The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) has had to take some time for reflection on an international matter of grave importance.
Now, after so much horrid repression in Iran, they are ready to speak. Here you go:
Sarkozy Defies Universal Values as he tells Women What Not to Wear: French leader’s Burqa remarks are designed to whip-up further xenophobia against Muslims
The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) criticised French President Nicholas Sarkozy’s intention to ban the wearing of Burqa – a garment worn by a minority of Muslim women in accordance with their religious belief. Assistant Secretary General of the MCB, Dr. Reefat Drabu said: “It is patronising and offensive to suggest that those Muslim women who wear the burqa do so because of pressure or oppression by their male partners or guardians”. She added: “Such suggestions can legitimately be perceived as antagonistic towards Islam. Instead of taking a lead in promoting harmony and social cohesion amongst its people, the French President appears to be initiating a policy which is set to create fear and misunderstanding and may lead to Islamophobic reaction not just in France but in the rest of Europe too”.
Yes, oppression of women is entirely unknown in communities where burqas are common.
Perhaps the MCB could enlighten us on the religious aspect? I can’t find a mandate for the burqa in the Qur’an.
According to a report on Islam Online, nor can an Islamic expert of al Azhar in Egypt:
Moustafa Al Shaka’a, a member of Al-Azhar’s influential Islamic Research Academy, said Sarkozy should not be telling Muslim women what to wear.
“Neither the burqa or the niqab is ordered by Islam,” Al Shaka’a told Gulf News.
“They are local costumes, but Muslim women should not be forced to remove them. It’s a matter of personal freedom.”
The MCB may wish to set Dalil Boubakeur straight too. He appears to be a faith traitor:
But the special inquiry does have the backing of Dalil Boubakeur, rector of the Paris Mosque and a former head of the Muslim council, who insists that Islam in France should be an “open and convivial Islam that allows people to live side by side”.
He fears that anecdotal evidence that more women are wearing the burka in France is linked to an “excess, a radicalisation” among some Muslims.
Now I do think Sarkozy is wrong. I loathe the burqa. It is hideous. However, a ban would be an illiberal and entirely symbolic act. Women who really are suffering abuse will not be helped this way. Women who are instead happy to live in a mobile prison whenever they appear in public should be free to do so.
Having said that, no one should take any lessons from the MCB on “harmony and social cohesion”. An organisation that retains someone like Daud Abdullah in its senior ranks after he has been exposed is in the business of division, not “cohesion”.