The Liberating Shrouds of Tunisia

Religious coercion threatens Tunisian women

A number of Tunisian women feel forced to adopt religious practices in attire and behaviour. Experts, however, question the legality and Islamic authenticity of the phenomena.

By Jamel Arfaoui for Magharebia in Tunis – 07/01/11 (thanks to the RoP)

  • Fitzgerald: Tunisia and the Monitoring of Islam: Tunisian police are stopping women on the streets and asking them to take off their headscarves and to sign a pledge that they will not wear a scarf again. A 1981 Tunisian law prohibits Islamic attire in schools or government offices.

[Jamel Arfaoui] “The case with the veil in Tunisia is a matter of fashion and is the result of influence from certain groups; it’s the herd mentality,” writer Rach Tounsi says.

Rima, a student, breathed a sigh of relief when her mother allowed her to remove the hijab.

“I’ve been waiting for this day for six months,” she says, adding that the experience felt like “long decades”. “My mother forced me to abandon what she considered to be indecent clothes when I returned home at a late hour after attending a friend’s birthday party.”

Like many other Tunisian girls and married women, she was made to obey her family, while facing alienation at school.

“I’ve lived through difficult times at my college. I may be wrong about it, but I felt that my male and female colleagues’ looks were tearing me apart. This made me avoid going to the college for several days, and I could have failed that year if it hadn’t been for the assistance of a female colleague,” she adds.

Even though freedom of conscience is enshrined in Article 5 of the Tunisian constitution, which “protects the free exercise of beliefs with reservation that they do not disturb the public order”, a growing number of women experience coercion in religious practices.

Rabiaa, in her 30s, is one of them. She admits to wearing Islamic garments out of fear of her husband’s violence.

“He threatened to divorce me and to prevent me from seeing my kids if I insisted on my rejection of the veil and cloak,” she tells Magharebia.

Continue reading The Liberating Shrouds of Tunisia

Niqab "forbidden?" Not. What does the Koran really say about the veil?

Egyptian Minister of Religious Endowment Mahmoud Hamdi Zaqzouq: Wearing the Niqab Is Forbidden in Islam

Not so.  My Koran from the ‘King Fahd Academy’ must not be doubted. And besides, the Saudis call the shots:

Surah 33. AlAhzab,  59 O prophet! Tell your wives and daughters, and the believing women, that they should cast their cloaks  (veils) all over their bodies (i.e. screen themselves completely except eyes or one eye to see the way) that will be better, that they should be known (as free respectable women) so as not to be annoyed.  And Allah is oft-forgiving, most merciful.


Following are excerpts from an interview with Egyptian Minister of Religious Endowment Mahmoud Hamdi Zaqzouq, which aired on Al-Hayat 2 TV on November 8, 2010:

Mahmoud Hamdi Zaqzouq: Wearing the niqab is completely forbidden in Islam.

Interviewer: It is forbidden.

Mahmoud Hamdi Zaqzouq: Yes.

Interviewer: So not only is it not a duty – it is even forbidden?

Mahmoud Hamdi Zaqzouq: It is not a duty, not part of the Sunna, and not recommended or anything.


There is another thing – the niqab prevents interpersonal communication. Islam strives to benefit society, and the spreading of the niqab is not in the best interest of society. The niqab is used to commit crimes. This has happened is several Islamic countries. In Somalia, for example, two veiled women blew themselves up in a large mosque, killing more than 50 people. Interpersonal communication is impossible unless people’s faces are visible. If I talk to somebody, I want to see how my words affect this person – whether what I say is accepted or causes anger, and so on. The niqab prevents us from communicating with one another.

Interviewer: What is your view on girls who are made to wear the hijab? In Egypt, it is very common these days to make 3-4 year old girls wear the hijab, and if you ask their parents, they say it is in order to get her used to the hijab.

Mahmoud Hamdi Zaqzouq: First of all, this is not required by Islam. Let me tell you a story. The late Sheik Tantawi once told me that he went to inaugurate an Al-Azhar elementary school for girls, in Burj Al-Arab, I think. He told me that he was astounded to see all the girls there wearing the hijab. They were only six years old. So he asked: Why do you force them to wear the hijab? He was told that their parents insist upon it. This is a serious mistake, because a girl of this age wants to experience her childhood and play with her peers. Why would we deprive her of this? This hinders her development and her education. It is totally unnecessary.


Related links:

Time to Ban the Veil: The Chilling Lesson from the Elizabeth Smart Case

Hidden in plain sight/Phyllis Chesler

He hid her in plain sight.

Her face was on posters plastered all over Utah, her kidnapping had launched one of the greatest manhunts in American history. Nevertheless, Brian Mitchell, the man who kidnapped 14 year-old Elizabeth Smart at knife-point in her bedroom actually got away with it for nine months. He kept Elizabeth as his sex slave and “second wife” for that long.

