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11. The West attacks the veil! Why is that?

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Article title: 
11. The West attacks the veil! Why is that?
Publishers: 
Year: 
2001
Week: 
40
Article number: 
11
Article pages: 
P.55-59
Date of source: 
October 6-12, 2001
Author: 
Ihab al-Zalaqi
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Article summary: 

The attacks of September 11 brought forth feelings of rage against everything that has to do with Islam. Wearing a veil is considered to be an explicit sign of Islam and its political attitude. The West has attacked the veil considering it a sign of Islam and its attitudes. The West’s attack on the veil doesn’t imply anything against religion, but against an intruding culture that cannot be part of their culture.

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Subtitles:

*The West attacks the veil! Why is that?
*They consider it an explicit sign of Islam and its political attitude.

The aftermath of the horrific attack on the World Trade Center on Tuesday, September 11 is so conspicuous; feelings of rage burst out against everything that has to do with Islam. Wearing a veil is considered to be an explicit sign of Islam and its political attitude. The West has attacked the veil considering it a sign of Islam and its attitudes. The West, being against the veil doesn’t imply anything against religion, but against an intruding culture that cannot be part of their culture.

In a questionnaire conducted by CNN 31% confirmed that they supported the idea of setting up concentration camps for the Arab American people as a threatening weapon to protect themselves from the terrorist attacks, just like what happened to Japanese Americans during the second world war. Meanwhile there is news about a lot of harassment of Muslims both men and women, to the extent that the Sheikhs issued a fatwa that women can take off their veils for the time being, wearing the veil was originally intended to stop harassment of women.

The veil is an Islamic uniform, however many legislators don’t consider wearing the veil essential or even compulsory. Yet wearing the veil has spread widely throughout the Islamic world especially among the lower classes. There are many kinds of veil, depending on the social class.

The veil has many styles so what you see in Egypt is quite different for what you are going to see in other countries like Afghanistan or Saudi Arabia. Yet, whatever the style of the veil a woman is wearing it labels her as being different from the other culture.

The veil in Egypt has become a social phenomenon. It is not strange to see in one family one girl who is wearing a conventional veil while another is wearing a fashionable one and yet another is not wearing one at all. Some sociologists consider this to be a true picture of tolerance in Islam; it is based on the spirit of Islam.

The issue of the veil is an intense issue in France, for example in 1994 the minister of education issued a decision that granted the principals of schools the right to act on the issue of the veil according to the situation, as a result hundreds of veiled girls were dismissed from schools, some of them were able to get back to school through the court, others weren’t. This issue has not been resolved yet, so problems arise day after day. To the extent that one of the schools refused to register veiled Muslim girls claiming that the Islamic veil is a discriminatory phenomenon at school, which is utterly unacceptable in a secular school, particularly as wearing the veil creates an intense feeling in schools because teachers are against this phenomenon.

Some educators are demanding that laws be issued forbidding the wearing of veils in schools as this phenomenon promotes Islamic fundamentalism and it doesn’t show a positive attitude towards the idea of equality between the sexes.

In Germany the situation is not as intense as in France, yet there are problems. A Muslim teacher, originally from Afghanistan, was forbidden from teaching because of her veil. The court refused to let her work again claiming that there should not be any sign, like wearing the veil, of religious beliefs in school. The German minister of education said that the veil is not compulsory in Islam, and that it is considered a cultural and political symbol as well.

The issue in England is also mixed up, as there is not a text that forbids wearing the veil for Muslim women. In addition to that the police in London declared that the veil is optional for Muslim women. Strangely enough after issuing a law against terrorism in England, people have started giving veiled women dubious looks.

In Austria the issue took a dramatic turn when the veil became quite common among Muslim girls at schools and universities. They started feeling that the veil was not part of their culture and that it was intruding.

In schools teachers reject the idea of having students who are veiled.

Turkey is a Muslim European country, and yet it follows the secular system. In Turkey they handle the issue of the veil more severely than other European countries. It is forbidden to wear a veil in schools and universities. The MP Marwa Qawqagy is an example of how strict the system is. The members of parliament did not allow her to enter parliament until she had taken off her veil as her colleague Nesrine Omal had done. Still veiled women are being harassed in the U.S. There have been rumors that veiled women have been stabbed in the market. Muslim women in the US have confirmed that they belong to the U.S. as they demonstrated holding candles as a symbol of peace.

Nevertheless there is quite a misunderstanding of Islam in the West, as one said commenting on the issue of the veil saying that we wouldn’t mind the veil if it was treated like a hat, that a women has to remove when she enters a place.

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