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Friday, October 06, 2006

Take it off! 

This story is worth exploring.

Let's start with what was happening in the offices of Jack Straw, Labour MP:

Straw wrote in a newspaper that a veil was "a visible statement of separation and difference" and that he was more comfortable dealing with female visitors to his local political office with their faces uncovered....

Straw, leader of the House of Commons and the former foreign secretary, said he was concerned that "wearing the full veil was bound to make better, positive relations between the two communities more difficult."

Asked on Friday if he would like veils to be discarded altogether, Straw said: "Yes. It needs to be made clear I am not talking about being prescriptive but with all the caveats, yes, I would rather."...

Straw originally wrote in the Lancashire Telegraph that he asked women to remove their veils in his constituency office. "I felt uncomfortable about talking to someone 'face to face' who I could not see," he wrote. No one had refused his request, he said.

Straw pointed out that he defended Muslims' rights to wear head scarves and that wearing a full veil "breaks no laws."

And no, there was not a monolithic reaction from the British Muslim community.

The Lancashire Council of Mosques said the Commons leader had "misunderstood" the issue and it was "deeply concerned" by his "very insensitive and unwise" statement.

"For such a seasoned and astute politician to make such a comment that has shocked his Muslim constituents seems ill judged and misconceived," a spokesman told the Press Association.

"Many of these women find Mr. Straw's comments both offensive and disturbing."

And, from another group:

The radical Hizb ut-Tahrir organization said the Muslim community "does not need lessons in dress from Jack Straw."

"He has once again shown that for Cabinet ministers it is open season on Muslims and Islam," said spokesperson Nazreen Nawaz.

But a third group recognized that we infidels might feel uncomfortable about the whole thing:

Daud Abdullah, of the Muslim Council of Britain, said he understood Straw's views. "This (the veil) does cause some discomfort to non-Muslims. One can understand this," he said.

Meanwhile, the opposition parties had a chance to make points:

Conservative policy director Oliver Letwin said it would be a "dangerous doctrine" to instruct people how to dress, while Liberal Democrat chairman Simon Hughes described the remarks as "insensitive and surprising."

And of course, this only happens in Europe, and only happens among Muslims. Wrong:

[I]t is unusual to see an American Christian woman covering her hair or adopting a distinctly modest style of dress that defines her as a person of faith in a secular society.

However, a small but seemingly growing number of women are adopting the garb of earlier times — form-concealing clothing and hair coverings that range from bun covers to Little House on the Prairie-type bonnets....

Many quote the Bible, specifically the Apostle Paul's admonition in 1 Corinthians 11:5: But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head.

For Wendy McDonnell of Lebec, Calif., who owns wendysmodestdress.com, covering her hair represents a way of separating from modern society.

And no, I'm not absolutely certain that women are required to wear head coverings. By the same token, I'm not absolutely certain that women are required to NOT wear head coverings. One pastor may disagree with me:

Like almost all women who cover, Catherine Levison of Tacoma, Wash., came to her decision through Bible study. She wears a scarf or hat anytime she prays.

Her husband "was pretty Switzerland about it," supporting her conviction. Others haven't been so accepting. She says she was attending a home prayer group, and when the pastor leading it realized that she hadn't just forgotten to take off her hat, he preached for weeks afterward on how women aren't required to cover.

And a Muslim view of Paul is, to put it simply, interesting:

What is Mr. Paul trying to tell us here?

In 1 Corinthians 11:5 above, he clearly tells us that women must cover their heads. Then 1 Corinthians 11:6, he is telling us that for those women who refuse to cover their heads, they must get their hair shaven or cut off.

So, so far, covering the head INCLUDES covering the hair, and not just the scull, in case some smart Christian wants to explain this away.

Now, Paul goes again and confirms the head covering (i.e., wearing scarves) for women in 1 Corinthians 11:13, and he was so sure about it, that he even asked for people's common sense ("Judge for yourselves") to prove that women must not at all uncover their heads when they pray to GOD Almighty.

Then in 1 Corinthians 11:16, he tells us that the woman's long hair is her covering?!

I thought women had to cover their heads, including their hairs as clearly stated in 1 Corinthians 11:6!! And he was so sure about it and he so believed in it that he challenged the people's common sense by saying "Judge for yourselves".

So is he saying that women with short hair (perhaps?!) must cover their heads when they go to church or pray to GOD, and women with long hair (perhaps?!) don't have to cover their hair?

If this is so, then what the hell is the purpose of this nonsense??!!

With all due respect to Christians, but WHAT IS THIS JACKASS SAYING HERE?! He is not making any sense what so ever!!

