Sunday, April 23, 2006

MEMRI: Yemeni Reformist Writer Urges Muslim Women to Take Off the Veil

If that were all there was to this article, it wouldn't be worth commenting on. But Dr. Elham Mane'a, a columnist based in Yemen, actually charges that the veil did not become prominent in the last century until the ouster of the Shah of Iran. He concludes that the custom of hijab, or the full-body covering for women, is a political custom.

I take issue, however, with statements like these:

The second argument is based the premise that there is a connection between wearing the veil and the establishment of a good society. According to this logic, a good society is one in which no intimate relations take place out of wedlock. However, this premise is at best mistaken, since, as a matter of fact, the societies that mandate the wearing of the veil and insist on segregation of the sexes are not those in which sex out of wedlock is least common.
I find that statement slightly confused at best. And as a Christian, I also object to "intimate relations" out of wedlock, and to the public display of one's body in a fashion that would excite sexual tension in an onlooker. Indeed, Dr. Mane'a, in the end, still accepts the premise that any women's fashion statement other than the full-body covering constitutes immodest, and even deliberately sexual, display. Even Mennonite and other "plain Christian" sects do not practice the kind of extreme covering that Muslim hijab represents--and no one ever accused a Mennonite woman of trying to excite a man's lust while she was wearing traditional Mennonite garb.

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