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Laïcité

July 17, 2009

WARNING:- A VERY LONG POST

Many sources and individuals have been referred to in this post. Therefore I can take credit for the post only in part.

The thoughts and the stand taken herein are however solely mine. And I am responsible for any views expressed in the post.

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If the post is too long for you to read then please just leave your opinion on the proposed ban in the comment section.Though a swift glance at the various links and quoted text would help make matters more clear.I know it was so for me.

burqabanfrance
photo courtesy superblinkymac flickr user

“What is freedom? Freedom is the right to choose: the right to create for oneself the alternatives of choice.” -Archibald MacLeish

“Freedom is not merely the opportunity to do as one pleases; neither is it merely the opportunity to choose between set alternatives. Freedom is, first of all, the chance to formulate the available choices, to argue over them — and then, the opportunity to choose.” -C.Wright Mills

What is freedom?
Choices. Above and any other.This one word is what freedom is all about. The word that is the foundation of freedom. Not just the freedom to choose A OR B. But the freedom to choose both or neither. OR the freedom to come up with a choice C.

In the world of today, one that is getting increasingly democratic (or atleast one would hope so). In this world EVERYONE has the freedom to do whet they want. Do what they please as long as it does not break rules (rules laid down in a democratic society) OR impinge upon the freedom of others.

Here however, a new rule is being proposed. One that seeks to ban the burqa from public space. Indeed from any space at all save perhaps, the VERY private one(but then one wonders if a burqa was to be worn inside the home at all)

“In our country, we cannot accept that women be prisoners behind a screen, cut off from all social life, deprived of all identity. The burqa is not a religious sign, it’s a sign of subservience, a sign of debasement — I want to say it solemnly. It will not be welcome on the territory of the French Republic.”

Sarkozy said a few words and it has led to a heated debate all over the world.
Are we ready for an all out ban on the burqa? Are burqas really a sign of subservience? Does Islam approve of the burqa?Does it sanction it? Are those who wear the burqa virtual prisoners in their home? Are they oppressed? Subjugated?

And whether they are oppressed or are not, JUST HOW will one ensure and know which woman has worn it out of choice and which one has worn it  against her will?

But lets leave the questions aside for a moment.

Lets look at  what secularism means in France and the steps taken to make its foundation even more solid.

In  French, laïcité (pronounced [la.i.siˈte]) is a French concept of a secular society connoting the absence of religious involvement in government affairs as well as absence of government involvement in religious affairs.

Supporters argue that Laïcité by itself does not necessarily imply any hostility of the government with respect to religion.

Critics of laïcité argue that it is a disguised form of anti clericalism and individual right to religious expression, and that, instead of promoting freedom of thought and freedom of religion, it prevents the believer from observing his or her religion.

France’s strict secularism, entrenched by law since 1905, keeps religion firmly out of the state sphere. There are no religious studies (let alone nativity plays) in state schools, nor may public workers sport the headscarf. The government denies that such policies constrain religious freedom or are especially aimed at Islam. France welcomes private Muslim schools. Mosque-building is widespread. The 2004 headscarf ban outlawed “conspicuous” religious symbols of all faiths. Yet there are growing worries about the spread of hard-line Islamism in the heavily Muslim banlieues. [LINK]

Also let us not forget that paragon of ‘virtue’ the protector of not just our ‘sabhyata’ but apparently (and this is news to me) of sabhyata the world over.

Describing Sarkozy as `tagdaa manoos’ (strong man), Saamna said the French president showed no consideration to the regressive Muslim clergy in his country. “He told the Muslim leaders in no uncertain terms that they will have to fully and completely adhere to the laws of France. India’s woes will end if we get someone like Sarkozy as our head.”[LINK]

Ughhhhhh! Why am I not surprised?

Moving on….

One is sorely tempted to question Sarkozy and his (in)famous credentials as a politician and a man. But that would lead to an ad hominem argument, something that one should avoid.
But it cannot be denied even by the most fierce supporter of Sarkozy that this stance is nothing but a ploy to score some political brownie points.

“Sarkozy’s whole thing has been to capture votes from the National Front, the far-right French party,” Scott says. “Anti-immigrant politics is a huge part of that. Sarkozy has taken this position all along that he is the champion of Frenchness. It plays well politically for him to find issues where he can declare himself the protector of French national identity.” [link]

So let me simply say this.
In a nation that has already banned religious symbols be they of any kind in government offices and in educational institutions..in that country taking this ban a step further by banning the burqa(or any other religious symbol) in the public space is going too far.

The public space be it a park or on the roads, in one’s own car, or the metro or simply walking on the sidewalk is one’s PUBLIC space and I cannot for the life of me see how the government has ANY right to interfere or DICTATE.

And have no doubts that this is high handedness and not secularism for it seeks to make choices for human beings who (contrary to Mr Sarkozy’s opinion and to that of others)  DO have a mind of their own.

The proposal for the  ban has been supported by various feminist groups. But that in itself does NOT give any greater legitimacy to the idea.

If anything it should make the feminist groups shudder in horror for, the choice is once again being taken away from women.


It is tempting to assert our privilege and play upon the understanding of those that wear the burqa as uniquely oppressed, however if we allow this sentiment to prevail we are devaluing the very bodies we claim to be concerned about. Agency can only be affirmed though the promotion of choice and a respect for the ways in which we differ. A monolithic construct of femininity is something we should uniformly fight against as it is the basis of all woman centered oppression.
[LINK]

And so in the end, a ban putatively passed to further women’s rights could instead impinge on their freedom, and take from them something they value. Even worse, it could lead to those in the most fundamentalist of households being trapped inside their homes altogether. It would be cruel to limit these women’s options in the name of liberation, even if their clothes are a rebuke to the secularism that the French rightly hold sacred.

[LINK]

There are many topics that one thinks about but is unable to decide as to precisely which side one is on. And for me this was one of them.

As I told a friend,” I think I am going to sit this one out”…and I would have too, but writing this post has helped. And by the end of it I now know where I stand.

There are many who support the ban and there are many who oppose it. And with very rational reasons too. The Rector of the Paris Mosque for example supports the proposal to an extent.

This latest call for a potential ban of the burka has prompted the head of the French Council for the Muslim Religion to warn MPs they risk stigmatising Muslims again.

But the special inquiry does have the backing of Dalil Boubakeur, rector of the Paris Mosque and a former head of the Muslim council, who insists that Islam in France should be an “open and convivial Islam that allows people to live side by side”.


But why do we always forget? Forget that freedom is not either ‘this’ or ‘that’. It is this, that, and many others. All of which we have the right to CHOOSE.

Freedom is all about choices.

A burqa might or might not be worn out of choice. It might or might not be a sign of subjugation. I personally do not like the ‘idea’ of this garment called the burqa. I don’t like the fact that women are reduced to being invisible beings who seem not human but almost like automatons. They seem dehumanized somehow.

Also the original rationale behind the burqa offends me immensely.

That women are nothing but sex objects and thus they have to be covered at all times so as not to tempt men is deeply insulting. Insulting for not just the women but the men too if they have any self respect .

I personally find the hijab better as far as emphasizing the humaneness of the wearer goes.
hijab

Hijab is an Arabic word meaning barrier or partition.

In Islam, however, it has a broader meaning. It is the principle of modesty and includes behaviour as well as dress for both males and females.

The most visible form of hijab is the head covering that many Muslim women wear. Hijab however goes beyond the head scarf. In one popular school of Islamic thought, hijab refers to the complete covering of everything except the hands, face and feet in long, loose and non see-through garments. A woman who wears hijab is called Muhaajaba.

Muslim women are required to observe the hijab in front of any man they could theoretically marry. This means that hijab is not obligatory in front of the father, brothers, grandfathers, uncles or young children.

Hijab does not need to be worn in front of other Muslim women, but there is debate about what can be revealed to non-Muslim women.

The Qur’an makes a few references to Muslim clothing, but prefers to point out more general principles of modest dress.

Say to the believing men that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty: that will make for greater purity for them: And Allah is well acquainted with all that they do.24:30

And say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty; that they should not display their beauty and ornaments except what (must ordinarily) appear thereof; that they should draw their veils over their bosoms and not display their beauty except to their husbands, [a list of relatives], [household servants], or small children who have no sense of the shame of sex; and that they should not strike their feet in order to draw attention to their hidden ornaments. And O ye Believers! turn ye all together towards Allah, that ye may attain Bliss.24:31

[MORE HERE]


The reason I have quoted some verses from the Quran is because  this is also a religious issue for the believers of that faith. So to say that it is merely a political issue and not a religious one is to fool oneself. For millions the very idea of the ban is an affront to their personal faith and all that they hold dear.

Meanwhile Christopher Hitchens has his own view on things.

Is this forcible French secularism run amok, or a prohibition that Americans, who often believe we have struck a better balance between church and state, might entertain? I would say the latter…

The whole point of the garment is that it weighs you down, restricts your movements and abolishes your peripheral vision. It’s like being condemned to view the world through the slit of a mailbox..o. It is quite plainly designed by men for the subjugation of women. One cannot be absolutely sure that no woman has ever donned it voluntarily, but one can certainly say that, in countries where women can choose not to wear it, then not wearing it is the choice they generally make.

This disposes right away of the phony argument that religious attire is worn as a matter of “right.” It is almost exactly the other way around: The imposition of burkas or even head scarfs on women – just like the compulsory growing of beards for men – is the symbol of a denial of rights and the inflicting of a tyrannical code that obliterates personal liberty.


I agree with Hitchens to an extent. But then again what of choice? What of the women who DO want to have that choice? He makes a generalization , one that says that generally women will choose NOT to wear the burqa.

How? How did he arrive at this conclusion all on his own? Is he peeking into their minds?

Is he a mind reader? For a man whose views give me food for thought usually,  this is something that I strongly disagree with. But then a polemicist is not expected to say anything otherwise.

This is a dicey issue. One where secularism clashes with the freedom of choice. With individual liberty.

The strongest argument (and a rational one in my opinion) comes from Norm Geras.

The public space in a secular democracy is not an atheist public space. Secularism means that no religion is favoured or specially catered for; but it leaves people free to wear the religious insignia they choose to or not to wear any. To insist on a notion of secularism that would forbid the wearing of these items is the equivalent of insisting that secularism prohibits religious belief and its expression, which it patently does not…

(I)f there are some or many women whose own choice it is to wear the burka, a legal ban on their doing so does not uphold their equal citizenship; it does the opposite, making them unique amongst citizens in not being allowed to express their religious or non-religious identity as they choose….

Does the law need to intervene in this matter at all? Why may it not be dealt with by the influence of education, social criticism and the like? Many in Western societies find it an obstruction to interacting with people if their faces are hidden. There is nothing to stop those who feel this way from expressing their preference as and when appropriate.

While one understands that laïcité is an essential component of French identity infact its very bedrock. Yet there  surely has to be a limit , a boundary if you will that has to be drawn around it.

French laïcité cannot be  understood without taking into account the struggle against clericalism.

Laïcité does NOT exclude religious expression from  the public sphere.

Moreover Laïcité has to be redefined in light of the new wave of cultural pluralism that not just France but most countries of the world are a witness to.

No religion or rather religious symbols  in educational institutions ?Yes, I can understand that. None in government offices? Yes, I can understand that too.

But a ban on a CHOICE of dress? That too outside these two places?

So what is the difference between the Taliban dictating what should be worn and the French government dictating what shouldn’t be?

This proposed ban seems anything BUT productive. If anything it seems to be counterproductive.

I have said it before and I will say it again.

The most correct point will NOT work  when it’s rammed down one’s throat .

In this respect I admire the concept of secularism enshrined in the Indian Constitution above any other. (even if our leaders have made a mockery out of it)

One that talks of धर्मनिरपेक्षता or indifference towards religion.

The philosophy that the Indian constitution upholds on to is a kind of   secular humanism made relevant through a historical development of the ideology within the context of religious pluralism in India.


And in that cultural and religious pluralism lies the key to the whole debate. Secularism in today’s world has to make room for multi-culturalism and religious pluralism.

Indian concept of secularism  does not talk of an almost radical secularism or a complete break between the state and religion.(though come to think of it that does sound like a good idea IF and ONLY IF practiced  in moderation)

But one that says that no bans are necessary for, it is each individual’s right to follow his/her religion or none at all.


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Meanwhile there has been atleast one sensible statement made by the Swedish Justice Minister.

The 27-nation EU must not dictate an Islamic dress code, Ask said, adding that “the European Union is a union of freedom.”

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PS:- For friends and others please feel absolutely free to disagree.

Trolls please be civil while writing your comment.

Oh what the hell! what am I saying?

That’s what you trolls are NOT known for right?

Well. hehe!hehe! But then that’s what I have comment moderation for  😀

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152 Comments leave one →
  1. July 17, 2009 4:46 pm

    I know only one thing that the choice be left to the person who wears it. I have seen many women even living in west,who like wearing Burqa.
    me- Yes, Renu I agree with you wholeheartedly.The choice should be left to the wearer to decide.

    But i agree to this point also and strongly feel that people living in anycountry must follow the code of conduct and sensibilities of that country.
    me- I agree to an extent. A person who goes to or lives in a particular place should certainly respect the laws of that land as well as its culture.
    But the reality also is that France has the largest percentage of muslims in Europe.
    All of whom are the citizens of France. So theoretically and in principle these citizens should have an EQUAL say in what the rules of the country are going to be.

  2. July 17, 2009 5:13 pm

    m i ???
    me- *sigh*
    *sigh*

  3. July 17, 2009 5:17 pm

    holy moly what is this… this is long even by Indyeah standards… !!!!!!!!!

    okay let me get some snacks and coffee…
    me- kahaan?
    *Indy looks again at the post*
    come on Dhiren! yeh toh chotu sa teeny weeny post hai :mrgreen:

    remember something sleeps when you blog a lot !!!! 😛 😛
    me- ROFL! 😛

    • July 17, 2009 10:30 pm

      dude I read this in one go and it is really awesome!! I don’t think this is all that long 😉 if you want something long , check out my long poems 😉

      me- LOL! 😀
      yeah check out Vishesh’s long poems too
      they give one food for thought 🙂

      Thanks a lot Vishesh 🙂 🙂

      • July 17, 2009 10:56 pm

        its awesome is right… !!

        I said its long before reading it !!
        me-thank you hai ji 😀
        long NAHIN hai! 😛 😛

        ur poems nvm ??? lol… 😛 😛 he he..

        no re…

        jokes apart Blogs are our own spaces and we may use it the way we like… if some one has a problem he may go away simple…

        and I have no probs with Indy’s long posts… I m gonna write longer than hers… and make people read… 👿
        me- LOL!!! *Indy so so proud of bro *
        :mrgreen:
        sab shiksha kaam aa rahi hai 😀
        aise hi lambe post likho …tathastu! 😀

    • Sindhu permalink
      July 19, 2009 4:02 pm

      me too going to get snacks and will come back to read this more leisurely…and with all the seriousness it needs!
      me- LOL!! okay 😀

  4. July 17, 2009 5:26 pm

    Oh 😦
    me- LOL! you mean oh! I didnt come first? 😀

    • Swaram permalink
      July 20, 2009 10:33 am

      Yeah 😦 Nowhere close na 😛 Meaningless comment 😉
      me- 😆

  5. July 17, 2009 5:33 pm

    So touched by your effort to express the other side of the picture! Freedom to wear what one wishes includes the freedom to wear the burqa too, if the woman herself has chosen to, I feel.
    me- yes, the key word is freedom here. Freedom to wear what one wants to.

    And wearing symbols of one’s faith or culture should not be deemed wrong, I think. It helps us keep in touch with who we are, and to feel rooted. I chose to wear one myself, not at all due to any family pressure(they did not quite want me to) but as a sign of adherence to my faith (I was going through a time of self discovery) and for that sense of protection that I felt when I wore one!
    me- Thanks a lot for sharing Fathy.
    Because in assuming (as so many of us do)that women are wearing the burqa for X, Y ,Z reasons we are making a lot of assumptions on our own while we have no clue of the complete reality.

