Symposium: Hate Behind the Niqab
by Jamie Glazov
What impulses engender the desire to cover a woman with a full black body covering -- with only a small slit opening for the eyes? To discuss this issue with us today, Frontpage Symposium has assembled a distinguished panel. Our guests
Nonie Darwish, author and founder of ArabsForIsrael.com. She grew up in Cairo and Gaza, the daughter of a high-ranking Egyptian army officer. She now lectures around the country to civic organizations, universities, churches, and synagogues. She is the author of Now They Call Me Infidel: Why I Renounced Jihad for America, Israel, and the War on Terror.
Brigitte Gabriel, a journalist and news producer who started her career as an anchor for World News, an evening Arabic news broadcast throughout the Middle East , for which she reported on critical events in the Middle East . As a terrorism expert and the founder of the non-profit organization AmericanCongressforTruth.com, Brigitte travels widely and speaks regularly on topics related to the Middle East . She is the author of Because They Hate: A Survivor of Islamic Terror Warns America.
Dr. Nancy Kobrin, a psycho-analyst, Arabist, and counter-terrorism expert.
David Gutmann, emeritus professor of Psychology and Behavioral Sciences at Northwestern
School in Chicago.
Kasem, an ex-Muslim who is the author of hundreds of articles and several books on Islam including, Women in Islam. He was a contributor to Leaving Islam – Apostates Speak Out as well as to Beyond Jihad: Critical Views From Inside Islam.
Phyllis Chesler, an Emerita Professor of Psychology and Women's Studies at City University of New York , a psychotherapist, and the author of thirteen books including, Women and Madness, The New Anti-Semitism, and The Death of Feminism in which she describes how Islamic gender apartheid has been penetrating the West. She has written about her captivity in Afghanistan for Frontpage Magazine. She has a blogsite and may be reached through her website: www.phyllis-chesler.com.
FP: Dr. Nancy Kobrin, Abul
Kasem, Nonie Darwish, Brigitte Gabriel, Dr. David Gutmann and Dr. Phyllis Chesler, welcome to Frontpage Symposium.
We have gathered here today to discuss the Niqab, the Muslim women's full black body covering, which extends from head to toe - with only a small slit opening for the eyes. We are seeing more and more of the Niqab in many of our Western cities.
I would like to discuss the psychology of the Niqab. Why would a culture want to cover the female from head to toe in this way? One angle is the hate (and self-hate) that the men behind this ideology have in terms of trying to put the female gender out of sight and mind. But another angle is also the women who wear it voluntarily (and many do not of course). Their psychology is also very interesting in terms of how they look down at the unveiled women. This is a form of discrimination that is almost never discussed in our society.
It is very intriguing – and disturbing -- how our culture frames this debate. The Left is always teaching us that we must have tolerance for those Muslim women who want to wear the veil. But the real question is: how about those Muslim women who do not want to wear the veil and who face violence and discrimination in their own communities and families if they do not wear it? Where is the Left’s outrage about that? Where is the Left’s defense of these Muslim women? And how about the Muslim men and women who despise and look down at the Muslim and non-Muslim women in our society who are not veiled? Where are the sensitivity courses for them that the Left should be setting up if it really believes in multiculturalism and tolerance?
Dr. Kobrin, let’s begin with you. What would be your opening remark on the Niqab -- in terms of some of the themes I have introduced -- to start our discussion?
Kobrin: Thank you Jamie. I am honored to participate in such an important discussion and pleased that FP has created space for it.
The discussion of the veil, the niqab is complex as it can be approached from many different perspectives – religious, cultural, psychological and even linguistic.
The word, niqaab (sing.) and nuqub (pl.) in its Arabic root means to bore, to pierce, to make a hole. The sexual nature of the root should be apparent. In Hebrew and Aramaic the same root meaning exists. In Modern Hebrew there is the word nikBA, which means ‘tunnel’ and more importantly, the very word for ‘female’, nekeVA comes from this root. Yet today there is no veiling remotely comparable to what is going on within the global umma.
Why do I start with this comparison? The contrast illustrates how two Semitic peoples diverge in their customs and practices yet can share so much linguistically and culturally. One has modernized and the other has remained stagnate. Arab Muslim culture remains a shame honor culture. The shamed self always hides but in different ways. In this case, the male is so ashamed that he is born from a female and dependent upon her that he must then repudiate her.
The veil is about control/domination vis-à-vis submission of the female and her subjugation. The headscarf is the beginning of the slippery slope of subjugation that slides into the burqa and/or the niqab. Because it is such a sexually repressed culture, men shroud the female to avoid being sexually aroused by her essence. When exposed they feel not only highly aroused, but threatened and vulnerable, an emotional state not to be tolerated in Islam except in the presence of Allah. (personal communication, J. Lachkar)
It is baffling when we think there are fundamentalist Muslim women who claim that they should have the right to wear the niqab, and in some instances become more jihadi than the male. Perhaps some of these women have a false sense of being protected by it and compensate for their inferior status with passionate bravado.
