sharia, it might even be admirable, considering the sexual excesses of the times.

But the headscarf is not the extent of Sharia. It’s more like a signpost letting you know you’ve just entered the precincts of Islam. The weight of its symbolism is significant even in Islamic nations like Turkey, where it was banned, and where it’s re-appearance terrifies secularists who recognize it as the vanguard of Islamist radicalism even in the home of the caliphate. It’s important enough that bin Laden cited France’s “burqa ban” as one of the reasons for going to war on French interests.

Professor Iqbal Al-Gharbi, a Muslim scholar from the Islamic Zaytouna University in Tunis, explained it this way: “The veil is just the tip of the iceberg. Behind the veil, there is the regressive interpretation of the sharia [Koranic law]. There are the three essential inequalities which define this interpretation: inequality between man and woman, between Muslim and non-Muslim, between free man and slave.”

Do many women and girls in America cover themselves voluntarily? Sure they do. Are there also many who feel they have little choice? I can’t believe that doesn’t happen, too. It happens in other countries, and not only Saudi Arabia and Iran and Hamas-ruled Gaza. According to a 2003 survey conducted in France, “77 percent of girls wearing the hijab said they did so because of physical threats from Islamist groups.”

Muslim women who try to rebel are considered “whores” and treated as outcasts. Some of them want to move to areas “with no Muslims” to escape. However, that might not be a solution, as Islamists are at work all over France. The Communist newspaper L'Humanit√© in 2003 interviewed two Catholic-born French women who said they had converted to Islam and started wearing the niqab after systematic indoctrination by the Muslim Brotherhood.
The following story is from Tuesday’s Washington Times:
Three years ago, my husband and I were walking through London's Heathrow Airport on the way to our honeymoon in Italy. Men in the traditional Islamic garb of Saudi Arabia were walking through the security checkpoints behind us.

To my surprise, my husband, a man who was raised by an observant Muslim mother, stopped to watch as they went through security. He wanted to make sure the employees checked each man thoroughly. My husband had just returned from his homeland of Iraq, where he had been working as an Arabic translator with U.S. soldiers. When my husband saw certain Muslim garb, he naturally felt nervous.

His niece, an observant Muslim who fasts during Ramadan even though it leaves her parched and tired at work, feels nervous when she sees men whose appearance expresses extreme Muslim observance, such as men with a long, thick beards without mustaches. While she lived in Iraq, she learned to fear those who wanted to imitate most closely seventh-century norms of dress. Why? One day when she was in a salon in Baghdad, men came in and told her in threatening tones that her dress was “un-Islamic.” They told her she needed to change her clothes or she would “be punished.” She never understood why. She was wearing the hijab and covering her arms and legs. The men waited for her in a car outside the salon. Out of fear, my niece called male relatives to come and pick her up. Now that she is in the United States, she will walk out of Starbucks, never mind an airplane, if she sees men dressed in Islamic styles associated with hard-line ideas, even though she knows the hard-liners in Iraq often dressed in Western clothes in order to blend in. . . .In Ed Husain’s excellent book, “The Islamist” (Penguin Global, 2008), the author describes how older and devoutly Muslim parents of Southeast Asian heritage in London feel nervous when their children adopt seventh-century Middle Eastern styles. Such dress is foreign to their heritage. The parents are not bigots. They are concerned with the radicalism the dress can sometimes indicate.
The point isn’t headscarves, but the advance of Sharia in the United States. Muslim Brotherhood spokesmen and useful media idiots have taken maximum advantage of the recent Sharron Angle remarks to reframe the misinformation about Sharia in America from its innocuousness (Faisal Abdul Rauf saying the Constitution has many elements of Islamic law) to the hilarious fact that Sharia doesn’t exist. The very subject of Sharia in the USA, mocks Islamist Reza Aslan at The Daily Beast “is a bit like passing a federal law banning Americans from riding unicorns.” (“America's Anti-Islam Hysteria”).

Very funny. Except no teenage girls were ever executed by their father on orders from a unicorn.


Wendy Woodley said...

It seems to me that France's banning public wearing of the burqa is a protection of and blessing to the Muslim women living there.

Dearborn Observer said...

I have had recent conversations with young Muslim women who say it was their choice to wear the hijab. But it was their father who gave them that choice. Some would say that when it is the male authority figure who decides the females' freedoms, the women are not truly free.

Also, last year in Dearborn, a 57-year old woman told me she only started wearing the hijab and the loose, nun-like clothing after 9/11. In fact, it was only after her daughter was pressured by their local imam to wear that garb, and then did, that she herself started wearing it. "My religion requires it," she told me. I didn't argue, but this woman told me that nobody wore the hijab in high school at Fordson when she attended, and graduated in 1970. Only recently have the imams pressured women to revert to non-American dress. If you pull up the Free Press articles on the subject - which are always, strangely, supportive of this repressive practice - it is usually stated that the imams put pressure on the women to conform to their practices. The woman I spoke to, and her daughter, are examples.

I think Dearborn schools should ban the hijab on the grounds of supporting womens' rights. That will never happen, but it should.