A summary of my analysis of the implications of the Islamist veil.
Sommaire en français Un résumé de mon analyse des implications du voile islamiste.
For future reference, I have decided to summarize here an analysis of the Islamist veil and its implications. I could call it the “Islamic veil” instead, but the word “Islamic” applies to Islam in general. However the veil is much more closely associated with the fundamentalist and radical variant of Islam known as Islamism or political Islam, and it is for that reason that I refer to it as “Islamist.” That veil is, after all, a political symbol even more than a religious one. It comes in several versions of course: hijab, chador, burkini, niqab, burqa, etc. This blog summarizes and builds on my previous blog Notes on the Islamist Veil.
Some essential points:
- The Islamist veil, in all its forms, is an advertisement for political Islam, regardless of the mentality of the woman wearing it.
- The Islamist veil is imposed by fanatics. It is not an article of clothing for Muslim women in general—but Islamists would like us to think that it is!
- Most women who wear the Islamist veil, especially in Muslim-majority countries, do so because they are in some sense forced to do so, as they are under severe pressure from family, community, fundamentalists and sometimes the law. The consequences of not wearing it can be life-threatening.
- Those women who decide to wear the Islamist veil willingly, mainly in non-Muslim countries, are implicitly expressing solidarity with political Islam, whether or not they are conscious of the implications of their decision. Such women are objectively allied with religious fanaticism.
- The Islamist veil is a marker of segregation, keeping Muslims separate from other “inferior” people. It also sends the message that religious affiliation (for Muslims) is more important than other attributes.
- The Islamist veil is a purity symbol, a form of slut-shaming. Wearing it means that other women who do not wear it, especially Muslim women who do not wear it, are impure, i.e. “easy.”
- The Islamist veil is an expression of rape culture. It implies that women are responsible for the sexual excesses of heterosexual men.
- The Islamist veil is not just an article of clothing. To treat is as such is to empower the religious fanatics who use it for proselytism and propaganda.
- The Islamist veil is a tool to control women’s bodies.
- Proponents of political Islam use veiled women in the same way that dogs use their urine: to mark their territory.
In summary, Islamists treat women in general with contempt and they use veiled women in particular as tools for their political purposes. Recall that Islam is arguably the most misogynistic of all major religions, and that political Islam is a fundamentalist variant which takes that misogyny to an extreme.
Finally, it must be emphasized that all of the above observations about the Islamist veil apply regardless of the mentality of the woman flaunting it. The objective meaning of the veil does not depend on the thoughts of the bearer. She may be naïve, she may be totally unaware of the implications of the accoutrement she has “chosen” to display or been forced to display or, on the other hand, she may be fully cognizant that she is effectively supporting political Islam. In all cases, she is just one more veiled woman, one more walking advertisement for one of the most dangerous extreme right-wing movements on our planet.
Thus, the wearing of the Islamist veil should be discouraged and it should be banned where appropriate to do so. There are three main contexts (this list may not be exhaustive) where banning is appropriate:
- Wearing religious symbols—including all versions of the Islamist veil—by public servants, i.e. State employees, while on the job, should be banned.
- Imposing any Islamist veil on a child for any extended period of time (weeks, months, years) is a form of child abuse and should be illegal.
- Versions of the veil which obscure the face, i.e. the niqab and burqa, should, like all face-coverings, be banned in any situation where covering the face compromises security, identification or communication. This includes at least situations where security checks are performed, such as in airports or at entrances to some public buildings. However, there are further reasons why the niqab and burqa should be resisted, as these veils represent a violation of human dignity and women’s rights. Extending the ban to everywhere in public is an option to be considered.
In other situations, the wearing of the Islamist veil should be tolerated for reasons of personal freedom, but it should be neither endorsed nor encouraged—and certainly not celebrated as some governments (such as Canada) foolishly do.
Next blog: This Does NOT Promote Child Health