Saudi Arabia: Is the Burqa Misused?

My preferred term for a woman who chooses to cover all except her eyes when she is out in public is to refer to her as a “niqabi.”  Yet more around the world the typical term heard is “burqa woman.”

The burqa or niqab can effectively mask ones identity.  There have been multiple cases reported within Saudi Arabia of men masquerading as women simply by donning a burqa/niqab.  I remember one such case showcased on Saudi Arabian television where a man and a burqa/niqabi clad “woman” were stopped at a checkpoint outside of Riyadh.  While I do not know what prompted the “couple” to be stopped but speculate it was due to a tip off, police found when asking the “couple” to exit the vehicle that the “woman” had been hiding bootleg bottles of alcohol under the abaya.  Further investigation revealed that the “woman” was in fact a man.

The burqa or niqab has been abused or misused at times when an unrelated or unmarried couple chooses to take a calculated risk and venture out together.  They do so on the premise that they give the outwardly appearance of complying with the conservative culture and tradition so therefore they must belong together and avoid scrutiny or suspicion.

In the majority of cases, burqa/niqabi clad women are exactly what they appear – Muslim women who have chosen a more conservative style of outwardly dress.

Yet there was a case of Burqa abuse which took place in Australia.  In this particular case a burqa clad woman accuses local police of singling her out because she wears a burqa.  She further falsely accuses the policeman of attempting to have her remove her burqa.  This incident, which was caught on the camera affixed to the police officer’s vehicle, resulted in the woman being charged.  Incidentally,  Islamic leaders (in Australia) stated that it is permissible for a niqabi woman to show her face to police if requested.

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17 Responses

  1. Waw! What a video!
    Enjoyed watching it. It shows the danger involved in having people hiding their identity. I think the woman got just punishment, I think it is a very serious crime she tried to commit against the police man.
    I think it’s ok if people want to hide their face in private, but you cannot participate in a normal, modern society hiding your face and identity. Nobody should be allowed to walk around wearing a mask or helmet or whatever.

  2. I think it’s a freedom of choice. Yes there are some misguided bozos who do stupidest things while hiding behind something many highly value. I have many friend’s who wear niqab, as something extra to draw themselves nearer to Allah. And they all cringe when they hear/read/watch news of these people, as much as us American Muslims cringe when next “thwarted attack by Muslim terrorist” news becomes all the hype. But the women who do chose something they strongly feel about shouldn’t be punished for what these stupid men and crazy women do. They shouldn’t be the target of narrow minded “freedom fighters” and “democracy spreaders” and such. I think niqab is a beautiful thing, and I deeply admire my friends and sisters in Islam who chose to wear it and stick to it through the negativity and bigotry, as much as I admire men who grow beards.

  3. I don’t understand why hiding like that makes someone feel closer to God. In my society it would definitely draw attention to you.

  4. wow. Just wow. What an evil evil woman. Did she even care what that kind of accusation would do to that police man’s career? And for what? To get out of a ticket?

    Sadly, in the West it’s not necessarily a choice based on Allah. It’s a choice based on politics and making a statement to the world. Just like most typical niqabis I run into it’s all about the outside. Take the Umms on the other thread I willing to bet a good few of them are niqabis. Again by their actions on that thread shows that they care more about themselves then others. Nice…. Personally I feel that niqabs ARE a security issue for countries who have to deal with terrorist. So I approve of the ban for that reason ONLY. A woman has a choice yes but like any religious mandate it MUST be within the law of the land you are living in. Just like Muslim men cannot LEGALLY have 4 wives in Western countries woman cannot hide their identities when asked to show their face. If she wanted to wait until a female officer came I could understand it. But nope she’d rather ruin another man’s career instead. Nice woman, really [end sarcasm] If you want to live like a 7th century bedu then by all means GO TO SAUDI or any other ME country that allows for that CULTURAL (not ISLAMIC mandatory) costume. Do not make countries with OTHER cultures conform to a Middle Eastern cultural norm. Stupid!

  5. “I think it’s a freedom of choice.” Muslim women are They can choose their husbands, dress code, place of work, change their religion, mary a Jew, a Christian or an ethiest?

  6. I don’t think that covering of the face of any kind should be allowed…nothing will change my opinion of that. Hijab…fine… long robes…fine, but face covering should not be allowed in a society where it isn’t the norm. I have said it many times…I might be an avowed nudist who loves nature and getting back to basics, but if I am going to live in a society where that is not the norm then i can’t be walking around naked. Period. If it is THAT important to me I need to find a nudist colony or a culture where that is accepted and I can indulge my desire and beliefs to my hearts content. Or dance around my home naked, but once I step outside the boundaries of my property I no longer have the right to do anything I want.