Continue reading Time to Ban the Veil: The Chilling Lesson from the Elizabeth Smart Case

"Freedom to wear hijab" must include the freedom to reject it


Muslim French Intellectuals Criticize Obama’s Statement on the Hijab

“We seem to have forgotten the blood-soaked days in my country of origin, Algeria, when women were slaughtered for [choosing not to wear the veil]

in his June 4, 2009 Cairo speech, U.S. President Hussein Obama emphasized that Muslim women in the U.S. are free to don the hijab. He said: “…Freedom in America is indivisible from the freedom to practice one’s religion. That is why there is a mosque in every state of our union, and over 1,200 mosques within our borders. That is why the U.S. government has gone to court to protect the right of women and girls to wear the hijab, and to punish those who would deny it.”

Obama’s statements triggered strong criticism among Arab intellectuals in France, where for the past few years there has been an ongoing debate about the permissibility of wearing the veil in public.

Following are excerpts from some of their reactions:

Reformist writer Dr. Abdelwahab Meddeb, a professor of comparative literature at the University of Paris X in Nanterre and author of the books The Malady of Islam (New York: Basic Books, 2003) and Counter-Preaching (Contre-Prêches, Seuil, Paris, 2006)  wrote: “Obama’s pertinent speech in Cairo was wrong in at least one respect. Let us say [for the sake of the argument] – though I find it difficult to do so – that women should be free to wear the veil. [Still, Obama] should have added that they must [also] be free to remove it.”

Related Links

Leila Barbès, a professor of religion and sociology at the Catholic University of Lille, also referred to the hijab issue, though not in direct response to Obama’s speech. She explained that, in the context of the veil, “free choice” was an illusion: “The moment [wearing] the veil is presented as a divine duty, the issue of free choice is no longer valid, [and] all Muslim women are exposed to [this religious] propaganda. How can we pretend they have a choice when they are told that [their] religion obligates [them to wear a veil]? The women [who wear] a full veil [i.e. a niqab, which covers everything but the eyes,] do so in order to comply with what is requested and expected of them by their husbands or their sect.”

Sihem Habchi, president of the feminist organization Ni Putes Ni Soumises [“Neither Whores nor Slaves”], said: “We seem to have forgotten the blood-soaked days in my country of origin, Algeria, when women were slaughtered for [choosing not to wear the veil]. And what about the Afghan women [under the Taliban], who were denied education and suffered from the [negative] effects of wearing that portable prison [the burqa]?

“To think that Mr. Obama reached out to fundamentalists in Cairo, trying to buy them with [his statement about] the veil! He did not say a word in Cairo about fundamental freedoms… or about all the women who are currently fighting around the world to launch a debate [about the veil] in their country! We must support these women… What are we afraid of?”

Philosopher Abdennour Bidar, author of numerous articles on modern Islam, expressed sorrow that Obama had been more concerned with image than with other, more important considerations. In an interview about the issue of the niqab, he said: “[It’s a pity that] politicians, and especially Obama, seem to sacrifice the truth for the sake of appearance, and [choose] a mode of communication that consecrates image [above anything else]…”

Feelings hurt: "French muslims [sic] feel stigmatized in veil row…"

Shocker: French Muslims complain of feeling “stigmatized” after woman fined for driving with vision obscured by niqab

The rules of “rock-paper-scissors” are more grounded in reality: here, hurt feelings trump safety behind the wheel. Indeed, this case is so much like others in which practices in the Muslim world, or by Muslims who continue those practices in the West: You can’t criticize without apologists claiming the problem does not really exist even as it stares them in the face, and if you do, you cannot possibly have any motive other than bilious, seething hatred.

‘The muslims of Nantes… are worried by this systematic stigmatisation which goes against the values of the Republic,’ the collective of Nantes mosques said in a statement.

There may be a certain urgency here to deflect attention from the practice of polygamy — that could be an entirely new proverbial can of worms, alongside the ongoing issue of the niqab. And there’s no better diversionary tactic than claiming victim status as loudly and as often as possible.

An update on this story. “French muslims [sic] feel stigmatised in veil row,” from RTÉ News, April 25/via JW

Comedy Gold From Bunglawussi Watch:

French government continues to incite Islamophobia over veil

Resisting Islam causes wars and the infidels are responsible for them….

Click to read more …

Resistance is useless:

The Bristol Evening Post draws our attention to yet another bigoted anti-mosque campaign on Facebook, this one entitled “No we do not want a mosque in Barton Hill“.

Flicks are not doing their job, les Muselmanes complain:

Gunshots fired at French mosque

Mohamed Moussaoui, president of an umbrella organization of French Muslim groups, says the incident deserves more attention. He says media have instead focused on the case of a Muslim man accused of having several wives. How inconsiderate! Don’t they know what their priorities are to be? Straits Times, 26 April 2010

Belgian govt collapses amid veil ban threat after France – UPDATED

The Battle Over The Freedom Sack

H/T Islam in Europe

Belgian government collapsed as MPs are set to vote on a proposed ban on wearing face-covering veils in public, a day after France move.

Belgian Prime Minister Yves Leterme’s five-month-old government collapsed on Thursday after the Flemish liberal party pulled out of his coalition.

The move comes as Belgian lawmakers are set to vote on a proposed ban on wearing face-covering veils in public, a day after neighbouring France proposed enacting similar legislation.

