A Note on the Niqab

Posted By on January 5, 2020


Islam is so passive. I don’t know what Islam you’ve been talking about [B]. Recently, perhaps due to Facebook’s overtly partial organizational algorithm or perhaps due to the well-intentioned, yet misguided efforts of those in my friends lists of a far left wing or theocratic inclination, I found myself continually stumbling across a particularly grotesque yet entirely unsurprising attempt by the obnoxiously prolific BBC three to normalize that most egregious of crimes against the sound moral conscience, the monotanization and de-individualization of the female of this species. The video in question ingratiatingly titled, “Things not to say to someone who wears a burqa,” which interestingly does not at any point include a woman actually wearing one, ventures to utilize the free adoption of hijab by a few select individuals, in this case by women clad mostly in niqabs, to present the practice as something entirely benign and harmless. Of course their sample of interview participants and worldly locations is, to say the least, geographically invariable. Alas, there is some utility to be found in this video, namely that it quite effectively sums up the most popular apologetics employed by individuals who share the conclusions of those who produced it. And so I’d like to take this opportunity to discuss the topic of the niqab and burka in general and more specifically, address the two most prominent cases in their defense. The most telling portion of the video by far, and the part that most enthused me to construct this response, is that in which the question, “Why do you wear that?” is discussed. This is, after all, where the heat of the debate surrounding the covering of women truly lies. What is the motive behind the adoption of the cloth? Well, the first answers shown by one of the women is, predictably, I am wearing this for God. I am wearing it for God This is revealing. Upon reading the Quran, it is difficult to ignore the blatant repression of women promoted by its God. There is further misogyny, however, and a number of unnecessarily introduced theological complications implicit in the declaration that it is God’s will that women cover their faces in public, an injunction that you will not find in the Quran itself. Firstly, if it is the case that a woman’s standard of dress is different to that of a man’s in the eyes of the almighty, then we have two possible options by means of an explanation. Option A is that God is sexist and purposefully endowed women with more of a need to cover up than men. Option B is that God is a non-existent entity created by man (as in men) as a projection of his most abundant iron age characteristics, including, naturally, the subjugation of women. Neither option is a compelling justification for the sacrifice of one’s identity. Secondly, there’s another issue here regarding the views of this unidentified and unidentifiable woman regarding those women who decide not to adopt the veil. If she is of the genuine opinion that it is necessary for her to wear a niqab in order to be looked upon favorably by the supreme leader, is this judgment not therefore administered to all women? The god of the Quran is unforgiving at the best of times and makes it clear that those who contradict his prescriptions, myself unapologetically included, are in possession of a one-way ticket to the darkest pits of the underworld. If this woman’s code of dress is, as she claims, contingent upon the wishes of God, the necessary corollary is that those women who refuse to abide by it themselves are looked upon by this God with distaste and therefore, condemned to a similar fiery fate as my own. And herein lies the most salient argument against the promotion of such propaganda. If young, impressionable girls are taught, implicitly or explicitly, that in order to please the being that will ultimately decide their fate, it is advisable to cover their skin from head to toe, these girls will be led to believe that such a choice, provided they are lucky enough to call it a choice, of course, should be seen as desirable. In other words, they will begin to want to cover themselves despite this want being grounded in a clear case of false consciousness. It’s not just Muslim women who are modest. There are so many different religions and different types of people who practice modesty in different ways. The second argument presented, whose appearance marks the extinguishment of all tangible defenses of the