France has now officially outlawed the Islamic niqab or burqa in public. French President Sarkozy said in 2009, â€œThe issue of the burqa is not a religious issue, it is a question of freedom and of womenâ€™s dignity … The burqa is not a religious sign; it is a sign of the subjugation, of the submission of women. I want to say solemnly that it will not be welcome on our territory.â€
A small minority of Muslim women in certain parts of the world wear what is known as the abaya (black cloak) and the niqab (face veil). It is known as a burqa in South and Central Asia and seen most often as the blue full-body veil worn by Afghan women. This form of covering is the manifestation of the strictest interpretation of modesty in Islam. Women who choose this practice consider themselves seriously observant Muslims and believe this form of dress allows them to move about the outside world while protecting their dignity.
People get nervous around these women. I have often heard the refrain, â€œYou need to see a personâ€™s face to judge their character.â€ I disagree based on my own experience with Muslim women who wear the niqab. I have always known them as highly disciplined, and solid in their faith convictions despite societyâ€™s derision. They believe in keeping their physical attributes out of the public conversation by covering. While I donâ€™t subscribe to this strict interpretation of Islamic modesty, I respect the woman who does.
Her character, personality and professionalism were evident long before I saw her clothing, or her face. In her American city she happily moves about her neighborhood dressed the way the French have now outlawed. She told me the Muslims are an integral part of her cityâ€™s greater community, and she is very comfortable wherever she goes in her graceful, black garments. I will recommend that my client hire this young woman; Iâ€™m completely confident that she is going to far exceed the expectations we had for this position.
As Iâ€™ve written before, if you strip a woman of what she feels is her dignity, youâ€™ll have a lot of indignant women. We all know American women can become pretty indignant if someone tells us what not to wear.