20 May, 2022

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Abaya, Sari, Law & Government: Recipe For A Riot

By Ameer Ali

Dr. Ameer Ali

To a country known for government backed communal riots what happened in Trincomalee last week should not come as a surprise. This time though a piece of Muslim female attire is at the centre of this commotion. Abaya has once again become a contentious issue and causing tension between Tamils and Muslims. Communalism and religious hatred are raising ugly heads and the Department of Education seems to have poured fuel into the fire. To the Rajapaksa regime, which came to power by championing Sinhala Buddhist nationalism abaya issue appears to have come as a gift from heaven to divide and rule at a time when the regime is losing its popularity among its own supporters.

Problematic Abaya

Abaya is pre-Islamic in origin and was worn by women in ancient Mesopotamia thousands of years before the birth of Islam. With Islam in the 7th century, it became a distinct dress of modesty for women in the Bedouin Arab environment where they were treated like chattels and sex slaves. Modesty in everything and avoiding extremes in human conduct is the hall mark of Islamic belief. This is why the Quran describes Muslims as ummatan wasatan or middle community.  More than its religious symbolism abaya remained part of female cultural fashion right across Muslim Middle East and North Africa (MENA). But with the human horror unleashed by war and terror in the Middle East since the last quarter of the 20th century there was an exodus of Muslim men and women to Europe and other parts of the developed world. With that exodus hijab, abaya, burqa, niqab and other Muslim female items of dress found their way into non-Islamic climes where they became markers of Muslim religious identity.

Abaya entered Sri Lanka not as part of that human exodus but as a result of J. R. Jeyewardene’s Dharmista Rajya and open economy. It was the Sri Lankan Muslim women returning home after working in the Middle East who introduced this novelty as proper Islamic dress. For centuries, cotton saris in different colours and designs wrapped in different styles, had been the national dress for women of most communities in the Indian subcontinent and Sri Lanka, and that dress suited the climatic conditions exquisitely. Muslim women too wore the sari with one end of it thrown over their head to abide by religious stipulations. With the intrusion of the black abaya in the name of religious purity and cultural identity, the alienness of that dress became immediately apparent to the public eye, and more disturbingly, it contributed to the self-alienation of the Muslim community itself, a phenomenon originated with Tablighi Jamaat, encouraged by radical Islamists and ignored by Muslim leadership.   However, that piece of dress has become popular today specially among young Muslim women partly because of the convenience of wearing it and partly because it is cheaper to buy than a sari. Yet, to majority non-Muslims it is a problematic piece of attire causing social distancing between Muslims and others.

Shanmuga Hindu Ladies College (SHLC)

SHLC is one of the pioneering educational institutions in Trincomalee established in 1923 by Mrs. Thangamma Shanmugampillai. As its name suggests it is an institution operates in Hindu environment. In common with similar institutions in other religious communities, SHLC also has built certain unwritten conventions and traditions, which its administration expects the students and staff to respect. One such unwritten traditions is that female teachers who work there should come dressed in saris. Accordingly, even the Muslim lady teachers went dressed in sari until one day in 2017. On that day, without informing the college administration, those teachers (heaven only knows what induced them) appeared that morning in abaya and apparently claimed that it was the true Islamic attire and not the sari. It naturally created consternation within college administration and after deliberation SHLC advised the rebels either to change the attire and conform to college tradition or find another school to teach. Those teachers did neither, but protested and claimed that they were being discriminated and denied of their fundamental right to wear what they wanted. A simple ethical issue, because of ignorance and intransigence, was turned into a communal and religious issue leading almost to a riot.

The rebellious teachers, either on their own initiative or induced by others, took their grievance to courts and argued that their fundamental human right had been infringed by SHLC administration. True, what one wears is one’s own business and it is one’s fundamental right. However, the fact that institutions also have a fundamental right to preserve their historic traditions, failed to dawn in the minds of the rebels. The court of course did its duty, interpreted the law of the land and decided in favour of the appellants, and the rebels became abaya heroines overnight.

However, the judgement had opened a Pandora’s Box. For example, it is now permissible for a teacher employed in a Muslim College to enter his or her classroom wearing a pair of shorts and T-shirt with tattooed hands and legs, and causing outrage within college administration that would expect its employees and students to respect the Islamic environment and college traditions. It would be illegal for college management to take action against that teacher on grounds of breaking the norms and values of that college, because he/she has the fundamental right to wear whatever he/she wanted.

