Is there a more potent visual symbol of difference between Muslims and non-Muslims, than the burqa and niqab favoured by many a devout Muslim woman?
There is no Quranic mandate to wear them, yet the burqa and niqab have become a visible point of division between Muslims and non-Muslims, as well as between Muslims.
I favour the French law regarding face covering in public, and in relation to the niqab and burqa I view these as nothing other than tools to control women's sexuality, and it is this which forms the basis for a series of images I'm working toward completing. I leave you with some selected quotes regarding the burqa, niqab and hijab, from a few readily available articles on the matter.
[the Taliban] were forcing men to grow beards as long as a lantern and women to wear burqas. Wearing a burqa is like walking inside a big fabric shuttlecock with only a grille to see through and on hot days it’s like an oven ~ Malala Yousafzai, I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and was Shot by the Taliban, 2013
When even the so-called permissive West is staunchly defending an article of clothing whose primary function is to deny the sexual autonomy of a human being based on nothing other than her gender, what recourse does a lone Muslim woman have to stand against it? ~ Ruby Hamad, ‘Burqa defenders’ paradox of injustice’, The Age, 13 Aug 2010
…feminists should fess up. The burqa belongs in cultures that still have bride-price. It is an antediluvian title deed, an all-enveloping, owned sexual identity ~ Elizabeth Farrelly, ‘Feminists should see through a garment that crudely defines women’, Sydney Morning Herald, 23 Sep 2010
Before France sent troops in early 2013…women were forced to remain indoors and wear full body and face-covering veils. Infractions of the law often meant severe punishment, ranging from being jailed in cramped holding cells and being whipped…reports of forced marriage and rape also rose ~ Whitney Richardson, ‘Women Beyond the Veil in Mali’, New York Times, 18 Aug 2014
We cannot debate the burqa or the hijab without reference to women in Iran, Afghanistan or Saudi Arabia, where the wearing of it is heavily policed and any slippages are met with violence ~ Rahila Gupta, ‘We don't need Hegel. The burka is a cloth soaked in blood’, The Guardian, 8 Jul 2009
Ardent veilers are proxy Taliban agents and have no conscience about their sisters in Afghanistan, Iran and elsewhere—women who long to show their faces and wear whatever they want ~ Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, ‘Should Britain ban the burqa?’ New Humanist, 3 Sep 2010
When it is understood that the burqa is not a religious requirement but rather a political statement—at best merely an ethnic and misogynistic custom—there is no reason whatsoever for Western traditions of religious tolerance to misconstrue the covering of women as a religious duty at a time when the vast majority of Muslims do not see it as such ~ Dr Phyllis Chessler, ‘Ban the Burqa? The Argument in Favor’, The Middle East Quarterly, Autumn 2010
Name me an Arab country, and I'll recite a litany of abuses [of women] fuelled by a toxic mix of culture and religion that few seem willing or able to disentangle lest they blaspheme or offend ~ Mona Eltahawy, Foreign Policy, May 2012
The European Court of Human Rights…dismissed arguments that France's 2010 ban on the full-face veil was a breach of religious freedom… ~ ‘Europe's rights court upholds French burqa ban’, Deutsche Welle, 1 Jul 2014
Several of the men said wearing a burqa felt "like a prison". They carried signs reading: ‘Equality’ and ‘Don't tell women what to wear, you should cover your eyes’. Some men stopped to watch,...Some were confused; others said women's rights encouraged prostitution ~ Krista Mahr and Mirwais Harooni, ‘Afghan men don burqas, take to the streets for women's rights’, reuters.com, 5 March 2015
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