    We are looking at a subjugated lot and taking them to be the face of the whole female population of a particular religion.

    So nice of you to write this Indyeah, and you have done it so well! Hugs! :)))
    me- thank you so much Fathy 🙂 (((hugs))back:)

    • Fathy permalink
      July 18, 2009 9:17 pm

      Thanks Love! And I did forget to mention that i wear hijab and abaya only,not the face veil!
      me- you are welcome 🙂
      yes I know… I have seen the pic 🙂

  6. July 17, 2009 5:40 pm

    You said it. Choice, freedom…the individual to choose to wear it or ditch it, should be given to those who wear it. I’m sure there’l be many who’d still want to , but at least they’l be doing for their own will and reasons.

    me- to wear it or to ditch it. yes thats the whole point. Thats what freedom is all about.
    And this is a brilliant post. Great research 😀

    me- thanks a lot 🙂

  7. July 17, 2009 5:53 pm

    I just feel its upto each n every individual what they want to do! I have Islamic friends who fall into both the categories – I have seen them wearing the burkha only in front of their elders to remove it and stuff it into their bag on being out of sight. But, I have also seen their elders who are so used to staying with it all day that they don’t feel comfortable without it .. its been an age-long practice for them
    me- YEs, its upto each individual absolutely!
    . we cannot possibly presume things and make decisions for them all based on what we think is ‘right’
    and like you said about the people you know… some wear it due to tradition even if they dont want to..while some are comfortable in it(though from your example they are admittedly from an older generation)
    the point is that the new generation if given a CHOICE might opt NOT to wear it but first the choice should be there…instead of Telling them what to do..

    I loved those words by Norm Geras .. practical!
    me- me too..

    • July 17, 2009 9:59 pm

      I agree with you Swaram and Indy Darling – super post!
      One of your best yet…
      me-thanks:)
      I agree.. Freedom is choice.
      Freedom is the choice, the right to choose whether to wear a hijab or purdah or anything else for that matter.
      It is again, individual choice.
      me- Individual choice ..exactly! a situation where the ‘individual ‘ is of paramount importance

      And the sayings – all of them are very nice, very practical 🙂
      me- 🙂

      • July 18, 2009 12:31 am

        I agree with Swaram too. Even i have seen some who wore burqas due to family pressure and then those who feel comfortable..one elderly Hindu lady we know, stays in an arab country. She wears a burqa too..Thats the norm.. errr actually ‘rule’ there and she has grown accustomed to it over the course of years.
        And this is so debatable, the rules are Imposed there and now in France too..
        me- yes like you said and Swaram did too in the examples she gave that some choose to wear it while some have to wear it not of their own accord but because they are made to..whether in the name of tradition, whether forcibly or otherwise…

        about women not just Muslim but even others being forced to wear it in Arab countries?yes thats WRONG….but then so is France’s proposed ban on this dress…because then I see no difference between the Tyrannical Arab countries and France that is supposed to be a secular , democratic nation.

        As you said rules imposed there?and now here too?
        Thats the crux of the matter.

        But one may think of the repercussions. Its a double edged sword- for the women who have a choice- the gvt has taken it away. For women who wear it under societal/ family pressure- well they may be more restricted now, to even step out of the house, hopefully not. but who knows.. it seems a possibility.
        is there not enough being imposed already, is there a need to add to the list ?
        me-
        oh yes! double edged sword is exactly the right word!
        is there not enough being imposed already, is there a need to add to the list ? you said it!
        I mean for a moment I pause to think of the many , many women who will now not be able to step out of their house at all.. if they were forced to wear the burqa earlier and were oppressed NOW their situation turns even worse..what of them???? if earlier they could wear it and go into the outside world under the ‘protection’ of the burqa (ior so it must have been in the eyes of their conservative family members atleast) what now though? or more precisely what after the ban?
        their one window to the outside world would be closed

  8. July 17, 2009 6:19 pm

    Finally your new post is here :)….will come back soon..running for a meeting 😦
    me- okay..will look forward to your views:)

  9. July 17, 2009 6:28 pm

    This is not an easy one by any standards and anything one says will be controversial. But here goes.

    That the burkha is not a mandatory religious dress is evident from the fact that Kashmiri Muslim women never wore it till the guys with AK47s landed up. In Indonesia and Malaysia too few women wear it. The same is the case in many other countries too. Had it been laid down explicitly that a woman has to be put into a sack so that men might not see her, then the practice would have been followed without deviation all over the world ever since the time of the Prophet.

    me- I agree Sir. There is no law/rule/tradition that Dictates that women wear the burqa. ANd yes, it has been forced in quite a few places.

    The hijab is meant only for Muslim women. But, even non-Muslim women are compelled to wear it in some Islamic countries where women are by law treated as chattel. That is, of course, no justification for not allowing Muslim women to not follow the dictates of their religion in a free society.
    me- yes again I agree. Its wrong when any woman be it a muslim or non muslim is ‘forced ‘ to wear it. And yes this happens specifically in countries where as you said women are treated like chattel….

    But, then comes the next question. Is man to remain stuck in a medieval age and blindly follow the customs of a primitive society by covering it with the cloak of religion because it suits him to keep women oppressed? Muslims say that Adam and Eve were the first Muslims in the world. Eve did not wear clothes at all. So should not that be reason enough for women, both Christian and Muslim, to start justifying public nudity?
    me- I agree . We definitely don’t want to remain stuck in a medieval age.
    And yes we certainly dont want to follow the customs of a primitive society. But the point is that what we and many other individuals see as (and with good reason I think) remnants of a primitive society has now become a way of life for some (at times forced ,at times out of choice)
    Muslims say that Adam and Eve were the first Muslims in the world. Eve did not wear clothes at all. So should not that be reason enough for women, both Christian and Muslim, to start justifying public nudity?
    while in theory this indeed has been said Sir (and not just in Islam but many other religions as well) but I dont think nudity is an issue here..its an example at the otehr end that you have given..and in any case…even nudity has its own space..private nude beaches are very much present in many parts of the world..(and private here would mean miles and miles of beach) yet there has been no hue and cry about them..as what we see in the case of the burqa..

    The same guys who demand “freedom” for Muslim women to wear Burkhas are adamantly opposing the non-criminalisation of homosexuality even for non-Muslims in a secular society.
    me- The above statement is I think a generalisation Sir. I am sure there are many individuals whether muslim or non- muslim who may be supporting the decriminalization and opposing the proposed ban. I am one of them.

    This, when they have their own personal laws to deal with Muslims indulging in such behaviour that their religion does not accept. For them freedom is a one-way street. If people of other religions too start using the same logic then there equally can be no space for burkhas in secular societies.
    me- That is where the difference lies Sir.
    certain Arab countries for example (as has been pointed out above in a comment) do FORCE women to follow certain primitive rules..which are barbaric to say the least…

    but when a secular , democratic country like France bans a certain piece of clothing..then I fail to see any difference between those countries and this one.

    Sure. The degree of tolerance might be different in both the cases but in the end the women have still NOT been asked as to what it is that THEY want.

    Freedom has many, many boundaries even in a secular country and society like France. What Sarkozy is saying is something which some frozen-in-time persons will challenge, more to retain their oppressive control over the women who belong to their religion, rather than out of any notion of genuine freedom. If that is understood, then to my mind, freeing women of burkhas will be welcomed by most, including open minded and progressive Muslims.
    me- I hope so too SIr. That this ban is WELCOMED by most progressive muslims. But my worry is that it wont be. And that infact it ill lead to a lot of resentment.

    And in the end the biggest question still remains. This is what my post is all about. The choice. One made by a woman.
    What of the women?
    Where are they in this picture?
    Why have they NOT been asked what they want?
    Why are decisions being made for them?

    Isn’t it irony of the highest order?
    That the one who is the subject of such heated discussions, the woman has still not been asked as to what it is that she wants??
    make her your slave OR one day give her her freedom because you deem fit is it?

    PS:- the ‘YOU’ used in the above sentence has been used in a generic sense.

  10. July 17, 2009 6:34 pm

    Okay I read it ….

    At many points I just start to think nope.. but again it quells… after every argument that rises in my mind I again get some answer to that in the post..

    Its a fantastic riveting post in that sense… !!
    me- thanks:) glad to see that it made you think..

    BUT and I know its WRONG. But Ideal is only a word… and the World will never have that word stand ahead of it.

    In gujarati we have a saying… which basically means… when you burn dry leaves a few green leaves will burn together… !!!

    me- true..Dhiren I mean I get what you want to say..but in this case people are involved. So even if a small minority feels that this is not right well then..in a democracy one has to let everyone have an equal say.
    And specifically the gender who is (and will be) bearing the brunt of all the changes has not been asked its opinion. :/

    A lot of times in trying to find ideal and completely correct solutions to things… nothing can be found…
    me- I agree. and I also believe that we will never find the perfect world ever. But we can always try na?:)

    So why not go ahead by giving each person an equal say rather than making decisions for them?

    I ll be back with more.. I have to rush
    me- 🙂

    • July 18, 2009 3:04 pm

      What??? Dhiren has to rush? Where? Work???? Dhiren Busy???

      These are green shoots of recovery I guess 🙂

      me- 😆 😆
      seriously though …amen! may he be busy for a long time:)

      • July 18, 2009 3:35 pm

        No re not busy… was going home… thats why… lol… !!!!!!

        recovery seems to be happening but very slowly… i hope by September October we should be out of the woods and I ll blog and comment a lil less… lol
        me- amen to that!
        the recovery I mean..not the ‘blogging less part’ 😀

    • Puneet permalink
      July 20, 2009 12:53 pm

      Indy
      Wonderful post..the best part no controversial statement ,thorough research…
      me-thanks Vandana:)

      I tend to agree to Dhiren that finding “ideal” is really a tough task..and at the same time “minority” feels like that and all is again making it un-ideal…
      Why something should be minority Vs majority..its one thing/one race/one cast thats human…not even man woman.
      me- yes I agree…but what we see as a minority is actually a huge part of France’s population…infact Muslims constitute almost 10% (or more) of France’s population.

      So when we start saying so that man or woman or majority or minority we actually are saying that ideally its not the case but despite that we are trying to make it work….
      me- well yes..but it will only work IF we listen to what the people involved in the debate have to say..the debate is all about women but no one is asking them their opinion.
      I assume Perfect world would be free from all these but then will it ever be possible and even if possible will it last….
      One more questions comes to my mind what exactly is absolute freedom? we restrict/relate freedom to many spaces and then put limits over that…we want freedom to wear clothes but that too in limit, we want freedom of speech but that should have some limit, we want freedom of argument but then it should be constructive… Even freedom is not fully free…and the cap over freedom is altered time to time….in pursuit of seeking more freedom and that I believe is progressive thinking…
      (did this make any sense here ….not sure)

      me- 🙂 it did make a lot of sense:)

      freedom is never absolute. I agree. there are always boundaries to it.
      The question is how much freedom is too much freedom? And sometimes too little freedom is not freedom but dictatorship..but most of all can we make choices for others? that too in the name of freedom? Do we have any right to?

  11. July 17, 2009 6:37 pm

    ‘Secularism in today’s world has to make room for multi-culturalism and religious pluralism.’ – This is the definition of secularism that I would like to abide by.
    me- me too:)

    To me, wherever, ‘personal choice’ is superimposed by what the government think is right – is a break down of justice. So to argue whether women wear a burqa/hijab by choice or are forced to wear it – becomes obsolete. I have read of several women who choose to wear – who are comfortable wearing it and who have taken to wearing despite having been brought up in families where they do not wear it. Any ban of this sort – takes away these women’s choices, don’t they?
    me- exactly! there are NO choices left for women. decisions once again are made for them as if they are incompetent buffoons!

    And also, don’t we know that bans normally have the opposite effect? I read somewhere that bans of this sort could just be fodder for religious fanatics who will try to prove that their religion is in danger? And women who now step out in Burqas may actually never be allowed to leave their homes? So in effect – a ban on this sort might end up taking away the small freedom that these women have in the first place.

    me-Yes! thats my worry too. What of the women for whom burqa was the one and only way to see the outside world? And maybe one day they or their daughters would have made a choice that they wouldn’t wear one. But right now if this proposed ban comes into effect then will these women be allowed to go out of their homes??

    a ban on this sort might end up taking away the small freedom that these women have in the first place. yes. that is the worry. ABSOLUTELy the same point as this that I stated in the post too..

    I mean if some women (and not all..because some wear it out of choice too)are being forced to wear the burqa by tyrannical men then what are the chances that the men will ‘ALLOW’ (I HATE this word) the same women to go out without a burqa?

    so locked in the prison she will be now..perhaps forever.

    To me, being forced to wear a particular attire or a ban against something is equally bad. As you say – how are we different from Talibans – if we ban a particular attire – under whatever premises? Clothing or the lack of it is personal choice and governments should stay out of it.
    me- yes.its a PERSONAL choice.

    To me, Secularism is having the freedom to practice or not practice any religion and not being prosecuted for either of my choices. As you have mentioned – dress code is certain areas are still acceptable – but there is a danger in that as well. I was watching a documentary the other day of how some employers are reluctant to hire women in burqas in some places.. so even a selective dress code like this might become a bigger issue. Women who wear burqas might find it difficult to get jobs.. I think UK is remarkable that way – the pluralism that is encouraged is amazing.. I think that is the way forward, where secularism means a pluralistic society where nobody is discriminated against for one’s faith or the lack of it.

    me- yes I agree. There are certain limitations that are there by default.

    As a consequence of one rule.

    If one wears a burqa then one might not get a job .
    But I also see it as a situation where if one wears a burqa then despite all the protestations(at home) a woman might decide to take it off at her workplace because a job ensures three meals a day and a roof. and is more important than the attire.

    So simply out of need she might just decide (as may her family members) to take off the burqa in office and then put it on again once she gets outside…from this stage of getting a little freedom for herself she might graduate to the stage where she will one day refuse to wear it outside or her family members too might get used the idea that she does not wear the burqa in certain places..

    As of now this ban seems as if it will(and it already is in fact) invite the most severe reactions from people. Who will react to the ban in anger and feel that their faith and way of life is being attacked and will simply refuse to interact with society around them.
    The women certainly will bear the brunt of it 😦

    Did this ramble make any sense?

    yes, I too think that the UK is quite remarkable in its pot pourri of cultures and the freedom that it allows.
    I absolutely agree with your last lines Smitha.

    • Smitha permalink
      July 19, 2009 2:58 pm

      Indyeah, Agree with everything you’ve said here… Each to his own, and true freedom comes when every person has the right and the means to choose the best for himself – rather than a government deciding what is ’empowering’ for women… To me – the moment the govt decides – ‘choice’ is out of a person’s hands..
      me- yes this notion of what is empowering and what is not for women is insulting in the extreme..
      I am sure the women can make up their own minds..
      To me – the moment the govt decides – ‘choice’ is out of a person’s hands..
      yes…and that too when it is being done is such a high handed manner! :/

  12. July 17, 2009 6:41 pm

    ok now this is one LONGGGG post alrite! let me read it properly first! will be back to comment!
    me- 😆
    okay 😀

    • July 20, 2009 11:35 pm

      ok FINALLY got around to reading it! kept expecting it to go on and on, so was pleasantly surprised when it finished faster than i thot! 😀
      me- what? ROFL! 😛 😛 😛

      thats one hell of a research done, woman…er… adoptive parent! 😀
      no really! so many links, sources… aaah… sounds like a mini-thesis in itself 😛
      me- *adoptive parent basking in that praise * 😀 this makes up for the earlier lapse..err where you mentioned that word.. you knwo the one that starts with L.. pssttt long

      u’ve argued both sides of the coin very effectively so there’s very little left for me to say actually.

      i understand the sentiment behind a secular democracy… but then again, as u said… the very point behind it is that people can wear what they like….and not becoz they r told to do or not to do something at gunpoint.
      a government that decides a ban on the burqa can ban all other symbols of religion as well… including, say, a turban or a dupatta covered head or whatever… so and so forth. worse, the interference need not stop there either.
      me- ABSOLUTELY!! thats a great point Ashwathy! yes thats the question… when we support one ban for whatever reasons ( maybe we dont like the garment but in the end it IS a garment and nothing more) so then where willw e draw the line?
      wont this ban then sneakily intrude on so many aspects of our life?

      as long as the uproar created over it was for the right reasons (recognising the need for right of freedom of choice) rather than just being offended (like: “omg he insulted our religion!”)… it wud make more sense. otherwise it wud just be in vain….
      me- yes..you are right.. but as in the case of any controversial issue (specially one thats even slightly religious ) you will always find loonies /fanatics on both sides..that doesn’t take anything away from the argument..
      as in this case here in this comment section where everyone has been logical in justifying their respective stands..

