‘Roti, Kapda, Aur Makaan’ seems like a stretch these days, the things once termed as essential are now turning into life-threatening political issues. As Iran faces a revolution against the Hijab, which is termed a ‘Symbol of Oppression’ by many scholars, the European Union is divided into two fractions after a symbolic decision by the Supreme Court of Europe.
Europe’s Supreme Court Upheld A Company’s Decision To Ban Hijab
The western world amid the Russia-Ukraine crisis seems to be facing an ideological crisis within itself. Recently, the Supreme Court of Europe upheld a major decision by a company to ban the ‘Hijab’ in the workplace. After being approached by a Muslim woman originating from Brussels, the court stated that it decided by the Belgian company that the decision wasn’t religiously discriminative but rather a general ban.
According to the reports, the Muslim woman had applied for a six-week traineeship in the company where she was instructed about the ‘no-hijab’ rule. As she approached the court against the rule, the company stated that it had a neutrality rule that bans every type of head covering including a cap, dupatta, or bean, and wasn’t related to religion at all.
‘Hijab’ can be considered the trigger for many controversies around the globe. Many scholars including an Iranian-American journalist, Masih Alinejad, an Anti-Hijab crusader said that ‘Hijab is the most visible symbol of oppression, we need to bring down this wall.’
Talking about religion, the women from the 41st generation, who are direct descendants of Prophet Muhammad deny the ‘Burqa/Hijab’ culture. This can be considered as why liberation from these shackles is necessary for the women of the particular monotheistic religion.
Countries That Have Banned ‘Hijab’ In Different Scenarios
France was the first European country to ban full-face covering or ‘Hijab’ in public places. The act was first passed in the Senate of France in September 2010 where all types of face-covering headgear were banned including Niqabs in public places. Something similar to ‘Secularism Khatre Mai Hain’ sparked in France as this decision was termed Islamophobic by religious advocates in the country. The French also passed a law in 2004 prohibiting headscarves in educational institutions.
Talking about France, it’s important to mention the attack on Charlie Hebdo’s office in 2015 that killed 17 people. The intolerance implies where a cartoon and freedom of the press can claim lives to this extent. In an incident relating to the same cartoon, a teacher was beheaded for showing the cartoon as an example of ‘Freedom of Expression.’
Initially, Sweden had banned full face covering in educational institutions for girls under the age of 13. However, after protests by the minority, the court revoked the decision.
Following the footsteps of France, Belgium banned full face covering or Hijab in the year 2011. Passed unanimously, it was stated by the Belgian government that the decision was important for state security as it gets difficult for police to identify in public. It was also stated that the face covering is a symbol of oppression towards women.
Since October 2017, Austria has also banned several face covering including Islamic burqas and niqabs. The police are authorized to use force if people resist showing their faces. The fine for wearing any kind of face covering in Austria is up to 150 euros.
France can be used as a precedent to ban the Niqab or Burqa in public places for public safety and freedom of women from oppressive traditions. Several other European countries have similar rules regarding the ‘Hijab’ in which Switzerland and Netherlands are the latest.
Double Standards of the European Union Over Hijab
Being politically correct has become so appalling that politicians often forget to overlook the problems that come with it. Where several European countries have banned full-face coverings or hijabs as safety measures, the Council of Europe launched a campaign supporting Hijab. This can be seen as an insensitive move by the EU as lakhs of Iranian women are fighting death for their right not to wear hijab.
The campaign launched by the EU, states “Islamic Veil: for the European Union, freedom is in the hijab”. The campaign is allegedly said to be a programme for inclusion and the fight against discrimination. Adding fuel to the fire, several posters of the campaign featured young women with a message saying, ‘Beauty is in diversity as freedom is in Hijab.’
As Iranian women are fighting for their freedom from oppression, this campaign by a supposedly progressive western society tends to send mixed signals.
Cameroon Bans Hijab After Suicide Bombings
Face covers aren’t just related to the identification of someone in public, the threat has proved itself to be fatal several times. Cameroon, a country situated in West Africa banned the Islamic veil after two women wearing ‘Burqa’ blew themselves up killing 13 people.
The suspected insurgencies caused by the Boko Haram Islamist group were one of the main reasons for banning full-face coverings in Chad and Cameroon. Situated next to Nigeria, it is reported that militants from the same Islamist group use female suicide bombers as it is easy to smuggle bombs within a burqa without detection.
Two Worlds Of Hijab, Right To Live Or Right To Be Caged
India is home to about 1.3 billion people following different religions, however, 2022 has been bizarre as courts are being kept busy on whether the right to religion applies to educational institutions. The Karnataka Hijab row that started early this year reached a split verdict in the Supreme Court of India. While Indian courts listened to debates stating that wearing a ‘Hijab’ to schools was a constitutional right. In an age where schools are meant to be fun and educational, the advocates of the ‘Hijab’ seem to be diverted from the real issue here. Shouldn’t the debate be about making education more accessible?
The Hijab row sparked controversy across the nation resulting in violence in several regions. While Indian girls are fighting to wear what is often termed a symbol of oppression, Iranian citizens are on the streets fighting a regime that was responsible for the death of a young woman for wearing her Hijab wrong. A caged bird often dreams of freedom, however, it seems ironic that a free bird wants to be caged in regression.
Not Just EU, Asian Countries Ban Hijab/Burqa
The island nation faced several financial problems in the past year, however citing security threats Sri Lanka banned the burqa in public. The ban came after the ‘Easter Bombing’ in 2019 which reported included women suicide bombers wearing ‘Burqa’. Reportedly the attack deliberately took place on ‘Easter Sunday’ as a message to other religions.
India’s neighboring country China banned ‘Burqa’ in the year 2017 under the pretext of taking a crackdown on Religious Extremism. China didn’t just ban the ‘Burqa’ but it also prohibited Muslim men from keeping a distinctive beard. Anyone wearing a face veil Burqa or Niqab is banned from entering Airports or railway stations as well.
Keeping the ongoing Iran revolution in context, the question remains is a face covering more important than the lives of women? Religion is a private affair, but is it private if the lives of thousands are at stake?