barbaric proposition, is that regarding modesty. In order to retain a humble front, it is asserted, it is necessary for some individuals to remove any possibility for visual analysis by the predatory world in which they live. This, along with, of course, also evoking the question of what this belief says about the modesty of women who decide to show their face, clearly identifies archaic male insecurities as the basis for this contemptible practice, which originated at a time when women were seen as little more than the sexual property of their husbands, and, therefore, covered up in the same vein that one covers up one’s personal belongings in a parked car lest somebody happened across them. There is also the piercing irony of the attraction of gazes of attention elicited by the wearing of a traditional garment. Attention, which is in fact lamented in the video, and yet this point seems to evade those doing the lamenting. The stares that I get the comment that I get in the street… modesty in this context, by definition, is behavior, manner, or appearance intended to avoid impropriety or indecency. Now let’s consider what this means. Impropriety is improper behavior or character, indecent, not conforming with generally accepted standards of behavior. Well, as for the latter part, I don’t think that showing one’s face at all outrages to generally accepted social standards of society. And as for the former, well, if the niqab is necessary to retain modesty, then we are left with the conclusion that to show one’s face is improper and indecent. Again, I happen to disagree. This notwithstanding and before anybody so much as draws the breath needed to accuse me of fascism and cultural imperialism, it obviously goes without saying that once the aforementioned desire to don the veil is developed, nobody is within their rights to force a woman to remove it for the very same reasons that nobody has the right to force her to wear one in the first place. The prospect of banning an item of religious expression or state control of a woman’s choice of clothing certainly outrages my internal sense of moral decency, except of course in cases where a ban is appropriate, such as certain occupations in the public sector in education or instances of forced adoption. Still, given that the origins of the desire to dress in such an otherwise perplexing and repressive manner are so clearly coercive in nature, I find it damagingly irresponsible for secular individuals to make such an erroneous exception for Islam where they would otherwise admonish such a clear case of these subconscious indoctrination of women and girls not only into a bizarre religious practice, but also the victim-blaming mindset that underpins it. There does also exist, of course, the claim that wearing a niqab or burka is not an islamic practice and is instead an expression of modesty for modesty’s sake or is strictly cultural, and not, in fact, to impress any Middle-Eastern deity. This is easily dismissable. With specific regards to the video, you will notice that the woman in it who claims that her wearing the niqab is cultural and not Islamic is the very same woman who in response to the question, “Why do you wear it?” says that it’s an act of worship and that she’s doing it for God. It’s cultural. It’s not really Islamic. It’s an act of worship. I am wearing it for God. If they really were simply nothing more than a reasonable expression of modesty, then the niqab and burka would not be idiosyncratic to Muslim women. As a matter of fact, this exact exclusivity is what seems so indicative of their needing to be some religious persuasion involved in order for any person to wish to wear a cloth on their face every day. This should not come as a surprise. I am unreservedly in favour of any person’s right to wear whatever they want. But I am also unreservedly repelled by any ideologically driven attempts to decide what women should want. A legal ban on the practice, like Belgium’s, which was just upheld by the European court of human rights last month, is not the answer. It misses the point. Let’s stop polarizing this issue into pro-ban versus pro-burka. Let’s stop having fatuous arguments over moral relativism, and let’s turn our attention away from our own political pursuits and towards those women and ingenuous girls who actually deserve it. I’ve been Alex O’Connor or Cosmic Skeptic. You can find me on social media here. Thank you for watching, don’t forget to subscribe, and I’ll see you in the next one.