But why? One may speculate that the internalized male hatred of the female leads to self-hatred and dissociating. It leaves these women out of touch with a healthier sense of self. Their passionate bravado masks profound humiliation and their terrors.
But what are these women’s terrors? My hunch is that it is quite simple but deadly serious – they are terrified of being murdered by their own because they live under a death threat. To master such a difficult situation they embrace the dress code with a vengeance.
Putting on the niqab is like cutting off one’s finger to feed the gods. They do it with the hope of keeping male murderous rage at arms’ length. The niqab is a nonverbal communication of a culture cut off from life and its senses and terrified of them.
FP: Brigitte Gabriel?
Gabriel: The tragedy of wrapping a woman with the Niqab is the conscious effort of rendering women as invisible shadow larking in the background of existence. What started as a symbol of oppression has become now a cause and a fashion statement which women especially in the Islamic world are pressuring other Muslims women to wear less they be accused of being unholy or unworthy of marriage.
Since in the Islamic world most women are not allowed to work, their reputation and honor in the community will be the deciding factor in their marriage prospects. A woman's value in the marriage market will increase the more her Islamic practice is abided by. A woman wearing a Niqab is a desirable symbol of obedience and complete submission to her religion and its teaching which makes her a perfect servant to a man. Most women will face pressure from their female family members to wear the Niqab than from the male members of the family. Today with the rise of Islamism throughout the world the Niqab, Hijab, Burka or the head covers have become a fashion symbol flashed by Muslim women in the West as well to show their pride in their Islamic heritage.
When a woman is deprived of any worthiness by her religion such as the case with Islam's, she hangs on any symbols which give her respect in her society as a good woman. There is a saying in the Arabic world to a woman: "Allah Yustur
Alaiki" May Allah cover your shame. Her existence as she is created by God is shameful and needs to be covered first by a veil then by a husband. The Niqab is the answer to that prayer.
Darwish: A woman’s body according to several Islamic hadith is Awrah, Arabic for pudendum, the external genitals and a thing to be ashamed of, especially of the female. Thus she must cover her shame. But instead of civilizing men and elevating his animal side teaching him self-control and respect for a woman’s body, Islam burdened the woman with his responsibility. Thus when the man’s uncontrollable lust makes him sin, it is the woman's fault. Sharia Islamic law caters to men at the expense of women by requiring her to cover her body for his sake. In the radical Hambaly-Wahhabi school, she is required to be in a ghost-like garment covering every inch of her body.
The devout Muslim woman cannot reject Sharia because rejecting it is like rejecting Allah himself. Thus her solution to have respect and power in society is often “If you can’t beat them, joint them.” Thus many Muslim women have found power and respect in becoming as radical -- if not more radical than men -- and her radicalism is most prominently expressed through her garment. Thus by choosing to wear an extreme dehumanizing, even scary, outfit she proves to herself and others that she is worthy and holy as the wives of Mohammad. She now can demand the respect of Muslim society for her sacrifice.
As to Muslim women who choose to wear Niqab in the West without family pressure, I believe they are militant Muslim women who want to tell the West they are for Sharia law. I once asked a woman wearing Niqab, why? She said it is “my form of jihad.” When I once visited a mosque in the early 80’s we were told: “Do not assimilate in America.” And I believe that the Niqab is the ultimate message in defiance to Western freedoms and gender equality.
Gutmann: The Niqab brings to mind the conformation of the bedouin tent, designed for mobility, concealment and protection. Thus, even as the traditional Arab woman walks abroad, she remains shrouded, confined within her "house".
Even within the traditional Arab home, the women of the house do not encounter men from the outer world.
These are met and given hospitality by the men of the house in a kind of transitional zone - the Diwan, the room for receiving guests - and the women are only muted voices sifting through from the distant "feminine" spaces of the dwelling. Wearing the Niqab as she ventures forth the Arab woman remains an extension of her closed domestic space, which she carries with her.
The Niqab then functions as a kind of immune system, one which maintains the inner world, the domain behind the fabrics, in a stable, predictable state. Even as the Arab woman ventures out into a world characterized by flux and change, she carries within her Niqab -- a token of the stable domestic world.
There is not much that a traditional Arab woman can control. Not surprising then that a large number value the Niqab for the illusion of control that it provides to the wearer.
FP: Sort of like the illness of obsessive compulsive disorder (ocd). They say that a large number of people who suffer terribly with this illness do it because, in its deepest roots, they are engaging in something that is “theirs.” They have been so violated and their boundaries have been so enmeshed on one or more realms, that they have their ocd, and even if it brings them great harm, it is “theirs,” their own thing that they themselves can control. So for instance, even with other illnesses, let us say anorexia: when an anorexic woman starves herself, she is starving herself, and noone else is starving her, so it is a statement of independence and autonomy, something she never had on a realm that was vital to her, etc.).