      • July 20, 2009 11:51 pm

        I am remembering something that vir sanghvi wrote in his column for the Hindustan Times when the Section 377 rule was lifted by the Delhi High Court.

        he was saying something along these lines, as to why he was rejoicing the decision. apart from the fact that he felt that gays deserved a normal life, he also said that lifting the ban served a higher effect. when the govt decided whether or not a certain type of sex between consenting homosexual adults was wrong …. it meant the same rule applied to heterosexuals as well – that the govt cud dictate to them what they do in the bedroom. and that could be dangerous…
        their personal life is actually no business of the government’s … be it a gay, lesbian or a straight person (or something else altogether!) :-/

        i think the same rule applies here. a dress is a personal choice. let that freedom to choose remain with them…

        perhaps the point here is: if they wanted to come out, wud it be ONLY with the help of a ban like this…? food for thought …!


        me- LOVED this comment Ashwathy!
        yes exactly! where will the line be drawn?
        a ban on this that is the burqa..okay…and what else??

        when the govt decided whether or not a certain type of sex between consenting homosexual adults was wrong …. it meant the same rule applied to heterosexuals as well – that the govt cud dictate to them what they do in the bedroom. and that could be dangerous…
        EXACTLY! this is why one should be wary of such bans and other such measures by the government even when they are said to be for the ‘greater good’

  13. July 17, 2009 6:57 pm

    Will be back later (hopefully)! 🙂
    me 🙂 *fingers crossed* 😉

  14. July 17, 2009 7:16 pm

    I had seen a BBC documentary, long back, about the burqua clad women of the Middle East. They wear these burqua as per their custom, but many women are doctors, lawyers etc. Some good women movie directors are also there. But I don’t like one thing, they insist on outsiders (women), who live there, to wear it when they step outside their house. My husband’s cousin lived there for sometime and she still has got that burqua with her, which she was wearing out of compulsion.
    me- Absolutely!

    we forget that under the burqa may be a woman who may be highly educated and accomplished.

    its very hard for us to visualize this.

    but then again so many are wearing this because it s a ‘custom’ 😦

    how many will wear it out of choice I am wondering….but then again the key word is choice..hai na?

    YEs, that’s one thing even I dont like Sandhya. That they force even outsiders to wear it 😦

    but then they are not even democracies in a real sense of the word 😦

    Yes, it is difficult to interact with people, whose face is covered. But I feel, a government need not create a law, banning burqua. If the women feel comfortable among other women, who are free to wear jeans and shirt, let them be. These women should take the step against the code of their religion, if they want to. Not the governments. This will unnecessarily provoke the muslims.
    me- I too find it difficult and a little daunting to interact with someone whose expressions I cannot see.

    These women should take the step against the code of their religion, if they want to. Not the governments.
    yes! I agree. Why should someone else install himself/herself as the spokesperson of all women and take decisions for them??

    “And say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty; that they should not display their beauty and ornaments except what (must ordinarily) appear thereof; that they should draw their veils over their bosoms and not display their beauty except to their husbands, [a list of relatives], [household servants], or small children who have no sense of the shame of sex; and that they should not strike their feet in order to draw attention to their hidden ornaments. And O ye Believers! turn ye all together towards Allah, that ye may attain Bliss.24:31”

    By wearing a burqua just with a slit for their eyes, these women can see the men PROPERLY – better than us, normal people! They will have no identification also! Don’t want to write more than this, here.

    Just for argument’s sake, we can also ask , “If they compel the women who come there and live there, because of their job, are compelled to wear burqua, their women also should wear clothes decently without a burqua, when they come out of their country and live in other countries”.
    me- yes,that is a rather interesting argument Sandhya.

    And one that highlights the difference between a tyrannical nation and a healthy democracy.
    To start resorting to their methods would go against all that democracy stands for.

    Our India does not insist on anyone to follow the religious codes of any religion. Just ignore the politicians, otherwise, our country is heaven.
    me- yes. We have no restrictions and while at times one does curse . at other times one is simply thankful .

    I think my comment also is looooong. Sorry!

    God, you must have done so much research to write such an important article, Indyeah. Hats off to you!
    me- thanks Sandhya:)
    ((hugs)))
    long comments are most welcome 😀
    😀

  15. July 17, 2009 7:50 pm

    Most women wear burqa because they have seen there mothers,auntie,sisters wearing it,some wear it because it is compulsory in the country they live and some wear it because their husbands want them to wear it.I have a friend who is a Iranian and used to live in Kuwait and there she nor her mom or sister wore burqa but when they came to dubai and started living in dubai they started wearing burqa,when i asked her did your father told you to wear burqa,she said no my father never wanted us to wear it but because we are living with the people who wear it and we started wearing it,it was our choice then anyone imposing burqa on us.

    me-
    Those are some eye opening examples you have shared Saritha.

    As you have shared..in all the instances the women HAD to or were almost forced to wear the burqa because of someone or the other or because of certain ‘customs’. Nowhere were they given a CHOICE.

    I would LOVE it if all women were to collect the burqas and burn them in a heap. But then we first have to give them the choice na?

    How satisfying would it be for a woman to know that she has a choice and THEN she says that she wont wear it..

    • Saritha permalink
      July 19, 2009 6:40 pm

      I agree that women are not given choice but they don’t protest of not giving them a choice.In Gulf countries even the kids whose age is 6 starts wearing a hijab even to school,they grow covering themselves with hijab and once there are big enough to wear burqa, start wearing it.
      me- yes I agree Saritha. that women are not given a choice…and that they dont protest about this…

      …but that is because in most cases they cant. I mean I cant imagine that ina tyrannical country like Saudi Arabia a woman would be able to protest AT ALL…

      there are different ways in which women keep their independent spirit alive even under the most barbaric regimes…
      this woman is one such example:)

      but in France the women know that they can protest ..thats the beauty of a democracy:) and so they are protesting..
      *sigh*
      France should seriously take a re-look at the word ban…

      you are right…as others mentioned too this wearing of the burqa is just conditioning and nothing else in most cases…if not all…

      Even in India burqa was not used much by women but since last 10 years it is widely used now.Most of the men who are in gulf countries make there women wear burqa,which they have not worn it before.
      me- yes..I agree…burqas are creeping into a lot of places as a mode of dress…most of it is being done forcibly…..and yes I dont like it at all..

      like you said In India now a lot of women are wearing it( I am not sure about this…would love it if there were some reports or statistics)..but even if we dont like it..a ban is not the solution na?

      how different would a democracy be from a country like Saudi Arabia if it makes the choice for the women instead of letting them make one on their own?.

      • muslim women permalink
        November 11, 2009 4:04 pm

        Dear saritha and Indy,

        At the very outset, I congratulate Indy for her great post.

        Sorry to differ with you the point burka is imposed on muslim women by their parents or any country’s culture. We are free to make this choice, are accountable only to allah.
        And I dont think, by not wearing burka will make any difference in anyone’s thoughts. 😛

  16. July 17, 2009 8:55 pm

    1) I do not know enough about France or what is the general thought of the people
    me- me neither:)

    2) I have never talked to a women behind a burqa or for that matter even a person wearing a hijab…have had no chance to ‘meet’ them.
    me- I have spoken to a few..but then again a few dont constitute a majority or the general population.

    3) Whatever maybe the law there is bound to be some ‘wrong’ side about it. We are slow moving away from the age of religious dogma but are coming under a new one called democracy.
    me- :/ well in this case it certainly seems like it…democracy surely should not be about dictatorial bans :/

    4) It is the thought of one person who is rhetorically strong that makes the crowds opinion.
    me- true…look at our own country :/

    5) Banning something mean it is given up ..there is something called implementation where there will be problems.

    6)As long as people say “God created us” in every other argument , we are limiting ourselves..let me explain , I believe whatever our religious texts say , need to thought out and we should be able to arrive at the conclusion.After all for all their sanctity , they could have made a mistake as well. We need to see things from a wider angle.
    me- I agree. Completely.
    But then when has religion EveR been open to logic? :/ :/

    7) People will be people.
    me :/

    8) the ultimate choice is to live or not to live.
    me- yes.

    9) democracy is the biggest hypocrisy.For nowhere is person thought to choose , but are thought how to accept the chosen.
    me- ah! cynical are we? 🙂
    but yes the second line is brilliant in its thought and simplicity.

    yes at times it does look like a hypocrisy than anything else..What better example than India?

    • July 19, 2009 5:12 pm

      Well religion hasn’t opened up because it has become a barrier behind which people hide their big fat egos…

      The reason for being cynical is that I am bugged with it..all you and me can do is write..but to what use? We discuss and dissect news and we think , but as bloggers are we trying to cause changes in the world? I wanted to do that , I was ambitious to start something …but now of the few people who believed in the idea and helped me get it up , say that it is not possible any more..What is the hope of one person worth?
      me- hey Vichu! come on! you cant be disheartened Kid!
      you are gen next! if you dont hope who will? 🙂

      you know what we are doing ads bloggers? we are writing, discussing, maybe shedding a few dogmas along the way..who knwos? maybe shedding a few prejudices too 🙂
      and where will that lead us? why to a better more aware kind of thinking..one where we will be forced to take a re- look at our choices in daily life…
      and this is how revolutions come about Vishesh..they dont always have to be bloody or violent..

      but can come even gradually through ideas.. words..thoughts..

      so you better get a positive mindset kid ! ASAP! 😛

      look at how Shail has said it:) her words mean a lot.. take a second look at them 🙂

      • July 20, 2009 10:33 am

        Vishesh, noticed this comment of yours and couldn’t help replying. The hope of one person is worth more valuable than anything in this Earth. It is not necessary that we move mountains, moving a little mud hill is enough, even that has effect in the long run.

        • July 20, 2009 11:49 am

          Sounds very good na… but its a feeble attempt to keep oneself motivated…

          can we help but either being cynical or running away from things…

          • July 20, 2009 8:19 pm

            I agree Shail…but then I am never satisfied with moving pebbles…it is just the urge to do something bigger..

  17. July 17, 2009 9:15 pm

    Gee I really don’t think I have one single view on this. While I appreciate the fact that France has a right to do what it wants in it’s own country according to it’s founding principles, dictating people to do or not do something sounds like going overboard. Sarkozy always seems like a clueless, weird, obsessed man!

    me- YEs its a dicey issue.
    And there is no real right or wrong in this I think.

    We all are looking at it from different angles.
    dictating people to do or not do something sounds like going overboard.
    yes it does doesnt it? 😦

    I too think he is supremely weird. How he got to be President (!!!!) is anyone’s guess :/

    • July 18, 2009 8:42 am

      Sarkozy to me seems like a lucky man… !!! 😛 😛

      Whats that lady… Carla … he he he…

      me- Sarkozy is a pervert :/

      • July 20, 2009 9:41 am

        Men that have Women like those… are to be envied… !!! 😛 😛
        me- LOL! Dhiren! ! 😀

  18. July 17, 2009 9:33 pm

    😛 😛 😛
    I dont know what to say 😛
    a well researched post…………. yes individual freedom is important, but how different is wearing burqa, different from sati or dowry……… we all condemn the last two……
    me- thanks OG:)

    I mean, the very reason for these things to come up have always been the same…… domination…………..
    me- yes, i agree.
    But the burqa is very different (in today’s world from dowry ) the latter two are responsible for a loss of lives while the burqa for many is a choice of dress. yes it is also a symbol of subjugation of women many times.

    But today many women are wearing it(even in progressive societies) for reasons that they can best explain. I know I cant.
    The whole question revolves around the idea of CHOICE.

    Give women the choice instead of making a decision for them is what the debate is about.

    so , yes, honestly speaking, I have no strong emotions on this….. against the ban…..
    I know that the trolls are going to read this, 😛 😛 😛
    me- yeah thats perfectly fine 🙂
    thats what the debate is for. Not to get people to agree or for that matter disagree (though that too) but also to get an indepth view on the reason behind the stand taken.

    as for the trolls?
    comment moderation… remember? 😉
    a few have already arrived 😀

    • July 19, 2009 5:00 am

      hehehe 😛 😛 😛

      trolls and indyeah have a great history 😉 hehe 😛 😛 😛 😛

      me- yeah they land up at the most unexpected times 😀
      *Indy looks at OG suspiciously*
      hmm……. do you know any trolls OG? 😛

    • July 19, 2009 12:50 pm

      lemme make another point as well indyeah….

      at the turn of the last century………. sati and dowry were two major problems in our society….. and people started raising their voice against both…….
      me- yes..true..

      Now, after a century, we find that sati is almost gone from our society but dowry very much still is rampant……

      why is that?

      The reason is that people/government really really took a very strong stance against the first one but not against the second……………….

      similarly, if women are given a choice by the government if they wanna wear burqa or not…. how many would actually follow it??? and go against family…………..
      me- I agree that the practice of Sati was treated as a heinous crime… that it was made illegal and that the government took a strong stance against it…

      and yet this happened..we could say that the case was a one-off but it still doesn’t change the fact that it happened.
      and you know the saddest fact?
      That hundreds still go to worship at the ‘shrine(officially there should be NO shrine) and they think that Roop devi is going to ‘bless’ them.. :/
      another reason that we saw such strong condemnation of the practice of sati was the fact that it was actually the MURDER of a woman. SO obviously murder is a crime and had to be treated like one. No matter what .
      (also the opposition to sati started a long way back….and I think that also is a key factor in all of this..)

      About dowry ..dowry is wrong and a crime in India right?
      The government has done its part by ensuring that a law is in place against giving or taking dowry.

      But the reason I think we do not see a strong opposition to the dowry by society is (in my opinion) the fact that the consequences are not visible immediately…the greed manifests itself much later when women are murdered when they are not able to fulfill ‘demands’
      also the infamous chalta hai Indian mentality is another reason..
      arre dowry toh chalti hai..beti ki shaadi bina dahej ke karein kya?log kya sochenge? is the common refrain.

      and here is the famous Nisha Sharma case, the woman who said no to dowry..its an interesting read..

      the point is that all the laws in the world will not help if people dont step up and take action….

      The main reason that I dont like the idea of the ban is because in my opinion when people (be it people from any religion/community/culture/nation) are pushed into a corner and are given no alternatives….when they feel(whether rightly or wrongly) that they are being discriminated against..tha their ‘tradition’ , their way of life is being threatened then they feel cornered..they feel ‘hunted’ and they turn even more radical…..and that is surely no way to go about things…

      Imagine for a moment a muslim family living in an arab country where the women of the house have to wear burqas because it is mandatory..
      now the women might or might not mind wearing it once in a while but they certainly dont want to wear it everyday….but do they have a choice?
      NO.

      The same family moves to France.
      A country that is democratic and most of all secular. (as surely all democracies are)
      Now here the family and specially the women finally think that they have a choice.
      But here they discover that contrary to their expectations France does not allow them to wear the burqa AT ALL.

      And in this case if this family finds no difference between n Arab tyrannical country and a democratic France then surely they cannot be blamed for it.

      Wont the family become even more protective of their dress/tradition/culture rather than coming out of the old orthodox mindset?

