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I think I can explain why (I hope)....

Reader comment on item: Islamophobia?
in response to reader comment: The Misunderstood and Misinterpreted Burqa for Muslim Women

Submitted by Cath41 (United States), Feb 22, 2006 at 03:05

I realize I am responding to a very old post. I hope it is still possible to respond to it.

I am by no means an Islam expert, only knowing a little about them, but since I believe that Islam was copied from Judaism originally, I may be able to shed a little light on why they do what they do, since I've studied Judaism more extensively.

First I will explain what I think is the Orthodox Jewish point of view: The Orthodox Jewish women basically do the same thing -- they cover their hair. It is because in their religion, the hair is considered a sex object, something only for the husband to see. If you go in a grocery store in an Orthodox neighborhood, you will see married women wearing hats, caps, scarfs, snoods, and even wigs to cover their natural hair. Now, I think in some sense the Muslim women must be doing the same thing -- they cover up because going uncovered is considered somewhat "naked" -- In their minds, it would be the same to them as it would be for an American Christian woman to do the grocery shopping in her bikini swimsuit -- it just isn't done. So when a country makes it illegal, that is why they get upset. To them, it's like saying you have to wear your "bikini only" when you go shopping -- no cover allowed.

Another thing is that in both Islam and Judaism, I think there is the concept of "walking before God with your head covered" as a sign of God's authority over you. Whereas in Western countries it is the custom to remove one's hat when entering a building, it is the opposite in the Islam/Jewish traditions. In both of these concepts (the modesty as well as walking before God), though, Jews are more adaptive. Women can wear, as I said above, scarves, hats, snoods, even wigs, not some obvious large piece of cloth like the burqa. Men, can cover their skullcap with a hat (or maybe even go without the skullcap and just use the hat -- I'm not sure), if it is illegal or dangerous to be seen wearing one.

Now, my husband, who lived in France as a child (and is neither Muslim nor Jewish), tells me that when they made these outward signs illegal in the schools in France (e.g. burqas, crucifixes, skullcaps) it was because the French want everyone to be "neutral" and "equal." I don't think it is an intentional attack on religion as so many are viewing it, but stems from their own political history.
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