    What this woman did is so over the top reverse racism that I feel contempt for her. She had no thought of the policemans career and children and family and was willing o ruin it yet the muslim guy who spoke on her behalf said she should not be jailed due to her children. It is always about dispensations and different sets of rules for muslims…OMG could it be possible that she MIGHT have done something wrong? Besides it was DARK I think it might be likely he didn’t see her niqab…why didn’t the man say that she screwed up and as a citizen of Australia she is subject to the same laws non muslims are? she made a false statement against a cop and deserves the punishment she got. A non mulsim in the same situation would have been eligible for he punishment as well.

    Why not accept your ticket gracefully and be on your way? Also, her name seems to indicate that she is a convert, not an immigrant and should know the laws very well.

    Shame on her!

  7. @Oby

    I think this falls into the things we were talking about on the Umms and Salafi virus thread. Bullseye actually. Muslims come to this (US) country for the FREEDOMS they do not have in their countries or the economic benefits also not available in those countries. I DO NOT think it’s bigotry to dislike something that is NOT your culture. A Muslims STILL has the right to practice their faith no one is stopping them. Niqab are NOT a mandated Islamic costume. Hijab perhaps though many MUSLIM debate that. So no we in the US to NOT have to allow a cultural attire that has a inherent security risk. If people in the US walked around in baklavas (the ski masks with only eyes showing) then if ASKED by law enforcement they are breaking the LAW or at least something… perhaps inhibiting a police person from doing his/her JOB. In this country that experienced 9/11 on our soil it is the GOVERNMENTS job to protect us from further terrorist attacks. It’s a job I trust them to do if a person is Muslim or if he just wants to go rob a bank in a ski mask. Makes NO difference. We have police for a reason, we have laws, for a reason Sorry but as an American I cannot pick and choose which laws I want to abide by WITHOUT getting punished for it be it fines, jail time, prison time, or even the death penalty in some states. Muslim, IMO, want the US government to treat them as special entities. NOT GOING TO HAPPEN. NO GROUP deserves to be able to live outside of our laws and constitution. NONE. I, as a Mormon, cannot legally marry a man who is already married without breaking the bigamy law that’s on the books. It is NOT a constitutional mandate that ALL RELIGIOUS practices be allowed. If people would actually READ the 1st amendment it would be nice.

    “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

    http://topics.law.cornell.edu/constitution/billofrights

    While the constitution makes it so the STATE does not respect any establishment of religion and our citizens are free to exercise that religion IT DOES NOT mean I can go create a religion that mandates the killing of every Muslim in this country since I AM INTERFERING with another person’s LIFE. I.e. make that life end. (That was an EXAMPLE only!!!!!!! I do not want the FInal Solution of ANY religious group, period end stop. Which actually I’ve already demonstrated in the other thread of the Umms. So get off my case any Muslims that want to start giving me death threats to shut me up. Big bullies!)

    We as American are given the right to the pursuit of happiness that DOES NOT mean that the US government mandates or in any way MAKES us happy (actually it often makes me UNhappy). In a perfect world then those who want to live in MUSLIM countries could actually GO there and have a decent life. But I think history and common knowledge shows that is NOT often the case. If I cannot CHOOSE to move to Saudi Arabia and not be breaking the laws of that land by NOT wearing an abaya or hijab and/or driving MYSELF around because I am no longer a child in need of others to drive me around unless I want them to then people of this country (the US) cannot expect to follow their cultural norms if they are against the law. I would think this is common knowledge? I am really really really really tired of people calling me a bigot for my opinion that basically “do in Rome as the Romans do!” WTF?????? Now if I said the US created a law that mandated death for any convert or natural born Muslim then MANY Americans would have a problem with that. MANY!!!! How many people would stand up for non-Muslims in MUSLIM/Sharia based countries that DO NOT have freedom of religion? Right… so if MUSLIMS want to be treated with respect then they need to GIVE respect. I am also tired of people DEMANDING I respect what they believe. NO, I have to respect your RIGHT to that believe. Religions just like anything else CAN and SHOULD be criticized. If a MUSLIM does not like hearing criticism of their precious religion/Muhammad (who sorry NO ONE has give me ANY answer as to yet why they SO revere the MAN that it warrant death threats when other “prophet’ do not) then perhaps MUSLIMS need to STOP berating other faiths. Oh I don’t know like MINE! I am tired of trying to explain to people who obviously have their own bias and refuse to listen to anyone else that Buddhism is NOT about idol-worshiping because some priest/imam/bishop etc said so. So if one group is going to deride, mock, say bad things about MY religion then I am well in my right to say bad things, mock, deride their religion as well. It’s called life and being human. Humans haven’t agreed with each other since Cain and Abel (if you are Judao-Christian/Muslim) or since we climbed out of the trees for us evolution believing folk. So get over it or learn to defend your faith without having to resort to belittling mine or insulting ME. This is a blog not your life. That is it. Don’t like something said reply and defend and debate OR don’t read things you don’t like. Is someone FORCING you to read American Bedu? Will your live just not be worth living without coming here? (Sorry Carol but that would just be sad if it were true. Even though I love your blog.) So unless your life is being threatened by the ban on burqa/niquab etc then grow up and realize this isn’t school where the teacher is going to send the other person to the principals’ office for being offensive. Not going to happen. If it did I would be more than happy to say “teacher, teacher this [Muslim] offended meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee” like I was a 5 year old instead of my age an adult! I’m pretty tired of explaining basic Western rights 101 to people.

