Burqa: Should it be banned?

A woman’s beauty is believed to be in her face. As this is the first part of the body seen, it is considered to be what creates desire in a man. This is why women of the Muslim faith are asked and depending on their beliefs, forced to wear a burqa. A very basic description of this would be an enveloping outer garment that covers a woman from head to toe. This is both to leave a woman’s beauty to the imagination and also for the Namus or honor of Muslims.

The world was thrown into turmoil though, when a few years back, the French attempted to prohibit it by ‘The Bill to forbid concealing one’s face in public.’ This gave an opening for women suppressed by the burqa and also officials fearing security risks to oppose the wearing of a burqa. This enveloping garment prevents defining a woman’s body shape and also results in difficulties in identification.

The latter was brought to the surface recently when an Army Captain hiding beneath a burqa attempted to rob a bank in Kandy. The incident was shocking as it made people realize just how difficult it is to know the person beneath the burqa. It is definitely a foolproof disguise that is quite easy to obtain.An individual speaking on behalf of the Police Spokesperson commented that it is important to be aware of the different behaviors of a man and a woman. He also added that although during the years of conflict and war, clothing that prevents identification posed many security risks, during a supposed time of peace, it wasn’t posing any sort of threat. The Army Captain was suspected and searched by the officials due to his suspicious behavior which portrayed him both as a nervous individual and also a man in women’s clothing.

Always willing to deal with controversial issues, the Bodu Bala Sena Secretary, Ven. Galaboda Aththe Gnanasara Thera commented on the issue saying the organization has not taken any official action for the ban of the burqa and that it had only been brought in to discussions.The ACJU Media Coordinator Aslam Zubair said a ban of the burqa or any sort of clothing was unfair and breached human rights. He added that the burqa cannot be banned due to a handful of incidents. If such action is taken, sarongs and T-shirts should also be banned as they are often used by robbers to conceal their faces. Zubair explained that even talk of such a ban was an insult on both women and Muslims in general.

He also discussed social issues dealing with clothing. Prostitution and rape is often encouraged by the indecency in which the victims dress. He drew many comparisons, an important one being the following. Who is a man more aroused by, the fully covered Muslim lady or the half clad European woman? It is the latter than stirs a man within, no matter how religious or intelligent he is. Today most Muslim women have abandoned the burqa and others rarely cover their heads with a scarf. Zubair’s opinion on this is that such women need more education on Islam and they need to have more faith in the religion. Only the faithful put what they are told into practice and adorn the body-covering garment.

Looking at the Sri Lankan and mostly Buddhist culture, it is apparent that changes have been made to the traditional dress of the redda and hatta or cloth and jacket. The outfit that was once worn in a modest manner has now been reduced to a naval exposing, sleeveless dress. Aslam Zubair sadly commented that culture is changing too rapidly, and that too in a negative manner.

The burqa is reserved for the faithful Muslim lady and there is a certain beauty in a covered woman. People who do not respect other religions and beliefs feel no fear though to denounce such clothing and ‘borrow’ them for their personal evil purposes.  As a nation that is believed to promote a multicultural community, it is our duty to encourage the freedom to dress according to one’s beliefs. The sad truth though is simple; the actions of a few shameless individuals create uneasiness within this nation.

The Buddha is believed to have said, “If a person foolishly does me wrong, I will return to him the protection of my boundless love.” Buddhism encourages tolerance. So does Islam. Thus the wise man would rather tolerate and accept other religions and beliefs than try to ban the burqa.

The Nation
Sunday, 24 February 2013

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6 thoughts on “Burqa: Should it be banned?”

  1. “If a person foolishly does me wrong, I will return to him the protection of my boundless love.” this is a very wise comment in deed, and in fact, we need to realize that when a culture hangs on very tightly to its traditions and practices, and especially is vocal about it, then it's hard to shake it off.The burqa issue, as with most aspects of Islamic culture, is a pretty tricky question that deserves more pondering and deliberation.

  2. Well researched and well written! You go into the depth of the subject and show the "why, what, how and when" of the issue…I remember you saying that the burqa could be a prison or a symbol of religious faith… As you had mentioned, people should have the right to dress according to their religion. So true…I really love the last paragraph which sums it all! "The Buddha is believed to have said, “If a person foolishly does me wrong, I will return to him the protection of my boundless love.” Buddhism encourages tolerance. So does Islam. Thus the wise man would rather tolerate and accept other religions and beliefs than try to ban the burqa."All religions promote tolerance. It is only misinterpretations of religious teachings by certain people that forces others to think otherwise…

  3. with all religious and non-religious cultures, there are so many tricky questions. One wrong word can offend someone. But it is also important to express your views and doubts about other faiths. I will never ever wear the burqa, or cover my head with a scarf, but I do agree that it adds to a woman's beauty!But when I question people and ask the what and why of it, I understand it's purpose more. I may not agree with it, but I will understand it.

  4. sadly, too many people misinterpret what is said. So many people assume Buddhists are vegetarians, and that the five precepts are rules we must live by. But those assumptions are not true at all! humans, it seems, are born to misinterpret!

  5. I agree that getting to know about other faiths increases our understanding, even though we might not agree. I hope we can get contributors belonging to various religions(and now that you mentioned it,non religious cultures too!:D)

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