Meanwhile, one Christian page (International Sung Ja Do Association) says that it's the Muslims that are not modern:

No matter how much Muslims attempt to dress up Islam to make it attractive to the West, there are still many teachings of Islam that fall short of recognized modern standards for human rights. The rights that were accorded to 7th century Bedouins are far from being acceptable to us in this 21st century....

Islam instructs women to always veil themselves when they are outside of their homes. In certain situations it is mandatory even when in their own homes.

"And say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty; that they should not display their beauty and ornaments except what appear thereof; that they should draw their veils over their bosoms and not display their beauty..." Surah 24:31

"O prophet! Tell thy wives and daughters, and the believing women, that they should cast their outer garments over their persons (when abroad)." Surah 33:59

And the debate extends to the secular realm. In an age where a marriage is generally a civil ceremony, the bridal veil is a topic of discussion:

At once a symbol of purity and mystique, the contemporary wedding veil frames the bride's face with a soft, delicate aura. In years past, for pre-arranged marriages, the veil concealed the woman's face until the ceremony was complete....

"Maybe one out of 50 girls will wear the veil over the face," said Jenn Ferreira of Jenn and Jill's Bridal Boutique in Acushnet. "That was the tradition. When the father pulls the veil (back) over the face, he's unveiling the daughter to the new guy," said Jenn....

Bridal fashion is returning to the classic look, but in a way the bride can easily manage. Many brides opt for two veils, one formal, long veil, and a shorter one to replace it at the reception.

"Or, they'll wear the veil for the ceremony and the photos, and just take it off and get ready to party," said Sue.

The length, style, and even the presence of a veil depends not only on the dress but also on how formal the wedding is. A more casual ceremony might prompt a bride to choose a simple tiara, headband, or flowers to adorn their hair.

"My mom was adamant about me wearing the veil," said Sue. "She said, 'A bride isn't a bride without a veil.'"...

Once a bride has found the gown of her dreams, the veil seems to fall into place.

"It's not really a tough choice," said Jenn. "The toughest thing is to choose the dress."

And April looks at the issue as follows:

The other day, I suggested to the men in my office that they should start wearing veils to work so that the many straight women they work with would not be distracted by sexual thoughts. That got a good laugh.

But wait!

The Quran does not specifically mandate veiling, but simply speaks about modesty, respect, and the covering of the body. In fact, male modesty is more frequently referred to in the Quran then female modesty....

Some Muslim men choose to veil. As a whole, women veil more, but in some societies, men veil as well. For example, the men of the Taureg tribe in North Africa veil as a marker of their status; the more covered up a Taureg man is, the higher in rank he is.

Some evidence shows that the Prophet Mohammed veiled. Many paintings depict Mohammed completely face veiled, distinguishing him from the other figures in the painting. The veil marks his special status within the painting.

So there are pictures of Mohammed that...wait a minute...wasn't that what the whole Danish cartoon thing was all about?

And let's close by pursuing a link that I made to this article:

Sema Kopuz considers her Islamic head scarf a symbol of freedom, but others would call it a symbol of oppression. The colorful cloth that covers her hair has made it easier for her to study medicine, but impossible to practice it.

All over Europe, the head scarf has come to define the clash between conservative Islam and secular societies, nowhere more so than in overwhelmingly Muslim but vehemently secular Turkey. Here it's so sensitive that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan attends some government functions alone. His wife wears a head scarf, and her presence could offend secularists....

In February [2004], French legislators voted to ban the scarves in public schools, and last month the European Court of Human Rights ruled against a Turkish student who claimed her rights were violated by Turkish restrictions on wearing scarves at universities.

Turkey's sensitivity to headgear dates to the 1920s, when Mustafa Kemal Ataturk set out to Westernize the country overnight. He substituted the Latin alphabet for the Arabic, mandated Western dress, forced men to abandon their fez hats and spoke out against veils. The military considers itself the guarantor of the staunchly secular constitution, and as recently as seven years ago it helped drive an elected Islamic-oriented government from power....

Kopuz, 29, was born into a religious family in the Black Sea coast city of Rize, but did not wear a head scarf while growing up.

"I liked to do my hair and put on makeup," she said.

But conservative neighbors questioned her morality.

"Your daughter is uncovered," she remembers them telling her father. "What will be her fate?"

When she came to college in Istanbul she met other women from conservative backgrounds who wore head scarves, and began to do likewise.

She said it liberated her from family pressure.

"Before I covered my hair, my family tried to control my life," Kopuz said. "Now that I cover my hair I have lots of freedom. They trust my decisions and don't question me a lot."

Kopuz finished her studies in Azerbaijan, but cannot practice medicine in Turkey because women wearing head scarves are barred from taking the medical board examination.

From the Ontario Empoblog (Latest OVVA news here)

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