France: Veil law: Driver fined / Deputy threatened/A French driver was fined 22 euro for driving veiled.  According to the police her field of vision was decreased by the niqab, a veil which covers everything but the eyes, French media reported Friday./Islam in Europe

France: Ban will also apply to tourists/Muslim tourists in France will be forbidden to wear the full-face veil along with French residents under the government’s plan to ban the garment in public places, a minister said on Thursday./Islam in Europe

Continue reading Belgian govt collapses amid veil ban threat after France – UPDATED

Italian foreign minister: "Let's ask ourselves if covering one's face isn't the first sign of refusal to integrate and closing oneself off… from the host community and its traditions"

FINALLY! France and Italy have something to resent more than Americans.

Franco speaking! Franco my man!

Unfortunately, Franco is no Geert Wilders.

Those of us who have been keeping an eye on Frattini know that he is a limp dick who swings in either direction.  He is merely testing the water with his statements which are carefully drafted to leave him with a multitude of escape hatches.

The face veil in its various forms is the most visible symbol of an ideology that wants nothing to do with equality and integration. “Italy: Foreign minister rejects face veil,” from AdnKronos International, January 27, thanks to JW:

Florence, 27 Jan. (AKI) – Italy’s foreign minister Franco Frattini on Wednesday voiced his opposition to the face veil. Women wearing the garment pose security issues and symbolise “a refusal to integrate” by Muslim immigrants in a host country, he said.

”Let’s ask ourselves if covering one’s face isn’t the first sign of refusal to integrate and closing oneself off… from the host community and its traditions,” Frattini said.

Counter Jihad Links:

Berlusconi tells it like it is:

Italy: Fewer Muslim immigrants, less crime

Diversity under shrouds:

Woman wearing niqb, file pic

The Muslim veil comes in various forms including the burka and niqab

Continue reading Italian foreign minister: "Let's ask ourselves if covering one's face isn't the first sign of refusal to integrate and closing oneself off… from the host community and its traditions"

Catholic school bars Muslim teacher who refused to remove the freedom sack so staff could identify her

The hijab debate: ‘I don’t want to be judged on my looks’ 

 * It is usually the “reverts” who behave  this way… confirmed  here: “I reject beauty fascism”- another one “”I was brought up a Catholic …” or this one: “I wasn’t always Muslim. But seeing the hijab on a visit to Egypt 10 years ago opened my eyes. I asked one woman why she wore it and she said: ‘I want to be judged for what I do, not what I look like’…. Good luck to you, ladies!

Two pupils removed their veil to attend a Catholic school open day, but their Muslim teacher refused the request  Two pupils removed their veil to attend a Catholic school open day, but their Muslim teacher refused the request     

By James Tozer/Mail Online

A Muslim teacher was barred from visiting a Catholic college after refusing to remove her full-face veil so staff could identify her.

Now the school may face a claim of religious discrimination after the woman left rather than agreeing to reveal her face.

The teacher, who works at an Islamic school, was attending an open day at the sixth form college along with two teenage pupils, all of them wearing veils which left only their eyes visible.

They were asked to remove them as it was against the college policy – but while the girls complied, their teacher refused.

The incident, which happened in Jack Straw’s Blackburn constituency, comes as the issue of the full-face veil is once again at the centre of debate, and could see the school plunged into a court battle.

Continue reading Catholic school bars Muslim teacher who refused to remove the freedom sack so staff could identify her

John Esposito, Slave of Islam: "West must respect the Muslim veil"

No we don’t.

We don’t respect polygamy, wife-beating, child marriage, FGM, stoning of adulterous women, beheadings, arm-and feet amputations, Koran riots, cartoon riots, pope riots, teddy bear riots, rape-jihad on infidel women, suicide bombers, hijackers, honor-killings and all the rest either.

We cannot, and will not respect a violent cult that comes with a religious mandate for genocide on Jews and Christians, we don’t respect a cult that seeks our submission by paying the jiziya or forcible conversion, we cannot  respect those who demand we accept the terror regime  of the sharia to subjugate us.

72150150CF020_Muslims_DemonDefending the freedom sack:

Regular readers know that  the slick John Esposito,  director of the “ Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Centre for Muslim-Christian Understanding” in Georgetown is a paid whore for the Saudi royal family.  Which means the Sauds pay him big bucks to promote  Islam in America. Documents Link Saudi Ruling Family to al-Qaeda…

Which, in turn, means that a man on the payroll of the world’s most oppressive Islamic regime is engaged by the Washington Post and Newsweek to provide their readers with objective facts about Islam. This perverse state of affairs is, alas, par for the course in today’s mainstream media.

* The burka, a symbol of repression, has no place in a free society

Esposito: “West must respect the Muslim veil”-

… but no call for Muslims to respect us…


Modernity should not be defined solely from a Western, liberal, secular-centred point of view. Our world today is one of multiple modernities, in which societies are increasingly multicultural and religiously and non-religiously pluralistic. Western societies should respect the rights of Muslim women who choose to wear the veil.”

John Esposito in the Gulf Times, 25 June 2009