Divide and Rule

Even after winning the case the rebels must have had the good sense to think that if they went back to that institution the social atmosphere there would not be conducive for them to work in peace. Having proved their point and turned heroines they should have taken the alternative path of working in another school that accommodated abaya. The court, in terms of the law rightly decided that those teachers should be taken back by SHLC. However, when nothing seemed to have happened for some time, the teachers went to the court of appeal where the Department of Education (DoE) entered the fray and agreed to order them back to the same college. Knowing the explosive situation that the rebels had created was it wise for DoE to make that order? True, SHLC is a government school and government had the right to send any teacher it wanted to teach there. But communal peace and religious harmony were at stake were those teachers to go back. Why did DoE ignore that consideration and stuck to its order? That there were political motives behind DoE’s action become clear when one looks at the broader picture.

The ruling Rajapaksa regime is caught in a quagmire of multiple crises and losing its popularity by the day.  Yet, it is determined to survive and looking at ways of extending its rule even beyond the current term. One strategy to achieve that is to keep the opposition divided and weak. A few weeks back, there were talks of Muslim and Tamil leaders signing a joint memorandum to take the issue of 13thAmendment and Provincial Councils to the attention of the Indian government. Although it did not eventuate the tyranny of majoritarianism is continuing and creating more opportunities demanding united action from the minorities. Therefore, to keep them divided is politically beneficial to Rajapaksas.

Thus, DoE’s decision was a deliberate mischief to widen the rift between the two minorities. That decision has created almost a riot with placards and rowdy behaviour from Muslim crowds condemning SHLC on grounds of religious bigotry and communal hatred. There are accusations and counter accusations of physical harm. Needless to argue that full force of the law should be brought upon those found guilty of causing physical injuries.  Having said that a far more important issue than freedom to wear abaya is at stake here.

Ethics of Islam

In the SHLC drama, the ethical precepts of Islam to settle disputes had been ignored. If one’s own personal or sectional interest is at risk of being damaged by agreeing to a certain decision while at the same time that decision would benefit a larger cause in the long run then it is Islamically virtuous to agree to that decision. There were a number of incidents in the life of Prophet Muhammad where this was demonstrated and the best was the Hudaybiyyah Pact, which he signed with the enemies. There was stiff opposition and criticisms against him from within his own ranks and particularly from his ever trustworthy and confidant Abu Bakr, but the Prophet signed the agreement, because he knew that the long-term success of Islam was worth suffering short-term inconvenience, and he was proved right. A second example comes from the conduct of the second caliph of Islam Omar when he visited the Church in Bethlehem. Bethlehem was under Muslim rule and no one could have prevented the Caliph from entering that Church. When he was invited by the Head of that Church to come inside and pray, the Caliph politely refused the offer and performed his prayer outside that Church to avoid Muslims claiming ownership of that Holy Place by virtue of the fact that the Caliph prayed inside it.

The abaya rebels who are fought for the freedom to wear the so-called Islamic dress had demonstrated their total ignorance of golden lessons from the history of Islam.

The Larger Interest

The larger interest however, is the need for Tamil-Muslim unity especially at a time when both minorities are facing existential crisis in the face of majoritarian tyranny. The issues faced by the Muslim community are too many to list, which include economic, educational, religious and cultural. The community cannot find solutions to these by fighting the regime in isolation. It needs the understanding and cooperation of Tamils as well as Sinhalese. It is therefore suicidal for the two minorities to fight between them over frivolous issues. Having won the case and proved their point had those teachers respected the traditions of SHLC, and voluntarily got transferred to another school, the dispute would have been solved amicably without and without acrimony. Our heroines would have saved not only their personal honour but also that of their community. Finally, the whole episode demonstrates a total failure of leadership on both sides.

*Dr. Ameer Ali, School Business & Governance, Murdoch University, Western Australia

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Latest comments

  • 27
    6

    A very balanced analysis,as usual by Dr.Ameer Ali on the issues involved in this most unfortunate episode.

    It is very unlikely that a Muslim Lady Teacher could pick up so much courage to challenge SHMC authorities; And that too to canvas the Court of Appeal.
    We need to take into cognisance the timing of the whole affair..
    One need not be a Rocket Scientist to fathom that all fingers point in the direction of those who are ostensibly governing the country,
    Divide and Rule is the name of the game…………………….

