Archive for the ‘NAZEEN SHEIKH’ Tag




“Freedom of speech does not include freedom to oppress others.”

That is so obvious a truth it need not be stated. It is the ethical equivalent of announcing that the earth revolves around the sun.

Its author here only uses it as a lead-in, a way to gain the first favorable nod of the reader’s head, to the bits of prejudice he wants to plant.

That is the well-established method of propagandists and prejudiced people everywhere.

Our laws, as are those of France, are sufficient to deal with all instances where true oppression might be involved. A woman claiming oppression would be supported by all agencies of the state.

Like so many other religious groups, conservative Muslims in Third World countries sustain ancient practices which we view as foolish.

Almost any aspect of the practices of African Animists is repulsive by our lights. Not just silly stuff like witch doctors, but common practices like female genital mutilation – an African, not a Muslim, practice – or the common practice of older men in villages raping young girls. How about the hunting down and killing and magical use of dismembered body parts of people unfortunate enough to be born albinos?

In backwater India, a poor family will sell a good-looking daughter, at 12 years old, to a rich old man who pays them a “dowry.” When the old man dies in not many years, the poor girl will likely inherit nothing, and she will be consigned to terrible abusive practices towards widows. She must never marry again, she must wear only certain clothes, she must eat only certain foods, and she must not socialize in any normal way. She is consigned to living death at perhaps 18 or 20.

Or how about the young girls sold to certain temples to “serve” there? They become institutionalized prostitutes at very young ages, and they are subject to the ravages of venereal diseases from all the old men who use them.

I could go on and on.

The practices of Ultra-orthodox Jews are as ugly as anything at the extremes of Islam – yet note that we tolerate them in our society. We actually allow Ultra-orthodox rabbis to give a woman’s children to her husband upon divorce, and she has no recourse unless she wants to leave her faith entirely. Such people in fact live under a Jewish form of Sharia Law right here in our society, something we would not tolerate for Muslims. And they wear clothes as impossible and ridiculous as any fundamentalist Muslim in the Third World.

And just so our conservative Mennonites – many of their practices are not quaint and charming, they are brutal and outdated, yet we tolerate them.

Going on and on about the small number – and it is a very small number – of traditional Muslim women who wear the niqab is absurd. They hurt no one. They are free at any future date to give it up.

But telling them through force of law that they cannot wear the niqab is simply the tactics of a police state.

Sarkozy has a shameful record concerning minorities, including his nasty deportation of gypsies, something reminding one of the early days of the Third Reich when Hitler focused on deportation and abuse, murder coming later.

No one who loves a free society will embrace Sarkozy.


You assume this is “enforced.”

You have no factual basis for saying so, but I suspect prejudice.

Lots of religious or culturally conservative people do things I think are silly or even offensive, but if they mind their own business, they have every right to carry on.

Should Ultra-orthodox Jews be required to shave and remove their big hats? In effect, the men’s faces are virtually hidden.

Should Ultra-orthodox Jewish women have equal rights in marriage and with their children, something they do not have unless they leave their religion?

The world is full of foolishness, and worse.

A few women wearing the niqab is hardly an issue worth writing about. But forbidding their right is very much worth writing about.

There is a lot of confusion about the various female Muslim garments.

In general, for readers:

The niqab is a sheer veil worn over the lower face. It was not that long ago regarded in the West as attractive and mysterious, but not now in the insanity of the war-on-terror world, we read nonsense accusations. The niqab is not typical in the Muslim world and few migrants wear it.

The hijab is a headscarf, not much different to a babushka. Anyone criticizing this is being ridiculous, considering how many others cover their heads, including Mennonite women, many Jewish men, and senior Catholic Priests. It wasn’t many decades ago that Western women routinely wore hats and very often veils.

The burqa is a head-to-toe sack with a meshed face slot. The burqa is almost exclusively used in truly backwater places like rural Afghanistan. Only a tiny percent of Muslim women use this.