      • July 19, 2009 1:54 pm

        wise words……………..
        i agree with the last paragraph…………. 😛 😛 but the change has got to start from somewhere…….

        and i dont know any trolls 😛 😛 😛

        hehehe
        me- LOL! 😀
        last para is changed now 😀 😛

        you dont know any trolls? 😀
        sure? 😀

        • July 19, 2009 1:56 pm

          just read the “arab” family bit…. you have written even more now hehehe

          me- ROFL!!! 😛 😛

          yeah I added coz it just came to my mind 😛

      • July 19, 2009 5:20 pm

        I agree absolutely..but how are we to make people think in wider terms , when they aren’t allowed to learn?

        I have always maintained it , the only way out of all this creating awareness through education..But for that we need teachers(like you indi 😉 ) who can help open the young minds and show them…

        me- yes..you are right.. sadly in India and in many parts of the world kids are not ‘allowed’ to think for themselves..its so debilitating in the long run.. 😦

        yesterday someone was commenting on why we shouldn’t allow servants kids etc to study engineering and such specialized courses ..and the point was that their parents are indebted forever and since there are so many jobless Engineers they are going to suffer(apart from other not so lets say modest reasons) ..whose fault is it that these kids dream of such things? I believe everyone has the potential to get somewhere, but how can we exploit it?
        me- I didnt get the example Vishesh..could you explain a bit more? about the servants kids?

  19. July 17, 2009 9:37 pm

    First, congratulations for such a well-researched post!
    me- thanks Manju:)

    Some points I agree with have already been made in the comments.

    I would like to say that it is not always evident whether something is chosen out of free choice or not.
    me- yes I agree. Thats the dicey issue here

    Here is a news story- http://europenews.dk/en/node/23620

    “where a female employee of Pakistani origin was openly trying to push hijabs on girls as young as first graders.” in a Norwegian school.

    “She flattered the girls who didn’t wear hijab by telling them how pretty they would be if they only put on hijabs, and said that she could give them hijabs as gifts. The woman works for SFO (Skolefritidsordning or “School Free Time Arrangement”), which provides volunteers to take care of kids before and after school hours, and also works as a classroom assistant.”
    me- thanks for sharing the news story Manju. I was not aware of it.

    But isnt the case of this woman more like an aberration?
    I mean I am reasonably sure that women, burqa wearing or otherwise dont go around forcing or rather enticing kids to wear the hijab or the burqa or any other dress.

    The woman sounds like a loony to me. Not fit to be called a ‘normal’ human being let alone being allowed anywhere near young kids with impressionable minds.

  20. July 17, 2009 10:22 pm

    Interesting post, Abhi. I agree and disagree.

    My only point is why should a governing body decide who follows what religion and in what way? Doesn’t limiting a women choice to wear hijab or burqa in itself going against the very concept called freedom of choice. In countries like France, where they is no ruling or force on Muslim women to wear burqa or hijab, if someone wears it by choice, then it is a women’s personal decision. She has decided to wear it consciously. I think that should be respected. A women’s decision to honor her religion, be it right or wrong for the public eye, should be respected. Are women not standing up to what they believe in ? (Take ‘pink chaddi’ campaign for example). Women all over the world are fighting for their rights to equality, freedom, sexuality etc. This is actually challenging a women’s right to faith. Who are we, as bystanders, to decide what faith someone follows? And if that is right or wrong? If she does so by her will, then let her be. It is her faith.

    me- I agree with all your words MAsood.
    It most definitely should be a choice. and it should be respected.

    Who are we, as bystanders, to decide what faith someone follows? And if that is right or wrong? If she does so by her will, then let her be. It is her faith.

    Ofcourse, I condemn the use of power. Forcing hijab on women who otherwise don’t want to wear is wrong. This again is going against the very idea of freedom….freedom of choice and freedom of action. But is that what this whole issue is about? I think what really concerns most people is the very concept of burqa and hijab. Of women being oppressed in a ‘sack’ and being viewed as ‘sex-objects’ and so on. I think we should not confuse one to the other.
    me- Absolutely !
    forcing someone to wear a particular piece of garment is wrong.

    Challenging the hijab/burqa in itself is questioning a particular religious belief. Challenging the right to wear hijab/burqa is questioning a particular right to freedom.

    me- But how do we differentiate between the two Masood?
    Dont the lines get blurred somewhere in between?
    IS the hijab/burqa connected to religious beliefs? (even if it was not originally so but it is now?)
    And then questioning the right to wear it is connected to the first issue.
    Once we can have a dialogue on the first issue and more awareness then I think we will be better equipped to deal with the issue of wearing or not wearing it.

    What are we really dealing with here? I ask this with respect to a lot of comments above.

    me- In my view we are dealing with an issue of choice as also faith/religion.

    Women should make up their own minds and the decisons should NOT be made for them(even if it is being touted as one that is in their ‘best ‘ interests’)

    That sounds patronizing to me.

    • July 19, 2009 5:23 pm

      I think what we are dealing with is , how far are free in the end? we humans have the tendency to ignore certain small constrains ..after all small germs are taken care of the body pretty quickly..What we need to do is draw a clear map and try to understand where we are…

  21. July 17, 2009 11:21 pm

    I think it should be pure politics. Politicians are the same everywhere!

    Secondly, I think neither men nor women have any freedom in this world. And the men who think they have, will realize soon enough how much they cannot control!!

    Destination Infinity
    me- Yes for now this does seem to be pure politics and nothing else.

    ah! cynicism?:D again? 🙂

    well freedom is never absolute..and yes noone is absolutely free . but we can try to reach the nearest possible defintion (withhin reasonable boundaries ofcourse!)
    darn! I dont make sense to my own self now :D.
    why am I contradicting my own statements? 😀
    *sigh*

    PS:_ oh wait! I thought of it 🙂
    I want to see a Utopian state without any bloodshed and any resentment..is it possible? :/

    • July 20, 2009 9:21 am

      I feel that the definition is relative, as you suggest. But the way in which human mind interprets concepts like these is always the same. Once the relative freedom (Nearest possible definition) is achieved, the human mind no longer is satisfied with that! It will take some thing else, and work towards what it thinks is more freedom. It keeps on going like that, for ever! There is nothing wrong with this, just an observation. Even if that Utopian state is achieved, the human mind will not be happy. At best, it may be satisfied. There are more chances that it will get bored of the Utopian state!!

      Destination Infinity

      me- I agree… human beings are never satisfied with one state.. even if it is Utopia they will constantly yearn for soemthing more..its our boon and our bane..

  22. Vimmuuu permalink
    July 17, 2009 11:49 pm

    Waaaaahhhh!! 😦 😦 Just when I thought you were getting into our league of writing non sense and crazy stuffs !!! How could you post a mahabharatham like this ???? Anyway, I will come back for sure slash hopefully and comment; I have a training to attend in the morn. !!!

    me- oh I am I am!!
    fully a member of your league 😛

    crazyyy stuff coming up soon 😛 😛

    Mahabharatham? 😆

    😛
    kahaan?
    this is a short story entry 😛
    *Indy trying to look innocent*
    be back 😛
    and all the best for the training:)

    • July 18, 2009 12:41 am

      dude, is the training called “how to be a good husband??” 😛 😆
      me- 😆 good one OG! :mrgreen:

      • July 18, 2009 1:34 am

        I m sure… !! lol 😛 😛

      • July 18, 2009 3:11 am

        …which you are already undergoing in your new apartment. Vimmu found his perfect match made in heaven. 🙂
        me- yes does seem that way 🙂
        god bless:)

        see Vimmuuu?no leg pulling? 😀

      • July 18, 2009 3:54 am

        Nice one OG 🙂

      • Vimmuuu permalink
        July 18, 2009 8:14 am

        Aliyaaa…pera kathumbol vaazha vettaneyyy !!! (Translate it in your typical manglish for the folks here)

        ok, Im leaving for the training now 😦 😦 😦 and its not for being a good husband !!!!
        me- translation!! 😛
        OG! help needed please 😀

        oh! Vimmuu without leg pulling and smileys?
        sounds serious..
        all the best Vimmuuu:)
        seriously:)

        • July 19, 2009 12:51 pm

          i did not get this………… 😛 😛 😛 hehehehe
          me- what??The great OG doesnt know something? 😛

          Please translate! 😛 😛
          try to understand it 😆

          • July 20, 2009 11:42 pm

            hahaha… poor vimmuuu… finally speechless.

            and as for the (approximate) translation, it means to make hay while the sun shines…
            in short: “et tu, brutus?” 😛 LOL
            me- aha! I KNEW my little kiddie willl be able to tell this one 😀
            *proud of ya kid! *

          • July 24, 2009 8:42 pm

            😀 😀 * me basks in adoptive parent’s attention *
            P.S.: * and also looks around if anyone noticed * 😛 :-/
            me- awww 😀

          • July 25, 2009 8:17 am

            ash, do you know that indy is only 3 years elder than u ………. 😛 😛

            me- eeeshH!
            with friends like OG who needs enemies? 😛 😛

            all you ppl busy calculating my age..put down your calculators NOW! 😛
            stop your brains from working/calculating 😛

            *OG grrrr you just wait now! 👿
            OG running for his life* 😈

          • July 25, 2009 6:22 pm

            Aww…. Bless you Abhi JEE. You’re only almost 4yrs older than me. 😛 😛
            me- see?that is why you need to go and study kid 😉
            thats what kids are supposed to do 😛

  23. Dev permalink
    July 18, 2009 12:14 am

    I live in a building here in Montreal downtown which is called Lacite Apartments (Montreal is predominantly French). So when I first saw your post title, I wondered why is Indyyeah talking about my building on her blog. lol..
    me- LOL!!!

    thats an interesting name for a building 😀
    psst Dev?
    turn around ! maybe I am there ? 😛

    Well, I read your loooong post (yes, I did 🙂 ). And, once again, you rock. After reading quotes you included in your post , your own views and some of the readers’ comments, I dont know if there is anything left to say. I do agree with you, but of late I have realized that more I read, talk and think about these matters, less I fee I know and really understand anything. So, I will leave this here and enjoy my weekend. Weather is supposed to be really sunny this weekend. 🙂
    me- thanks a lot:)
    uh! the thank you is coz you read the post 😆
    *Indy kisses the ground in sheer gratitude* 😆
    also thank you for the words:)
    yes the comments give more food for thought than the post itself..its amazing to read them:)

    I so agree. with the last lines…on views.. The more one reads and watches things happen…incidents unfold..the more one realizes how thoroughly inadequate one’s knowledge is.

    uhh! dont say sunny please 😀

    dont you know dilliwallahs are born hating the sun? 😉
    except of course in winters? 😀

    Enjoy the weather there 🙂 🙂
    .

    • Dev permalink
      July 19, 2009 3:32 am

      “Indy kisses the ground in sheer gratitude”

      lol..you are absolutely crazy..why didnt I discover your blog earlier..

      me- LOL!!!
      I know..Dev..you could have read my priceless gems much earlier na?
      *sigh* think of all the gyaan you have missed :mrgreen:
      dont worry you are here..
      I will try my best to make you go crazy.……err I mean make you wise 😀

      😛 😛

  24. July 18, 2009 1:45 am

    Gillu, I was waiting for this post from you to have a sensible discussion. Just swifted through now.

    Even though am on a brief blog break, will be back in a bit and read again to leave a comment to discuss. Hope to read everyone’s comments, pros-cons, impact on society, freedom to choose and freedom for women.

    Thank you for such a well researched post.
    me- thank you:)
    muah! 🙂
    saw your other comment and thank YOU for, those are my thoughts too:)
    ((hugs))))

  25. July 18, 2009 1:58 am

    A well researched post, Indyeah.. hats off 🙂

    What the France government doing is like pushing the freedom into the hands of their citizens or like pulling them out of the prison, when they never feel like they are in jail..

    All they have to do is just open the jail and ask them to be out, if they want..

    for me a real freedom means, one must have the right to follow what they think is right, in the mean while they must not force their way into others…

    Its really a great post.. 🙂

    me- Kanagu..you always say it in the simplest and most profound way possible.

    LOVEd your lines..
    What the France government doing is like pushing the freedom into the hands of their citizens or like pulling them out of the prison, when they never feel like they are in jail..
    A-B-S-O-L-U-T-E-L-Y!!!!

    yes real freedom is do what you want to as long as it does not hurt others or impinge on their freedom.

    thanks lot Kanagu:)

  26. July 18, 2009 2:28 am

    Whenever I hear such arguments about whether women should do A, B or C, I end up thinking – Can anyone please ask the women first? What do they choose?
    And that it seems to me to be the crux of the problem.
    Who the hell is Sarkozy to decide what women should or should not wear. What if a woman really wants to wear a Burkha? He is just taking away that freedom from her. How is he different from a fundamentalist who forces women to wear Burkha against their will?
    me- ABSOLUTELY!!!
    Agree with each and every single word!

    Can anyone please ask the women first? What do they choose?
    *sigh* will anyone ever?
    Women are creatures it seems for whom decisions need to be taken.. poor things seem to have no mind of their own.. :/

    ughh this mentality makes me mad!

  27. July 18, 2009 3:09 am

    I will start with the title. I love it. I was thinking ‘Un-VEILed’. Your title means a secular system. What is secularism? Does it mean a country where everyone will be treated equally and not have any religious sword hanging on them or does it mean a country that allows practice of different faith as per the individual wish?
    me- thanks:) ((hugs))

    yes the definition of secularism is very different in different places..it means something else in India and something totally different in France.
    I personally like the second definition better.

    Recently in France, not just Hijab but Turban, Cross and Star of David is also banned from public schools and I agree with it. Why? Because religion for me is a private matter hence uniformity in schools is important. Every school or country have their own system and I believe one must follow that. My daughter goes to a private school where Friday chapel time is important. If we request she might be excused (might) but I didn’t do so and let her go to the chapel because I chose to send her to that school and it is my duty to teach her to respect other religions and also to fit in. It is that school’s policy and I have no right to oppose it.

    me- ABSOLUTELY! I agree. No religion should ever be allowed to creep into an educational system. (I so wish that India was more firm in this regard)

    but as you said one also has to respect the system of a school or a country. I agree that it should be.

    I am all for freedom. So I support Hijab just like I support swimsuit. We have the right to wear what we want. But I often wonder why all rules are for or against women, be it religion or a country’s policy? Why a discussion on Hijab and not on what Muslim men is supposed to wear? Why a discussion on women thrown out of pubs for drinking and wearing jeans and not on partying men? It is clear how each religion discriminates against women. Whatever one may argue about, it is sad to see that even in this century some rules don’t change when it comes to women. Whether it’s hijab or ghoonghat, it is sign of oppression. Yes! There are women who like to wear it. Why? Because they are conditioned that way. A girl who is forced to dress in a particular way since childhood has no option. Does she? But then there are women who choose to wear hijab much later and I respect that choice. Did I make sense?

    Me- YEs we should have the right to wear what we want.

    But I often wonder why all rules are for or against women, be it religion or a country’s policy? oh yes!Solilo! you hit the nail on the head!
    yes that IS the irony.
    in all the brouhaha one has forgotten to ask the women..they have no say in this..and it doesnt look as if they will have a say either :/
    ABSOLUTELY Loved the fact that you brought out this point so clearly!!


    Yes! There are women who like to wear it. Why? Because they are conditioned that way.

    A girl who is forced to dress in a particular way since childhood has no option. Does she? But then there are women who choose to wear hijab much later and I respect that choice.
    yes, I agree. A woman will have no option is she is forced to wear it in the name of tradition/culture/whatever other reasons.ANd yes it would be damn had to make out as to who is wearling it out of choice and who is wearing it purely because of conditioning or because they have been forced to.

    But she can make her own choice once she is sufficiently educated and is exposed to the outside modern, progressive world. (even if the exposure is from behind a burqa)

    Yes there are also many women who decide to wear the burqa much later and I agree with you completely. I too respect their choice whatever the reasons might be behind it.

