By Anwar Elshamy
Muslim countries should ban the Western-style dresses worn by women from Western nations living on their territories in case France barred Muslim women from wearing the Niqab the face veil, a renowned scholar said in Doha yesterday.
Sheikh Mohamed Hassan al-Mraikhi, the imam of Omar bin al-Khattab mosque, said that Muslim countries should respond to the potential French ban on Muslim women’s face veil by outlawing the Western-style dresses which are not in compliance with the Islamic dress code.
“We have to deal with them in same way in our countries by imposing a similar ban on their citizens wearing Western-style dress and jeans which violates the Islamic teaching on dress,” he added.
Last week, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, in a policy speech, spoke out against the Islamic Niqab branding it as a symbol of subservience that suppresses women’s identity.
Sarkozy backed a proposal to ban the Niqab in public.
Al-Mraikhi also criticised the attitude of the French president, saying it was “violating the personal freedom of Muslims”.
“There is no doubt that Niqab a face-covering and loose body-length gown a mandatory dress for all Muslim women wherever they are. So France or any other nation has no right to bar Muslim women from complying with the Islamic dress code ordained by Islam,” he said.
Asked about the controversy over whether the full face veil is mandatory or not, Sheikh al-Mraikhi criticised scholars who described the Niqab as a “social custom or non-obligatory”, saying that such fatwas gave adherents of other religions the opportunity to step into the debate.
“The Niqab is obligatory and this was confirmed in the
Holy Qur’an,” he added.
However, another Islamic scholar, Sheikh Salem Helal, said Muslim women donning the face veil in France, whether they were expatriates or citizens, should leave the country if it was outlawed by the government.
“As long as you accepted to be a French citizen, then you have to comply with the laws of the country in which you stay. Muslim women in France should even give up their citizenship and return to Muslim countries if they found themselves unable to observe the Islamic dress code. If they have to choose between the face veil and their citizenship, they have to go the face veil and return to Muslim countries,” he added.
About the remarks made by Sarkozy in which he described the Niqab as “subservience for women”, Sheikh Helal said such statements were mainly triggered by “Islamophobia” trend.
“Such calls have nothing to do with the so-called defending women’s rights. It is just a disguise for hatred against Muslims. I wonder why we did not hear any European politicians speak out against the Sikhs donning the turban in Europe,” he added.
Sheikh Ahmed al-Buainain, a Qatari imam of Suhaib al-Romi Mosque at Al Wakrah, also stressed that the French government had no right to ban the face veil, saying that the veil should be part of the personal freedom which they cherish.
“In Islam, women are requested to cover their faces. I wonder why they condone nudity in Europe as a personal freedom, but when it comes to the Niqab, then it does not apply. I believe that the current attack on the Niqab is just a way to distorting the image of Islam,” he added.
However, the scholar was of the view that there are two different opinions about women’s face covering among Muslim scholars.
“The Niqab is a controversial issue. While some scholars see it as a mandatory, others regard it as non-obligatory. But women in France who don it should not remove it just to comply with the proposed ban since Muslim should not comply with any law that is violating the Islamic teachings,” he added.