Excerpt:

In her book Que Pense Allah de l'Europe?, Iranian thinker and French writer Chahdortt Djavann presents first the views of the proponents of the veil. There are those Muslim women who say, "The veil represents my religion, my culture and my identity. It is a sign of modesty, of self-respect, of submission to God. It is a religious duty written in the Koran... [I wear it] out of my own free will..." She also presents the opinions of European intellectuals who defend the veil on the basis of "the right to be different" and "religious freedom," and who ask, for example, "If body-piercing and displaying one's navel is allowed, how can the veil be banned?"

In response, Djavann points out that no regime has ever forced women to go about with their navels showing, whereas the veil is imposed upon several hundred million women around the world. She writes that the veil cannot be presented as a personal choice, disregarding centuries of Islamic history. She adds that it is inappropriate to probe the motivations of every young girl wearing the veil when what is at stake is a political agenda.

Djavann explains further: "The veil has never been innocent or innocuous. It has always signified the submission of women to men and the denial of legal rights to women in Islamic countries." She stresses that while the Islamists did not invent the veil, they have turned it into a weapon and made it the symbol of their cause.


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