The niqab and the University of Moratuwa

Photograph courtesy The Agenda

My name is Fathima Sahar, a first year student at the Faculty of Architecture at the University of Moratuwa. I am one of three students who are affected by the ban on the niqab by the University.

I thought of writing this because our side of story has been literally ‘veiled’ away from the public. The media that reported the issue only spoke to the University authorities and did not contact us. The University too, that is so eager to see our faces did not want to hear our voices, ideas and thoughts. Before they decided to ban the niqab – the University did not trouble itself to give us a hearing, to discuss, to find a solution to whatever problem they perceived. In that sense, the way we have been treated is no different to the way many of our sisters in many other contexts are treated. Women and their voices are hardly allowed to be heard but kept muted and suppressed. And in that sense at least, I feel it is my duty to speak up and speak out.

I was born in a refugee camp. My parents are from Mannar and were victims of the ethnic cleansing of the Northern Muslims by the LTTE in 1990. Like most refugee students I saw a University education as a passport to a better future and a means for empowerment to fight against the type of injustices that my parents suffered. So my journey from Puttalam to Moratuwa was hard and difficult yet it was inspired by the hope of something better.

The niqab was never an issue for the University of Moratuwa. I was not the first student to wear it. A few years ago the University had its first niqabi enrol and complete her studies and graduate – without hindrance. One other student who is affected by this decision started wearing it in September 2011. She has been banned from wearing the niqab after two years of wearing it – without a problem. Why is this happening now? Did something happen? Or is this a reflection of the changed socio-political context in which Muslims live? Is this a reflection on the diminishing scope of our rights?

When I entered the University of Moratuwa I truly felt proud and happy to be in a place of diverse cultures and identities and yet free to be who we are. This is I thought was what a university experience was all about.

In March 2013 the Bodu Bala Sena announced the end of its campaign against the ‘Halaal logo’. It was at that time that it also announced the start of a new campaign. This time it was going to be a campaign against the attire of Muslim women – the hijab and the niqab. The niqab which for several years had been a non-issue at the University of Moratuwa became an issue for the first time in July 2013.

I was pulled up by a professor during a lecture where he scolded me and told me I cannot wear the niqab as it was contrary to the ‘discipline’ of the University. But in July 2013 I did not want the attention and I really needed to get my degree. So I co-operated. I removed my niqab during lectures and in any case at security points I was already removing my niqab and identifying myself to the female security officers there before entry into the university.

On August 01, 2013, when I tried to enter the University I was stopped at the gate by the Security Personnel who stated that the Vice Chancellor has ordered them to not to allow me inside. So it was not I who made the request to be permitted to wear the niqab – but it was the Vice Chancellor and the University authorities who stopped me. To the media it was stated that I made the request – which is not correct. What more I have not ‘accepted’ the decision – which is also what was incorrectly told to the press.

Having been stopped at the gate on August 01, 2013 and after discussing with my colleagues etc I lodged a formal appeal to the Vice Chancellor. The Vice Chancellor by letter dated October 11, 2013 informed me that the matter is to be decided by the Senate and the Board of Residence and Discipline and that I will be informed of their decision. Until such time he stated in his letter that I will be permitted to attend University. I was thrilled. Looking back I feel it was just a game to brush the issue under the carpet – at least until the CHOGM was over.

However despite the Vice Chancellor’s letter the security refused entry as they had not been independently informed. So I awaited a response from the University. Although I heard that a decision had been made – I received no formal intimation. So I went to the University on November 24th, 2013. Again I was stopped at the gate. Only then was I informed that the Senate has decided to ban the niqab. On my request a copy of the letter that was supposed to have been sent to me was despatched and I received that letter on December 04th, 2013.

The reason they have stated in the decision is one of security although initially it was framed as being a matter of discipline and ‘dress code’. Banning the niqab has certainly not made the University of Moratuwa – any safer than it was. In fact now it has become a place of oppression and suppression. The security reasons are not genuine and they don’t make sense at all. Our universities have seen a lot of violence – in that backdrop – three girls in a niqab in such a large university is hardly a security concern.

The letter says that ‘students are required to keep their faces open while being in the premises’. Why? Is the University watching us all the time? I am willing to show my face for security, at examinations but during other times am I not entitled to decide how much of myself I show and share with the rest?

There is an important debate going on – all over the world – about women and their attire and how they identify themselves. A recent survey has revealed that ‘Three quarters of girls and young women aged 11 to 21 said sexism affects most areas of their lives, with many subject to sexual taunting or being at the receiving end of sexist jokes at school, while nine in 10 think women are judged more for their looks than their ability’.

My attire offers an alternative – an alternative that demands that I be judged for who I am than for how I look. The University and its Senate may not agree with this. But certainly I am ready for the debate but the Senate has run-away from it and banned the niqab altogether – even without a proper hearing. Certainly that is not something that a University should do.

Finally I don’t wear the niqab because some dominant male has forced me to. In fact ever since this issue started most of the males in my family and neighbourhood have asked me to give this up for my studies. The niqab is not act of subjugation or subordination. Certainly not for me. It takes a lot of courage to wear it and go out in the world, to deal with the attention and the scorn. But it is that same courage that helps me stand up and assert my rights even against my own University.

  • Reason

    Kudos for speaking up, but I don’t think the niqab offers “an alternative that demands that I be judged for who I am than for how I look”. It makes you indistinguishable as a human being, and takes away your basic identity. In a university environment, especially one as prestigious and exclusive as Moratuwa, one is expected to be unique and shine – and this is simply not possible if you don’t even reveal who you are.