The chador is a robe worn over the head which goes to the feet. It may be worn with or without the niqab. The chador is associated with Iran.

If you look at films from Egypt or Syria or other places, you will see an immense variety of women’s dress, from purely Western to chadors.

The naiveté of people writing about why some Muslim women use these various modes of dress would be funny were the consequences not so deadly serious.

I recall nuns decades back, dressed in their immense, flowing head-to-foot habits, many of them with huge uncomfortable starchy head gear, who were such strong individuals they might take your breath away.

I am sure, there are Muslim women, wearing the chador and or the niqab who are exactly the same way.

How very foolish it is to assume they are all just beaten beasts, but that kind of cheap assumption comes with the blindness of prejudice.

We are in the midst of a great conflagration of anti-Muslim prejudice. It is a fire constantly stoked by those with an interest in demeaning and demonizing Muslims.





This is simply blather from Nazneen Sheikh, rather dangerous blather, demonstrating not understanding but attitude.

It is well known that neither the niqab nor the burqa are requirements for the world’s billion or so Muslims.

But they are nevertheless deeply traditional parts of some primitive cultures, and indeed primitive cultures everywhere have backward and superstitious customs. That is precisely what it means to be backward.

Societies leave their backward customs behind when they enjoy healthy economic growth. They don’t bind women’s feet anymore in China or Japan.

What still goes on in the backward corners of India, South America, Thailand, Africa, and other places is appalling. Countless savageries are committed daily against women from accepted rape and selling children into prostitution to bride-burning and “honor killing.”

Considering the vast scope of horrors against women in this world, I think it slightly ridiculous to be riveted on the situation of several hundred immigrant women in France who wear the niqab, and that is the order of magnitude we are concerned with here because the overwhelming majority of Muslim women in France have never worn the niqab.

As anyone who studies the ways of people without a political agenda knows perfectly well, you cannot change backward customs quickly.

Indeed, if you try, you do so with tyrant behavior as bad or worse than the custom itself, and often run the risk of bad reactions from those charged with special and unfair laws.

It sometimes takes a couple of generations in a new land for strongly-entrenched customs to fade, as we can easily observe in other groups who live in Canada.

Indeed, some seem never to change, and one may ask justly, why should they if that is their choice? They live quiet lives, just as the Muslims with their niqabs.

Hasidic Jewish men still wear full face beards and large dark hats.

Traditional Mennonite women wear ugly long formless dresses with ugly caps on their heads and they drive in silly box carriages pulled by horses.

Both those groups are stuck somewhere in the 19th century. They both also do not truly integrate into the greater society, keeping in their own close-knit communities.

And so long as they do no one any harm and obey our laws, who cares?

Telling people what they must or must not wear is in the same spirit of human rights as telling people what they should say.

Sarkozy is only responding to the increased popularity of the National Front, effectively setting himself a race with the society’s least decent political party.

Hardly admirable, but we should know from many of Sarkozy’s other deeds and words that he is an unpleasant man altogether, from his treatment of gypsies to his calling people scum.

Yet, the thoughtless writer of this piece sets him up as someone to be emulated.

I suspect Ms Sheikh to be one of those people who are ashamed of their more backward cousins, but that is no excuse to advocate corrupting the laws of civil society.

I suspect, too, this is one of her ways of responding to the irrational pressure created by the “war on terror” with its daily freely-communicated ignorant prejudices against Muslims in our society. It is a way of responding – jumping on the simpler and more backward members of her community – that is aimed at gaining approval from the ugly noisy mob, when it is the mob that is the problem.

How quickly our perceptions vary under such conditions. Not that long ago, the niqab was viewed as alluring and mysteriously beautiful, highlighting the eyes as it does. We saw that in countless movies and television shows and read it in many books. Suddenly, it is evil and must be expunged.

Ridiculous, unthinking, and unenlightened.