    Yes you did make sense.:)

    I don’t have any problem with the attire. I have problem with the attitude of these religious fanatics who deem their right to keep women on tab and issue fatwa on women when they break some kind of rule. Muslim men booze, wear tight jeans but nothing… no fatwa. Same with the other religious fanatics in our country. Even the revelation by Sister Jesme is also about oppression of women in Church. All 3 major religions even today if not changed, discriminates women. I digress but it needs to be addressed with this to show how and where the discrimination starts.
    me- All 3 major religions even today if not changed, discriminates women. I digress but it needs to be addressed with this to show how and where the discrimination starts.

    ABSOLUTELY AND COMPLETELY AGREE!

    its a deeper issue and thast what the whole debate is about. Merely attacking the ‘symbol’ of oppression will not help if steps are not taken to tackle it a a deeper level.

    Many Islamic countries force their rules on aliens and we have to accept it because the country follows a rule so why the objection when a country imposes their own rule? Just because it is secular? But then as I asked in the beginning what is the actual meaning of secularism?

    me- yes I understand. Like Sucharita said why not tit for tat?
    It truly makes sense in a weird way that if Arab countries force their ‘rules’ on aliens . then why shouldnt France?

    But then there would be no difference between France a secular, democratic country and a tyrannical,patriarchal arab country.

    Having said that I still maintain that as a human I have the right to dress the way I want. I don’t think anyone has the right to pass a judgment. Still personally, I am uncomfortable with the people whose face is covered. Otherwise I am fine with Hijab just like I am with a tank top as long as it is a woman’s choice and not something forced by patriarchs of our society.

    me- agree with EACh word of yours.I too Hate the burqa. I am most uncomfortable talking to anyone whose face I cannot see. It creeps me out.
    Otherwise I am fine with Hijab just like I am with a tank top as long as it is a woman’s choice and not something forced by patriarchs of our society.
    ABSOLUTELY AGREE!
    It should not be forced. Patriarchs can go take a hike! (I so wish!)

    I won’t comment on what Maratha manoos said about Sarkozy manoos. Weirdos’ comments shouldn’t be taken seriously.
    me- yes. wise decision. I am going to try and ignore him too.. ughhh :/

    • July 18, 2009 5:05 pm

      the only way we are every going to restore equality is to straighten our religions..as in we try to separate the crux of their ideas from all that has been added over the ages..

      me- doesn’t look like that will ever happen Vishesh.
      religion itself is pretty weird in a way… by now I dont think even the most ardent followers knwo what is original and what is not..
      what seems bogus today might look like original teachings/preachings to someone a few centuries later..
      so it all depneds..
      religion itself seems really troublesome to me at times :/

      • July 19, 2009 5:28 pm

        true 🙂 lol 🙂 There are many who think I am atheist and are surprised when they see me chant a mantra or a sloka 🙂 When we are kids we are told stories and they become a part of our lives..somewhere within the prompt you to do something ..when I was a kid someone told me the effects of a stray dog bite..even today I am cynophobic but am trying very hard to very come it..But in case of religion and spirituality I was lucky since in my family there is no compulsion and also I studied in a school which concentrated on giving the idea behind things and not trying to push kids to blind beliefs…sometimes I think the Nepolean type( in the Animal farm,ya I read it 😉 ) , readers are too many…but maybe thats how humans are maybe we should make the sheep bleat differently?

        me- YOu read the book? 🙂
        good! 🙂 share someday as to how you liked it 🙂
        glad to know that you had such an amazing family that didnt force you to do one thing or the otehr 🙂

  28. July 18, 2009 3:10 am

    BTW why the long post alert? This is not that long by your standards. 😆 😆

    me- YAY! trust my bestest friend to say it!
    muahhh! 😀

    haan bilkul! long nahin hai na? 😀
    (((((((((((((((((hugs)))))))))))))))))

    oye! wait! do you mean to say that my usual posts are *gasp!* long?
    *Indy looks at Solilo with wide eyes hurt with betrayal*

    PS:- Indy is also known as a drama queen in her spare time 😀

    • July 18, 2009 12:39 pm

      LOL Solilo… 😆

      *Indyeah promises that hereafter she will put a warning only if it is a short post* 😛 😛

      me- grandkid keep a civil tongue in that mouth! 😛 😛
      grandma can use her walking stick to whack! 😛
      *Indy walks away with dignity* 😛 😛

    • July 18, 2009 5:08 pm

      😀 you know that fact that she does all this thinking and research etc makes these posts worth..and she writes only about what twice in a week?
      It is hard to keep things short when your head is bubbling with thoughts..and I say it is a bubble because that phase is broken , you can’t put your thought down the way you want…thats why many of poems are long..

      me- thanks a lot Vishesh:)
      I agree that its hard to err make things short 😀
      and you are my true friend..your poems are proof 😀

    • Solilo permalink
      July 20, 2009 10:59 am

      Yes! Indy is a nautanki but a cute one. Muaaah.
      me- MUAHHHHHHHHHH! 🙂
      ((((((((((hugs)))))))))))))):D

  29. July 18, 2009 3:17 am

    On a lighter vein, Sarkozy might have other intentions. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H5nmA2e3qgY

    😆
    me- yeah he really is some piece of work isnt he?

    • July 18, 2009 11:33 am

      I havent checked the link… but i m gonna like this idea… he he he… i trust sol’s !!!!!!!!!!!!
      me- check it 🙂

      • July 18, 2009 5:10 pm

        lol check it out man 😉
        me- 😀
        and everyone troubled poor Obama over it..when the real culprit was right next to him

      • July 19, 2009 12:52 am

        @Jughead: Finally an apt profile picture for you. Khaaye jao..khaaye jao. 😀
        me- ROFL!!!

        hai na?
        Thats what I told him..ekdum sahi choice hai 😀

  30. July 18, 2009 9:16 am

    You know, Indyeah, I feel sorry for sarkozy. He was just being Pro-women’s freedom. Thats the bottom line. I don’t think he thought in his wildest dreams he would recieve any reponse but encouragement.
    me- yeah he must have thought he will get a lot of support…and he has gotten it too.. to a large extent I think…though the opposition is also pretty vocal at this point of time ..

    on a diff note .his personal life and his lecherousness turns me off :/
    NOw I have to read the rest of the post which is going to be tomorrow as I’m on call tonight. Can’t wait!
    me- okay:)

  31. July 18, 2009 1:52 pm

    I wrote a long long comment. Please tell me that you got it.
    me- haww! nah! I didnt! 😦
    stupid stupid WP! 😦

  32. Rakesh permalink
    July 18, 2009 2:46 pm

    I think you didn’t get my previous comment. I’m trying to repeat whatever I wrote but it was really long. So if you get that one, please delete this one.
    me- my loss:( didnt get the previous one..

    This post is just like any of your other posts… Brilliant. Not because I agree with whatever you say but because it raises a lot of thoughts in my mind.
    me-thanks…helped me in thinking too..

    I thought I’d sit out of this debate as well. But after reading your post, I’ve been able to streamline my thoughts and have decided on, though not a side, but at least a preference in this debate.
    me- ah! I too should say a preference rather than a stand… coz there is no right or wrong here..as Kislay says we all are looking at it in our own way depending on where we stand

    Obviously, I am totally against the concept of the Burqa. I do not understand it and I don’t think I ever will.
    me- me too..personally I hate the garment.

    On a side thought, I don’t think that the full Burqa is even prescribed by Islam. I have been told this by my Boss and his daughter who are staunch followers of Islam. She wears the Hijab along with the full black Abaya but not the Burqa. She even tells me that even in Saudi Arabia when women go to the Mecca, they are not allowed to wear the Burqa but only a Hijab which proves sort of that Islam doesn’t ask women to cover their face.
    me- Yes, Rooney(below in a comment) has given an interesting link..one that says the same thing..that Islam does not ask women to wear the burqa.

    Coming back though the debate is about personal freedom, shouldn’t the exact issue behind it be given thought as to what is it that makes the people choose?
    me- yes, I agree. Absolutely. But the thought should be given BEFORE banning anything right?
    I mean an outright ban somehow goes against the very nature of a democracy or maybe we are expecting too much from a democracy

    For me, I don’t really understand the concept of the Burqa. How can you keep half of the people in this world under a veil just because of the logic that you are unsure about the intentions of the other half? This practice is from the times when women were not considered equals. They were considered the property of men and were supposed to be protected from the other men. Just like you would protect your Gold in the safe.
    me- yes, I agree. the reason (given) behind a burqa is disgusting int the extreme.

    Today, the world has evolved. There is no (or very little) debate over whether women are equals or not. In this world, how can we justify carrying the practices of the past?
    me- I agree. As Vinod SIr also said these things seem disgusting. But what of the people who are wearing it? You and I might very well hate the burqa but we are not directly affected by the ban. Whereas those who are going to be affected by the ban have no say in this matter. Isn’t it ironical?

    If we had to stick to the past, why not stick to the stone age and roam around naked?
    me- one very well could. roam around naked…Infact there are many who are doing the same..albeit in their space…and the space certainly is not their home and bedroom but beyond that..

    Though the issue is about personal freedom, let us consider how this personal freedom affects others.

    Today in the developed world, where women wear the Burqa – what are they doing? They are saying – We want equal rights, we want equal opportunities, we are equal… But then they cover their face and say – You men are a**holes, you are perverts, we will not show you our face. We are properties of our husbands. Why these double standards? If at all they choose to wear the Burqa, then they shouldn’t even be allowed to talk to other people in public and they shouldn’t leave their homes without a male relative.
    me- This affecting others that you have written about Rakesh…it does not have ana physical effect does it?
    I mean everything you have written about is how you ‘THINK@ you and others feel or how you THINK the burqaclad women make you and others feel..

    But then going by the same argument…even the Sri RamSena FEELS offended by what I and many others like me wear. Jeans and skirts and tops and what not…..I am sure the Sri Ram Sena’s argument would run something along the lines of ..modernity is ‘spoiling’ our women..or some such…the point is that an argument can be found to support any view..but what of the ones who are the centre of the debate?the women? Granted that the muslim women might be oppressed(more than any other perhaps) and that this ban might help them in the long run..but first they need to be taken into confidence dont they? BEFORE taking such a huge decision that will affect their lives?

    (the SRS has been cited purely as an example )

    SO you see the your freedom affects mine part leaves a huge room open for interpretation….

    I’ll tell you an incident – At my BIL’s wedding, I met one of his friends – Nice guy, we talked, drank, had fun etc. Next day his wife joined him for the wedding. He was a changed man so much so that he stuck to his wife all the time and though I crossed him several times during the next two days and greeted him, he never once did introduce his wife to me. Isn’t that sort of Insulting? I think that’s exactly how the Burqa clad women make others feel.

    me- I can understand what you are trying to say here.
    I think that’s exactly how the Burqa clad women make others feel.and that was an honest statement too.. But you(or any man) being ‘affected’ by what a woman wears has no bearing on the whole debate…
    Any woman can wear whatever she wants to irrespective of how it affects you..
    you are not in the picture..SHe is….

    for that matter why not ban the Ghoonghat in India?

    Ys it came due to X,Y,Z reasons to India…but the truth is that today in rural India it has become a way of life for many..they don’t know why or how this came to be..all they know i that it is their tradition now…

    Now personally I HATE the ghoonghat… it is the sign of a patriarchal ,feudal and dare I say Even misogynistic mindset..

    Now I am ALL for a BAN on the ghoonghat…as any sane, modern thinking person would be..
    But will such a ban work??

    Woulnt the people directly affected by such a ban refuse to follow the ban and wouldnt they feel threatened?

    Infact do you think that in event of such a scenario(the ban on ghoonghat) will the women be EVEN ASKED as to what it is that they think?

    Now the ghoonghat has NOTHING to do with Hinduism or any other religion..BUT and its a big but…for the people and the women who do wear the ghoonghat..it is nothing less than sacrilege to NOT wear it…

    you and I can give an end number of reasons as to why these women wear the ghoonghat.(conditioning/oppression/subjugation/tyrannical men.but that doesn’t change the reality..

    which is that the women( and the men) will not let go of the tradition simply because of a ban..

    .if anything they will stick even more close to the tradition then ever….

    one simply cannot decide for someone else as to what is BEST for ‘them’

    .

    Even those who ‘choose’ to wear the Burqa, why do they actually do it? A lot of these women choose to wear the Burqa to belong to their religious group. They profess to the world that ‘WE ARE MUSLIMS’ and thus become part of a Group within a free and equal society. This promotes a feeling of ‘Groupism’ wherein these people become ‘DIFFERENT’ or ‘UNIQUE’ among ordinary equal citizens. Can this behaviour be deemed appropriate in free society?

    Me-I agree that the moment one sees a woman in a burqa one knows that the woman is a muslim..(in almost all the cases)

    But then your first point comes up…is or isnt the burqa associated with religion(islam in this case)?

    It might not be sanctioned by Islam per se..but the truth is that for many it has now come to be associated with their religion..so yes in that sense it is a religious issue..

    I read the book ‘The Islamist’ and this is what I learnt from the author (Obviously the author’s opinion only but still) – In London, everybody was given total religious freedom ie. the freedom to follow whatever religion he or she wanted to. Islam was promoted in colleges where there was primarily a Muslim attendance. Slowly and gradually, people started becoming more ‘Islamic’ in terms of appearances. Women started wearing the Hijab while men started growing their beards – all to belong to the Group – the so called ‘better’ and ‘superior’ Group. Once the group was strong enough, they arm twisted the college management to provide them with a Prayer room in college – breaks during prayer time etc. etc.

    Now, where does this stop? Where do you draw the line?

    me- I agree. Though Britain I suppose should perhaps not be so tolerant of religious beliefs…(for example the french attitude of NOT allowing religious symbols in offices and educational institutions
    sounds mighty sensible to me)

    You said What of the women who DO want to have that choice? He makes a generalization , one that says that generally women will choose NOT to wear the burqa. I think what Hitchens is saying that where women do have a choice, generally the choice is not to wear a Burqa and that is evident from the fact that there are many Muslims in the world in developed and secular countries who do not wear the Burqa compared to those in countries where they are forced to do so.

    Think about this – I become a Godman and I invent a religion – the religion is called ‘ORIGINAL’ and I prescribe that all followers of ‘ORIGINAL’ should dress originally just like God made them. And what if this catches on and becomes a rage. Will this be considered within the realms of Freedom to follow any religion?
    me- its a very simple thing. Islam is not just any religion but one which has a lot of followers..in the world of politics how much bargaining power you have accounts for a lot…so in that sense all the major religions of the world can afford to ask for concessions(even if that sounds disgusting) while a ‘new’ religion will not count.

    I know it is a stupid argument in the extreme but then what possible rational explanation can you give to covering your face? I can still give and take the Hijab but covering your entire face – Why? In God’s name – Why?

    The problem is when people take religion out of their homes and into public domain, a lot of people become wary. Especially when religion has been the cause of so much hate and bloodshed in recent times.
    me- By that token Rakesh a lot of things would have to be banned. Almost everything is associated with religion in some way or the other.,..plus we should decide either BAN ALL religious symbols from public space or GIVE EVERYONE EQUAL space to wear and practise what they want to..this banning of ONLy the burqa is not done…WHY NOT ban the dresses that christian nuns wear? I could say that I dont like it..I find very little difference between the burqa and the dress of a nun save perhaps the face veil…

    You yourself make it very clear that you totally oppose the concept of the Burqa and the logic behind it is insulting. If something that one person does is insulting to others, how can this be considered a personal choice?

    me- yes the reason sure sounds insulting to me..but then I am not the one affected by the ban am I? so I have no say in the matter.

    I can understand that a lot of people in France would be uncomfortable in seeing Burqa clad women or talking to them. If this choice of a few makes others uncomfortable, how can this be considered a personal choice?

    Inspite of all the problems that I may have with the Burqa, I know, these are not compelling enough to BAN it. But then, what other solution do we have?
    me- yes..there seems to be no solution…no IMMEDIATE solution that is..
    but surely there are many long term solutions?
    education, debates, a dialogue on what is outdated and positively neanderthal and not modern?

