5 March, 2024


Burqa Signifies Freedom To Wear & Not Islam

By Mass L. Usuf

Mass Usuf

“Any law which violates the inalienable rights of man is essentially unjust and tyrannical; it is not a law at all”. ~ (Maximilien Robespierre).

EXIT ISLAM, ENTER FREEDOM. This should be the debate among those with grey matter. Demarcate the areas distinctly and develop the discussion intellectually. Forget Islam but, remember human rights. This will not be possible if the mind is preoccupied with a hidden motive and is irrationally shackled. Then, unknowingly, comprehension takes leave and confusion is substituted.  The normal is thrown out and the ‘new normal’ sets in. Islamophobic? Anti-Muslim? There are many who would happily say, “hip, hip, hooray”. Again, not out of reason but out of blind prejudice or sometimes misunderstanding. 

Burqa, Niqab and Hejab

“The term burqa is sometimes conflated with niqab. In more precise usage, niqab is a face veil that leaves the eyes uncovered, while a burqa covers the entire body from the top of the head to the ground, with only a mesh screen allowing the wearer to see in front of her. The burqa is also not to be confused with the hijab, a garment which covers the hair, neck and all or part of the chest, but not the face.” (Wikipedia).

How many women wear the burqa in Sri Lanka? May be less than 100, with a bit of generosity may be less than 200. Therefore, is it the niqab that is being targeted or the burqa?  An assumption would indicate that it is the niqab that is the subject of a proposed ban however, for sake of consistency, this column will continue to use the term, ‘burqa’ alternatively with niqab.

Firstly, clear the mind of the misperception that all the women wearing the Burqa (niqab) are doing so because they are forced to do it. Secondly, throw Islam out of the equation and independently think on the following lines. Would a ban on Burqa (niqab) be encroaching on individual freedom? Would a ban on Burqa be oppressing women’s rights? Will not a ban take away the choice of a woman to decide which dress she prefers to wear? To whom does the body of a woman belong to? Is it to herself or to some other? If her body belongs to herself, can any other person decide on which part of her body she needs to cover or expose? If the Burqa is considered a threat to national security, has there been an authoritative research done to prove this claim, substantiated with irrefutable evidence? 

Where are the women’s rights activists, fighting for gender equality? It is high time that a complaint is lodged with the Office of Missing Persons as all of them have apparently gone missing!

Dignified Nation Of People

Sri Lanka is one of the few countries which could boast and, truthfully so, about the existence of the four major world religions within her borders. Not only having them but, also, devoutly being practised by the followers of each of them. We are a tolerant, respectful and dignified nation of people.  We are also a country which hail democratic values and have paved the way to entrench these principles in our constitution. We valued self-determination and sovereignty, until the recent decades. Each of the communities of religion lived side by side adhering to the principals of metta, karuna, muditha and upeksha that is variantly taught in all the religions – Christianity, Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism.  

Are these characteristics and many more not mentioned, gradually slipping away from our collective consciousness as a people? Are we going to allow the metta, in which we were nurtured, to be replaced with intense covetousness, intolerance, the desire of clinging to satisfy our lusts and trespass on the rights of each other or, any other? What values will remain to impart to our children if we embrace falsehood and nonchalantly infringe on the rights of others? 

Unconvincing Reasoning

For our people who are struggling to justify their intentions among other things, they say that some of the European countries have banned the burqa. How shameful can such a statement be?  France makes a hullabaloo about its secularism and liberal democracy. Maximilien Robespierre of France fathered the idea of freedom, equality and fraternity. Fraternity to mean brotherhood and that all people are brothers and sisters. Was not the action of France in direct conflict with the principles of a liberal state and secularism? Does it legitimise liberal values to prescribe to the citizens what to wear and what not to wear? Can the legislation specifically targeting only a few women be classified as observing the Robespierre idea of Equality?

The Washington Post reported, “France’s Interior Ministry released a study that said niqabs were worn by fewer than 2,000 women in the country — hardly a significant portion of the country’s Muslim population, now estimated at 7.5 million — and that very few, perhaps none, wore the burqa”. (August 12, 2016). This clearly indicates that the motive to affect such a ban lies elsewhere and not on what had been touted publicly by the French media. 

Sexy Cleavage, Backless, Sleeveless

Here in Sri Lanka, the situation is not any different and the motive is crystal clear. Out of the around two million Muslims in Sri Lanka, there may be less than one thousand women wearing the Burqa (meaning the niqab). So, what is this big deal of banning the burqa as if the country is on fire. Is there a moral case for our counterparts in Sri Lanka to propose to ban the burqa (niqab) just because a hypocritical France did it? Why should our folks in Sri Lanka blindly follow what others do? Are they spineless to act independently or are they still possessed by the mentality of colonised subjects or, is it that they do not have a plausible reason and then looking for stereotypes? For a change, would the following adverts in an online dress selling site satiate the lust of those itching to call for the ban:

“Reveal your inner sexy this season when you wear ‘………..’.  The keyhole cut outs along the bust, in addition to the bustier top, accentuate the bust and give you shape.” 

