Muslim Women, Keep your Veils – A Free Person's Response to Yasmin Alibhai-Brown

Here we are, on the last day of International Women's Month, and while women of all nations, religions and backgrounds have been celebrated, women's rights in Islam continue to be questioned. This, along with other forms of inequality will always come under scrutiny until our greater social paradigm changes to promotes the respect and equal treatment of all human citizens as well as other living beings. (We haven't hit upon animal rights as of yet in Radical Views but those on our team who like their cosmetic products certainly believe in taking the corporations to task over this.) This is by no means the final article that will be posted on women's rights, particularly as this is such a challenging topic in our current age. Yasmin Alibhai-Brown has used International Women's month to repeat her usual, illogical and one-sided stance on the veil and I really feel that an alternative viewpoint is required. My words may not fit


The Guardian's agenda, but I am free to express them here as well as in the books that I hope to publish in the somewhat near future. According to Emma Watson, this makes me quite the feminist, while Yasmin Alibhai-Brown would surely disagree. Either way, I set up Radical Views with an educational slant, to get you to think outside of the box designed by mainstream publications. I hope you that appreciate my response to Ms Alibhai-Brown, and if you do then please Like, Tweet and share my article - Yamin Zakaria. 



Does the veil1 really pose a danger to our society? It intrigues me as to why a mere garment stirs up so much debate in some circles. I have never witnessed threatening and rowdy behaviour from the intoxicant-free Muslim women wearing the veil in the street. They tend to be placid, usually minding their own business. In contrast, when I see a group of young women dressed in leather, with spiked hair, body pierced with metal objects and some parts covered in tattoos, behaving without inhibition, perhaps under the influence of intoxicants somewhat concerning. While I believe that they, like any other citizen, should be free to dress as they choose, I recognise that many of us find the dress codes of skinheads, punks and heavy metal gangs intimidating, because they have a historical reputation for disorderliness. Although nowadays they are mostly quite civilised and dress like this only for effect, the behaviour of these groups during the decades of severe racial violence means that their outward appearance has these direct and sometimes memorable associations. Due to recent media representation of the age-old veil on the other hand, women who wear it are often targeted with violence because of their dress.

A version of the Muslim veil is also worn by Christian Nuns, some orthodox Jews and others around the world, but it seems the danger only lurks from the veils of Muslim women according to Yasmin Alibhai-Brown’s recent article Muslim Women, Take off your Veils that was published in the Guardian newspaper. Why the need to comment on this topic? More to the point, why are newspapers giving up valuable space to promote such materials? One would have thought feminists like Yasmin Alibhai-Brown would be focused on serious issues like security, health, and education for women, rather than what they choose to wear.

Fair enough, free speech reigns here, which means that she is entitled to voice her opinion, and I wonder in the spirit of free speech, if the Guardian newspaper would be brave enough to publish a similar article from a veiled Muslim woman, asking Yasmin Alibhai-Brown to embrace Islam and wear the veil.

Her argument is clear but incomplete, because she fails to answer the obvious question that follows. What should replace the veil? Some will idiotically cite that the removal of the veil means freedom of choice. However, it is by the same freedom that these Muslim women chose to wear the veil in the liberal West, where Sharia Law is not enforced. Thus, the liberal argument comes down to this: wear anything you like, except the veil. So women, feel free to dress up like a man, or in a short and sexy skirt, or cover your body with metal objects and tattoos identifying with urban tribes. Anything but this lethal item - the veil.

I am sure if Yasmin Alibhai-Brown was told that she should really cover up, she would not hesitate to cite that her freedom was at stake and that we should not impose our views upon her. Similarly she should learn to respect the freedom of these Muslim women in the West, who have chosen to cover up, instead of being a hypocrite and imposing her views on them. 

Then she goes on to state the absurd point that the veil sexualises the woman, because she is forced to conceal her hair and body. Any rational thinker would ask whether the same argument then applied to any part of the body being covered. Then is she advocating nudity? If not, where does she draw the line? Moreover, it’s perplexing to see how covering up in a veil equates to sexualisation, while revealing or accentuating body parts does not. Indeed, numerous feminists have opposed the scantily dress worn by models, pop stars and movie stars using the argument that women are being over-sexualised.

This sort of article underlines the same mindset of trying to save the oppressive Muslim women but the mission seems to have no bearing on the actual Muslim women themselves. What this short-sighted pundit fails to recognise is that despite the pervasive anti-Islamic propaganda, plenty of non-Muslim and Muslim women have embraced the veil. The choice to wear the veil does not generate fear. Nor does it over-sexualise. Rather it brings out irrational indignation from closet Islamophobes, racists, and ignorant pundits, and it is they, not those who exert, and respect, freedom of choice, who should come under scrutiny.

Yamin Zakaria

London, UK

[1] The veil for Muslim women can be classed into three categories; the most common is the Hijab and Jilbab, which exposes the face and the hands. Then comes the Niqab, which covers everything except the eyes and the last category is the Burka which covers the woman completely. The vast majority of the Scholars do not accept the Niqab and the Burka as mandatory.  

Last modified on Wednesday, 05 April 2017 11:28

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