The Muslim women veil issue in France
is gradually taking an ugly shape across the world. The ‘extra’
liberal people possessed with Western life style even in the East
count banning ‘burqa’ as women ‘liberation’ from ‘the dark age’ in
tune with French president Nicolas Sarkozy, yet majority of Muslims
across the globe consider it as direct attack on one’s freedom of
living and religious practicing. It is nothing less than forceful
conversion of Muslim women to the Western civilization, some argue.
France has opened one more Pandora’s
box which surly will widen fresh divide among the practicing Muslims
world over and the West. The new friendship endeavour between the
West and the Muslim world marked by the US president Barack Obama’s
historic Cairo speech is to be affected by this new escalation of
culture and life style. 150 million Muslims in India are alarmed and
they gradually started showing their anger on the way France
government is dealing with the whole issue.
‘It is a matter of the utmost concern
that France has decided to enact legislation outlawing the burqa or
head covering of Muslim women, the wearing of which is enjoined upon
all Muslim women in the Qur'an,’ (Surah: Al-Ahzab 59 and An-Noor
30-31) observed the newly elected member of parliament and a
prominent religious scholar Maulana Badruddin Ajmal. In a press
statement from Mumbai Maulana Ajmal argued “it is a covering of the
whole body as part of a sacred religious injunction, described by
the Prophet of Islam Muhammad (peace be upon him).”
The Western world which prides itself
as the champion of democracy, human rights and women’ rights gives
free rein to nudity and skin show and no Muslim in the world objects
to the au natural look. But when they take upon themselves the right
to decide what women should wear in public through laws, then it is
downright condemnable and blameworthy.
Freedom, that is precious, holy thing,
cannot be one sided. If freedom gives a license to some women for
wearing revealing dresses, knickers, bikinis and jeans then how does
it stop some other women from wearing their chosen dresses? Muslim
women are mature enough to understand the limits of their freedom
and while following the basics of a free democratic world order
France must allow Muslim women to dress the way they like.
Dressing is an individual and private
issue that does not need to come under public scrutiny.
The Nuns all over the world wear a
full dress covering their bodies as also a wimple, or white sarees
and full-length gowns, and similarly Sikhs wear beards and turbans
to strictly follow their religious rulings. Are these things next in
the line to be legislated upon and banned in France or countries
within European Union?
Muslim NGOs and social religious
organizations in India are anxiously following the development in
France. A complete ban on Muslim women dressing will invite public
protest which is evident from columns and letters in Urdu press.
In the past too the world has been put
on flame by some Western countries with tags like ‘freedom’ of
expression as in the case of infamous movie ‘Fitna’ and Prophet of
Islam’s derogatory cartoons from Denmark and Norway. If Mr Sarkozy
fails to maturely handle the sensitive issue for the Muslim world;
this time around the intensity of escalation between Muslims and
France will be the same as was in the past.
The MP from Assam’s Dhubri Maulana
Badruddin Ajmal who is also founder president of Assam United
Democratic Front (AUDF) grabbed the Muslims’ sentiments in India and
will shortly send a separate letter to Dr Manmohan Singh, the prime
minister of India urging him to pressurize the French government to
refrain from passing such reprehensible laws that have caused
outrage in the community of Muslims in India and the world over.
Maulana Ajmal will also send the copy
of his letter to president of India Ms Pratibha Devi Singh Patil,
chairperson of the UPA Government Ms Sonia Gandhi, minister for the
external affairs, minister for the minority affairs, French foreign
mission, New Delhi, Human Rights Commission of India and to Women
Commission of India.
For a common man such morally purblind
laws enrage the community at the receiving end and tarnish the fair
image of France as an upholder of liberty, equality and fraternity
gained through much sweat and blood in the French revolution and
subsequent mass movements in the 60s.
France government must take urgent
steps in favour of democracy, freedom and peace in the world and
take positively the concerns of Muslims world over including 150
million Muslim in India. It is time for European Union, for the
entire world to properly define ‘freedom’! Or how one’s freedom is
becoming another’s slavery? A forceful removal of Muslim Women’s
head cover or a ban on veil is nothing less than oppression— modern
cultural slavery enforced on Muslim living in France. Doesn’t it
sound that the West is veiled of common sense?
M. Burhanuddin Qasmi is editor of Eastern Crescent and director of
the Mumbai based Markazul Ma'arif Education and Research Centre. He
can be contacted at