Kasem: It is interesting to note that before the advent of Islam, the women of Arabia enjoyed much freedom and equality.
The late professor Phillip K. Hitti lists at least two women who were the queens of Arabia, before and during the Babylonian period. They were Shamsi and Telkhunu. Besides them, there was also the queen Bilqis of Saba, a city purportedly, in South Arabia.
Those days, and even before the advent of Islam, the common women of Arabia did not wear any veil (hijab) or cover themselves in outer garment (niqab). The veiling of women was strictly restricted to the women of the very top nobility, such as the Royal families and the extraordinarily rich and famous people.
Muhammad’s first wife Khadijah was a business lady, the richest woman of Arabia. There is no evidence to suggest she wore any form of veil during her lifetime. The same is true for Muhammad’s other wives, until Muhammad forced them to be covered in niqab, ostensibly mandated by Allah in a few verses in the Koran.
So why did Muhammad inflict this form of sartorial oppression on Muslim women? To know the reason we need to read the hadiths. The chief cause of veiling of Muhammad’s wives and the Muslim women in general is ingrained in the primitive latrine facilities in the deserts of Arabia.
After the death of Khadijah, Muhammad spent most of the wealth left by Khadijah. He became so poor that he had very little money to support himself. When he migrated to Medina, he and his followers were destitute. Under this dire poverty, Muhammad had to house his wives in places with very primitive or non-existent toilet/sanitary facilities. He had no choice but to ask his wives to go to an open field nearby and answer the call of nature.
In a hadith in Sahih
Bukhari (1.4.149) we read that Muhammad permitted his wives to go out in the desert, in a secluded spot under the sky, and hide under trees and shrubs to defecate, though, he restricted them to the night hours only. That is: his wives could go out to relieve themselves only at night, when no one was watching them.
In another hadith of Sahih
Bukhari (6.60.203) we read that performing sexual intercourse in the open sky, in the very spot where defecation used to take place was quite common. In other words, these spots in the desert, where there were shrubs and date palm trees, were the places where many people, who had no privacy at their homes, used to relieve themselves, as well as do sexual intercourse. It had been the way of the Arab Bedouins for millennia.
Nevertheless, Umar, the second Caliph of Islam urged Muhammad to change this.
As per the instruction, Muhammad’s wives started to go to an open field only at night to answer the call of nature without any veil or proper attire. Umar used to watch these ladies and was very uncomfortable and distressful to see them answering the call of nature in the open sky without much protection to their privacy. He requested Muhammad to cover his wives with veils whenever they went out to do their business in the open field at night.
At first, Muhammad ignored Umar’s plea. But when Umar kept pestering, Muhammad turned to Allah for His suggestion (since he did not have the pecuniary means to solve this toilet problem). Allah promptly sent down the verse on veil (33:59)
The above context of the veiling and ‘niqabing’ demonstrates that there is no compelling reason to enforce such a despicable, misogynist, barbaric system on Muslim women.
Today, we note, all around the world, that seventh century Bedouin barbaric custom is back in fashion. Not being content with the Muslim women, there is also pressure on the infidel women to cover up, because, as per the Islamic rule, these infidel women who do not wear the Islamic niqab are sluts, whores and ripe for Islamic rape by Islamic men.
According to Islam, Muslims are at perpetual war with the non-Muslims. Wherever, there is even a shred of Islam (even a single Muslim) it is incumbent upon him to enforce Islam in whatever capacity. This means, as per Islamic law (Sharia), infidel women, who do not comply with the Islamic dress codes, are captives of the Muslims living in the infidel territory. In Hedaya, the Hanafi law manual, we find that a Muslim living in an infidel land is allowed to have unlimited sex with the non-Muslim women without having the need to marry them. This should explain why, many Islamic men in the infidel world are caught for raping the ‘slutty’ ‘bitchy’, ‘whores’; of the western countries. They deserve to be purified by Islamic rape, as many such Muslim will say.
The Islamic hatred for western women who do not cover their bodies with Islamic ‘tents’ knows no bound. In 2006, the Mufti of Australia, Sheikh Hilali considered these western women as the ‘cat’s’ meat, that is: these western women deserve to be eaten (sexually) by Muslim men who chance upon them. We might not like what Mufti Hilali said, but he is absolutely correct. Islam allows Muslim men to have forced sex upon non-Muslim women who do not cover their ‘meat’. Here is the proof:
In verse 33:59. Allah says: O Prophet! Tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers to draw their cloaks (veils) all over their bodies (i.e. screen themselves completely except the eyes or one eye to see the way). That will be better, that they should be known (as free respectable women) so as not to be annoyed. And Allah is Ever of Forgiving, Most Merciful.
