This is the second post in my series Muslim Sexual Harassment to show that women in Muslim countries are either forced to wear a hijab or are harassed for not wearing one. See my first article, Muslim Sexual Harassment in Jordan.
Muslim men force their wives and daughters to cover their faces for many reasons. To keep them chaste, to prevent lust in other men, and sometimes to make a political statement. Before I continue, it will be necessary for the purposes of this article to describe three different kinds of Muslim female coverings.
The burka is a head-to-toe covering which also cover the eyes with a mesh mask.
The niqab is an Islamic head scarf that covers the face and leaves an opening for the eyes.
The hijab is a head scarf that does not cover the face and is worn by many Syrian women.
Western Style Haram
Here, in contrast, is the western style of dress that you will never see in Muslim countries, which I am throwing in because all these Islamic tent coverings are depressing me.
Muslim Sexual Harassment in Syria
Although 90% of the country is Muslim, Syria is not a Muslim country. The political system is controlled by a secular and authoritarian military regime. The Syrian government recently banned female students from wearing a niqab or burka at private and public university campuses (1). In addition, teachers who wear any full face veil have been removed from teaching in public schools.
The problem? Too many Muslim men are forcing their wives and daughters to fully cover their faces as the country becomes more and more fundamentalist.
The Syrian regime views the alarming increase in the wearing of niqabs and sometimes burkas to be due to the growing influence of extremist imams.
The last thing Bashaar Assad needs is for the Sunni majority to mobilize against his secular rule; the wearing of full face veils is a political statement against the dominance of Alawis, who are considered lax Muslims.
It should be recalled that in 1982 Bashar al-Assad’s father savagely put down an Islamist uprising, killing tens of thousands of civilians by leveling the town of Hama; see my article The Hama Massacre.
Decades ago, miniskirts were worn by many women in the secular Arab countries including Syria. In fact, this is not the first time Syria banned Islamic dress: more than 30 years ago the less restrictive head scarf, the hijab, was banned altogether in public.
But as many men returned from working in the Gulf States, particularly Saudi Arabia, they brought back with them a more extreme version of Islam. In addition, the invasion of Iraq and the Arab-Israeli conflict also fed the fires of fundamentalism. And so year by year, the entire Middle East is becoming more and more niqab-happy.
Many Syrians reportedly welcomed the ban, even favoring a wider ban on burkas and niqabs from all public places altogether. It isn't just me saying that hijabs and niqabs are oppressive:
'Hijabs and niqabs have been a symbol of oppression and religious extremism over the past hundreds of years. They have been a tool used by fundamentalist men to repress women,' said Ahmed, a 32-year-old engineer.
One passer-by in an upscale Damascus suburb said the burka to him was like a ‘walking black ghost.’
Syrians who are not brainwashed idiots realize that women who wear hijabs are in fact oppressed, it is only devout Muslim women, especially those in free countries, that do not realize how offensive it is to wear hijabs or niqabs.
BBC, 19 Jul 2010, Syria bans face veils at universities
Female students wearing a full face veil will be barred from Syrian university campuses, the country's minister of higher education has said.
Ghiyath Barakat was reported to have said that the practice ran counter to the academic values and traditions of Syrian universities.
However the BBC's Lina Sinjab in Damascus says the ruling could be a sign that Syrian Society is becoming more conservative.
"In recent years, Syria has witnessed an Islamic revival with more and more women wearing the Hijab," she reports.
"This decision could be seen as a step by the government to enforce its secular identity."