“Hot Selling, Sexy, Women Cleavage, Off the Shoulder, Solid Pink, Bodycon Mini Dress (by the way, a bodycon dress is a close-fitting garment)”.

“Women, Sexy Cleavage, Backless, Sleeveless, Solid Black Office Bodycon, Mini Peplum Dress”.

Sexual Crimes And Alcoholism

Should not the priority of this country be for example:

1. To address the phenomenal increase in rape cases. According to the Performance Report of Sri Lanka Police the total number of rape cases of women reported in the last three years (2016-2018) stood at 5,558. Though not directly corelated the number of women wearing the Niqab are much, much lesser than the figure for sexual crimes.

2. Why not look into the growing and uncontrollable issue of alcoholism. According to the World Health Organisation the prevalence of alcohol use disorders and alcohol dependence in 2016 was 5.9% and 4.9 % respectively. These numbers are proportionately very, very high compared to the women wearing the Niqab which is like 0.004%. In real terms, 1.3 million and 1.1 million people with alcohol related disorders compared to less than one thousand women wearing the niqab. What about the hundreds of thousands of our innocent women who are silently suffering at the hands of alcohol dependency disorder husbands? In this context, is the Niqab the priority for our society?

3. Why not deal with the serious issue of the lack of expeditiousness and efficiency in our Criminal Justice system. It takes approximately 17 years to finish a serious crime case. From the date of commission of a crime prosecutable at the High Court up to the conclusion of prosecution it takes an average 10.2 years. Further, it generally consumes seven years (07) for the completion of the two appeals in the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court subsequent to hearing of a case at the High Court. (See: Parliament Sectoral Oversight committee on Legal Affairs (anti-corruption) & Media).

4. What about the proliferation of suspect brothels in the guise of massage parlours, the endemic vices of bribery and corruption etc. These are the real issues which are destroying our people and seriously eating into the very moral fabric of our society.

With the General Election around the corner, the time is right for right minded people to rethink the type of people we send to the Parliament who have no sense of priority.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Latest comments

  • 8

    The logic employed by women who want to go around fully naked is the same as the logic employed by women who want to cover their whole body except for the two slits for the eyes.

    That is, they say it is entirely a woman’s privilege and prerogative to decide which parts of her body she should expose and which parts of her body she should cover up!

    Haha! That is what is meant by feminine logic!

    • 3


      fully naked is one extreme.Fully covered is the other extreme.Extremism in anything we do should be avoided.The middle path is the best as it is a perfect compromise for diverging views.In politics too those with centrist political views are the best leaders.They are neither rightists or leftists.Laziness and lack of incentive to achieve is created by leftists while rightist hurt the weak and vulnerable people in society.

      ps.as i am a centrist who chooses the middle path always,i will like to see women dressing modestly without showing too much.I personally find the scarf worn by muslim girls beautiful,but i loath that black gonibilla dress showing only the eyes,creating visual pollution for others.In the west if you keep your garden neat and tidy the neighbours are happy,but if it is untidy,the lawn overgrown,rubbish dumped everywhere,old unusable cars parked it creates visual pollution for the neighbours.

    • 4

      The Question is; Is it the Womens’ prerogative to decide What she should wear?
      Or is it the Mens’ Imposition on Women, because they are not sure of the Effect a beautiful Woman could have on other Men?
      Which Woman would want to cover herself Voluntarily, in a Hot Climate Like Sri Lanka?

  • 8

    its not freedom to wear…. it was introduced lately.
    Muslim Ladies must follow the dress of Mariam. A simple veil.

  • 14

    The ‘CLOTHING’ that the Muslim Ladies has change over the years.
    Wearing Burqa and Niqab is a relatively recent behaviour after the rise Islamic fundamentalism.
    I feel wearing Head scarf is acceptable but not burqa or niqab

  • 7

    A further small matter of what you wrote, Mr Usuf:

    ‘Sri Lanka is one of the few countries which could boast and, truthfully so, about the existence of the four major world religions within her borders. Not only having them but, also, devoutly being practised by the followers of each of them. We are a tolerant, respectful and dignified nation of people.’

    This is a statement that I read repeated ad nauseam but just to put it in context, I must remind our readers how ridiculous it reads given the events of the last nearly seventy years when as a nation we lost thousands of Sinhalese, Tamils, Moors and others to inter-communal intolerance, disrespect and indignity.

    We have still not repaired the damage done. There is much work to be done.

    • 4

      Mr. Mass Usuf,

      “Sri Lanka is one of the .., four major religions.. “

      The four major religions have been established for the benefit of the monks, Priests and the Ulama, with a few tit bits thrown in for the followers.