The most eminent tafsir (exegesis) writer, bin Kathir comments on this verse:
Here Allah tells His Messenger to command the believing women -- especially his wives and daughters, because of their position of honour -- to draw their Jibes over their bodies, so that they will be distinct in their appearance from the women of the Jahiliyyah and from slave women. The Jilbab is a Rida', worn over the Khimar. This was the view of Ibn
Mas'ud, 'Ubaydah, Qatadah, Al-Hasan Al-Basri, Sa'id bin Jubayr, Ibrahim An-Nakha'i, 'Ata' Al-Khurasani and others. It is like the Izar used today. Al-Jawhari said: "The Jilbab is the outer wrapper. 'Ali bin Abi
Talhah reported that Ibn 'Abbas said that Allah commanded the believing women, when they went out of their houses for some need, to cover their faces from above their heads with the Jilbab, leaving only one eye showing. Muhammad bin Sirin said, "I asked 'Ubaydah As-Salmani about the Ayah: (to draw their Jalabib over their bodies.) He covered his face and head, with just his left eye showing.'' (That will be better that they should be known so as not to be annoyed. )
means, if they do that, it will be known that they are free, and that they are not servants or whores.
Please read the last sentence once again. It reads:
[If they do that, it will be known that they are free, and that they are not servants or whores—ibn
The above explanation of ibn
Muslim women must always keep their 'meat' covered whenever they venture out.
Infidel women who do not hide their 'meat' inside Jilbab and Hijab are either maidservants or whores.
The white Australian women who do not dress Islamically are maidservants or whores.
In Islam, Muslim men are allowed to have unlimited sexual intercourse with maidservants and/or sexual slaves. A Muslim man commits rape if and only if he has sex with a Muslim woman out of wedlock. Having forced sex with an infidel, uncovered woman does not at all constitute rape, Islamically speaking.
The natural conclusion is that Muslim men are completely free to Islamically rape these infidel women, if these whores fall in Muslim men's hands.
I quoted from the Koran and the tafsir of ibn
Kathir to dispel any doubt that the non-Muslims might have about the unremitting hatred Islam has for infidel women, who do not comply with the Islamic specifications of women’s dress code.
Brigitte Gabriel has provided a good reason why many Muslim women are under pressure by the jihadist women to cover up. Many Muslim men prefer to marry religiously inclined Muslim women, and covering up is the surest way to prove a woman’s Muslimness. Therefore, we may safely conclude that many Muslim women reluctantly wear the uncomfortable, ugly, fearful, and potentially dangerous Islamic garb just to catch a good husband. For a number of Muslim women, wearing hijab and niqab are the safest method to hunt ‘good’ Muslim husbands.
Nonie Darwish is correct in saying that Islam considers a woman a shameful object. Her entire body, from head to tow is a shame, pudenda, which need to be covered whenever she ventures out. This extreme hatred for women is entrenched in many verses of the Koran and many sahih (authentic) ahadith which consider women as animals, devils, sinful, lascivious, and stupid. During his last hajj, Muhammad gave a final sermon on women. He said:
“Now then, O people, you have a right over your wives and they have a right over you. You have [the right] that they should not cause anyone of whom you dislike to tread your beds, and that they should not commit any open indecency (fahishah). If they do, then God permits you to shut them in separate rooms and to beat them, but not severely. If they abstain from [evil], they have the right to their food and clothing in accordance with custom (bi’l-maruf). Treat women well, for they are [like] domestic animals (‘awan) with you and do not possess anything for themselves. You have taken them only as a trust from God, and you have made the enjoyment of their persons lawful by the word of God, so understand and listen to my words, O people. I have conveyed the Message, and have left you with something which, if you hold fast to it, you will never go astray; that is, the Book of God and the sunnah of His Prophet. Listen to my words, O people, for I have conveyed the message and understand [it]. Know for certain that every Muslim is a brother of another Muslim, and that all Muslims are brethren. It is not lawful for a person [to take] from his brother except that which he has given him willingly, so do not wrong yourselves. O God, have I not conveyed the message?” It was reported [to me] that the people said, “O God, yes.” And the Messenger of God said, “O God, bear witness.” (Tabari, vol.9, pp.112-114).
Chesler: I certainly agree with Kobrin's view that a shame and honor society mandates that women be indoctrinated into feeling ashamed of their essential selves and that they must shroud themselves in order that men be helped to avoid temptation.