    • 27
      6

      Yes as usual a very good and balanced article from Dr. Ameer Ali. I hope commonsense will prevail

      • 14
        6

        Strange thing is happening in south India and Srilanka at the same time where Abaya issue has cropped which means a hidden hand probably Pakistan is behind it. While in India it is being done without the support of the state governments, in Srilanka Sinhala government is turning a blind eye. It is no secret that agents of Pakistan are working among Muslims in eastern province instigating them against Tamils. Will a Muslim woman dare to go into a Sinhala school and behave in a thug like manner without being stripped naked and thrown out. When Muslims are obeying the order given by Sinhalese not to wear abayas in schools and hospitals, why cannot they do the same when Tamils tell them. This shows that Muslims are cowards going against easy preys Tamils and Catholics. Muslims must learn to respect cultures and traditions of others. If Muslim countries can ban mini skirts and hot pants in public, how can you call it violation of human rights when non Muslim countries ban Abayas and Burkhas.

        • 10
          2

          GS, you are wrong. BJP controlled state government is one of the parties involved in Karnataka. Now all colleges are closed until further notice. Until now they were closed because of Covid.

        • 5
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          Dr. GS

          “If Muslim countries can ban mini skirts and hot pants in public, how can you call it violation of human rights when non Muslim countries ban Abayas and Burkhas.”

          2 wrongs don’t make a right.Hindus should be more tolerant than muslims.

          • 2
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            If Hindus weren’t tolerant, Muslims in India would have met the same fate that Hindus in Pakistan had to face since partition.

            • 2
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              ari

              you are quite right.Hindu’s should continue to be more tolerant than muslims.

    • 4
      0

      Please listen to video clip below.
      .
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=21okpBvc2vY

      If srilanken judiciary would have been unbaised, where should Aluthgamage or the like HIGH criminals be today ?

      Please add your thoughts to this. here Thank you.
      .

    • 1
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      Plato
      What balanced analysis?
      Essentially an issue between Hindu/Christian Tamils and Islamic Tamils has been bloated to include the Sinhalese who have nothing to do with this.

      Soma

      • 1
        1

        soman

        You are awake at last.
        _
        “Essentially an issue between Hindu/Christian Tamils and Islamic Tamils has been bloated to include the Sinhalese who have nothing to do with this.”

        Muslim women’s dress code (enforced by Muslim men, through Muslim mothers, Sisters, Grandmas, Aunts, …..and by local Imam, always men, .. essentially under Saudi long term Arabisation project) was made an issue by the Sinhala/Buddhist racists, and this was a condition imposed by the nutter saffron gang for supporting their Fascist leader in the elections.

        This was never been an issue among the Tamil speaking Hindu/Christian. I have to specifically mention or insist the difference between Tamil Speaking Hindus and Sinhala speaking Hindus, Mahinda and his immediate family.

        Tell us why does Gota the benevolent fascist very often claims he is a Sinhala/Buddhists and visit Sinhala/Buddhist temples?
        Do you agree with him.

        You still need to grow up.

    • 1
      0

      Plato
      What balanced analysis?
      Essentially an issue between Hindu/Christian Tamils and Islamic Tamils has been bloated to include the Sinhalese who have nothing to do with this.

      Soma

  • 18
    3

    Ameer Ali, right now in Karnataka the very same issue, which started in one school has now spread like a wild fire threatening potential unrest and violence not just within but outside of educational institutes. This started with group of students protesting those few wearing Islamic attire and demanded school authority to prohibit such attire. To further exert pressure they too showed up wearing saffron shawls ,escalating tension within the institute. The girls claim it has been the tradition for years, where few wore conventional attire and question the motive behind sudden resistance. The case has now gone to high courts pending ruling. In the meantime, what started in a remote school has now spread like wildfire where many other educational institutes are facing similar unrest. ( there were few incidents reported from Kerala and TN). Chances are here too the courts may allow to wear the clothes of their choice but such ruling will further escalate the issue to spill over into the streets. The reason being , people behind both parties are the politicians who preach religion and vice versa. Desperate times calls for shameless desperate measures.

    • 14
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      Yes, read that in the Hindu paper. However, these schools even do not allow Hindu and Christian students to also wear anything overtly religious and want a secular attire and they had all complied.