    Education and Social criticism work well with issues but not with issues related to religion especially when the only rational explanation the radicals have in this case is ‘Because God said so’.
    me- no!no! not because god said so..but (only in my opinion) becasue for some letting go of a way of life(no matter how abhorrent it might seem to us ) may take time..and forcibly making them do it is not the way forward…

    I completely agree when you say The most correct point will NOT work when it’s rammed down one’s throat. But then I think, isn’t that exactly what religion has been doing all these years. And when someone forcefully removes that thing from your throat, you are not happy and want to ram it back in.

    me- I agree. But doing something forcefully leads to resentment and long term paranoia.. :/

    I also understand that Banning the Burqa may not exactly solve the purpose and a few women who might do it out of choice may stop leaving their homes. (But to those women, I’d say Good riddance!)

    me- good riddance?
    those few women would matter too na? isnt that what a democracy is all about?

    I know that I might have digressed – Your post was about Freedom but I think we cannot enter into a mindless debate about freedom without looking at the real issue.

    When you say that the woman wearing the Burqa by choice is making a personal choice, I disagree. I think, it is customs and religion who are making a choice for her, which is equally incorrect. The point is she doesn’t think – Why she needs to wear the Burqa? And then makes a choice. She just wears it. If she were to think the actual reason behind it and still make that choice, then I’d say she’s insulting every other Man she sees on the road which is also enough reason to ban it.

    me- I couldnt possibly comment on this.
    Simply because you are making assumptions(they may be right for all I know) about women who wear the burqa….you are assuming that they want to ‘INSULT’ the men on the road simply becasue they dont show their face to strangers….
    while I agree(that yes she wants to not show her face to strange men which is dumb)

    BUT what if I say (only for argument sake)that the men who are so rattled by the sight of women wearing a burqa are not sure of themselves in the first place?

    That it is THEY..these men who are insecure rather than the other way round and that it strikes me as supremely weird (not to mention insecure) that they would want to see the face of every woman they meet and that nothing less would satisfy them…

    .I agree its stupid in the extreme (this wearing of the burqa for this reason) but then wouldnt you also say that each ghoonghat wearing woman in India INSULTS each man she meets?

    I know that just looking at a question of personal freedom; we cannot possibly justify the banning of the Burqa and I’m sure you can see that I can’t arrive at a conclusion but if I had to take a side, I’d probably lean towards Sarkozy and simply argue this… Just like it is a law that you cannot reveal every part of your body in public, there should be a law that you cannot conceal your face in public.
    me- yeah completely get what you are saying …I hate the burqa so that part of me wants to cheer the ban..but the word BAN itself gets my hackles up so I step back and start arguing for the other side…

    ban somehow is not a word that goes well with a democracy..


    PS:-THANK YOU for the awesome comment 🙂

    a lot of grey area here and all of us are trying to figure it out it seems..

    • Rakesh permalink
      July 18, 2009 2:47 pm

      Oopss.. This one’s really long. Sorry!!!
      me- hey why sorry?
      DOnt you know long is an essential requirement at this space? 😀

      • July 18, 2009 4:01 pm

        It may be long… but I loved reading it… dude

      • July 18, 2009 7:46 pm

        Rakesh, buddy, that IS a long comment 🙂

        Anyways I have a question: Do you think a person has a right to follow a religion (any religion) or not?

        Or are others going to decide that for that person?

        • July 19, 2009 1:52 am

          Sure Masood, every person should have the right to follow his / her religion. But then what is actually religion? Isn’t it a means to reach God, Isn’t it something which should only be between you and God? or should it be a shoutout to the world saying ‘I belong to this religion’! That’s what I’m not sure about.

          • masood permalink
            July 20, 2009 2:02 pm

            Yes, I agree. In that case all types of religious symbolism should be condemned, isn’t it? What may sound silly to one religion may be a way of life for the other. So let there be no symbolism at all.

            Moreover, by banning the veil, France is not being any different than the Saudis or Afghans. If one forces it, the other bans it. Both are wrong in my opinion.

          • July 20, 2009 5:46 pm

            Yeah I understand Masood. Just that people have become so wary of religious symbols now especially since religion has lately become synonymous with Hate rather than with God.

            Ya, I agree that we cannot ban one and not the other.

          • Solilo permalink
            July 21, 2009 3:01 am

            “Moreover, by banning the veil, France is not being any different than the Saudis or Afghans. If one forces it, the other bans it. Both are wrong in my opinion.”

            Agree with Masood on that.

    • July 20, 2009 2:07 pm

      Awesomeness Indy! Thanks for the detailed explanation. I know, it is almost impossible to come up with a rational explanation for Banning something as simple as a Dress, especially in a democracy.

      Somehow, I hate the Burqa but yes, as you say – Not reason enough to Ban it. Wish I was God 🙂

      me- thank YOU for the very generous praise 🙂

      yeah damn tough to come up with any precise definition or explanation..
      yep! I hate the burqa ..but ban is a difficult word to digest na?

      • July 24, 2009 8:53 pm

        beautiful comment, Rakesh…. and well-argued by Indyeah on the other side.. loved reading it 🙂
        me- thank you from me 🙂
        and on Rakesh’s behalf too thank you
        yes his comment is really amazing! absolutely agree! 🙂

  33. Gopinath Mavinkurve permalink
    July 18, 2009 3:01 pm

    Congratulations, Indyeah for producing a really well-researched write-up! What Sarkozy did mention was that the dictat imposed on women following the Islam to wear a burqa was demeaning to them. France has been opposing religious symbolism worn on the sleeve in public, but not allowing someone to follow practices deep-rooted in their faith is denying freedom to the individual. We have a long way to individual freedom as we can all see! Nice post, once again!

    me- thank you Sir.
    Yes France is quite praiseworthy when it comes to secularism ..I am a huge admirer of their kind of secularism but as you said what of individual liberty?
    the two are clashing here …..

  34. sraboneyghose permalink
    July 18, 2009 3:19 pm

    I don’t know if a woman really wears a burqa out of choice…She thinks she’s wearing it because she wants to but she forgets that her beliefs have been carefully fine tuned (over generations) by men…

    me- Yes Sraboney we dont know..and that is the whole problem..you and I can at best make an informed guess..but we are not the ones being affected… we are assuming that she ‘thinks’ that she wants to wear it…

    and suppose she has been conditioned (which is true in quite a few cases) but how do we convince someone who has been conditioned so strongly that the burqa is a sign of opression?

    Will a mere ban change her thinking?

  35. Rakesh permalink
    July 18, 2009 6:30 pm

    Indy, just saw blogadda! Thank you, you’re a sweetheart 🙂
    me- you are most welcome 🙂 the post so deserved it:)

    • July 20, 2009 9:49 am

      what happened ?? link please??? for mere mortals who cannot find anything…

      • July 20, 2009 11:03 am

        Arey she sent my latest post to Blog adda and it was selected as a Spicy Saturday Pick 🙂

        • hitchwriter permalink
          July 20, 2009 11:54 am

          Than why do you have your feet on the ground….

          must to celebrate and announce….

          Comon you being so modest makes people like me seem like Vinod Kambli !!!!!!!!!!
          me- LOL!!
          Yeah Rakesh!! Congratulations!! 😀

          • July 20, 2009 2:13 pm

            he he, arey it was on Saturday and then Sunday, nobody’s online and even I was on leave. Today the news (and the post) is old already…

            lol @ Vinod Kambli *Do u mean I’m sachin?* he he…

          • hitchwriter permalink
            July 20, 2009 5:24 pm

            How many runs were you hit for in that over… lemme remember…
            me- ROFL!!!
            he’s got you on that one RAkesh! 😀

          • July 21, 2009 10:19 am

            What? Am I on Sach ka Samna now???
            me- LOL!!!
            ask Dhiren! 😀

  36. Sandhya permalink
    July 18, 2009 7:42 pm

    So many angles are in the comment section, here! I have got a very close muslim friend and some opinions, I have expressed are hers. Many of her relatives are in Pakistan and they came here for my friend’s daughter’s wedding. They brought the burqas with them but were happy that nobody was insisting them to wear it. So most of the women do not prefer to wear them, I was told. Esp. the girls of this generation. The BBC interview showed some girls’ faces but some were covered completely. Some of the highly educated girls said that they are comfortable to work outside wearing their burqa, esp. the lawyers.
    me-its really sad that women are forced to wear something..that they are never asked their opinions…

    Best option is, the women should be free to be like what they want to be – go out in a burqa or go out without it. Will it happen during this century, at least?
    me- yes, I completely agree.. The women should be free to do what they want to.

    Indyeah, you have written this post with so many angles and the comments here, are also very interesting. Simply best post!
    me- aww(((Hugs)) thanks a lot:)

  37. Kislay Chandra permalink
    July 18, 2009 9:38 pm

    “The most correct point will NOT work when it’s rammed down one’s throat .”

    There . You said it in a few words . Since the day I heard this , I have not been able to digest it completely .
    me- hai na? this one word..’ban’ is what I cannot digest..

    The fact that it is acceptable to most women . is why , I don’t object to it completely . The objection comes due to the fact , that , what if a few women do wear it willingly . And more importantly , if Sarkozy decides that the skull cap the jews wear is a symbol of oppression , will he ban it as well ? But then, this is such a complex issue . So , the women who do want to wear it , do they do so out of years of conditioning , or is it a completely independent decision ? What Sarkozy is done , is tried to redraw the thin line between Freedom and Oppression . And to us each one of us , this decision will appear as right or wrong , depending on the way we see it .
    me- And your entire comment is how I feel about the issue…so would echo all your words…I agree..it is hard to say if women are wearing it becasue they want to or because they are oppressed or maybe conditioned?

    . And to us each one of us , this decision will appear as right or wrong , depending on the way we see it

    oh yes! grey area…a lot of grey area.. there is no right or wrong…we are trying to look at various angles that’s it… 🙂

    Must I add that it is a very well researched and a very balanced post . Isn’t it obvious ? 🙂
    me-thanks a lot:)

    • July 20, 2009 3:03 pm

      You know how this (Sarkozy-France-Burka) thingy can be emulated in India very easily ? Some Crazy Hindu Fanatic coming up with the idea that all married women must wear the Mangalsutra and use Sindoor . Or , some equally crazy and fanatical liberal insisting that wearing either of the two is symbol of Oppression , and nothing else . And lo and behold , apne yahan bhi shuru ho gaya .
      me- you got it absolutely right!

      and oh! not just Hindu fanatics…or lost kind of intellectual liberals…
      but also some coddling could go on in the name of minority appeasement..

      blech!
      I hate all approaches equally.. :/

      PS:- btw any post on this? 🙂 knowing you your brain’s probably working already 😀

  38. Chiranjib permalink
    July 18, 2009 10:42 pm

    That was an interesting post, Indyeah. I think whether or nor Muslim women should be wearing Burqas is a dicey issue – involves a lot of religious sentiment as well as involves human rights.
    me- yes, too complicated an issue..

    But, you know, I remember that bird in a cage. A bird who forever lived in a cage and one day, when the door was opened, it was afraid, very afraid. It did not move out. Rather it moved to the corner and waited with a bated breath, the eyes were not accustomed to broad day light.

    Same here, be it a French ruling or a Taliban dictat, whatever, the right should be left with the individual. If its part of a religion, so be it. As long as they are comfortable, no issues. Yes, if tomorrow, someone cries out, “No, I don’t want it! I want freedom!” …then, then, we have a cause for concern. Then we need to free the bird from the cages!
    me- beautiful example you have given Chiranjib!

    loved it.. yes you are right..the bird might be too scared to venture out even if absolute and exhilarating freedom awaits her on the other side…

    but no matter how much one yearns to show freedom and all that it means to the little creature , one cannot simply pull her out of the cage and forcibly throw her headlong into the outside ‘free’ world…

    As long as they are comfortable, no issues. Yes, if tomorrow, someone cries out, “No, I don’t want it! I want freedom!” …then, then, we have a cause for concern. Then we need to free the bird from the cages!

    ABSOLUTELY! I agree…

  39. Badz permalink
    July 18, 2009 10:48 pm

    Abhi. Can I come back and comment for this after exams PLEASE!?! 😦
    I have ALOT to say. 😐

    Hugs & Mwaah!!!!
    You are a DARLING!!!!! 🙂
    me- sure take your time:)
    (hugs))

  40. laalay ki jaan permalink
    July 18, 2009 11:16 pm

    Freedom is the right to choose: the right to create for oneself the alternatives of choice.” yes no doubt
    me- 🙂 welcome here.

  41. ves21 permalink
    July 19, 2009 12:03 am

    Interesting post. I would tend to agree to the comment that secularism leaves freedom to every religion to coexist and does not smother any. Remember Laicite comes from revolution: where religions were not liked.

    No time either to read this post in full or write in full. tomorrow Italy

    But it always bothers me to see a lady in a burkha… Problem is was and still mostly is an imposition on a woman. She is (and rightly so !!! hm!!) the property of the man, not to seen and wanted by others. After all if I paid 10 camels for her she should bloody well cover her face.
    What surprises me actually with all the current ranting about Laicité is that the French want to follow the 1984 brits and put cameras all over the place so big brother can watch you; how come this never hits the burkhas as a huge opportunity for terrorists. Any number of AKM 47 can be hidden under that benign robe . Ah of course one can identify eyes. So cops can wander around with retina scanners.
    Well I must run… you have me going on a long reply d, but it will have to wait
    Anyway the big Sark did not insist ion Manmohan removing his pagdy on 14 th july parade. Wow!!

    me- first of all darn glad to have your comment here:) even if its in a rush 😛


    After all if I paid 10 camels for her she should bloody well cover her face.

    :/
    that sentence does make it much more real and horrifying.. :/

    Orwell’s nightmare certainly seems to be repeating itself…

    burqas to be used by terrorists?
    *shudder*
    yes that is one huge opportunity for them isnt it? :/

    you know now that you mentioned big Brother and terrorists it occurred to me that IF authorities were to say that faces should be uncovered for reasons of security then wouldn’t it make more sense to say no helmets/burqas/caps/anything else that covers one’s face will be allowed in public spaces?

    rather than no burqas will be allowed in public spaces? (this is ofcourse IF security is an issue)

    Mannu Uncle? 😀 yeah its a small wonder..was wondering the same 🙂

  42. July 19, 2009 2:21 am

    Sorry everyone for not being able to reply to the comments. Will be back to reply tmrw and discuss:)

    feel free to discuss any point.

    Ves thank YOU 🙂 I know how busy you are …please be back to share more whenever you have time:)

    or else mail 😛 😛

  43. sucharita sarkar permalink
    July 19, 2009 4:32 am

    A deservedly long post on a very sensitive and complex topic.

    I agree that we should be free to choose what we wear. I also agree that right points are unpalatable when rammed down one’s throat.

    But, dress is no longer a personal issue only. Many countries, long before France, have already made it a religious/political agenda, trying to dictate dress codes of residents, even those who do not belong to the ‘official’ religion.If a particular religion is militant and all-dictating in practice (if not in theory, as you have quoted), cannot Sarkozy’s stance be called a tit-for-tat? At a parochial level, I can agree with him. But of course, my civilized self feels rather guilty and says, “how can you” to me and supports individual freedom strongly, be it in India or France or Saudi Arabia or Iran or…

    me- I so agree with all that you have said Sucharita. So many of us while against the idea of the burqa are grappling with the other word..BAN..”
    it is this that I am not able to digest…
    as you have written
    But of course, my civilized self feels rather guilty and says, “how can you” to me and supports individual freedom strongly, be it in India or France or Saudi Arabia or Iran or…
    you are absolutely right about the fact that dress is not a personal choice anymore or it doesnt seem to be atleast…

    but at the end of the day it is.. very much a personal choice…

    no matter how much we connect it to religion , politics and what not..in the end it is the individual who alone has the right to decide what it is that he/she wants to wear…..

