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memri
August 27, 2018 No.
7642

Egyptian Writer: The Danish Niqab Ban Is Legitimate

In his August 8, 2018 column in the Egyptian government daily Al-Ahram, Ahmad 'Abd Al-Tawab defended Denmark's ban on women wearing the full-body niqab and burka, which have only a slit for the eyes, in public spaces.[1] The law came into force August 1, 2018. Al-Tawab explained that these coverings were counter to Danish custom and tradition, and to Danish security regulations that require individuals to show their faces in order to facilitate monitoring of suspicious persons. He went on to warn that by insisting on wearing the niqab in public and thus breaking the law, Muslims were stirring people up against them – not only racist extremists but also moderates – and thus making things worse for themselves.


Ahmad 'Abd Al-Tawab (Source: Al-Ahram, Egypt, August 8, 2018)

The following are translated excerpts from Ahmad 'Abd Al-Tawab's column:

"Is it reasonable for Muslims who immigrate to Denmark to be surprised that the women's niqab [seems] strange there? And is it really unexpected that their new society would oppose this style [of dress], which is counter to [Danes'] deeply rooted ideas, customs, and traditions, to the point where it clashes with them? Why not comply with the security regulations that require individuals to show who they are, so as to make it easier to monitor suspicious individuals? Why do they [the niqab wearers and niqab supporters] stubbornly refuse to recognize other religious [Muslim] views that maintain that there is no religious justification for wearing the niqab?  

"Another incomprehensible phenomenon in [these Muslims'] approach to the ban on wearing the niqab in public... is their insistence that the law is aimed at oppressing Muslim women. [But this law] states explicitly that an individual's identity must not be concealed in any way – not by a mask, nor by covering that hides the face, nor by a fake beard.

"The Danish police are very serious about implementing this ban, which came into force this month [August]. At an event a few days ago at a shopping center, a Danish woman tussled with a woman in a niqab, hanging on to her until a policeman arrived. [He] explained to the niqab-wearer [her] legal options: She could remove the niqab, or pay the 1,000 Kr. (about 2,800 Egyptian pounds) fine for a first offense, or leave the public space. She chose to leave!

"Of course, this can happen again, in a way that will serve the interests of the racists [in Europe] – but they are no longer alone [in this matter], since moderate sectors have joined them in pressuring their governments to take a hard line also in dealing with illegal immigration, to toughen up visa regulations, and so on and so forth.

"These problems continue to spread and to worsen, and no solution is in sight – particularly after we have seen Salafi extremism... such as that in the popular online video in which a Salafi preacher talks not about unveiled women but rather addresses women who do wear the niqab, saying that they encourage sexual harassment by opening their eyes wide to emphasize their eye makeup, wearing their robes short enough to show the color of their socks, and carrying red handbags – all of which arouse men!"

 

[1] The law does not explicitly mention the burka or the niqab, but bans all "garments that cover the face," stipulating that offenders may be fined up to 1,000 koner (about $150).