      • 14
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        SSS, most schools in India have their own uniforms and yet allowed few to wear religious Islamic attire. The schools or the students never had any issues until now (in fact they were tolerant and respectful). Just like Sikhs with turban or men having beard for religious reasons are accepted in most part of the world. But this changed for the worse because of politicians and religious fanatics. Even in Lanka Islamic attire, Halal, catholic charities were not an issue , until Rajapaksas decided otherwise.

    • 22
      2

      Why was the sale of meat banned on Independence Day? Is it a religious holiday?
      Does the leadership of this country even know what sort of message this sends to the outside world while its Foreign minister is putting out long-winded statements claiming that “Sri Lanka is a secular country”?

    • 0
      0

      Karnataka case started after Mahinda Rajapaksa flew in a private jet to Thirupathy Kovil.

      Soma

      • 1
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        Soma,
        Be careful. You want a white van ride?

        • 0
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          old codger

          “Be careful. You want a white van ride?”

          Are you saying/implying soman is not a white van operator?

  • 10
    5

    Isn’t the Abaya the outer dress that women wore, like a coat, usually in Black but can be also other colours and they used to remove the Abaya once they are indoors and hang it up, just like a coat and wear it again once they go outside. This is what the Arab or local Muslim women in Oman did when I was working there. The Abaya 99% of the time in black was treated as a very loose outer garment, that covered them when they were outdoors, and once inside the office, they all used to remove the Abaya hang it up and walk around and go about their business dressed in either western clothes or the long Arab dress and Hijab, depending on the female that was worn underneath the Abaya. It was the same when I visited Dubai and a few other Arab countries. No one wore the Abaya inside, it was treated as a loose outer garment or coat to be modest, usually in black but there were other fashionable colours too.

    • 6
      8

      SSS
      You would like them to have their bath and toilet with the Abaya on, I wonder.
      The dress code was meant for public places to protect them from perverted minds.
      Black is not mandatory and I have seen many in other colours.

      • 5
        0

        YOU would like ———–, I wonder ??????

        • 1
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          Keep wondering.

          • 6
            0

            There is nothing to wonder other than you who claim to have mastered a foreign language/ English, typing “you would like them to have their bath and toilet with the Abaya on, I wonder”. I really don’t know what your point is but, so long to diplomacy, respect and sensitiveness on religious matters.

  • 24
    3

    We, Sri Lankans are good at creating problems but not in solving the problems. The divide and rule policy is in every corner of the politics and religion. All the problems of this country are influenced and guided by political and religious leadership. They will not allow this country and people live together in peace. When people are fighting for next day meal some are fighting for their personal heroism. If the law accepts Abaya dress then the School has to accept it.

    • 3
      8

      A
      You mean well I guess.
      But do not blame it all on religious and political leadership.
      There is much need for soul searching by all.

      • 2
        0

        SJ,
        Who has the power more than these two groups?

        • 2
          3

          Big Businesses (Now the Big Pharma controls governments.)

  • 4
    15

    Why riots? No need.

    Just divide the island into 3 mono ethnic nations and relocate people.

    People of Muslim Elam will freely wear Abaya, Burqa, Niqab, Hijab, etc. Have MMDA in full swing. Have Sharia law.

    People of Tamil Elam and Sinhala Only Elam will wear whatever they want.

    There is absolutely no justification for violence and disgruntled tolerance. Why put up with both extremes? Have own nation! All problems are over.

    • 14
      3

      Gatam, I have read that idea in a million comments posted by you. I have a simple suggestion. Why don’t you divide your brain into 3 parts? 1. Stupid 2) Utter stupid 3) Ultimate stupid

  • 11
    5

    Ajith, One doesn’t need a rocket scientist for the court to rule, it is legal to wear whatever attire under MARS’s rule. So that they can carry on with the minority vs. minority politics and the people will forget the real issues. This doesn’t imply wearing Abaya is wrong, provided the muslim schools reciprocate with similar attire for other religious communities in their schools.

    • 9
      1

      Velu,
      I understand that there are over 750 islamic schools in Sri Lanka. I don’t much about the dress codes in these schools. I have some experience in one Muslim school near Kandy. There was a dress policy in that school. All female teachers were wearing Sari’s. I have not seen any one with this Abaya. In my opinion, as the author highlighted the purpose of the lady teacher is to create a problem not in the interest of human rights or in the interest of Allah’s teaching but to create a problem between Hindu’s and Islamist people. So, my advice to the School to ignore the teacher and her dress and if the students not willing to accept that teacher, find an alternative way to teach the subject to these students.

