“Nobody forces me to wear the full veil, it’s my choice”
Issued on: Modified:
The French parliament has launched an inquiry into how many women wear head-to-toe Islamic veils in France. President Nicolas Sarkozy used the occasion to spell out that "the burqa is not welcome in France", leading to concerns that he would ban it in public places. A French Muslim explains to us why she chooses to wear the sitar - the Saudi full-face cover - and why Sarkozy's comments frighten her. Read more...
Posted on Flickr by "The Art Of Veiling".
France is readying itself for the introduction of what has been described as the "burqa ban". Today, three ministers will speak to MPs about the prohibition of wearing the full veil, or niqab, while proposals from the parliamentary commission examining the matter are expected at the end of January.
The French parliament has launched an inquiry into how many women wear head-to-toe Islamic veils in France. President Nicolas Sarkozy used the occasion to spell out that "the burqa is not welcome in France", leading to concerns that he would ban it in public places. A French Muslim explains to us why she chooses to wear the sitar - the Saudi full-face cover - and why Sarkozy's comments frighten her.
Oum Abdallah (not her real name) lives in Marseille. She's worn the sitar for 10 years.
I'm French, I'm not of Arab origin. The rest of my family is either atheist or agnostic; none of them are Muslim. I decided to convert to Islam well before getting married. Until my wedding day I wore a headscarf but didn't cover my face, and from my wedding day onwards I've worn the sitar. I would have done so earlier but my parents disallowed it while I was still living at home.
I wear the full veil because it's what my religion wants. I dress like the prophet's wives; they're my role models. My husband didn't order me to do this, not at all. He leaves those decisions up to me, even if he does like that I cover up.
"People say that the women aren't respected in Islam, when in fact the religion is based on the well-being of women"
People say that the women aren't respected by Islam, when in fact the religion is based on the well-being of women - at home, as a wife and mother. How many Western women are victims of domestic violence in France today? The sitar is certainly not there to hide black eyes, like some stupid people think! It simply hides the beauty of a woman, which shows how highly they are regarded by Muslim men.
When I'm at home with my husband and my son I dress as I want. When my friends come over (most of whom wear the full veil too), I wear only a veil that covers my body. When I go out or am in the presence of men however, I always wear the sitar.
There's no problem at home. When we have friends over, my husband eats with the men and me with the women in another room... I pass him the plates to serve his guests. He's never seen my friends. Outside however, it can be tricky. People give me funny looks, sometimes insulting me. I leave the house as little as possible; only for things like going to the doctor, admin stuff etc.
"I miss swimming"
Life in France is not easy for a woman who wears the sitar and I dream of leaving. In Muslim countries, there are some beaches and parks especially for women. Of course I miss being able to swim. One of my friends goes to the sea sometimes. But she has to find a completely deserted beach and she swims fully dressed. That's no life. I know very well that in my case it's me who chose to adopt this way of living in France and not the other way round, but that's why I'd like to move to a Muslim country. It's not easy though - my husband would have to find a job first.
"We've talked a lot about if the burqa is banned"
We've talked a lot about if the burqa or the full veil is banned after Sarkozy hinted on it. We're really worried. That would mean that I couldn't leave the house at all! I've just been to get a new ID card, so I'm ok for the next ten years in that sense. But how would I go to the doctor?"
The full veil, which Oum Abdallah wears
Posted on Flickr by "The Art Of Veiling".
Posted on Flickr by Annie.noelle Garand.
The Afghan burqa
Posted on Flickr by "kippefinger".