Last week I, among others in the blogosphere, commented on the case of Faiza Mabchour, a Moroccan immigrant whose application for French citizenship was denied because her "radical" practice of Islam was deemed to be incompatible with French values. Part of that radical practice of Islam was her wearing of a niqab, which is similar to a burqa, except that the niqab has an opening so that the wearer's eyes can be seen.
The New York Times has an article (registration required) that follows up with the Moroccan woman, only in this article she is called Faiza Silmi. The article quotes Fadela Amara, the French minister for urban affairs and herself a practicing Muslim of Algerian descent referring to the niqab as "not a religious insignia but the insignia of a totalitarian political project that promotes inequality between the sexes and is totally lacking in democracy."
As for Faiza herself, she claims that she abandoned the traditional Moroccan djelaba for the niqab because the djelaba "was not modest enough."
“I don’t like to draw men’s looks,” [Faiza] said. “I want to belong to my husband and my husband only.”
Pardon my language, but I call bullshit on this. If a woman insists on wearing a niqab in a country where hardly any woman wears one, then she is guaranteeing that not only men, but just about everyone else, will look at her. This is not about dressing modestly. It is about making a public spectacle of oneself. "Oooh! Look at me! I'm so pious!" Dressing modestly means dressing in a way so as not to attract too much attention to oneself. Maybe Faiza Salmi should ditch the niqab and walk around wearing sweatshirts, baggy pants and drab colored head scarf.
Oh, any by the way, if these two pictures below are any indication, then djelabas totally rock!