      • 3
        0

        A
        A most sensible comment.

    • 5
      4

      V
      Has the Abaya been imposed on people of other faiths in Muslim schools?
      They are require to cover their bodies as decency demands.
      Have you seen how some Tamil and Sinhalese female teachers are dressed? Obscene is not the word,
      It will be good if all teachers have a dress code that requires conforming to norms of decent dressing.

  • 7
    8

    Why cannot Muslim people dress modestly like all else. If seeing part of the skin drives a person out of his mind the problem lies within that person. If he can contemplate what is under the skin which is flesh, blood and sinews unless he is a savage person there would not be any thrill I can sure guaranty.

    • 3
      6

      h
      There are plenty of people who are less cultured than ‘savages’ around.

      • 5
        0

        You mean HYPOCRITES.

        • 0
          0

          I did not mean you.

          • 7
            2

            I meant you.

  • 4
    3

    I hope it does not turn out like this in Karnataka and commonsense will prevail. What started in one college in Udupi has now spread throughout the state and soon may affect neighbouring Tamil Nadu and Kerala which are very secular and religious harmony between Hindus, Christians and Muslims exist.
    https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/unrest-over-hijab-karnataka-cm-orders-closure-of-all-high-schools-and-colleges-for-three-days/article38396942.ece

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2lqHuxzWMFE

    I feel sorry for these Kannada Muslim girls for now being allowed to enter and study for just wearing the Hijab. Begging to enter the school how sad.

    • 12
      1

      sorry for not being allowed to enter and study. All religious extremism Islamic Hindu Buddhist or Christian should be condemned

      • 1
        3

        Let us start with the heads of states of South Asia

  • 17
    3

    Very wise words indeed! Words of wisdom!

    What should be forthcoming is not Tamil- Muslim unity, but Sinhala- Tamil- Muslim unity in the face of authoritarian Sinhala Buddhist racist onslaught!

    • 3
      12

      srikrish,
      “…in the face of authoritarian Sinhala Buddhist racist onslaught!”

      The main obstacles to Sinhala-Tamil-Muslim unity is not Sinhala Buddhist racist onslaught but racism of Tamil politicians in Yapanaya and Muslim fundamentalist extremism.
      Tamils and Muslims are trying to clean their blood-soaked hands by putting the blame on Sinhala Buddhists.

    • 8
      1

      With idiots who vote for Pabha and Geetha? Wake up man you are in a country where crooks masquerading as patriots are calling the shots.

  • 7
    2

    If i was in that woman’s shoes i would have worn the abaya.I would have done exactly what they did going to courts etc and demanding their jobs back.They did not do anything wrong did they except want to dress like a muslim.What is wrong with that? hindu intolerance has to stop.

    I am a hindu by birth but don’t practise it anymore or any religion.I only believe in god not religion.I also practice bhuddhism which is not a religion in my opinion, but a philosophy of life.

    The best way of feeling how someone else feels on any issue is put yourself into that persons shoes.Also don’t think like cattle and follow the leading cattle.Think different.

    The author is laughable when he says this is a divide and rule policy by rajapakshe.The court ruling is correct and the government asking the teachers too be given back their jobs is correct because it is a government school and taxes are paid for by the muslim community too in this country.

    • 3
      1

      You are wrong in that she was not dressing like a Muslim, but more like an Arab woman. This is a more recent phenomenon that has arisen in non Islamic countries with the spread of Wahhabi ideology. Covering yourself in complete black in hot countries is not the wisest thing to do, you should put yourself in the ladies shoes and try walking around in scorching sun. If one speaks of woman’s rights and equality etc, this could be one you should take up on behalf of these women who are compelled to cover themselves in black, when their male counterparts move about freely in white enjoying the sun.

      • 2
        1

        Ari

        I think you are talking about the bhurkha,not abhaya. Anyway she has the right to wear what she wants to wear.Self flaggellation is not a crime.

        “You are wrong in that she was not dressing like a Muslim, but more like an Arab woman. “

        Arab women are muslim aren’t they.She wants to be identified as a muslim.