Posted by Lewis Heart

This article has 100 comments

  1. Got here a bit late. Interesting ideas here. The idea that you can wear whatever you like is in principle reasonable and tolerant; however, sooner or later we get back to the idea of the social contract, in my opinion – back 250 years to Rousseau and, wait for it, the Age of Enlightenment (who'd have thought…). He talked about various liberties and constraints (if my memory serves me right). Society IMHO is always going to be a compromise; I could for example decide to walk around stark naked, exercising my democratic right to present my appearance how I wish. But I would get arrested (and laughed at). Burqas/niqabs come from another culture that never went through a similar cultural evolution. My simple reaction to women wearing them is that they do not wish to integrate in our society. They do not wish to be talked to by an unkown man or an unbeliever, which causes a reciprocal resentment. The social contract for Europeans is that you show your face to communicate and be understood by further visual signals. Me, I would impose a ban. I suspect many women would secretly welcome it.

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  2. Only a genius like your self could have analyzed the concept of the Muslim women face mask so well ….. it’s so hilarious 😂

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  3. One thing I noticed about Islam is that all muslims are constantly contradicting each other and sometimes themselves. Its like they can't agree on what Islam is and is not. Are they reading different versions of Koran? Why is everyone interpreting it differently? Do they even read it or just make stuff up? What is up with all of them?

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  4. Great video! The concept of women covering themselves is so oppressive. I don’t understand how many leftists in the West don’t see this.

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  5. So everyone’s just gonna ignore the fact that if these women don’t wear these burqas, their family could kill them in a hate fueled honor homicide

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  6. Let’s take a female perspective for once:
    1. I Didn’t start wearing hijab until 16 years of age
    2. Was told to think carefully before deciding to do so
    3. Many women from my relatives do not cover their hair
    4. Did it because I wanted to further my faith in Islam and get closer to Allah
    5. Men are advised to lower their gaze, many of them don’t ever look into your eyes when you speak to them
    6. Men in our community cover their heads with hats, faces with beards, bodies with loose fitting clothing
    7. These men aren’t obligated to cover their heads but they do so anyway to get closer to Allah.
    8. Muslim men are under obligation to protect their women and pay for their maintenance including their parents.
    9. All that covering protects us from adhering to society’s standards for body shape, size, appearance, helping us direct our energy into more important things in life.
    10. Freedom in the West for women hasn’t prevented them from being anorexic, bulemic, having body dysmorphic disorder, getting raped, etc.
    11. Statistics show rate of rape in the Western world is the highest and lowest in the Middle Eastern countries.
    If anything hijab helps me with not having to maintain my hair on a daily basis to look pretty for everyone, not having body image issues, eating disorders and attracting unwanted attention.

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  7. Not… all women are forced to wear them…
    and yes the quoran is flawed, but… so is every relgious book? not to mention translation is always funky so… maybe don't shove all islamic women into one group?
    also calling headscarves 'bags' is really fucking disrespectful lmao

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  8. The burqa/niqab started with Jewish sects and also Christian sects who wear it to this day. The burqa/niqab is not exclusively an Islamic practice. No where in the Qur'an is it mentioned. There are no such words as niqab or burqa in the Qur'an. This is what happens when power is given to uneducated religious clerics and knowledge is taken away from the society especially the women.

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  9. Due to the fact i studied Japanese Ninjutsu I feel more comfortable completing my accounting and banking errands in full suit not withholding my folded steel katana and shuriken throwing stars.

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  10. Hi hope you're having a nice day. The description of the video is something I totally agree with. You have a a right to criticise/question the beliefs of others but the title was…not very nice. I don't know if it was your intention but while your'bag' statement wasn't inherently dehumanising (unlike variations such as postboxes) or villainising (bank robbers) it wasn't the smartest or kindest idea. I do not wear a niqab (but I do wear a hijab)and I definitely don't think niqab is a requirement. In some places it is instilled deeply into their culture to the point where they think it IS compulsory. Where I'm originally from many Muslims don't even don hijab ( or even "modest" clothing e.g. Revealing dresses etc ) and here in London Muslim girls quite a few Muslim girls don't wear the hijab. My motive isn't to show these girls down or make them feel sinful or inferior or even say they are immodest that's not my business that between them and God. I've noticed that fellow viewers have more…radical(?) views than you but I hope we can overcome our differences/emphatic disagreements about certain issues and be respectful to each other at the very least.
    Thanks for all who got this far ❤️
    God/Allah/Buddha/Universe/No one at all bless us all

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  11. It's always felt like the wearing of the ruband is a form of slavery and control brainwashed and imposed upon women from childhood. I feel pity for them. Especially when their male companion is walking proudly beside her in the summer heat in shorts and flip flops, while his trophy and slave roasts alive under piles of black clothing.

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  12. I'm in favor of a ban for security reasons, plain and simple. most financial institutions do not allow banking customers to come in wearing masks and sunglasses for security reasons.

