“Many who oppose the burqa see it as an oppressive item of clothing which symbolises and reinforces the inferior social status of women.” (Rowe, 2010) Under the Western eyes, they believe that the burqa is a sign of assault, unfairness and oppression towards Islam women. They also see it as a sexual limitation towards women, as the reason why the burqa is worn is to avoid sexual intensions and interest towards women. Hence why, the burqa is a “veil covering the women’s hair with a scarf leaving only the eyes to be seen, all the body is seen to be covered with a loose long dress with dark colors” (Odeh, 1993).
Many countries like Afghanistan and Iraq, there is a law whereby it is a MUST for women to wear the burqa. But many debates have arised ever since the revolution after the 9/11 attacks. “The invasion, occupation, and “regime change” were in part justiﬁed to the U.S. (and world) public as rescuing Afghan women from oppression, vividly represented in their all-enveloping cover, the chadri, or
burqa. Many observers were consequently surprised and disappointed that the downfall of the Taliban did not lead to Afghan women’s mass abandonment of the burqa.” (Hosseini, 2011) The question is, do these Islam women think of it as an opression against women, or they are just following the laws of Islam?
The Westerners have debated about banning the burqa in countries such as Australia, as it has caused many troubles of crimes. For example, in Sydney a man was robbed by a burqa wearing bandit who further disguised his (or her) identity by wearing sunglasses. The bandit was described by police as being of “Middle Eastern appearance”. (Bernardi, 2010). As for the British people, they feel that the burqa is “intimidating to others – they prevent friendliness, sociability, pleasant chit-chat.” (Richard & Judy, 2010). However, there are some Westerners that support and feel that the Burqa being banned “draws on increasing reservoirs of religious prejudice! It would be naive to think otherwise. And naive to expect otherwise from Europeans fearful that their culture is under attack, according to Lincoln from Liberty Magazine” (Lincoln, 2011) Many countries have called to bann the burqa for the safety of the country especially in banks and airports whereby people (muslim and non-muslims) can wear the burqa and their identity can’t be seen from under.
When the Australia government Liberal Senator Cory Bernardi, banned the burqa in Australia it sparked a huge commotion outside the courtrooms. He stated that “It is un-Australian – and it’s symbolic barrier is far greater than the measure of cloth it is created from. For safety and for society, the burqa needs to be banned.” (news.com, 2010) Muslims felt offended with the banning of the burqa as they claimed that Australia is a free country, hence they are allowed the freedom of religion and rights.
The media however, has represented many of these “veil” wearing Islam women’s by discriminating them to be antisocial, unable to be mixed with and has also created Islamphobic society’s after the 9/11 attacks, causing many Western countries especially America to discriminate and become anti-muslim’s with “print media was highly image-oriented with collages of television images repeatedly played, and with major newspapers and magazines splashing dramatic pictures on its covers.” (Kelner, 2007) Just as the Times cover titled “Lifting the Veil” is an example of American media trying to change oppression against women with stories like “What is revealed “behind the veil”? An assault of evidence is then presented, testifying to the oppressive and backward nature of Islam, especially when it comes to women. Story after story chronicles Muslim women dying in “honor killings”; facing female genital mutilation; being beaten on the streets of Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia for violating the dress code; sentenced to death for adultery and being buried alive in the ground or stoned to death; beaten for disobeying their husbands; raped by male family members; and being unable to get a divorce or child custody rights.” (Assultany, 2013) It maybe seen as a positive way of sharing and fighting against the opression for women, but it is also a discrimination against Muslim’s by the title itself justifying people’s discrimination of Muslims as hiding something behind the veil, terrorism, something to hide, secretive and more.”
In conclusion, people make racist statements and judgements everyday, but it provokes and justifies an unworthy statement in the media, as the media plays a powerful role in shaping people’s behavior and believe which might lead to negative judgement and religion / race stereotypes.
1. Timothy Rowe 2010, To Ban or Not to Ban? The Burqa, Religious Identity, and Politics, Butterflies and Wheels Article, Accessed 3/6/14, online at: http://www.butterfliesandwheels.org/2010/to-ban-or-not-to-ban-the-burqa-religious-identity-and-politics/
2. Lama Abu Odeh 1993, Post- Colonial Feminism and The Veil: Thinking the Difference, Feminist Review No 43, Accessed 3/6/14, Online at: http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/1395067uid=3738672&uid=2&uid=4&sid=21103832553721
3. Ziba Mir‐Hosseini 2011, Muslim Women’s Quest for Equality: Between Islamic Law and Feminism, Accessed 3/6/14, Online at: http://www.centenary.edu/religion/dotto/rel280/feminism.pdf
4. Cory Benardi 2010, For Australia’s sake, we need to ban the burqa, The Sydney Morning Herald Federal Politics, Accessed 3/6/2014, Online at: http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/society-and-culture/for-australias-sake-we-need-to-ban-the-burqa-20100506-ubun.html
5. Richard, Judy 2013, The burqa is a sign of degradation and has no place on our streets, Home of the Daily and Sunday Express, Accessed 4/8/14, Online at: http://www.express.co.uk/comment/columnists/richard-and-judy/431069/The-burka-is-a-sign-of-degradation-and-has-no-place-on-our-streets
6. Lincoln E. Steed 2011, Are Burqa bans oppressive to religious freedom or a defense of the rights and dignity of women? Liberty Magazine of Religious Freedom, Accessed 4/6/14, Online at: http://www.libertymagazine.org/contributor/a-draft-law-with-future-implications
7. news.com.au 2010, Burqa banned is un-Australian says Muslims, National news.com.au, Accessed 4/6/14, Online at: http://www.news.com.au/national/burqua-ban-is-un-australian-say-muslims/story-e6frfkvr-1225863357698
8. Abdirizakxiireey, Ban the burqa protest offends Sydneysiders, n.d, video, viewed 5/6/14, <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B7hjLWBSc68>
9. Douglas Kellner 2007, The Media In and After 9/11, International Journal of Communication 1 (2007), Book Review 123-142, Accessed 6/6/14, Online at 197-709-1-PB.pdf.
10. Evelyn Asultany 2013, Arabs and Muslims in the Media after 9/11: Representational Strategies for a “Postrace” Era, Project MUSE American Studies Volume 55, Number 1, Accessed 7/6/2014, Online at: http://muse.jhu.edu.ezproxy.uow.edu.au/journals/american_quarterly/v065/65.1.alsultany.html