By Hannah Shah
Recently, I went to the supermarket with a Muslim friend and her 6-year-old daughter. We were in an area of England where there were many women who wear the same style of black burqa. My friend went to the next aisle leaving me with her daughter who then wanted to find mummy. As she looked round and saw the other women wearing the same black burqas she could not identify her mummy at all and started to cry. After this, my friend decided she would wear a distinctive pair of sandals so her daughter would not lose her again. It’s not always practical or helpful to wear the burqa in public places but, like my friend, many Muslim women wear it believing they are observing what the Qur’an teaches.
In Europe, Belgium and France assume its OK for the government to say we believe in freedom, but then advocate that the laws should say what Muslim women can and can’t wear. French President Nicolas Sarkozy said the veil made women “prisoners behind netting.” There seems to be a lack of understanding of Muslim women and their reasons for wearing the burqa. What about the human rights of Muslim women? In banning the burqa will we become the oppressor rather than fighting against oppression? If we are concerned for Muslim women as Mr. Sarkozy professes to be, should we not concentrate on empowering them and giving them a voice rather than spending time making laws that threaten their freedom to choose?”
Hannah Shah is the author of “The Imam’s Daughter: My Desperate Flight to Freedom.”