  8. Dear President Obama,

    If Muslims in the US are going to get special exemptions from our laws and constitution then I would also like to request that I as a Mormon/Buddhist would like to be exempt for my religious beliefs also. I believe it is against MY human rights to have to live in a country that favors one group above the other. Thank you. Oh and could you please make it a government mandate that all Teabaggers oops sorry Tea Party member return to US Constitution, Ethics, Social Anthropology, Evolutionary Science, and a basic manners class I would really appreciated it. Thanks again.

    Signed,

    OnigiriFB (someone who voted for you a$$ to be in office and that that world power title and I will probably be voting for you again 2012 so I’m sure you will want to give me what I want if you want my vote.)

  9. Soooo she wears the niqab/burka to be more religious and attain closeness to God…but then lies through her teeth and verbally assaults a police officer and threatens his career.

    Sweet.

  10. Oby, That bugged me too, she should not be punished because she has children? She should have thought of that herself before she set out on maliciously destroying an innocent human being. Who might also have children, she was trying to destroy their life too.
    The crime she was trying to commit against this man was far worse as the punishment meted out to her.
    I think her children are far better off without such an evil scheming selfish wicked mother.

    And seven children! What? Is the fact that you are selfishly, stupidly, breeding like a rabbit a ticket out of jail? I can’t stand people who cannot control themselves and cannot think of the future and the welfare of the planet as a whole and can’t stop at a decent number of children.
    Like two.
    The Earth is over populated, there are more humans than the planet can feed, and yet there are still people who think it’s necessary to carelessly burden the future with popping out babies like a brainless animal.

    I think any child after the second should be heavily taxed, and parents who are so selfish and irresponsible should certainly not get favored over more responsible people by letting them get out of just punishment.
    Having seven children is not a badge of honor, it is living proof of selfishness and irresponsibility, or at the very least a lack of intelligence, empathy and foresight. It should never be a ticket out of jail.

  11. And no woman veils her face and shrouds her body out of ”free choice”.
    You don’t see any natural so called primitve people shrouding themselves. No human shrouds his or herself unless somebody has been telling them fairy tales.
    There are three reasons women walk around in black cloth prisons:
    -Fear
    -Superstition
    -Vanity
    Only the last is ”free choice” the others are compulsion.

  12. I’ve recently as in the past few yrs seen an increase in niqabi women coming in to the clinic. of course you want to see me and be treated you need to show me your face, nothing else thank you , nowadays i just tell the nurse, get them in a gown and be done with it.

    no gown no examination.
    and you won’t beleive the arguments.. seriously what could be the harm in me seeingyou in a fully covered gown when i’m going to be seeing more intimate parts 🙂

  13. what got me in the video was the woman’s tone of moral superiority. She was so superior she was entitled to lie and hurt another person. Disgusting.

  14. @OnigiriFB,

    I agree, we should respect the right of a person to practice his/her religion up to the point where it interferes with the rights of others. In the case of Burqa, it poses a security risk to others.

    Just today a person wearing a Burqa detonated a vest of explosives, killing 80 people. Here is the story:

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20101225/ts_nm/us_pakistan_violence

    Note, the number of fatalities has risen since the English story (I have read newer updates in Arabic sources).

    The issue of identity concealment is a security risk. It is not an issue of discrimination. Muslim women need to accept the reality of the situation, which is created by Muslim terrorists.

  15. I think that is what appalled many. I mean honestly, what kind of representation was she of a Muslim woman? Shame on her.

  16. Actually Carol…she didnt represent females, humans, etc etc well…niqab or no niqab.

    Plain bad manners and decorum.

  17. So I decided to watch the video and now I see why the comments are so much against her. What a liar. And it’s especially rich that she used the “oh it wasn’t me” card because she was hiding under the niqab and it could have been someone else. Good reason to get rid of those things for security reasons, huh? Why not make the case for those who are against them, “Lady”?

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