FV1's Tasnim Siddiqa Amin asks why people still have such a problem with Muslim women's dress?
Why is our contemporary society labelling Muslim women as oppressed? Why is our proud multicultural British society still relentlessly condemning Islam and pigeonholing every woman who has pride in her modesty as weak and submissive?
The Wikipedia definition of oppressive is the exercise of authority or power in a burdensome, cruel, or unjust manner. It’s a strong, embittered word which seems to easily fall from peoples’ mouths when they talk about Muslim women. For some reason it is acceptable to stigmatise Muslim women, yet racism towards other groups is repugnant.
As many young Muslim women will tell you, they have chosen to dress and act the way they have because of, ironically, the exact opposite: freedom. I asked some of these ‘victims’ if they feel victimised and the response was an overwhelming ‘No’. This was a couple of the comments:
‘Wearing the Niqab empowers me because when I talk I believe I have an opinion and when people talk to me, my voice comes across and people are judging me for who I am, rather than what I look like.’ Rumaysa, 27, who wears the Niqab (the piece of cloth that covers the face)
‘I wear what I do because it is who I am. I could get into the technicalities of it all but, truth be told, wearing the scarf and dressing with modesty makes me feel like I am dressing with self-respect.’ Saadia, 16, who wears the Hijab (the scarf that covers the head)
The point is not that there aren’t any Muslim women out there who are oppressed. Unfortunately there are. There are women who get treated like sex slaves, unthinking animals. It is a sad truth that continues to flourish in some societies. But one cannot label the majority in this way. There are British Non-Muslim women who are oppressed too; pimped and in prostitution!
Saying British Muslim women are generally oppressed is a mistruth, a lie that angers many and fuels Islamophobia. According to its mission statement, fascist group, the English Defense League use the ‘denigration and oppression of women’ as an excuse to show hatred and aggression towards the Muslim population!
The rules of Islam are written, the rules of the Western world are not. But one could say that there is peer pressure amongst western women to be revealing, sexy and fashionable. Yet none would ever label Western women oppressed because, it seems, nudity equals freedom.
Many of us have personal discomforts, yet we know it is ultimately up to the individual what they wear and not for the state to intervene. If the ban in France has taught us anything it is this: we mustn’t lose insight and respect.
David Cameron has spoken of embracing diversity, saying: ‘Freedom of speech. Freedom of worship. Democracy. The rule of law. Equal rights, regardless of race, sex or sexuality. It says to its citizens: This is what defines us as a society. To belong here is to believe these things.’
Hatred should not be incited against someone because they have innocent beliefs. Disagree all you want with the orthodox beliefs of Islam, but please accept and support those who want to practice it so long as they harm no one.
Not to do so is as ridiculous as inciting hatred against someone of a different skin color or a different taste in music. Where is the sanity in that?