The niqab, fact v fiction

Fatima Barkatulla clears up misconceptions about the niqab.

Times, 22 July 2009

Not all of the paper’s readers are convinced. Some online comments:

“How can anyone but an absolute ignoramus justify wearing a mask bearing in mind the current dangers of terrorism from Muslims.”

“The niqab is a male-made obligation destined to show other men that ‘this female belongs to me’. Nothing else.”

“The reality is that in Britain, and Europe more generally, covering up women in this way is not accepted, it goes against both our traditions and standards…. In this country we pride ourselves on tolerence and fairness, and the problem is that there seems to be a clash between accomodating a religious practice and women’s rights.”

“The writer of this article should wake up – you can be subjugated and believe that you are exercising choice – this is the result of brainwashing.”

“You may wonder if Mrs Bartakulla is a brainwashed naive or an islamist propagandist. I think I know the answer.”

“You don’t want to comply with our culture in any way, whilst we are forced by the blind and stupid to pander to yours. You use it to control your women and push your intransigent religion on non-muslims.”

“If someone wants to wear the burqa, they have the right. I on the other hand also have to right to have nothing to do with them.”

“This is a western country with western culture and tradition and it’s about time people who choose to live her from other cultures showed some respect. The British people are far too tolerant and we get taken advantage of.”

“British and Western women must cherish their freedoms and not let foreign hostile beliefs do away with the freedoms that the Christian religion has given them.”

“As an atheist and an Englishman … I am saddened by the influence on my own culture of what I perceive as a socially backward faith…. Covering oneself is not ‘normal’ in my books and reveals an unhealthy mind. However many excuses are presented, it smacks of subjugation. To see the promotion and normalisation of such behaviour in The Times is both surreal and absurd…. tolerant though I consider myself to be, those who want a return to the Dark Ages can count me out.”

“… it is the basest form of ignorance which inflicts those rules on women and that is THE VERY REASON they should be OUTLAWED!!!”

“As a white man, how could [I] even become friends with a Muslim woman, who by wearing a burqa, straight away sends out a message of I do not want anything to do with you.”