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However, I have also gone on record calling for a ban on the burqa, at least in the West, on the grounds that it violates a woman’s human rights.
A burqa wearer may feel that she cannot breathe, that she might slowly be suffocating. She may feel buried alive and may become anxious or claustrophobic. She is trapped in a sensory deprivation isolation chamber. It is a form of permanent torture. Just imagine the consequences of getting used to this as a way of life. But perhaps one never gets used to it. They merely continue to suffer. For example, an unnamed Saudi princess described her experience of the Saudi abaya (to Jean Sasson) as follows:
When we walked out of the cool souq area into the blazing hot sun, I gasped for breath and sucked furiously through the sheer black fabric. The air tasted stale and dry as it filtered through the thin gauzy cloth. I had purchased the sheerest veil available, yet I felt I was seeing life through a thick screen. How could women see through veils made of a thicker fabric? The sky was no longer blue, the glow of the sun had dimmed; my heart plunged to my stomach when I realized that from that moment, outside my own home I would not experience life as it really is in all its color. The world suddenly seemed a dull place. And dangerous, too! I groped and stumbled along the pitted, cracked sidewalk, fearful of breaking an ankle or leg.
Qanta Ahmed, a Pakistani-British-American religious Muslim physician worked in Saudi Arabia for a few years. Board certified in four areas, immediately upon arrival, she nevertheless became invisible, demeaned, shrouded, akin to chattel property in the airport where no man and no porter helped her (or other women) with their luggage. She writes:
The veiling was anathema to me. Even with a deep understanding of Islam, I could not imagine mummification is what an enlightened, merciful God would ever have wished for half of all His creation. These shrouded, gagged silences rise into a shrieking register of muted laments for stillborn freedoms. Such enforced incarceration of womanhood is a form of female infanticide.
I must repeat, as I always do, that I am not opposed to the hijab (the headscarf). I am only addressing the face-obscuring garments that are cumbersome, dangerous, and exclude a woman from normal social interaction.
And, as I have said before, wherever burqas, chadris or the extreme Saudi or Iranian versions of female head, face, and body covering exist, you will probably find fundamentalist Islam and potentially infidel-hating, Jew-hating terrorists. Burqas and jihad go hand-in-hand.
There is another reason to ban the burqa in the West. Muslim girls and women are being beaten and even honor killed for refusing to wear this costume of utter subordination. Many (certainly not all) Muslim girls must toe the line in terms of how they dress or they will be threatened, beaten, acid-attacked, or even honor killed. If their families or roving self-appointed Vice and Virtue squads decide that they are looking too “Western,” or dressing in too modern a fashion, they will be punished.
Young, including educated, Muslim women in the West are increasingly wearing oppressive Muslim garb in a show of resistance to infidel culture. Just yesterday in New York City, I saw, in ninety-degree heat, a casually dressed man followed by a woman in a severe and heavy hijab.
I have found that Muslim girls and women are at risk in the West when they attempt to assimilate. When they begin to want “Western” things, beginning with casual clothing, makeup, an education, non-Muslim friends, perhaps a non-Muslim boyfriend, perhaps a divorce from an illiterate and violent first cousin—that is when their fundamentalist families view them as “prostitutes” and kill them.
We in the West must strategize ways to protect those Muslims and ex-Muslims who choose to assimilate and to prosecute those who are violent towards them.
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