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Opinion: the Bavarian 'burqa ban' is utterly deplorable

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Opinion: the Bavarian 'burqa ban' is utterly deplorable
Photo: DPA
14:50 CET+01:00
Banning the burqa has nothing to do with the Bavarian government's care for women and everything to do with cynically bashing Islam in the build-up to elections, argues The Local reader Laeeqa Ahmed.
The Bavarian Interior Minister’s recent decision to impose a Burqa ban in public spaces is utterly abominable and unjustifiable. Firstly, to set the record straight: “Burqa” is originally an Arabic word and means any garment used to cover oneself. The face veil used to cover the complete face is called “Niqab.”
 
The non-Muslim world often tends to mix the two up and are most certainly referring to the “Niqab” in the given context.
 
Moving on, to justify this ban with the explanation that the “Niqab (Burqa)” causes so-called “communication problems”, as Bavaria's interior minister did on Tuesday, is ridiculous.
 
How can a piece of cloth block sound waves from travelling through it and thus causing these problems? Is he then also implying that telephone conversations, letters, emails, or discussions in cyberspace are insignificant because one cannot assess the body language?
 
The Christian Social Union (CSU), the current ruling party of Bavaria and also a part of the ruling federal government in Germany, says it wants to foster a democratic environment. This democracy, according to the German constitution, grants freedom to exercise one’s religion. How can a ruling party suggest and go as far to draft a law about snatching a woman’s right to practice her religion as she pleases?
 
The non-Muslim world often objects that Islam forces women to cover themselves. Firstly, it is important to distinguish between the cultural practices of majority Muslim countries and the truth about Islamic teachings. It is stated in the Holy Quran: “Let there be no compulsion in religion” - (2:257). Thus, it is clearly evident that Islam does not leave any room for compulsion.
 
In fact, Islam preaches for men to lower their gazes and offer the utmost respect to women. The majority of the women who cover themselves do it based on their own will and it is a violation of such women’s independence to dictate how they should or should not dress. Both ideologies in essence are extremist.
 
Feminism is a fashionable topic of discussion but what are we actually doing about it? Is it not feminist to allow women to decide for themselves what they wear or what they don’t wear?
 
Two days ago the French presidential candidate, Marine Le Pen, refused to meet a Lebanese cleric on account of being forced to wear a headscarf. According to the teachings of Islam, she is at full liberty to make such a decision and is completely justified.
 
The CSU and their partners the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) need to pay attention to more pressing matters in relation to women, who are the backbone of any strong nation.
 
It is interesting to note that CSU is a party, which propagates a stay-at-home and looking after children role for women, through a law nicknamed the Herdprämie.
 
The Herdprämie (oven bonus) provides payment to mothers who decide not to send toddlers to kindergarten and has been criticized as a reward for mothers to stay home and cook for their offspring.
 
Moreover, this is the party which stood against a quota for women in executive positions.
 
Rather than manipulating the minds of the public against Islam, which seems to be a leaf taken out of Donald Trump and the AfD’s book, how about Germany focuses on the 21 percent gap that exists between the average salary of a man and a woman.
 
Germany’s parties should instead focus on why Germany ranked 13th on the global gender equality index and what they can do to remedy it.
 
It is interesting to note here that the CDU/CSU has never made women's rights a talking point of their previous election campaigns.
 
Shifting the narrative to the refugee crisis as the main point of an election campaign - or rather singling out and attacking one particular religion for election purposes - is short-sighted and can harm Germany - a country with the potential to influence world affairs.
 
It is high time that people start talking to Muslim women rather than talking about Muslim women. It is high time that people stop judging Muslim women based on their Niqab and shift the focus to what they have to say.

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