        • 2
          0

          Not correct around 10% of the Arabs/Arabic speakers or people who identify themselves as Arabs are Christians and some are Druze. This lady has a right to wear what she likes but I have felt this was done deliberately to provoke as they all were wearing the traditional Islamic dress belonging to the island. A saree with the end draped over the shoulder and covering the head for years. She was dressed like a Muslim but as Ari correctly states it was the traditional Islamic dress of Arab other western Asian and North African women. The traditional costume of a Malay, South Asian, or sub-Saharan Islamic woman is very different from the Arab Islamic dress. Malayalee Muslim Mappila women traditionally dressed the cloth and jackets and covered their heads. Tamil Islamic women the saree with the end covering the head. Same in Bangladesh. North Indian and Pakistani Islamic women generally wore the Salwar Kameez. It is only now Saudi Arabia with its huge amount of money is spreading the extremist Wahabbi doctrine and the Arab form of Islamic dress amongst everyone and indoctrinating them, that to be a good Muslim, they all have to dress in this manner. They are Arabizing the Muslims throughout the world with their money and indoctrinating them to follow their form of severe Islam and culture and stating this is the only way to be a good Muslim. Just like some hardline Christians do.

          • 3
            0

            Most Muslim women cover their, heads in fact even many Christian, Hindu, Sikh, orthodox Jewish women also cover their heads. They either cover their heads or wear a wig to cover the head. In most Pentecostal and other orthodox sects, women cover their heads, when they enter the church. They also do that in South India. Go to a Church of South India Service in Chennai and 90% of the women as soon as they enter the Church will cover their head with the end of their saree. The Catholic women used to wear veils to cover their heads when attending mass. This is also the reason the British women wear hats when they attend church as they are covering their heads. Wearing what they want is their right but the motive behind wearing all this all of a sudden only disturbs and perturbs me, as they were not wearing this at the beginning for years and why this insistence of wearing these Arab Islamic dress forms and not traditional saree with the end covering the head Islamic dress form in a Tamil Hindu school and claiming this is their right. They would have never dared to have done this in Sinhalese school. Like many have stated this was done deliberately to provoke and some trouble makers have organized this, as they think the Tamils are now weak and powerless and can trample on them and their institutions to make a point.

  • 10
    0

    When people become so selfish that only their ethnicity, religion, colour, creed and other human constructs (which are nothing universal but only contentious) is the ultimate concern overriding the common good, this type of situation will persist.
    Public Interest or Common Good, is difficult to define.
    But a legal dictionary – Barron’s – provides a definition which yields a bit more meaning. It claims that the public interest is “that which is best for society as a whole”, but then adds it is “a subjective determination by an individual such as a judge or governor, or a group such as a legislature of what is for the general good of all people”.
    So in a way we are at square one again, as an individual or a set of individuals, with ticks and warts, and prejudices, decides what it is. Whether SHLC or DoE or the Law, matters not.
    Unless all individuals shed their contentious ideas instilled into them after birth in their early years, this situation will prevail. We have to blunder on, arguing forever.

  • 7
    0

    The larger interest at stake is the education and psychological wellbeing of the young students, who see their beloved teachers suddenly changing into abaya to make a political statement/to assert their human rights -and, to hell with their beloved students!. The sensitivity and commitment of these Muslim lady teachers are exemplary. They have other priorities!

  • 5
    0

    So happy to be an atheist and laugh at ALL these theists who are in a dreamworld, each to his own.

  • 10
    10

    Dr. Ameer Ali, Totally IGNORES the Highly Irresponsible action of the Principal and the school authorities who

    1. Chose to Defy the Court Order allowing the lady teacher to wear Abhaya to School

    2. Disregard the fact that the School, SHLC, is a NATIONAL school, coming under the Ministry of
    Education and has to follow the rules laid down for National Schools by the Education Ministry.

    The Teacher went to the School to assume duties not only with the Court Order but also with a
    Transfer Order from the Ministry of Education.

    Hasn’t the Principal of a National School and the other teachers who helped her, set a VERY BAD example by
    an act of CONTEMPT of Court and also rejecting the Transfer Order from Higher Authorities?

    As Bad or Even WORSE, is making the students to protest outside the school. Should Schools, National Schools at that, train students to respect Court Order and Instructions from Higher Authorities or do just the Opposite?