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  13. All religions and cults are created by men for men. To control womens behaviour, their bodies, their sexuality etc. And to control people in general. No divine entity would be so dismissive of 50% of their creation…..🤔 if that was the case, that God needs to be questioned because nothing divine would behave that way. And secondly, why bother having a face on a woman and just makes us a hole on legs for the use of. Because many religions seem to reduce women for just that function alone. To service men, As a sexual plaything and for breeding purposes. Any religion that cant allow women to be anything more than that needs to be questions, subject to a lot of scrutiny. One can judge a nation and its culture by how it treats its women as to how advanced they are..sadly not many are very advanced……

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  14. In every religion there is always covering up or mutilation etc of the female, sometimes the male granted. But generally its women. Doesnt say a lot of the so called God nor does it say a lot about the men. As most if not all religions are created men, it is more a testament to their problems and issues with women rather than some deity. Those insecurities and issues are at the root of all religions. And why is peadophelia so rife in religions too?

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  15. I was in Sri lanka recently watching a poor visiting UK muslim woman eating a moringa curry. Plus it was 40° and humid, i was dripping in shorts. Her husband on the other hand was fine in shorts and a singlet. A black cotton sensory deprivation chamber smeared with food on the inside in heat is like Dantes hell.

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  16. Your face is your true picture it shows love,hate,likes, dislikes, lies and honesty so why cover up ones important asset if God wanted us to not show our faces he would have given us something different instead.You come into this world bare faced so why ware the masks when grown up.

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  17. lmaoooo all those verses you mentioned about "repression of women" all have logical meanings behind them youre just too ignorant to look for context continue keeping your head up your ass

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  18. Choosing to cover yourself in a legal way is just that choosing. Being forced is a separate argument. I have an opinion on many things, some of them legal some of them not. In this case being triggered, wound up or giving a flying shag about what a person wears is a waste of precious time and oxygen. As with most religions or belief system their rules or way of life is for the most part a nonsense.

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  19. How do they smoke a cigarette whilst wearing them?
    Can you eat a bacon sandwich while wearing one?
    How do you drink a bear while wearing the thing?
    To name but a few

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  20. Every woman that wears this symbol of suppression is either a victim or a perpetrator… either free them or trow them in jail…

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  21. I support wearing the burga, for ALL Muslim MEN in 120 degree heat in the desert.  Enforce it in the same manner that it has been forced on women.

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  22. I'm a Muslim, Burqa is not mentioned in Islam, In fact you only have to wear hijab and cover your body, with either a robe or long shirts and pants, i repeat, Burqa is NOT necessary for Islam, god wont send you to heck just for not wearing Burqa, anyone who disagrees and think woman should go to heck for it has been taught wrong about Islam, the only thing that happens when you don't wear Burqa is people judging you before they meet you, which is bad, also you wont go to heck for not wearing hijab either, God would only put people in heck for Big Sins such as Murder.

    SOLUTION: Instead of banning something that some women Prefer to wear, Normalize not wearing Burqa, make it normal, change people's ideas about burqa, People find not wearing Burqa disgraceful because of what their parents and families and society made them think.

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  23. I dont undersrand why in some countries like canada you can get a religous exemption to not have a picture of your face on your gun license crazy

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  24. Its like someone tried to do the thing on TV where they put a black bar over someones eyes for censorship but did the reverse.

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  25. Why women burqa in Islamic countries where there is no pressure from govt or any body?
    In Pakistan , burqa is optional but the women who are poor , live in Neighbour hood where man are the one who pick on them ! So these women in order to avoid problem they wear burqa, no rich class women wear burqa. As law is very weak these women protect themselves by wearing burqa.
    2nd …. reason in Quran it say : women wear modest or appropriate dress and men are suppose to be respectful or be decent .
    3rd reason: from biblical time in Middle East women
    Wear a long , loose gown type with a big scarf to cover their head , like in olden time and still now in Indian women in village ,
    Hide their face from man with saree.
    Jewish married women where head gear and completely cover bodies, not all but orthodox.
    In abrahamic religion, piety and modesty is recommenced for women and decency for man .
    In Middle East culture domination is powerful.
    Ppl may wear whatever and may not be unhappy or can be suppressed by husband. It’s tradition and culture , some man take advantage of it and want to control women. Islam did not recommend to wear burqa but ppl designed it .