However, may I suggest that this tendency also exists among Jews, mainly among extremist, (non-modern) Orthodox Jews. Their mini-version of the shrouded woman is that non-modern Orthodox women are expected to be invisible in the synagogue, hidden behind a mehitza (barrier, screen, fence); to play no role--or a silent role in religious services; and to dress very modestly, plainly so as not to tempt men. But an Islamification seems to be taking place in certain quarters in Jewish Jerusalem. Recently, some women were beaten because they refused to sit separately and at the back of the bus; some already modestly-dressed women were harassed because their dress was not deemed modest enough; Jewish women are still not allowed to pray with a Torah in a group, quietly, but out loud at the Western Wall; and in one instance, a male-dominated religious cult demanded that Jewish women shroud themselves in burqas, and allow the male religious leaders to institute child abuse as a form of child rearing.
Kobrin is right to understand that Muslim women are terrified about being honor murdered and thus embrace a self-hating dress code zealously.
I agree with Gabriel (whom I have previously quoted on this very point in The Death of Feminism), namely, that Arab Muslim women are quite literally "covering their shame." They themselves are made ashamed of their female bodies, genitalia, essence. However, women also go further. Like men, women not only internalize this shame, they then inflict it upon other women, police other women into conformity and subservience. Or gossip against them and slander them so that men are forced to kill the female target for the sake of "honor."
I agree with Darwish that veiled women are being punished for male lust and that such women, like battered women, believe that obedience to a dress code is what will gain them respect.
Of course, this is a false sense of power and control. I share Darwish's view that niqab is a "form of jihad." I despair that Westerners, including liberals, leftists, and feminists, absolutely refuse to understand this and instead view veiling (headscarf, niqab) as a private, religious choice that the West must tolerate if it is to be true to its own principles.
I agree with Gutmann that veiled, shrouded, burqa'ed women are like "movable prisons" and that submitting to this dress code only gives women an illusion of control.
However, I must point out that unveiled, unburqa'ed women are sexually harassed on the street, arrested in Iran and Afghanistan, beaten, possibly killed. This happens all over Europe, and in American and Australia too. (Girls and women are threatened, beaten, and honor-killed for refusing to wear niqab or headscarf).
Recently, in Cairo, a year or two ago, after Ramadan, a group of about 1,000 men conducted a "sexual wilding" and undressed and tried to rape unveiled women or partially veiled women. However, in their lynch-mob mentality, they also aggressed against fully veiled women.
Thus, wearing niqab does not guarantee safety from male rioters and predators.
I found Kasem's information about the relationship between primitive latrine facilities in Muhammed's time and life and his consequent issuing of an order for his wives to veil--very interesting. I wonder whether this is well known or controversial.
He is totally correct about the sexual license that Muslim men are given towards unveiled women. Paradoxically, a "free" woman is one who submits to Islam and niqab. Any other kind of woman is a "servant" or a "whore" and may be raped at will.
Again, I despair about Westerners really understanding this. Of course, not all Muslims rape infidels or fly planes into the World
Center but most Muslims, beginning with Muslim leaders, do not condemn such acts, nor do they openly resist such acts either. A handful do.
Kobrin: I want to pick up on the important parallel to OCD and anorexia, which you have drawn, Jamie. You are absolutely correct. The niqab has illusory pluses and concrete minuses – the women construct compensatory meaning from a garment about which they have no choice. They make the most out of it but it comes at a huge psychological price – submission and being kept dissociated. The psychological function of the niqab facilitates the constant process of brainwashing. Yes women can hide behind it and feel empowered by it as David Gutmann points out – but it’s an illusion of power because in a society where one lives under a death threat, you need to be in denial to a degree in order to just go about your daily life.
However, as a woman feels stronger, little by little she attempts to master the accumulative effects of chronic traumata and moves to throw off the shackles of the niqab, even to go behind a wheel and drive in Saudi Arabia . When you have experienced so much trauma, you have to go through layers of it in order to finally give up the unhealthy bond to the object of the persecutory oppressor to which and to whom you have become addicted -- be it OCD, anorexia or a niqab. Everything in its own time but it takes a lot of time; there is no quick fix.
Terror is very poorly understood. I agree wholeheartedly with Phyllis Chesler that we see this aggressiveness against women spreading even into Israeli Jewish society. This is because Islamic jihadi violence also influences other cultures because it has gone global and its aggression breeds aggression. It must be nipped in the bud. This is why too, limits constantly have to be set. Niqabing is bullying behavior. It cannot be tolerated, even in Saudi Arabia .
Brigitte Gabriel underscores the concrete problematic nature of such dressing, literally covering that which is designated as the locus of shame. Terrorism is concrete and literal behavior. It is also always involves projection. The men tell us through this very revealing nonverbal behavior of the niqab that they are terrified of the female and they feel themselves to be wholly inadequate and emasculated – therefore the Muslim man has to rape infidel women and their own. Pathetically they know of no other way to relate to a woman.