      Have any follower, attained or got to Nirvana, Nibbana, or Heaven? Not yet, still waiting. All the available evidence points to oxidation if cremated, or being consumed by earthly microorganisms to be recycled, if buried.

      Given below is what Albert Einstein wrote to a grieving father., a Rabbi, when his young son died. Remember, Rabbi console believers, when their dear ones die.

      “A human being is part of the whole, called by us the ‘Universe’, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separate from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. The striving to free oneself from this delusion is the one issue of true religion. Not to nourish the delusion but to try to overcome it is the way to reach the attainable measure of peace of mind.”- Albert Einstein to Dr. Robert S. Marcus, a grieving father.

  • 5

    Basically it is a security issue.

    Probably fear of Muslim terrorists hiding their identity and carrying WMD’s inside their garb!

    The question then arises, wouldn’t that be possible for terrorists when disguised as a Christian priest/nun, or God forbid disguised as a Buddhist monk in robes?!!

    Food for thought.

  • 0

    This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.

    For more detail see our Comment policy https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/comments-policy-2

  • 4

    Don’t be a hypocrite Maas Usuf. Give your women freedom to marry men of their choice, right to divorce unilaterally, become Qasi judges and importantly, right to convert to any religion of their choice. With those rights, freedom to wear will become irrelevant.

  • 2

    Spring Koha

    “We have still not repaired the damage done. There is much work to be done.”

    One more major issue, brain drain is massive.

    Gota’s supporters say/believe that they have formed a Sinhala/Buddhist government and part of their unfinished business is that they want to restructure Sri Lanka into a Sinhala/Buddhist state. The Yuthukama Organisation has drafted some proposals for a new constitution which they believe will transform the island into a Sinhala/Buddhist state.

    Then what?
    Will everything be hunky-dory?

    How long the right wing fascist elements going to play this game throne and at what cost?

  • 4

    Burqua is forced upon Muslim women by Muslim men.
    it’s not a sign of freedom or signifies freedom
    completely opposite it’s a sign of oppression of Muslim women by Muslim men

    no where in Quaran it says women should wear a face cover

  • 1

    It is not the problem of wearing burqa, it is a problem of racism. One can wear a burqa but should confine them to their own religon and respect other religons. It did’nt happen that way starting from saindamardu to kalmunai area. End of the dat its asking dhal pouring dhal on the more conservative ones.

  • 2

    As a democratic nation we must respect to the rights of humans. Freedom to wear as individuals choice is also a right of a person. Its true and agreed. If someone wear Niqab or Burqa how the security forces or law enforcement agencies could recognize the identification with this the so called dresses. Thats the questions. Culprits and criminals can use this dress for various type of illegal activities in the country. Exam malpractices also can be committed by persons who wear burqa and niqab. FACE IS THE IDENTITY OF ALL HUMANS IN THE SOCIETY. So think wisely and act wisely.

  • 3

    Kenneth, your point that the Burqa or Niqab is an identity issue when the face or any other anatomy of the body is covered is a lame excuse. The technology used in modern science and technology can still take facial recognition and retinal scans on faces that are covered. Otr else there is a peoples process in place to identify their security that the appropriate gender can call upon the covered individual to reveal their identity. Now this security and law enforcement issue too is coming to be challenged in most Western countries that allow transgender people to join law enforcement. That is a pending issue with the TSA in USA to analyze he back ground checks of those who are some form of security andUS border protection to not encounter these issues es specially after sweaping laws to curtail gender neutrality became an issue during the Obama administration. So what you bring up is a lame excuse. Criminals use full faced helmets, masks and balaclava’s and can also use make-up like wigs, or even facial plastics. I suggest you YAKKO racists watch the movie Face/off with Nicolas Cage and John Travolta. Face is not the identity of all human yoiu Fing MORON. It’s a retinal scan, digital and AI technology that goes with it you dick!

    • 0

      live on in computer games 24 hours, condemned idiot

  • 2

    Going naked is a threat to sanity and culture. Therefore it is banned. You will be arrested if you walk naked in public. Similarly, if wearing Burka has nothing to do with Islam, it is a dress code only. Then obviously it is a threat to national security, as no one could be identified who is behind the garb. Therefore, it should be banned immediately as well. Simple logic.

  • 2

    Security of the country more important than anything. Same time if the dress code is freedom choice then should have the freedom of choice other things like marriage, divorce and changing religion. This dress code is suitable for warm country like SL anyway. More importantly Niqab will do more harm than good.

Leave A Comment

Comments should not exceed 200 words. Embedding external links and writing in capital letters are discouraged. Commenting is automatically disabled after 5 days and approval may take up to 24 hours. Please read our Comments Policy for further details. Your email address will not be published.