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  26. This mess…. meh .. I was raised Christian. We had modesty codes too. However we didn’t have to wear bathrobes and black bags in our head. I can’t imagine trying to hold my identity when it’s been blacked out….

    Modesty for normal people simply means covering your head in Holy places, don’t let you tits and ass hang out for church… etc….

    Duggar’s ? Nuts
    Muslims ? Nuts
    Orthodox fundamentalist? Nuts…

    All the same concept. Extreme religious ideology used to oppress demean and destroy women and children. Evil ? I say yes …

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  27. I once saw a GIF of women in Burqas or Niqabs pulling their ninja masks away to lower noodles down into their mouths.

    And people say it's functional…

    You know, out of everything in the universe, God pays real close attention to women and especially what women decide to do with their bodies and "God given" looks… and just people being naked in general.

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  28. Putting aside for a moment the disgusting history of degradation of women embodied by the ritual eradicating of female identity and humanity, covering your body can be your own choice. But covering your face is equivalent to wearing a disguise. It is a security risk in nearly all public settings and quite rightly suggests possible criminality. In my state, you're even required to remove a motorcycle helmet in public buildings, for the same reason. To me, the ban on face covering is very reasonable because if you WON'T show your face in public, I think it's very fair to ask "Why not?"

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  29. "To normalize that most egregious of crimes against the sound moral conscience: the monotonization, and deindividualisation of the female of the species." You went full blue pill and cuck.

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  30. He is so stupid, he doesn't even know when he's being stupid. Hey dim-wit, "Option A is that God is sexist and purposefully endowed women with more of a need to cover up than men." – well, yes, you ignoramus, even in the West, there's a difference.

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  31. Your personal opinion is your personal opinion. And if the world was to function on the basis of each one's personal opinion then just imagine the utter chaos it would descend into like what this nut is talking

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  32. so funny when I see an English person with a super posh, educated accent have an Irish last name… I dont know why but it just seems oxymoronic lol

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  33. I'm against the niqaab.
    In my experience, it isolates people and makes otherwise normal social interaction incredibly awkward.
    People who wear niqaab will often avoid visiting family (and friends) just because there is a slight chance of someone being there who is not supposed to see them.

    I'm opposed to the banning of hijaab and niqaab though as this is a slippery slope that quickly becomes the very oppression it seeks to eradicate.

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  34. Islam is not solely a worldview contained within your isolationist tactic of solely being about the Quran. The Quran is the main text but with the Quran, it came with a Prophet to exemplify and portray how to act. In the Islamic Hadith literature which is merely codified chains of narrations (that are graded by their authenticity) of what the Prophet did and said. It is mentioned clearly the description of what is a women's awrah and in the issue of fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence), there are divided scholarly views about it being obligatory or recommended for Muslim women.

    Now you seriously are ignorant and merely deducing arguments based upon your ignorance of the Islamic position of Allah's Wrath. Assuming women will be punished for not wearing the niqab and you placed yourself into this generalized view of sinners. There are specific scenarios where women cannot wear the niqab be it giving testimony at an Islamic court for example. There are issues of general fear of wearing it and being persecuted, there are those who simply do not know the issue of it being recommended or obligatory, there are those who blatantly do not wear or even wear the hijab knowing that it's a sin, some do not know it's a sin, do you see the problem with how you overgeneralized and deduced every other argument based upon that premise? You do this again when speaking about the definition of modesty using a general Google definition to deduce and you used a logic of contradiction to deduce "modesty to be wearing a niqab" and "immodesty showing the face", a more intuitive approach would understand showing your face and not showing it depends on the scenario.

