by Donna Kennedy-Glans
When you see pictures of fully veiled women in ultra conservative Muslim countries, you may be tempted to conclude that the men in these countries see women as powerless. Well, that theory about the weaker sex has been blown wide open! A senior cleric in Iran is convinced that last month’s earthquakes in Iceland and subsequent volcanic activity were caused by women–in particular, women who wear immodest clothing. The Earth is spewing volcanic ash across Europe because women don’t wear headscarves? The idea itself is a cosmic power shift!
More seriously, there has been a lot of talk recently about women of Islam. In France, President Sarkozy wantes to ban the niqab, or full face veil, that be believes imprisons women and undermines their dignity. In Quebec, females with face coverings have been ejected from French language training classes. In the West, it’s confusing. Do Muslim women choose to veil because of their own interpretation of the Quran’s rules on modesty, or is this a burden foisted on females by overly protective fathers and husbands and brothers? It’s an emotional issue that cuts right to the heart of how we reconcile gender rights and faith values…and points to the impossibility of picking on basic right over another.