  • 5
    0

    The mode of dressing is a fundamental human right.
    As long as your dress not cause any harm to others, you are free to dress how you wish.
    One very peculear trait in humans and even in animals is that childhood practicees and habits becomes the norm, no matter how logical or illogical it may be, the practice is continued. This is normal with everyone.
    It could be dressing, food habits, daily routines, practically everything we learn from childhood.
    No democratic leader should impose his will over those that are used to a certain way of life, it will not make any sense to that person.
    For instance, in Sinhalese culture we worship our elders, if we are forced to give it up just because someone in power doesn’t like it so he bans it, how do you think we will feel?
    Changing any habit or practise that is deemed unnecessary should be decided by the person doing it, and no one else.

    • 7
      0

      Dear HT.
      ….The mode of dressing is a fundamental human right.
      As long as your dress not cause any harm to others, you are free to dress how you wish…..
      Mr Ali says : ….…True, what one wears is one’s own business and it is one’s fundamental right. However, the fact that institutions also have a fundamental right to preserve their historic traditions……
      So this issue is in two parts. What one wears normally in the house or if laws allow, outside as well, is one’s own business subject to indecency.
      However in a workplace, there is the conflict of private rights Vs institutional rights. So as much as the lady teachers had a right generally, there should be some restriction. Because if the judgement is carried to its full sense, security officers, and others who wear uniforms, nurses etc. are entitled to come in their own attire. (They can claim it is unbearably hot or inconvenient, even if the institution provides the uniforms.) Law is applicable to these men and women as well, as much as to the Muslim Lady Teachers.

  • 5
    3

    No doubt it is a balanced article. But why should this hijab be instrumental for division in the community. Hijab was made compulsory for the wives of the Prophet Muhammad. This is not mandatory for all women. Also, Muslim women pilots do not wear the hijab. Muslim women who play cricket also do not wear the hijab. Then why give so much importance to this. ‘Education is not about religion, it is about equality. I believe in wearing school uniforms. The rules should be the same for everyone. It is a shame that educational institutions are involved in politics in this matter not to show your religion but to show your strength as a citizen of a country. I feel wearing hijab should be confined to houses and mosques in a country practicing pluralism in order to maintain the spirit of tolerance which is practiced by all religions. What is vital is unity among the Sinhalese, Hindus, Muslims and Christians. I am sorry if I had hurt anyone’s feeling, but should realize the reality in a world facing terrorism.

    • 0
      1

      mr Rajasingham

      Hijab and abhaya are different.In hijab only the head part is covered and the woman looks smart and exotic like a bird with feathers. I love to see women in colouful different hijabs,just like ilove to see women wearing redda and hatta.

      https://web.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.2825241947596264&type=3&_rdc=1&_rdr

      after i look at it i get a thundering erection and go and give a good poke to someone or other.You should also try it.Don’t feel embarrased these are mere facts of life.

      as for the abaya it is a long robe covering the body.You feel you are looking at a goni billa.For 2 days at least i can’t get a erection after looking at the goni billa.

      However the point is not the looks but the fundamental right to wear what you want to wear.Unless you bring in a law stating you can’t create visual pollution to others the rightto wear the abaya stands as it is now.

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    A person has a right to wear what they like, provided it is decent and meets the dress standards. Who cares if these females want to dress in an Abaya, wear the Hijab, or whatever takes their fancy. Long dress, short dress a saree, trousers jeans, tight blouse. or a piece of sack. Be comfortable or be uncomfortable, sweating in the tropical heat with all these layers of clothing in dark colours that absorb heat. Once when I was visiting Australia, saw a young Turkish or Arab woman with a Hijab but was wearing a low-cut tight blouse that revealed the cleavage and clung so tight to the body that nothing was left to the imagination and a very tight pair of jeans. I thought strange, you want to cover your head but leave nothing else to the imagination and almost reveal everything else. However, this was her wish her right, and the way she wanted to dress. The hijab may have been some fashion statement or was forced to wear it due to parental pressure. She had the right to wear this as it did not affect anyone and was still within the norms of acceptability and decency.

