Syria Bans Niqab
Trust me, the headline is not a gimmick; Syria has banned the Islamic veil from the country’s universities to uphold their secular identity. The ban, issued on Sunday by the Education Ministry, only forbids niqab similar in nature to what French lawmakers are trying to accomplish.
It was only last week when I wrote about France’s ban on burqa and commented:
The new law will be in the Senate in September, where it is expected to pass. However, this will be scrutinized by France’s constitutional watchdogs before it becomes Law-of-the-land, and they may still find it unconstitutional.
I hope they do not.
Now I can take solace from the fact that whether the ban proposed by France’s lower house of parliament finally becomes law or not, in Syria it already is. Considering Syria’s rich Islamic heritage and its standing in the Islamic world, this is a real major accomplishment.
On the other hand, Duaa, a 19-year-old university student in Damascus, says that she will not be able to study if the ban is enforced. “The niqab is a religious obligation, I cannot go without it,” said Duaa.
In another article, writing about comments made by a Saudi cleric about child brides, I wrote the following:
The most heartening element from this saga is the comments of Sheikh Abdullah al-Manie, a senior Saudi cleric who said in no uncertain terms that the Prophet Mohammad’s marriage 14 centuries ago to a 9-year old girl could not be used to justify child brides today. In Islamic tradition this is nothing less than ground breaking.
It looks like the glaciers are slowly melting in the birthplaces and nurseries of Islam, while in the Indian sub-continent people are still fussing over banning books of a hate-mongering Mullah who caused immense damage to mainstream Islam.
Followers of all organized religions have come to terms with the realization that the divine books are only written by human beings and their divinity is surely questionable, but not Muslims. Every word of Quran is still alleged to be God’s own, despite containing sermons that should shame God himself.
Every other denomination has accepted that to keep their faiths alive they have no recourse but to revisit their traditions and reassess them with new-found knowledge coming out of relentless human endeavor in every sphere of life.
Not so, the die-hard Muslims say, as is evidenced by the comments of Duaa, who wants to keep her medieval tradition alive.
Such is the power of ignorance.