Thursday, July 7, 2011

Muslims Unmasked

In Oz, the NSW Govt will consider laws (being adopted in other states) to give police the power to force Muslim women wearing a full veil to reveal their faces for identification.
The legislation would allow police to ask any person stopped in vehicle checks to remove burqas, niqabs or other head and face coverings to verify their identities. Refusal may incur up to a year's jail.
This is supported by Islamic leaders, the Law Institute of Victoria and the public too. A Herald/Sun on-line poll asked: “Should police have the power to order people to remove head coverings such as burqas?” The results: yes, 95.77%...no, 4.23%.
…coincidentally, news this week in NZ of two Auckland bus drivers refusing entry to women wearing Muslim burqas.
A burqa covers the entire body over indoor clothing, while a niqab is the eye-slit outfit. Here, Muslim women mainly wear the hijab (more like a scarf, covering hair and neck). The request for burqa removal would have meant a humiliating public disrobing [interestingly, the Qur’an never mentions burqas, and all but the most radical feel the Qur’an’s ruling on modest attire is adhered to with a hijab].
The drivers supposedly suffer a fear of masks (Maskophobia)! What are the odds of two drivers with the same phobia, within two days of each other? This is not to be confused with Coulrophobia (a fear of clowns), Islamophobia (fear/dislike of Muslims) or Xenophobia (fear of foreigners). NZ Bus claims there was no religious aspect to their reactions, but both have been told to complete counseling, visit a mosque and apologise to the women. They also received final warnings: odd, considering their actions were due to a phobia…hmmmm.
Religious freedom is respected here and there aren't restrictions on women wearing veils but, where that conflicts with security (eg: in banks), compromise is needed. With the expected influx for the Rugby World Cup, the Auckland Tramways Union wants NZ Bus to set up driver security training.
Meanwhile the Consulate-General of Saudi Arabia has complained to our government over the incidents, and Sameer Aljabri (the first woman’s husband) plans to complain to the Human Rights Commission. However… there’s an element of ‘the pot calling the kettle black’ in this.
Dr Aljabri has every right to lodge a complaint if he feels his wife has been the victim of religious discrimination, but he’s out of line to slag us off over religious and civil liberties. His comment, that NZ feels like "the end of the world and knows nothing about the rest of the world", suggests he thinks we’re in an international backwater where human rights have no importance and intolerance is the norm. That’s rich, given his national origin: NZ may not be perfect but Saudi Arabia's record on civil, political and religious rights is woeful.
We may have some way to go before we’re a totally accepting society, but Dr Aljabri should remember that Saudi Arabia has religious police, NZ has a Human Rights Commissioner.

2 comments:

SaudiZen said...

As I currently live in Saudi Arabia where I am expected to conform to the religious act of covering my hair even though I'm not Muslim (the religious police stood at a shop doorway pointing and barking out orders to me just last night on this issue) and the cultural practice of wearing an abaya, I see no reason why Saudi's who choose to visit, or move to, non-muslim countries are not expected to leave their garb at home.

Neither should they take issue with this expectation as the Qu'ran says women are not to draw attention to themselves. Being black clad and veiled in Kiwiland does not stike me as blending in behaviour.

I don't know why the husband or the consulate expect religious consideration in other countries when the same is not given in their own...church groups have to meet in secret in Saudi.

We have to re-name popular Christian based get togethers so as not to offend (Easter is Spring Garden and Christmas is End of Year) and even singng Happy Birthday at Fudruckers is frowned on.


As for the drivers, wouldn't being given final warning for a mental health issue be discrimination of some sort.

And quite frankly visiting a mosque where their chances of being confronted by numerous masks is quite high will surely only worsen their condition.

Writer Of The Purple Sage... said...

Dear SaudiZen:
As you live in Saudi and thus are experiencing the pressure of a twisted Qu'ran interpretation first-hand, I really appreciate your comments.
Stay safe!