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      I only draw the line if you are in customer service like a nurse/doctor, shop assistant, dealing with the public, or teaching a headcover is fine but not covering the face other than the eyes, as we need interaction and should see the face. I am a Christian and we accept Catholic nuns wearing head covers and dresses just like the Abaya for religious reasons, teaching us, Sikhs with turbans and why cannot we accept Muslim women with Hijabs and Abayas? Like the author of this article and some others have pointed out we need to find out the reason and motive behind these Abaya-wearing women, who were for years wearing a saree and coming to the same school and teaching. Why all of a sudden they all at the same time underwent some religious conviction and the need to wear an Abaya which again is an outer garment like a coat and wrap around and come to a Hindu school to score a point. Muslim women generally do remove the Abaya or Chadoor when they are indoors as this is just outer clothing. What was the reason for insisting on still wearing it indoors in the class? Like an overcoat, you remove this once you enter indoors and not keep on wearing it and look like a fool. Or were they deliberately set up by certain religious hardliners to deliberately provoke and create trouble in a Hindu school between the Hindu and Muslim Thamizh in the east?

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        Why don’t they try the same thing in Chingkalla schools but meekly obey the dress norm but deliberately provoke and create all this in Thamizh Hindu schools as they feel that the Thamizh are now weak and can be bullied and the authorities will also not do anything? The school authorities should have ignored what is in my opinion this deliberate provocation and the women and trouble makers would have ultimately got tired when there was no reaction and gone back to normal. If they want to wear the black Abaya and shroud themselves and be uncomfortable in the tropical heat, just to make a point let them be.

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    What about Buddhist monks who are running around in a Sivura which exposes half their upper body with hair and smells of sweat? Why no law on public nuisance, and indecent exposure laws not applied to them?

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    Right to wear what you please is a non Islamic concept.

    Soma

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      soman

      “Right to wear what you please is a non Islamic concept.”

      Right to democracy is not a Sinhala/Buddhist practice.

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    Islamic logic:
    According to your religion I have the right practise my religion. According to my religion I have the right to kill you.
    Therefore according to your own religion I have the right to kill you.

    Soma

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      soman

      “According to my religion I have the right to kill you.”

      Even without Islamic Logic you usually kill anyway.
      Please refer back to 1915, 1956, 1958, 1961, 1971, 1974, 1977, 1981, 1983, 1987-90, 30 years to 2009, 2013, ……. ….

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    Karnataka case started after Mahinda Rajapaksa flew in a private jet to Thirupathy Kovil.

    Soma

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    Abaya identity may also exempt ladies being attacked by jihadists and hence is also a safeguard for them. Men have been known to go through airports wearing abaya.

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    I tend to agree with Ari when he says “You are wrong in that she was not dressing like a Muslim, but more like an Arab woman. This is a more recent phenomenon that has arisen in non-Islamic countries with the spread of Wahhabi fundamentalist ideology.”

    With the wealth created by the export of oil the Middle East Muslim. The Arab Muslims who were riding on Camels have suddenly jumped into Mercedes Benz and private jets. This has led to the resurgence of Islam all over the world. They are flexing their muscles. Wahabism wants to take back Islam during the Prophet Muhammad era. This Movement is called Wahabism.

    The Islamist suicide bombers who carried out the Easter Sunday attacks on Catholic Churches were educated at local non-traditional madrasas that teach Wahhabism.

    Islam is a total system of life and contains within itself a particular social system, judicial system, and political system which includes geopolitical aspirations – the establishment of Islamic rule worldwide. There is no separation of Mosque and State.

    This is why a majority of Islamic states have Qumran as their constitution. Wahabism wants Muslims to stick to fundamentalism that includes one God Allah and one Prophet.

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    Reverting to SHLC, it is the spread of fundamentalist Wahabism that has inspired the teachers to abandon their sarees and don Abayas. Added is the factor the demography of Trincomalee. The district has drastically changed in favour of Muslims.
    ·         According to the 2012 census the Muslim population increased from 75,039 (29.32%) in 1981 to 152,854 (40.42%) in 2012. During the same period the Tamil population nose-dived from 93,132 (36.99%) in 1981 to 122,080 (32.29%) in 2012. No wonder the   Qatari government-funded Aljazeera news channel and print media gave biased and undue publicity to the Abaya incident.  
    ·         So, these are the real factors behind the present agitation by the Muslim teachers of SHLC (Shanmuga Hindu Ladies College) though a government-funded school it still goes as Hindu Ladies College like Muslim or Buddhist colleges else ware. 2/2
     

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