    Another deductive tactic you used is you premised feminist concepts to be the sole means for women to be "liberated", recognizing differences between women and men (including gender roles) is categorized as "sexist" and "repressive" in totality, rather than specific scenario. Believing how the husband treats his wife and how the wife treats his husband in very specific scenarios is different and it can be repressive or not. In Islam, it's not and to discuss the verses mentioned goes beyond these Youtube comments (Mohammad Hijab or Abdullah Al Andalusi part two 😉

    The irony of your last comment about being in favour of any "ideological driven attempts to decide what women so want", firstly that in itself as an ideological leaning to libertarian. No need for your rhetorical "neutrality". I do appreciate your last comments about going beyond the binary opposition of banning it or allowing it in totality, but do recognize your continuation of using non-heuristic binary oppositions.

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  35. they say wearing it is a choice. the question is: what happens, if they choose not to wear it? if the answer is anything besides "nothing, it's my choice after all", it's not choice, it's forced.

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  36. Why do Muslim men feast their eyes on other women ; when they force their own women to wear that dehumanizing mask ⁉️🤔

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  37. It reminds me,once my illitrate mother said (living in a village Punjab): Eat what you like and wear what everybody is wearig.
    And if you cannot,stay in your country where you can and leave the others alone.
    Prof.Dr.Fazal
    Cambridge

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  38. I've only seen people wearing a burqa / niqabs like thrice in my whole life, and when I saw one of them when I was a child (probably around 5-6 years old) I thought women who wear them were ninjas and wondered how they don't sweat like a fucking waterfall under that.

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  39. I have I hard time grasping why would anyone think that a god petty enough to care what people wear in public is somehow worthy of worship.

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  40. You people want women to have freedom of choice but when they choose to be modest you say no it’s oppression 🤦🏾‍♂️

    What is wrong with people nowadays we do know that some women in the west are being sexualised and cheap (available to everyone)

    If they started being modest maybe the men won’t be tempted to sexually abuse or rape them

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  41. The West is bastardised. Most Westerners do no know who fathered them because their so called mother's are not chaste and women become single mothers in no time as women are there to use and throw. In the West men have the fun and women are used and thrown away after leaving the women pregnant or their reproductive health impaired, unless they have researched and found a way to defy nature by making men also to take turns in becoming pregnant. This crackpot is trying to foist his depraved western values on the Muslims

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  42. https://www.shorouknews.com/news/view.aspx?cdate=16112019&id=a7b1919d-45ce-4999-bc48-56feac533ad9&fbclid=IwAR2aSbPK7OS6HtdMD7c8gjg2UedvNdXsC3ryWNQRg_cmx_pFHsLblZqpEvY

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  43. An aspect not discussed is that wearing the bag ensures that these women will have to be financially supported for the rest of their lives., mostly by the taxpayer.

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  44. What would suck if you just married one and finally get a chance to see her on wedding night and then as you remove the Muslim chick’s burqa or niqab to found out she’s ugly asf. What a major oof. “ALLAH! WHY!!!”

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  45. Alex, up to the end I agree, but how would in your opinion a solution look like, you can hardly "turn to" every girl that is in a traditional family and basically without any choice. Having a law in place is the only option viable option, states are by definition secular, and should have the right on state property, school, courthouse, public transportation, public spaces, to legally fix what is and is not appropriate form of religious/cultural expression, it is the states responsibility to set boundaries of what is and is not acceptable.

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  46. i agree with most of it but it SHOULD be banned. indoctrination is not a real choice and permitting subjugation and gorifying it should not be tolerated

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  47. I agree that people should be able to choose what they want to wear, even if it is oppressive… But here in the Netherlands we have a ban on balaclavas because they hide your entire face and make you unrecognizable in public. These burqas do the exact same thing… I think they should be banned not because of religious or oppressive reasons but for safety. Id like to see who i am talking to or who im sitting in front in the train for example….

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  48. I am a Muslim.. but I completely understand the issue of the burqa. It is indeed problematic in our society today. I am not for or against it personally but I am completely against oppression and force. In addition, God asks for men and women to dress decently and modestly.. the burqa is merely a choice and has nothing to do with Islamic teachings. The headscarf for example is also debated regarding its necessity for which I personally don't agree with.

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