French President Nicolas Sarkozy has spoken out strongly against the wearing of the burka by Muslim women in France.
“We cannot accept to have in our country women who are prisoners behind netting, cut off from all social life, deprived of identity,” Mr Sarkozy told a special session of parliament in Versailles.
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Many Indian Muslim women in cities and small towns can barely veil their disgust over French president Nicolas Sarkozy’s comments on the burqa. From the college lecturer in Mumbai to the young married woman in Bihar’s Munger to the student in Lucknow — all say the burqa is an article of faith, a pillar of support.
“It is so embarrassing that a head of state can make such an ill-conceived statement. There’s simply no compulsion to wear a burqa,” says Jamia Millia geography professor Haseena Hashia, member of Muslim Law Board.
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I think it’s something tricky France is attempting to do. You can’t really separate religion from the culture that accompanies it. And I think India’s long since accepted this.
Don’t get me wrong. I personally would never cover myself from head to foot just to “protect” myself from someone else’s “evil intentions”. I think it’s the one who has “evil intentions” who should probably wear blinders or a blindfold to keep his evilness in check. But if someone thinks a burqa works towards protecting them, who am I to judge? How is that any different from me driving to the grocery store that’s maybe half a kilometer away just because it’s “after dark”? It’s not any safer, really. But it surely makes me feel better.
Just as my not wearing tank tops and shorts and looking terribly out of place in the American Summer doesn’t make me oppressed, I don’t see why an educated woman making a free choice to wear a scarf or veil should be judged as oppressed.
I think it’s time the burqa was judged more for how it makes the woman feel than how it makes the observers feel.