Elham Mane'a: Against the Veil

Yemeni reformist Dr. Elham Mane'a, quoted in MEMRI:
Take Off the Veil, Sister

"I call on you, my Muslim sister, to take off the veil. This is an honest call... Its intention is not to defile you, nor to encourage you to [moral] lassitude. I call on you to exercise [free] thought and to use your own mind.

"You and your mind are sufficient. There is no need to search in books and in history, and there is no need to consult the opinions of the commentators... I request that you listen to my words and judge them without suspecting my intentions. After that, you are free. Free to choose [for yourself], to [shape] your own fate, and to do as you wish. You are your own master. You alone. No one but you has custody over you. After [you consider my words], don the veil or take it off - I will respect your decision. Ultimately, the decision must be yours...

"The wearing of the hijab in the Islamic world actually began with the Islamic Revolution in Iran, which made the veil obligatory for women - after the clerics succeeded in turning the tables on the middle class and the leftist groups, who paid with their blood to end the rule of the Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi. Since this revolution was the first true awakening in the region, it was considered by many to be an example worthy of imitation - both [the revolution itself] and the garb that the women began to wear...

"Another well-known factor is the increase in oil [sales], which enabled Saudi Arabia and wealthy Saudis to provide financial aid for the dissemination of Wahhabi Islamic religious propaganda, and to set up a gigantic media network which emphasized daily that the veil was obligatory. This religious Islamic propaganda meshed with the thinking of the Muslim Brotherhood and with the [thinking] of the Arab and Islamic parties that grew out of it. As a result, a new and strange kind of thinking spread through Muslim society, changing many [previous] behaviors and perceptions."

The Veil is a Political Issue

"The veil is, therefore, a political issue. In two countries [Iran and Saudi Arabia], the political elite rules in the name of religion, and strives to propagate its own model [of Islam] - while at the same time [using religion] to guarantee the legitimacy [of its rule]. Both these countries imposed the wearing of the veil on women, presenting it as a sign of piety, whether the women wanted to [wear it] or not. ...

Read the rest at the link.

Cross-posted at Dreams Into Lightning - TypePad.