Abdul Kasem offers an extremely important historical journey through the Quran and Ahadith concerning how niqabing came into being. That it is tied to latrines does not surprise the psychoanalyst in me because it returns us to the anal sadomasochism of terrorism and the perverse preoccupation with the body. This is terrorism’s unspoken pornography. The men are very confused about their sexual identity. They don’t know how to healthily bond to the other – it’s a hook up culture albeit it violent.
I went to the local Target store the other day here in St. Paul and lo and behold a Somali woman working very hard in the store was wearing a niqab. Believe me this is not their custom but for a series of reasons she adopted it signaling nonverbally her personal jihad as Nonie Darwish has put it. But just like the taxicab alcohol and the flying imams fiascos here in the Twin Cities, from what I have been told it is was jihadi inspired by Arabs and the Muslim Brotherhood who bully and cow those who feel themselves to be inferior in Islam’s hierarchy and who desperately want to be accepted. The Arabs stir up the pot. It will take a long time to promote change but it is not impossible though we must set firm limits and boundaries against such aggression and violence and not buy into the bullying behavior.
FP: Thank you Dr. Kobrin, I am intrigued a bit at your reference to the “anal sadomasochism of terrorism.” Can you expand a bit on this?
Kobrin: I am using the term anal sadomasochism in a more metaphorical sense. My point is that it is basically an anal withholding society that leads to deprivation and self-punishment, which then transforms into unleashed aggression against those who have what they don't have. This manifests primitive envy of Freedom and Democracy. They attack those whom they envy. The theme of anality surfaces alongside submission, part of the world where little boys are anally raped – a cruel message to being manly. I would add to that in this withholding environment a fixation that accompanies the sadomasochism. The niqab signals a fixation with the female body. Its “pornography” is how it arouses a perverse eros concerning female sexuality. I began my remarks noting the shared Semitic root in Hebrew and Arabic which circulates around the female, while there are pockets of patriarchal clannish ultraorthodox in Judaism where the female is controlled, by and large Judaism has modernized and adapted. This has not been the case with Wahhabi Islam; it has remained stuck in a regrettable mode of envy and destruction.
Gabriel: Dr. Kobrin has made an interesting point when she states that Islam is a society in which “they attack those that they envy.” I also reason that the attacks are perpetrated upon Islam’s enemies whom they see as individuals who will not allow themselves to be controlled by Islamic theology. The vision of the woman in a niqab is sexually stimulating for the Islamic man as it represents a macho form of control over the Muslim female. Islamic traits of machoism and dominance are typical of Islamic culture which gives permission to the Muslim male to exert power and authority over Muslim women. Sexual relations are controlled by the Muslim male.
The niqab is also a symbol of control by Muslim men to exercise their authority over the physical size of their families and the world Muslim population. If Islam could survive without women, they would eliminate them from their society entirely. The niqab is a reminder to the Muslim woman that her role in Islamic society is to be submissive to the Muslim man and to reproduce, thus allowing the continuance and future of Islam.
Islamic societies are suffocated by shackles around the human spirit and brain. Islamic theology is driven by machoism, dominance, intolerance, submission and violence to all that disagrees with Islam’s principles of law. The niqab is a constant and visible symbol of all of the above.
Darwish: I agree with all of the views expressed. Mr. Kasem’s connecting the dots with the Hadith and physical and cultural environment of Arabia , its open and exposed desert, where women had to use their garments as a form of shield that gives them some sense of privacy at a time that provided no modern day bathrooms. Chesler’s description of women gossiping and competing with each other is also very truthful when she said: “gossip against them and slander them so that men are forced to kill the female target for the sake of "honor." Very often it is women who force other women into conforming to the Islamic dress through a ‘holier than thou’ attitude. Muslim women often turn against each other instead of supporting and standing by each other’s rights to say no to Niqab. That is one reason why we do not see a strong Muslim women’s feminist movement. Muslim women are busy conforming to the most extreme ideals of Islam in the hope of disproving the many hadiths that describe them as untrustworthy, inferior or ‘deficient in intelligence and religion’. The niqab thus is one way of proving the negative hadiths wrong. It is a Muslim woman’s way of saying: “yes women might be deficient or inferior to men, but not me.“
Dr. Kobrin’s description of the culture as: “This manifests primitive envy of Freedom and Democracy. They attack those whom they envy.” is so true and it applies to many facets of Muslim culture. Instead of respecting other culture’s differences, Muslim culture is terribly threatened by them. They want to destroy the opposition. Western democracy stands as a constant reminder that Western values have produced a more successful society and a happier man/woman relationship.
Other cultures are expected to conform to Muslim standards and Muslims could get angry and hostile when this does not happen. It is like a vegetarian who gets offended and upset when others eat meat. Muslim standards, dress and otherwise, need threat, fear and pressure to be enforced and Western freedom of choice are seen as a great threat. Muslims are thus extremely afraid of losing their extreme Islamic traditions if left to people’s choice.
