Sunday, 12 May 2013

Better Burqa than Crass Nudity

I always thought clothes were the mark of civilisation; one of the characteristics that distinguishes the human race from the animal kingdom.  We conceal our private parts, engage in acts of intimacy with our spouse in privacy, and have ancient rules that guide and restrict with whom we can procreate with. These characteristics reflect the higher values of human societies. The early European colonisers with the Christian missionaries used to scorn the native Africans and others for appearing nude or semi-nude.  Yet, the current trend is we see the clothes come off when the sun comes out; the diehard liberals see nudity as an expression of freedom and progression.

The tiny number of activists affiliated to the feminist group Femen, are running around like naked savages in various towns, and their selective mission is to save Muslim women from the Burqa, “better nude than Burqa” is the slogan. They should have at least asked first, do the Muslim women want to be saved by bearing their naked breasts?  You don’t have to be devout, moderate or a radical; even the most liberal Muslim families would take offence at their mothers, daughters and sisters behaving in this crude way. Far from support, these wild women are likely to have got a slap in their face from Muslim women; their motto will always be better Burqa than nude or better clothed than nude, we are human beings with honour and dignity, and it is not befitting for us to appear nude in public like animals!

This crude stunt by Femen is not new; back in 2012 a Belgian politician tried a similar tactic to gain self publicity, and the shocking thing was, like a Pimp, he got his young flabby daughter to bear all her credentials in public with the question freedom or Islam, represented by her veil and the bikini underneath, as if these are the only two alternatives. As a father with a young daughter, I cannot even remotely comprehend the justification for using your precious daughter’s body; even pimps are protective about their daughters. Putting religion and culture aside, I believe that it is part of human nature that fathers are protective of their daughter, and they exhibit a level of mutual modesty in each other’s presence; on certain issues the daughter only consults the mother.

If promoting the welfare of women is your core motive, one would have through things like rape, domestic violence, education and welfare would occupy the agenda.  Why not start at home and get your house in order first? Take Ukraine. It is well-known that the flesh trade has been thriving in Eastern Europe and Russia after the fall of communism, where for decades the notion of morality rooted in religion was scorned. Why not save the women in that region who are forced to work as sex slaves or suffer from domestic violence and rape? The figures are much higher than the Muslim countries, and no amount of propaganda can conceal that.  

A few weeks ago, the news of the three kidnapped women including and one of their young daughters made news headlines.  Being imprisoned for ten years was the real reason for the reaction and headlines, but not the kidnap, rape and sexual abuse because that is almost the norm as such cases and much worse occurs frequently. There was no spin, no attempt to connect it to the prevailing culture or ethnicity. Nobody batted an eyelid and questioned, how such cases can occur in the heart of the US, where the crusade to promote women’s rights and saving Muslim women campaign originates from. Because it would reveal the nature of its male population; they do not adhere or genuinely believe in women’s rights, it is used as a xenophobic tool to scorn Muslims and vilify Islam; otherwise the West and the US in particular would not be leading the world with domestic violence, rape and the awful serial killers. Can you imagine, women stripped and put in chains and walked around like dogs? The women’s rights movement was born in the West because there was a genuine need and the absence of the emergence of such movements in the Muslim countries that exists with the same secular paradigm should tell us something.   

Therefore, why do we witness the urgency to save Muslim women as a recurring theme in the West? The short answer is: it’s political and convenient. Targeting Islam is the easiest option in the post 9/11 Islamophobic climate; the context of oppressed Muslim women is already an established currency. Muslim women in Hijab, veil, Burqa and in western clothing are seen in the West, and in many liberal Muslim countries, yet to date there has not been a rise of any indigenous movement which has made clothing an issue of liberation or oppression.  

Femen, which originated in Ukraine, seems to be the only cultural export apart from soccer star Andriy Shevchenko, a place that does not seem to have much to offer otherwise; maybe boredom has driven these women to seek attention. In the West, there are other routes to gain fame, a career in music, film, media and politics are all viable routes but I guess its far easier to offend and gain notoriety and fame.

Yamin Zakaria (
Published on 12/05/2013
London, UK  

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