It's amazing how the first group sacrificed at the altar of either fanaticism or secularism is women. No matter the issue, no matter where you are, women are always used as a card to win the argument, any argument, no matter what they actually think. They are used without even being given the choice to say yes or no.
But this is not a silent blog. Ever since the Niqab or face-veil started to spread in the early eighties of the past century, vicious arguments have spread among both fanatics and secularists. Fanatics argue that women are obliged by word of God to wear the Niqab, to not even show their eyes, of course stay at home and just be faithful and obedient to their husbands and folks.
Secularists believe the Niqab is the ultimate expression of opression of women and mental retardation (of course they had them mentally examined, mind you). This similarly silly argument has even somehow found its way to the president of France, instead of issuing a statement on the spiral of a Global Financial Crisis threatening many French people, he stated that Niqab is not welcome in France.
Some journalists linked between Sarkozy's comment and the murder of Marwa El-Sherbiny not much later in a German court by an Islamophobic German. They said it somehow compelled the murderer to act upon his feelings of disgust towards anything Arab and Muslim. Whereas this proposition could be true, the journalists attacked Sarkozy's comments, saying that Niqab is not the only form of mental retardation, but that frenchwomen in bikinis are also somehow oppressed.
How a person's choice of dress could actually affect, or be a result of his/her mental capabilities is just beyond me. Any example I give would be relative, so I really can't think of one. For example, if I say that a woman running around naked is stupid, it will be totally normal in a nude beach. If I say the bikini is the norm, it will be unthinkable in a devoutly Muslim middle-class Egyptian family. If I say a pair of Jeans is comfy and trendy, it will be frowned upon and probably verbally harassed in Al-Aziz Billah Street, the hub of Munaqqabat in Zeitoun, Cairo. The Hijab turns heads in Paris, and the Niqab is now a state business that Sarkozy has to abandon all that is critical on his political agenda to condemn it. Yet again, the Hijab turns heads in Saudi Arabia for totally different reasons, and you will be heavily critcised if you don't completely cover up. So really, there are no absolutes when it comes to dress, and it should be left up to everyone to decide what to freaking wear, so long as they abide by the law, even stupid Saudi Arabian laws for that matter.
Again, how can a dress be a measure of cleverness or stupidity? On what basis are they judging women in that way? So now I'm a normal person, but if I decide to wear the Niqab tomorrow, my IQ will drop by 50? Does this mean that Paris Hilton, the joke of our time, is more sensible, more clever, more logical, just because her head and arms are always bare? Some Egyptian bloggers even went so far as to call Munaqqabat '3ara3eer'. I have no idea what that means, but it makes me wanna puke.
On the other hand, what gives anyone the right to tell women what to wear, and judge them accordingly? What gives some Sheikhs the right to blame women for the calamities of our time because they're not covered up as much as they think is right? Isn't this a strictly personal issue that all you can do about is give advice if you may, but certainly not condemn? Why are many fanatics holding a cover-up or die knife for women, blaming them if someone harasses them, rapes them, kills them, because they're not covered? Why does a woman's attire always, always, has to be the first issue that arises when a Shiekh mentions women? The Hijab and then marriage, to be precise. Let me stick my dagger in your heart and ask: what about women's rights? How come I never hear Sheikhs condemning families who refuse to give orphaned women their inheritance? How come they do not condemn harassers but rather feel pity for the poor Muslim men who have to bear all of this hair on all these heads and not have their pricks harden? How come I never hear Sheikhs asking women to be more prompt about their prayers and alms for Heaven's sake, for I take a Hijab without a prayer means nothing?
I hope a voice of reason arises among these extreme voices and says: why don't you let women decide for themselves? Why do they always have to be pushed to a corner and squeezed to be able to fit into your vision of what a woman should wear?