I cannot even imagine how inconvenient it must to wear a Niqab day in and day out especially by women who do it by choice in the West. A woman is deprived of the sun ray touching her skin and the wind blowing her hair while looking at the world from a small hole. With her choice of Niqab she is telling the world: “I am a piece of meet and I am responsible for men's lust and I must tolerate all of this for the sake of men not to commit sin by looking at my body.” What a sacrifice that is. They must carry their shame, tolerate the attention the Niqab brings, especially the shocked faces of children. They represent everything opposite to what American women stand for. This is the ultimate counter feminist movement done by none other than women. Paradoxically, American feminists are very accepting.
Gutmann: The particular significance of the Niqab aside, why is there so much tumult in Europe , the UK and North America around Islamic dress-codes and institutions?
Regarding dress, there is constant agitation about the wearing of veils in school, the Chador and the Niqab at work and in the street, while separate gym spaces and locker rooms are demanded for Muslim school-girls. Regarding institutions, there is much pressure, particularly in the UK , to bring Islamic families under the umbrella of Sharia law.
Note that all of these controversies have to do with the proper garb of Islamic women, the concealment of their naked flesh from infidel eyes, and the regulation of their marital condition. Bluntly put, these teapot tempests all have to do with controlling Muslim women's sexuality in the liberal climate of the Infidel Diaspora.
Dr. Kobrin would have insights about this, but whatever its basis, the fear of female sexuality is intense, and is deeply rooted among Arab men. It has its counterpart in female shame - a shame so great that village girls will submit to painful and dangerous cliteroidectomies intended to blunt their sexual pleasure and desire.
As the Israeli anthropologist Raphael Patai put it in his classic study, "The Arab Mind," "women are seen to be like animals, highly sexed, and willing to have intercourse with any man." This Islamic phobia against female sexuality is not a fall-out of modernity, but has a long history: a typical story in the unexpurgated Arabian Nights tells of a noble, handsome prince, married to a beautiful and loving princess, who is called away from his palace on a mission. But as soon as he is out the door, his princess rushes to copulate with a dirty, diseased, but well-endowed black slave. The message is clear: women have an uncontrollable, unappeasable sexual appetite that will seize on any object, however inappropriate.
Islamic immigrants to the West want to take advantage of its higher living standards, and political freedoms; but they do not want their women to be liberated along with them. In their thinking, female political and social liberation ultimately leads to the dreaded outcome of sexual liberation, and to the emergence of the sexually omnivorous woman.
Accordingly, Islamic leaders want to change the customs and legal structures of host countries so that patriarchal controls over women will be maintained, for the comfort and psychological security of the Muslim male, in otherwise egalitarian and democratic societies. The Islamic leadership is in effect demanding that liberal societies tailor their laws and institutions to create, or recreate, the social ecology of intense sexual repression that the "patriarchs" left behind when they migrated westwards.
They are finally running into opposition: from Western governments that refuse the Dhimmi role; and from courageous Islamic women like Nonie Darwish and Ayaan
Hirsi Ali who insist on sharing in the new freedoms found in the West. The struggles that are looming, between the Islamic leadership and their Western hosts, between that leadership and their own women, and between liberal and traditional Arabs, will dwarf
any current skirmishing over the Niqab.
Kasem: Dr. Chesler mentions that a tiny minority of Jews practice hijab/niqab for their women. If this is the case then we must also condemn this hijabisation of the Jewish women. Veiling a woman against her will for religious reasons is plain wrong, and goes against the basic right of a woman to chose her dress. If Allah/God really meant a woman to be hijabised/niqabised then why did He let women be born naked? During birth the all powerful Allah could have easily covered her private parts with hijab.
It is true that some Muslim women are subservient to forced hijabisation. As mentioned earlier, it is primarily due to fear and intimidation. Even a few educated Muslim women extol the perceived virtues of hijab/niqab and entice other women to adapt to such Islamic dress code. I liked Darwish’s comment when she wrote: “Very often it is women who force other women into conforming to the Islamic dress through a ‘holier than thou’ attitude. Muslim women often turn against each other instead of supporting and standing by each other’s rights to say no to Niqab. That is one reason why we do not see a strong Muslim women’s feminist movement.”
From her comment it appears that Muslim women are their own worst enemy when it comes to confront the niqabisation. Truly, so far as I could witness, the strongest voice against hijabisation comes from men. It is an irony that men have to fight for Muslim women’s rights, while Muslim women quietly surrender to the draconian demands of a raging Islam.
Darwish also mentions the demand by the Islamists to force hijab on non-Muslim women. This is already happening in places like Australia , where the imams in mosques advise infidel women to cover up. Amazingly, we hear very feeble protests from un-Islamic women, and none from the women’s rights groups.
