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Unveiling the men dominated faith
by Thanos Kalamidas
2010-10-08 08:14:06
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France’s law that bans the burqa and other Islamic face covers in public places is in action and legal signed and approved from the constitutional authorities in France and now it goes into effect. And I suppose what is waiting round the corner is the reaction. And they have been already some warning for what is going to follow and we all hope that we will not see a warning becoming explosive with unexpected results.

The case with the ban of the Islamic face covers is not a new one and it didn’t come suddenly as a result of some kind of Islamophobia started since the 9-11 events. Actually the issue has never been the veil or the face behind the veil but what the veil covers and that is beyond the western principals or according the Islamic preachers the western hypocrisy. And definitely there is no prejudice behind this ban; actually the veil is a sign of prejudice.

But let me explain better what I mean. I live in Finland, a country that is a model abroad, a country with sense of security and order. A country with laws that protect and serve the people and a country with opportunities. The last decade waves of refugees arrived in Finland with a big percent of them coming from Muslim countries and especially from Somalia. People literally trying to escape death, ready to live in a country just a few hundred kilometres from the arctic with long dark and cold winters and summers that often remind African winter.

In Finland through my work I had the chance to come in contact with those people and discover what is hidden behind the veil. I knew what women’s circumcision before coming to Finland was, I actually had read known fashion model’s book about the subject and I had followed forums and essays about the subject; but I never thought that in the beginning of the 21st century I will participate in a forum where the audience – mainly Somali women – had been victims of this barbaric custom and the worst part was not that they were victims themselves with everything that means in the medical reality; the worst was that they were ready to practice exactly the same barbaric custom on their daughters obeying community’s taboo and under the veil of the religion.

And then meeting more veiled women from Africa, from Asia and Middle East you find that the veil doesn’t only covers a face, covers a barbaric attitude that wants women to dealt like items, like furniture and objects belonged to the man master. This is when the veil becomes something beyond a simple decorated or not fabric. It is not a fabric; it is a thick wall that covers in an inhuman way a big part of the population from their right to live. Domestic violence in the limits of torture, arranged marriages to underage girls, use of the women like slaves just some of the things the veil covers and all that with the blessing of the clerics, the representatives of the faith and preachers of the Qur’an. That’s the burqa that covers the Islamic face and it must be banned.

The French Constitutional Council said the law did not impose disproportionate punishments or prevent the free exercise of religion in a place of worship, finding therefore that "the law conforms to the Constitution." But the problem with all these was that we all have fallen in the religion trap. We – and in that I include all of us – out of ignorance we have connected all those things with religion and faith.

Religion and faith have absolutely nothing to do with burqa, with veils, with women’s circumcision or with the rights men have over women in the Islamic world. What all these thing have to do with is the insecurity men feel in a totally men dominated society. That’s it; it is simple as that and the rest is just excuses. And I have wrote it before; if we accept in the name of multiculturalism the veil as a tradition then why not accept that men own women and they have the right to beat them as often as they like. In a lot of part of the world this is tradition.

Women’s circumcision is illegal in Finland by a very specific law but women mainly originate from the Sub-Saharan African states still practice it in Finland. The way they are doing it is scary and puts human lives in fatal danger. Best case scenario these women carry a wound for the rest of their lives that causes series of health problems all the time. And all that so they will never feel pleasure having sex and as a result they will be faithful to their husband. The veil is the same story. So no other man except their husband can see their beauty. Disgusting? True! But that’s what we are talking about and referring to the issue as a cultural issue is only sign of ignorance and nothing else.

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David Barger2010-10-08 21:34:50
I agree with you completely, in that this is a true case revealing "victims of this barbaric custom". You hit the nail on the head with this story. The health issues alone is enough reason to stop such cultural ways. Good article Thanos!

Emanuel Paparella2010-10-08 23:52:19
Indeed, you have put the finger on the problem here Thanos; however, there is a statement in your analysis that deserves some further analysis and it is this: “…and all that with the blessing of the clerics, the representatives of the faith and preachers of the Qur’an. That’s the burqa that covers the Islamic face and it must be banned.”

If that is the case, and I think it is, then willy nilly we cannot escape what you call “the trap of religion” because those representatives of the faith and preachers of the Qur’an have not yet explained in any reasonable why a respectful religion like Islam allows those cultural mores. More precisely, they have to explain yet if a religion, any religion, ought to allow them and why? Even more precisely, they ought to explain if any religion that allows them can be still considered a religion or a mere fanatical cult and sect. As I said, the issue of religion is inescapable.
Lest readers think that I am unfairly picking on Islam as a Christian, I would suggest that this issue is first discussed philosophically by Soren Kierkegaard in his book “Fear and Trembling” as it applies to Christianity which examines the father of the faith of the three Abramitic religion and asks whether killing one’s own son under a direct command of God ought not be considered plain punishable murder. Before we respond with some glib answers, may I suggest to anybody (including atheists and men of no faith) who has not read the book to do so on purely philosophical grounds (it’s a slim one and can be read in a few hours). At the end of that book they will realize that Christianity as well as Judaism too has to answer certain hard ethical questions once they declare themselves a religion not to be confused with a fanatical cult.

Indeed, the issue of religion cannot be detached from that of ethics within modern society and the answers are not as simple as most rationalists would like to make them. They like to apply the light of reason and logic to the issue and are convinced that it supersedes the revelations of faith; in fact more often than not they consider faith and revealed truth mere darkness (obscurantism and superstition) that needs to be illuminated by reason and modern progress. One simple question here is this: are the 10 commandments reasonable or are the product of a sick mind who climbed a mountain and said that he spoke to God? That would be a good place to begin.
Even more reprehensible is the habit in Western modern society to exclude religion and its voice from the public agora. When that is done, then the outlawing of the burka seems intolerant too. In fact the exclusion from the public agora in itself reveals little faith or trust if you will in the power of free speech and democracy. That I suggest is the place we need to look to resolve the apparent conflicts between religious and secular communities: how much faith do we have in free speech? Without that kind of faith in our common humanity and reason and its ability to accommodate religion in the public agora and arrive at the common good, the conflicts, I am afraid, will not subside. What did the founder of one of the Abramitic religions say? Let those who have ears, let them hear.

Thanos2010-10-09 08:45:29
Thanks David.

Emanuel in most of the meetings with those women I have participated this is the excuse they give us in the end ..."the imam said..." and as you know in their conscious the imam is something beyond, holly, saintly. Whatever he says it is law.

David Barger2010-10-09 13:52:01
The sad part is, in any type of religion the individual person following such views should always question 'why is this right or correct'. Mankind themselves will do almost anything to get what they want from others, so to rightly divide that which is holy from that which is only words from the mouth of human folly is probably the most difficult thing an individual must discover for themselves. I question everything, and if said thing is 'holy' then it should stand up to reason. To lose one's sense of questioning is to act as no more than a sheep being herded by whoever the shepherd is, and then only the shepherd knows if he himself is good and kind - or wicked and greedy.

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