Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Mr. Sarkozy, Burqa is sign of modesty

I THINK French President Nicolas Sarkozy has not visited a convent of late. If he had he would have noticed nuns in wimples and robes. Would he call the dress worn by nuns “a sign of subservience, a sign of debasement”?

In the first presidential address to the French parliament in 136 years, Sarkozy chose to call a dress willingly adopted by many Muslim women all over the world as a sign of subservience and degradation.

The burqa or abaya, as it is known in Saudi Arabia, is a body robe. What covers the head and face is called niqab. But it is not a question of semantics, because Sarkozy meant a head-to-toe dress when he referred to the burqa.

Sarkozy was right when he said the burqa – the particular type of dress ­– was not a religious issue. Islam asks its followers – men and women – to dress modestly, and so do all religions. The Islamic concept of hijab is not only physical but also moral. It tells men to lower their gaze in front of women other than their wives and other close relatives. It tells women to be mindful of their gait and garments.

The debate here is on two counts: the issue of morality and the freedom of choice.

Who is indecent and spoils public morals: a burqa-clad woman or the one in a bikini? Those, who are brought up on moral values which teach respect for women and not maintain that they are not mere objects of desire or enticement and mannequins for public display, will say a woman in a bikini is indecent. But those who have grown up seeing scantly-clad women around them, will find a woman in a burqa objectionable. For more read here.