  44. Happy Kitten permalink
    July 19, 2009 11:55 am

    Indyeah.. as usual a post straight from your heart and well written too…
    me-thanks:)

    none has the right to dictate.. make it a personal choice and this is what governments ought to do. There maybe muslim women who do not want to wear a Burkha, so see to it that they are not forced to wear it (this makes OG’s comment on Dowry and maybe not Sati relevant) .. and as for those who want to wear it.. if it is their choice then no one has the right to take it away from them.
    me- yes..I so agree with this line There maybe muslim women who do not want to wear a Burkha, so see to it that they are not forced to wear it exactly!

    Here in Kuwait not all wear Burquas and so far the non Muslims are not compelled to wear it either. They also passed a rule that women drivers cannot drive while wearing a Burqua which does make sense.(not that it is always followed!)

    I have always thought that the French govt does sometimes go overboard with their strange rules.
    me- Thats good to know..I didnt know this about Kuwait ….the french have their positives and some eccentricities as well… :).

  45. aniruddha pathak permalink
    July 19, 2009 3:40 pm

    Phew finished.. 🙂 having been aware about the topic helped though to skim 😀

    I have always believed that freedom is in giving a person the choice to do what they wanted to do as long as one does not step on the rights of the fellow people around.

    me- LOL! 😛

    so you skimmed?
    *horrified look*
    blasphemy!
    you didnt read? 😥

    but seriously?
    yeah you said it!
    freedom is in giving a person the choice to do what they wanted to do as long as one does not step on the rights of the fellow people around.
    I agree completely.

  46. shraddha permalink
    July 19, 2009 5:12 pm

    happy birthday to your friend..

    cute card…
    me-thanks:) will convey your wishes:)

  47. oorja permalink
    July 19, 2009 6:48 pm

    you know what came to my mind while reading it..

    it is like saying girls should not wear dupattas.. as if given a chance they might want not to wear it.. anyway they prefer wearing t-shirts… not every woman prefers that.
    me- yes…true…it differs from person to person…and how can we decide for someone else as to what they should wear? this is what I dont understand..

    that is a very personal choice. what a girl wears or not is her own choice. period.

    no law should have any say in that. i would have loved to add even religion to the list but still i think we are not ready for that yet….
    me- yes :/ religion too shouldnt interfere… but that seems a dream as of now na? :/

  48. Rajkumar permalink
    July 19, 2009 7:14 pm

    your blog is very interesting.I like to add you in my blog roll
    I welcome you to my blog,leave your valuable comments and your link back is welcomed……….
    me-welcome here

  49. Rooney permalink
    July 19, 2009 9:46 pm

    Egypt’s Grand Imam, Sheikh Mohammad Tantawi said the face veil was not compulsory in Islam and said every head of state had the right to accept or prohibit it.

    http://www.copts.co.uk/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1347&Itemid=2

    me-thanks a lot for sharing the link Rooney.It was quite informative. I had no idea.
    Its good to know that its not compulsory in Islam.
    So now atleast the religious angle is taken care of.Now we can concentrate on the idea of individual liberty.

  50. Amrit permalink
    July 20, 2009 1:24 am

    I am late..infact very late)..but nevertheless..I am back 🙂

    Let me start with saying something which you would have been bored of listening now…A Wonderful Post!! 🙂
    The one bullet point which surpasses every argument..every reasoning is – Its about the choices!!! And you very well highlighted this.
    me-thanks a lot:)
    yes in the end it all boils down to one word. CHOICE.

    I really dunno..and neither can anyone say..that this decision of Sarkozy would have been a political motive…may be or may be not! But in this world..when our leader and someone in that position takes a decision..it is so much influenced by the statistics..the larger part of the society. I will tell you where I am coming from..today if you ask 100 Islam women that given a chance would you like to wear burqa..I believe that a very higher ratio would be “No”. You may question my assumption..but when I say this..I say coz I have read several biographies..several interviews of women from Islamic world who talked about how this burqa things are imposed forcefully.
    me- I agree to an extent Amrit. YEs the majority of muslim women might very well say a delighted NO to wearing the burqa if asked.
    But have they been asked?
    Has there been a survey? An empirical study?Anything?
    To my knowledge there has been no such survey conducted in France.

    the reason such a survey Can never be conducted in France is becasue the principle of secularism in France PROHIBITS any one from enquiring about a person’s religious identity.
    So its a catch 22 situation.

    BUT YES…SARKOZY should have indicated this law as a CHOICE..a choice that those who want to wear it..do it..and those who does not wants to wear it..can exercise her right and shall not wear it!
    me-yes and if it was a choice then there would have been no need for the word BAN in the first place.

    Okay..I have some other points in my mind as well…Sarkozy enforced that one should not wear a burqa. And in counties like Saudi Arabia..every single women has to wear a burqa irrespective of country and religion..now this is what is curbing of an absolute freedom.
    I mean..someone from India..or from America..why the hell they should wear burqa when they are in Saudi Arabia??!!
    me- I absolutely agree. Why should someone force another to wear or not war something?!

    But isnt that where the crucial difference lies between Saudi Arabia and democracies like France or India?

    They might very well force people to do things..but if democracies too start doing it then how far are we from an authoritarian rule????

    I would cite a real example..I saw an American female at Bahrain Airport..dressed up in an attire.. with deep neck top! But when I saw the same female at Riyadh Airport..she was wearing a burqa…basically any female irrespective of nationality..religion need to wear it in Saudi Arabia. Horrifying! Not only this…they need to cover up entirely when they are walking on road..or any public place! The offices there have different entrances for women..they cannot talk freely to male colleagues..they sit in a complete different designated area in office!! I mean..what is this!! Why such restrictions on females! This bewilders me!!
    me- This is seriously disturbing to read Amrit. 😦

    Thank you for sharing though because.I was not aware of the details in the situation.

    This is an issue which is so sensitive..and dynamic as well which ranges as different laws in different nations..In Pakistan there is no coercion on female to wear one..in Taliban, they are killed for not wearing it…in Saudi Arabia, the moral policing officers penalize women for not wearing it..In France, they should not wear it. Strange! Ridiculous!

    me- yes 😦 😦 this is the irony…that in all the countries…there is no mention of the word Choice..

    one hopes that atleastFrance will let this word be a part of the vocabulary of women there…

    And the last and the most important point…who is affected after all! In every example I pointed above..its women who goes through this everytime. Why?! Why only them?!
    me- yes..that is the main point. Why women?

    I am extremely sorry…if I would have digressed…just wanted to point out the fact..that Islam women goes through a lot…they face restrictions on every single step they take..and decisions like these..atleast gives freedom to the chunk of the women society if not all.
    me- no absolutely not..your comment was rather interesting to read …

    But yes..freedom is curtailed..on the aspect that it should be entirely a choice whether one wants to wear it or not..but witnessing the past..what these women were subjected to..i think it was indeed one step towards their freedom. Isn’t it?
    me- It could be…..lets wait and watch..the word ban is hard to digest though… :/

    And I sincerely wish..this world should give due respect and freedom to women..to take things in their hand to decide things for themselves!
    me- absolutely!
    Let the women decide!
    thats the only way it can work.

    The opinions expressed are entirely mine and is not intended to hurt anyone.
    me- dont worry…they were perfectly fine..

  51. Chrysalis permalink
    July 20, 2009 8:31 am

    Bravo!! for this brave post which has been written with such honesty I agree with you, there are too many maybe’s, what if’s and could be’s in this issue. There can be no black and white answers. Freedom to wear and freedom to not wear. Sarkozy would have done better if he said that those found forcing a woman to wear a burqa against her will, will be punished. The burqa, hijaab and other such forms are aligned with Islam and its philosophy…a generic ban by those who do not completely understand that particular faith will do more harm than good.
    Freedom is the key here. Freedom to do as one chooses.
    me-thanks Chrysalis

    Yes too many ifs and buts for sure…

    I agree with your second line .
    Sarkozy would have done better if he said that those found forcing a woman to wear a burqa against her will, will be punished.
    this is what he should have said instead of thinking of himself as some kind of redeemer for muslim women..

    yes…! a ban is not the solution at all.
    .
    Freedom to do as one chooses…you said it!

  52. B K CHOWLA permalink
    July 20, 2009 10:15 am

    Indyeah,look, for whatever reasons Islam has been a subject of discussion for a long time now.Burkha too has been under discussion at various forums including a number of TV debates.
    Irrespective of whatone may say….it should be one’s own choice.
    me- abs0lutely I agree.. it should be a choice..
    But,don’t you agree that such subjects become a TOPIC when it concerns Islam.If France decides to have law passed,one better follow it.
    Similarly,have we..you amd me..ever taken up similar stand when some country objected to Sikhs wearing Turban?No. Because we Indians are always taken for granted.So, i can go on but it will not help.

    me- The fact that any ‘issue ‘ connected with Islam becomes a ‘topic’ as you say sir..surely then muslims are right to feel a little victimized(only if we go by your statement here)

    Because in my personal opinion I don’t think that anything becomes a topic when its connected with Islam ..but that anything connected with RELIGION(be it any religion in thew world) becomes a TOPIC.

    I mean even a little known ‘religion(?)/sect became embroiled in a controversy!
    Dera Sachcha Sauda…so clearly the root cause of all trouble is religion and the way it is politicized…and used to inflame passions…

    The reason I will never oppose the turban ban is because I fully agree with the ban.
    religious symbols have no place in France’s educational institutions and there is NO reason why turbans should be an exception…..

    How fair is it on the part of Sikhs to ask to be treated as special ,as an exception when every other religion has accepted the ban? and with good reason too? why should we have turbans or any religious symbol in schools? I fail to see the point….
    it is not about Indians in this particular case(of the turban) but rather about religion…

  53. shail permalink
    July 20, 2009 11:12 am

    An interesting and well researched post Indy.
    me-thanks Shail.:)
    My thoughts:

    1. It should ‘free’ choice in reality too

    But like Manju I wonder especially when you say in one of your reply comments,

    “I mean if some women (and not all..because some wear it out of choice too)are being forced to wear the burqa by tyrannical men then what are the chances that the men will ‘ALLOW’ (I HATE this word) the same women to go out without a burqa?
    so locked in the prison she will be now..perhaps forever.”

    This in effect says that if burqa is banned women will not be allowed to go out. So they should be given the ‘choice’ to wear it?? Hmmm…

    me- no..Shail..what it means is that the choice should be there for women who LIKE wearing it for whatever reasons..

    the word choice is for the women who like wearing it as mentioned in brackets..

    and that in the case of women who DONT have the choice in the first place, banning the burqa would be shutting their only window to the world…the burqa is one way that they can go out in the world… and maybe would have (and probably will) come to a level of awareness where they too will make the choice of NOT wearing it..but till then we cant make decisions for them…

    2. I also believe a country has the right to make laws and they should be respected. (My son while younger, used to ask me why he had to return home at 7 p.m. while his friends stayed back in the playground talking till 8 p.m. I told him , that was the rule in our house so he had to obey it while his friends had different rules made by their parents which they were free to follow) But of course no law is forever. If citizens are aware, raise their voices and make a concerted effort, laws can be changed if they don’t like it. That is how a democracy should function.

    me- Yes, and I agree..most definitely the rules should be respected. But what if the rules appear to be almost authoritarian?
    And only made for one communtiy?

    If citizens are aware, raise their voices and make a concerted effort, laws can be changed if they don’t like it. That is how a democracy should function.

    I agree..but then also in a democracy no rule should be made without the approval of its citizens should it?

    3. Its universally known that politicians have this in-built urge to score brownie points for selfish reasons. It cannot be any different in France.
    me- yes…he certainly seems to be playing his cards right..

    Hmmm… but yes women certainly should have a voice when it comes to their dress. And that voice should be ‘totally free’ of ‘influences’ too. THAT certainly is tough.

    me- yes..thats the whole issue 😦 and a damn tough one!.. one is simply lost in the maze…
    a choice?but for how many?
    choice free of influences?
    thats the toughest! 😦

  54. Deeps permalink
    July 20, 2009 11:42 am

    Abhi,brilliant brilliant post.I really would like to link it up on my facebook profile so my friends to can get to read this.Would you mind if I do that? do let me know.
    me- thanks Deeps:)
    sure no problem.. go ahead:)

    What you’ve said here is what I agree with verbatim,Abhi.I will be back to share my thoughts ,have a few things to say too 🙂

    For this cracker of a post ((((((HUGS)))) & MUAHS 🙂
    me- will look forward to it:)
    ((((hugs))right back 🙂
    muah!

  55. anrosh permalink
    July 20, 2009 11:49 am

    people feel comfortable to talk to people who dress alike.

    a dress, cultural norms however subjugating to a person will always be subjective.

    a look is the first impression of a person – hard to digest but true. that is how stereotypes are formed !

    and freedom is the exercise of will – without harming another person.

    …taliban toh dhoor ki baat hai… let’s look at our own backyard and we will encounter some interesting comments…

    me- true An… human beings are most comfortable with similarities…
    and yes looks lead to stereotypes….true…….sad but true…
    and freedom is the exercise of will – without harming another person.
    absolutely! this is what freedom is….and who are we to decide what or how free the other person should be?

    our backyard? yes..we have some some gems in our backyard :/

    all of whom think that they too can tell us what ‘sabhyata ‘is all about :/

    the whole thing reminds me of PCC :/

    then we were being told how to behave…how to protest decently..how to make a noise but not too loud or vulgar a noise while protesting…
    aarghh!

  56. Pal permalink
    July 20, 2009 2:19 pm

    Indy-gurl,

    You surpass yourself every time! An excellent post, this.

    Made me think a lot.
    me- 🙂 thanks Pal 🙂

    Though I ended sticking to my original opinion – that the ban on burqas is Good!

    Simply because, sometimes, we are so used to doing things in a certain way, like horses wearing hoofers, that unless that barrier is forcibly removed, we don’t get to see what the rest of the world can be like.

    For a woman who chooses to wear a burqa, it might be due to religious / social reasons or just because she has done it all her life and cannot dream of not-doing it! Like a traditional Hindu woman will compulsarily wear a bindi. She won’t not wear it unless she is a widow! And given a choice, she will definitely wear it. Maybe just wear a fancy one. But wear it all the same. And why? Because she is used to that way of life.

    So when Muslim women do ‘choose to wear the burqa’, it might just be that they have not tasted the life of freedom! The freedom to dress the way you like, the freedom to assert your identity to the world, and the freedom to simply be, free !!
    me- absolutely! but then the word is choice na? I mean I dont know if we are totally right in thinking for someone else na?
    whether their choices are right or wrong what right do we have to say anything?

    But yes, you hit the nail on the head when you said ‘even the best idea will not work when rammed down the throat!’.
    me- yep! I agree with all your words…just that the word ban seems a tad too strong to me…wish there was a magic potion to get rid of regressive mentality so that we wouldnt need the word ban at all! 😦

    Kudos, Indy, for being able to think so deeply and articulate so beautifully.
    me-awww thank you so much!:)
    (((hugs))))

    See, you made me think so much, that even I wrote a reasonably long comment!!
    me- LOL!! 😀

  57. July 20, 2009 4:07 pm

    Here is an interesting debate.
    One on Burqa ban.
    Do watch the videos.

    And here is a news story on it.

    • July 20, 2009 10:14 pm

      I just watched the videos… interesting………. 😛
      me- thank you 😛

      • July 21, 2009 8:41 pm

        Interesting videos Indy! Just what I thought – It appears to be regressive and maybe even offensive to some but cannot be BANNED.
        me- yeah I hate the burqa..but hate the word ban even more….
        you know the one burqa clad lady they had called couldnt defend her choice..one wishes they could have provided a better debate

    • July 21, 2009 10:41 pm

      yet to watch the last video , be back 🙂
      me:)

  58. July 20, 2009 8:22 pm

    First of all,kudos to you for taking up such a relevant post as this!
    me- thanks sweetheart! 🙂

    Abhi,I have many friends who wear hijab and not once have I got an impression from them that they are being forced to wear one against their will. And let me tell you,they are as forward thinking and broad-minded as you and I are.And these women are definitely as much the decision-makers as their spouses.They do have a mind,an opinion of their own about what is happening around them
    For them,wearing a burqa is a part of their identity,something that they have chosen willfully.One needs to respect them for that.
    So,Mr Sarkozy’s opinion that wearing a burqa is a sign of subservience is something I cant accept.
    me- yes exactly! this generalisation is a bit hard to digest!
    because HOW will we be able to make out if a woman is wearing it out of choice or not?
    and if we can make that out then why are authorities NOT acting against those who are making women wear it forcibly in France?

