The Feminist Anti-Niqabi: Freeing Women from their Free Choice

This piece was originally published at BikyaMasr.com.

In the midst of all the hullabaloo about the niqab we are witnessing the formation of an unlikely alliance. French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Egyptian Sheikh al-Azhar Muhammad Tantawi both stirred controversy after expressing anti-niqab sentiments, and many of the reactions have been quite predictable. But certain opinions – the opinions of two groups in particular – strike me as somewhat self-contradictory: the Muslims who are for the niqab-ban because they see the niqab as an imposition on Islam, and the liberals who are for the ban because they see the niqab as oppressive to women.

Responding to the former group requires delving into issues of Fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence) which may be appropriate for another post. But in this post I will address the latter group: the self-proclaimed feminist freedom-of-choice-gender-equality-empowerment-of-women-espousing liberals.

This opinion is one that I just don’t understand. Personally, I have more respect for a secularist ideologue that hates all religious symbols than I do for a liberal who cries freedom of choice and calls for banning the niqab in the same breath. At least the secularists are consistent. But this particular group has taken on the cause of liberating women from the shackles of backwardness – these shackles being according to their own personal definition, and the women themselves get no say in the matter.

Read the rest of my piece here.


November 5, 2009 Posted by | Personal | Leave a comment