Dr. Kobrin wrote: “The men tell us through this very revealing nonverbal behaviour of the niqab that they are terrified of the female and they feel themselves to be wholly inadequate and emasculated – therefore the Muslim man has to rape infidel women and their own. Pathetically they know of no other way to relate to a woman.”
This is an important comment. A woman’s desire for sex is as strong as a man, if not more. In the game of sex women can usually easily outdo men in terms of duration, excitement, repetition, style and inventiveness. A woman, in general, is more artful, intimate, demanding, and loving in sexual matters than a man. Perhaps, to restrain such a powerful urge for sex in women, and with the fear of losing control on sex Muslim men consider hiding her under cloak.
Then again we must ask: why must Muslim women be compelled to suppress their natural urge for sex and intimacy with men, married or not. In Islam? Sex outside marriage is haram—punishable with severe penalty. However, for a Muslim man it is not an offence to have sex with infidel women. Then why must a Muslim woman be restrained from seeking equality in sex? Herein lays the unfairness.
Brigitte Gabriel also echoes similar ideas postulated by Dr. Kobrin. I agree with her that the niqab is a symbol of control by Muslim men to establish their complete control of their physical, emotional, and sexual expression.
Gutmann is of the opinion that hijabisation of Muslim women living in western countries is to prevent the infidel men from touching/being intimate with them. This is a good observation. I would go one step forward and state that this attitude is more prevalent among the male of middle-eastern/Arab origin. Please note that these men have no qualm sleeping/having sex with infidel women, but they will never tolerate infidel men being intimate with Arab/middle-east women. There are instances when Arab men have murdered infidel western men for having sex with hijabised/Arab women. The message is very clear: hijabisation is to prevent the Muslim women from mixing/ being intimate with infidel men. Thus, besides strictly repressing the sexuality of a Muslim woman, hijab/niqab is also meant to establish a permanent barrier between a Muslim woman and an infidel man. Mentioned before, note again the double-standard: Muslim men are free to have unfettered sex with infidel women, but the Muslim women cannot have the same privilege.
Earlier I mentioned that Muhammad’s last instruction to Muslim men was to beat women and treat them as domestic animals. A Muslim woman’s hijab/niqab truly reflects this servitude of women to Muhammad’s command. A hijab/niqab is a leash on a woman, much like a domesticated dog. A hijabised Muslim woman is no better than a domestic dog.
Chesler: First, I love Kobrin's connecting of latrine-based veiling in Mohammed's time to the anal-sadistic-erotic dimension of Islamist suicide killers. It is also slightly hilarious. By the way, the indirect aggression that characterize female-female behavior is universal and exists among women of all ethnicities, classes, and countries. All women collaborate in shunning and slandering other women, often with deadly consequences. I have written about this at length in my book "Woman's Inhumanity to Woman." I agree with Kobrin that it is crucial that we set limits and boundaries where jihadic-separatist behaviors are concerned, especially when the cultural difference is a form of gender apartheid which subordinates women.
I both agree with and disagree with Darwish. She is right: The only contemporary path to "success," so to speak, for Arab Muslim women is to embrace their own invisibility and subordination--and yet, some of the bravest feminists in the world are coming to us from the Islamic world. I am thinking of the Iranian feminists who keep demonstrating despite terrible threats and even more terrible likely consequences; and the various Muslim and Arab and ex-Muslim feminists who are speaking out both in the East and in the West. Alas, feminism is not moving in the Islamist world the way it once did in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. This is something that Darwish and I have talked about and mourned.
Gutmann is right about the Muslim male fear of female sexuality and his desire to openly and visibly be seen as in total control of it and to be sure that all his wife's children genitally belong to him--and yet, things are also more complicated. Many Arab and Muslim men are repulsed by women and much prefer man-boy love or man-man love. Since this is taboo, it is denied. I am told that many Muslim men rape their wives anally as well as vaginally either as a method of birth control, as an act of sadism, or as something that is considered "normal" for men who are sexually repressed for a long time and who are not allowed to get to know women in a friendly or normal way. Lessons in how to sexually please one's wife may not yet exist in the Islamist world. There are many, many individual exceptions in this area.
Let me make one point that no one has really touched upon. While I agree that niqab/hijab are visible statements of jihad, I also believe that some Muslim women truly view such clothing as religiously mandated and as a way of avoiding street harassment, loss of reputation, and possible honor murders. Even so, we in the West cannot treat forced female subordination as a free religious choice. If there were no jihadic war being waged against infidels and women; if Muslims could safely convert to another religion, or simply cease practicing Islam without risking death--if this were really the case--then I might have a different view about those women who freely choose to wear hijab.
I doubt I would ever have a different view about niqab or burqas.
FP: Dr. Nancy Kobrin, Abul
Kasem, Nonie Darwish, Brigitte Gabriel, Dr. David Gutmann and Dr. Phyllis Chesler, thank you for joining Frontpage Symposium.