    Be it proposing a ban on burqa,or jeans,such actions should be condemned.Remember the fatwa against Sania Mirza for wearing a skirt on court while playing?Now how ridiculous can that get?
    me- yes! the word ban is the hardest to digest! I mean where does one draw the line then?

    What is acceptable and what is not?
    the sania issue was one end and this is the other end of the scale :
    (

    “What is freedom?
    Choices. Above and any other.This one word is what freedom is all about. The word that is the foundation of freedom. Not just the freedom to choose A OR B. But the freedom to choose both or neither. OR the freedom to come up with a choice C.”
    Yes,you said it.it should be about choices.And those choices should be applicable to all.
    me- absolutely!

    I read solilo’s comment about how she chose to send her daughter for friday chapel in her school.I.personally dont think professing religionalism by any educational institution is a good idea.But it was heartening to know that the institution had given her a choice not to send her daughter for the chapel if she didnt want.And that is what is important-the assurance that we are free to make our choice.
    me- yes..the key word is choice.

    Ok now,I’d better put a stop to this else I’ll just go on and on rambling.By now you must be half asleep. Ok,wake up now..I’m done!

    Finally thank you so very much for this post,Abhi. 🙂

    me- arre! no! I wasnt sleeping! 😛 😛
    loved reading this! 🙂
    ((hugs))

  59. July 21, 2009 1:24 am

    I havent gone through the entire post. I shall, when I cool down a little and when I have some time. For now, just offhand, here`s my stand. I dont support the idea of a burqa. Simply because I find it hypocritical – the fact that its ok for a man to lech. The woman ought to cover herself from head to toe to protect herself from lecherous advances! Great! Ofcourse I think its submissive.
    Let me read through the post. And I shall be back with my comments. But my friend, I`m 200% sure they`ll be different from yours 🙂
    (yeah,yeah..I`m a ‘religious’ racist at heart! 🙂 I confess!)

    me- no baba! you are not a religious racist! 😛
    I totally get what you are saying..I too HATE the burqa..personally speaking..and yeah I would love it if NO woamn in the world wore it..but then the word ban somehow gets lodged in my throat and I wonder are we doing this right?
    what about choices? Thats the only thing….

  60. July 21, 2009 1:40 am

    Ohh i just read Deeps`s comment and here I am again.
    I too know of two women who wear a burqa willfully. They say they feel uncomfortable without it. I respect their choices. Of course I do. Pbly a total ban is an eccentric idea. But hey, I just do not/ can never accept the idea of a burqa in the first place. Where`s the logic, damn it? Why cover ourselves?? Why not ask men to cover their eyes with an eye pad or something to avoid leching at women?? Isnt that a better idea?? Anyway, I`m just talking crap. I`ll go through your post and come back.
    me- grrr !! 😛 :p you are not talking crap!
    you are making sense! 🙂
    in a lot of ways …one can only hope that we will live to see a world without all these symbols of oppression…

    (((((((((((((((((hugs)))))))))))))))

    me- just a quick word Piper:)
    say and write whatever you want to here baba!:)
    its okay:)
    and no you are not a religious racist 😛
    (((((((((((((((hugs)))))))))))))))
    in a rush now:)

    • July 21, 2009 5:30 pm

      Mish,I get what you’re saying too.I’m not entirely defending the women who wear hijabs.I.personally,feel quite uncomfortable approaching some of them particularly the ones who have their faces too covered.It becomes difficult to know if they are actually smiling at me or gritting their teeth! LOL!
      I agree,of these women some may even be the oppressed lot who may be submitting themselves to their rigid societies and customs.

      All I’m saying is that its not right to generalize based on a certain aspect and give it a name of subservience or debasement.Its important that we feel assured that our preferences too are being taken into account.We should feel free to make whatever choices we make and not feel as though the choice is being thrusted upon us,that is if democracy is what we are talking about here!

  61. fathy permalink
    July 21, 2009 8:11 am

    I have tagged you on my blog! Hope you enjoy doing it!
    me- I definitely will be doing it :))
    ((hugs))

  62. Mystery permalink
    July 21, 2009 1:17 pm

    First things first, Seeing such a long post, i though i will come back and read it as a whole and then comment and hence the delay..Here i am read the post and almost all the comments also..
    me- LOL!
    long post? 😛

    What a research you did girl! *Mystery bows to you* both for the research and the post..
    me- thank you:)
    By now everything has been said. Even i feel that it should be a choice whether or not to wear a burqa and though it may be a decision liked by many, it shouldnt be forced on to them.
    me- yep! however much we might hate it..there shouldn’t be a ban ..the choice should be open..

  63. July 21, 2009 1:34 pm

    Yes a long post, will come back here and read it at leasure.
    me 🙂

  64. July 21, 2009 2:40 pm

    listen Indy, u CANT write such a long post!!! i just got back from outta town.. n i have tons of blogs to read!!!how am i ever going to catch up!?
    me- LOL!!!

    😛 😛
    promise next post will be short compared to this I meanno it will be shortest ever!...err no! no! it will be err lets say shorter than usual..

    *Indy looks proud of that verbal footwork*

  65. July 21, 2009 5:32 pm

    Abhilasha, thanks for very very informative post, though i could not go to some of the links but you gave out their gist. Frankly speaking, i am against sporting any attire which puts you in a particular bracket of a class, caste, sect or religion. Most of the religious attires like turbans, scull caps, burqas etc. are meant to keep intact the identity of that particular sect or religion. It only serves the purpose of the clergy and not the one who wears them. But nevertheless the freedom should be given to the person who may or may not want to wear the same.
    me- thank you Sir..

    yes, I agree..ideally one would love to remove any traces of religious or any other symbolism or anything at all that serves as reminder of one’s religious/religious/national identity/or any other identity…..but as you have written the freedom should be given to the person to wear or not wear it…

  66. July 21, 2009 11:55 pm

    it is not about burqua — these days it is about sarees too – a beautiful piece of uncut cloth , can not be forced down ones throat only to keep the traditional element alive. i love the saris, but because of my fear that my sari will fall down when i have to catch a running train, or a crowded bus, i am more comfortable in a piece of garment that makes me feel comfortable and safe.
    me- yep! sarees too are not the barometer of how traditional and bharatiya we are.. I agree with you….you are right! sarees are not the most practical garment for everyday wear..l

    practically speaking the climate decides what clothing one should wear ( at least it is for me ) – so burqua in saudi arabia in the desert is it practical ? – i guess not. but burqua for winter – i’ll take it because i can escape from the harsh cold wintery wind of ny and nj. actually i see market potential here – one piece of cloth that covers everything – than the many pieces such as a scarf, a cap, ear muffler, gloves, et al. may be i should invest in one for winter sake.
    me- yes…in hot climates the burqa? 😦
    I shudder to think of it…it must be hell inside one!

    market potential sure! 🙂
    I think though that the various issues (religious or otherwise)that come with anything that looks remotely like a burqa will keep people away 🙂
    you might have to alter the design a bit before marketing it 🙂

  67. tearsndreams permalink
    July 22, 2009 12:16 am

    I haven’t taken a stand on it yet. But I hate the Burkah so much that I haven’t been able to criticize Sarkozy that much.
    Do u know that the Sati Pratha in India was abolished by the Brits. Their thoughts were similar. That it was crime against women.
    I am not sure if women at that time supported it but do know that history has examples where women chose to go the Sati route, not forced but chose. Like the Johar committed by Rajasthani women when their men died in a war.
    So if some women chose to be sati while others were forced, was it wrong to abolish it. I am not really disagreeing but just saying coz I can’t bring myself to hate Sarkozi for this because I can’t stand the sight of the garment in question.
    me- ALl that I wanted to say ahs been said by Smitha….I too feel that the sati issue is very different from the Burqa one..

    one is about a choice of clothing while the other is outright murder/homicide as Smitha says….

    I can understand though when you say that you cant really bring yourself to criticize Sarkozy for this….I too dont like the burqa but an outright ban is going too far.. in my opinion..

    • July 22, 2009 10:14 pm

      One of the reasons, I would not like to compare Sati with the Burkha is because they are so different in meaning.. Sati meant homicide – in some cases – so , in that sense, I think abolishing Sati is not the same as abolishing Burkha. While, people might argue that the Burkha takes away the individuality of the person, others might counter it with – is the person all about what is ‘visible’?

      I just feel that comparing Sati to Burkha is not a very valid comparison…
      me- I agree Smitha…with all your points…

      and specially the point about individuality..an interesting perspective…I suppose its hard for many to understand it…

  68. July 22, 2009 1:10 am

    It may be long, but it is very well researched and one of your best so far. I agree with most of what you have said but the burqa or hijab or niqab are not just items of clothing, they are much more than that. They are tools employed by a misogynistic culture to suppress the freedom of their womenfolk. I doubt if any woman possessing actual free choice would opt for it. But then again, I would not deny them the right to do so.
    me-
    I agree with all your words..regarding all that the burqa symbolizes and your sentiments towards it.. but as you said the women still should have the right..

    thanks a lot…
    good to see you back in the blogworld..
    will be hopping to read your new posT:)

  69. shraddha permalink
    July 22, 2009 3:43 pm

    this comment section has a life of its own…lol!
    me- yeah the comments take the post to a whole new level 🙂
    they give food for thought 🙂
    and some leg pulling too goes on 😀

  70. July 22, 2009 8:35 pm

    Sometimes I wonder if we are living in medeival times

    me- yeah sometimes I think we are..any which way you look at it..we still have women in burqas :/ and we still believe we have the right to ban it..either way its disgusting!

    coz ideally we should have progressed to a level by now where the burqas should have become obsolete..and we woudnt be talking of a ban..

  71. Pal permalink
    July 22, 2009 11:12 pm

    Indy-darling,
    Pliss to take up the ABC Tag 🙂
    Cheers…Pal
    me- will take it up pucca! 🙂
    ((hugs)))

  72. July 23, 2009 1:11 am

    nice article
    me- thanks:)

  73. July 23, 2009 9:45 am

    Hey, I read one news few days back…A Saudi Arabian princess from a royal family requested Britain government not to send her back to Saudi Arabia as she would be stoned to death for her deeds. She gave birth to a child out of the extra-marital relationship she had during her stay in London.Though she had been disowned by her family,but she will be stoned to death if they catch hold of her.

    Well, the punishment is too harsh to be called as punishment! The point here again I would make is women in such countries face such horrendous punishments…which don’t even give them one chance for any mistake. After all its human who make mistakes!!
    Once again…beyond my comprehension. Religion & their rules!!!
    me- 😦 😦 what do I say?
    Humans are so disgusting !! who are they to ‘punish’ her in any acse?isnt she her own person? 😦
    this is so brutal!

    The above one is definitely not related to your post..however just wanted to share this.
    me-thanks for sharing..

    By the way mera book wala tag??? 😦 😦
    me- will be done soon:)

  74. chewmysambhar permalink
    July 24, 2009 9:41 pm

    Looks like I ve missed a lot here:)
    I personally think, like you ve mentioned..it comes down to choices. Didn JKR say “It is only choices that make us’?
    I don’t empathize with bans.. I think every woman following islam should be accorded with the right to choose her attire. A few would want to stick on to tradition on the basis of ‘sanctity’…The rest would not want to look ‘out of the crowd’ by wearing the burkha. It is high time the world understands that a woman has the right to prioritize things in her life . As for Sarkozy, he has nvr been in my good books (like it matters:P) . I simply don’t like his policies or his ‘Carla’ jets.
    me-yep! choice is an important word…though its a tough issue to decide on…both sides have valid points:)
    I wanted to talk about choice coz it wa the other side
    plus like you said BAN is a tough word to digest na?

    yeah he has never been in my good books either 😀
    just dont like him. Period.

    And well done research. I like coming back to your blog for the sheer intellect of its own:)
    me- aww thanks sweetheart:)
    (hugs)

  75. July 31, 2009 10:19 pm

    Indyeah, I am just not able to make up my mind on this one. I detest the fact that women are forced to cover up, I don’t think they have any real choice, it’s like you are brought up to be covered from head to toe, made to feel morally upright and good for remaining invisible… then how do you not ‘willingly’ wear it? But then like you Indyeah I too cannot digest the word ‘ban’ very easily…

    So I am undecided about Sarkozy’s stand, and would definitely prefer to create more awareness without banning anything in India, not just burkha, but also many other serious regressive practices here. And there are some that most women will not object to being banned!

    me- I get what you are saying IHM. Its just that its an issue that has so many angles na? Lets see how it goes with the final proposal for the ban . Hit or miss?

  76. August 4, 2009 1:14 am

    Ah I agree to you whole heartedly. Even if it is a wrong choice acc to us… freedom is all about being allowed to make that choice.

    Sometimes I think we all have too many terms and too many expressions and little understanding about what they really stand for!
    me- absolutely WInnie..I know that this might not be the most correct stance..or even the right one..but for some reason the word ban makes one pause
    freedom is all about being allowed to make that choice yes i agree completely. The word choice itself might be debatable here..but then once again we cant generalise.

  77. August 13, 2009 2:27 am

    a very well laid out argument and well written post :), my sentiments exactly.

    Well, it would be easy to say the french, inspite of their outward polish have always been well known for their boorishness and arrogance. They are as a rule extremely racist.
    Doesnt elegance and beauty actually mean something a bit deeper than fashion and figure? I dont think they know that at all.

    And re: Hijab, and the muslim world, its just a matter of time. they are struggling with it, but women are already much freer than they were, and will continue to be. hijab will then be their choice, along with the right to lead their lives the way they want. And along with this, hopefully even the culture of west will have progressed towards a greater awareness and compassion.

    me- Thanks Mystic. I am just unable to understand the ban on the Burqa. BAN. The word is stuck in my throat.

    I wont necessarily agree on the french being racist though.:)

    Its such a mish mash right now.

  78. May 13, 2010 9:46 pm

    Interesting thoughts you have.
    I am against a woman wearing a Burqa, mostly because it’s based on religion, something invented by men to oppress women, at the same time I am also against the law Sarkozy proposed.
    me- Welcome here Claude. I too dislike the burqa and yet dislike the word ban even more just as you do. Sarkozy has ruffled quite a few feathers with his words.

  79. MEPierson permalink
    May 24, 2010 11:13 pm

    I believe women should be allowed to wear what they want in Western countries – up to a point. If a religion is against the wearing of clothes should people in Western countries be allowed to parade around naked in public?? I find the niqab and other face covering garments a little un-nerving. If I am inside a bank and someone walks in totally in black with eyes barely showing I am definitely uncomfortable given our present political climate. I also think it is dangerous when a niqab’d person is driving and you as another driver want to make sure they see you but you can’t read their eyes or face. You can’t visually communicate about, say, who should go through the intersection first so both drivers are at risk. I have experienced this myself. I think a hijab is fine – attractive and having no impact on those the wearer comes in contact with in public. The totally covered look has definite drawbacks out in public and for that reason I don’t have a problem with it being banned.
    me- welcome here MEPeirson

    You are referring only to the fact that covering one’s face makes you uncomfortable…let me say that anyone who goes around in cloak like garments makes me uncomfortable.

    I mean a face might or might not at best portray an openness or maybe(its debatable!) the intention of a potential mischief maker…and beyond giving one a certain sense (maybe false) of comfort or security what other purpose does not wearing the face veil serve?

    But a cloak effectively hides whatever the wearer might be carrying around on his/her person. (bomb?guns?grenades?you name it..after all its about security right?)

    So going by the argument based from a security point of view can I say that lets ban ALL such garments?
    Ban wearing of veils,helmets, Ban the burqa AND ban that cloak that Christian nuns wear.

    After all save the face veil, I see no difference between the two.

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