    • ezra

      You cant be unique and shine without showing your skin to the rest of the world? That is possibly the most ridiculous thing ive heard in a long time. Take note that sri lankans and our universities really need to make up their mind about what ‘being conservative’ is and what they want us to wear. 3/4 pants arent allowed and knee length skirts are. Youre cursed at if you wear short dress revealing alot and also cursed at if you wear a niqab revealing nothing. What do you really want from us?

      • cee ay

        i cannot agree with you more.

      • Reason

        Dress codes are there for a reason, to enable the students to interact with the least amount of friction and enable them to all feel as one. This is the same reason that Sri Lankan schools require school uniforms.

        I think we’ve all been through higher education here, and understand the importance that facial communication has in learning as well as in university camaraderie. Group projects for example would be affected when one member of the group is obscuring her facial expressions. There’s a lot that’s said in human interactions, but the most important bits are left unsaid – in the visual cues offered by movements, postures and facial expressions. She will not be able to contribute fully, and this will become an issue for her. The university is just looking out for her AND her fellow students (whose performance will also be affected by this one person who refuses to play by the rules).

    • Dingiri

      to be unique and shine – do I need to ‘reveal’ my face? I think I can ‘reveal’ who I am – even without showing anypart of me. You have revealed who you are by your comment – no face there!

    • Samuel

      Unfortunately, women in Islam are treated as [edited out]. The basic premise that men cannot control their sexual urges whatsoever, so as a “remedy” the women have to cover themselves up from head to toe, as a safety mechanism against sexual assault. How primitive is that thought pattern? Are we living in the 21st century?

  • DW

    Well said Happy Heathen. Sometimes the biggest hindrance to women’s rights comes from the oppressed women themselves, who wear their ‘chains’ so willingly.

    • Sam

      Interesting.. Sometimes during brutal ragging, some freshers, even while getting tortured, support it saying its part of university subculture.

  • Neutral

    When university demands that students should not cover their faces inside premises, we cannot argue that they are not monitoring all faces at all time. Unwanted incidents do not occur often, and just because they do not occur all the time we cannot argue we do not need security all the time. We put security to prevent that one time incident only. Rather than making this issue out of proportion , I suggest just not to wear face veil inside university premises and leave it at that. Some issues are better left to be solved with time. If you make it a case , it might drag and even go into legislation books. I request the student to study further whether the religion actually asks women to use a face veil when going public. If you find solid proof its a case of religious freedom, if not its just a matter of individual freedom to wear a dress of your will. Think about it.

  • nusra

    so, basically , secularism trumps basic human rights?? Secularism is an opinion, not a right. And re-read the lines, she chose the niqab herself. There’s no sexism or subjugation here.
    If you think france is an enlightened society, then you need to look beyond the brainwashing by the western media. The niqab banning in France has nothing to do with secularism and everything to do with the fact that the French are threatened by the Islamic way of life. I dont see them banning people wearing a cross.

    • Happy Heathen

      Secularism will always triumph over religion.
      Otherwise we’ll be still keeping slaves, stoning people for adultery, burning the heretics and impaling the homosexuals!
      The freedom of religion is not an inviolable right.
      If it were I would have been dead long ago.
      “She chose niqab herself” No one disagreed.
      But, where does Niqab come from? Would she have worn it if she were a non-Muslim? If you allow Niqab, what’s stopping in BBS on banning Halal or banning alcohol?
      Perhaps you should read more on the French and secularism. Here is a good start:
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/French_law_on_secularity_and_conspicuous_religious_symbols_in_schools

    • Sebastian K.

      the same religion is not a human right as people can live with religion!

  • heisenberg

    After reading the above blog post & older ones as well, I have a strange feeling that Groundviews is starting to become a birth place for extremism & racism.

  • Godless Engineer

    For a woman who follows her religion so well, its not encouraged for your gender to be educated. But you’re in Moratuwa University. I think that says something

  • Mahinda

    Hi !
    I think the discussion can be enhanced by shedding more information. I was working in a University in Oman as an academic staff member for an year from 2012 to 2013. The face cover is PROHIBITED in the university premises for all Muslim girls (of course they do wear Abaya, and the head cover) ! Why is obvious, how or when it started, I do not know. If you want to confirm, please check through student guidelines of the Sultan Qaboos University, Oman.

    Another funny difference I saw is that males do not wear anything on their heads when they pray, but Muslims here do wear a head cover when they go the Mosque !. But males there do have their head covered all other times, especially due to rough weather. So, what I think is that people in our countries tend to think that one has to cover their head to look like a true Muslim !??. Anyway, I think what is needed is to stop being adamant and shed age-old beliefs and useless traditions, but be objective in what we do.

  • AK47

    CatBlaster I have to disagree with you on
    the part where “and it is very racist to wear such a dress in a country
    where every citizen regardless of their religion, funds the students” then what
    about the monks who are given free education and get everything for free from
    my tax money? And most of the time its them who spread racism across the society

    You’re saying that the Arab countries are treating women as
    garbage- But are women in SL treated better?? I have my doubt – how many rapes do
    we hear daily?? How many husbands are ill treating there wives- how many underage
    girls are being molested??

    • DW

      While I don’t 100% agree with catBlaster, your comment on SL women being treated worse than Arab country (for eg: Saudi) is laughable. Don’t get me wrong, Women’s rights in Sri Lanka is appalling. But at least rape in Sri Lanka is still called RAPE. In saudi, young girls are married off without their consent. Although this is legal in that country, IT IS STILL RAPE, only it’s legalized rape and pedophilia.

  • Abdullah

    do you call monks and nun wearing based on the same “bronze-age theocracy”?

    • Samuel

      Since when do monks and nuns cover their faces? Human communication involves the face and body language. The Niqab is unnatural.

    • Abdullah

      Let me point out many mistakes in the posts here which is
      taken as mere racial and discriminating motive with double standards.

      First of all those who try to argue on secular based arguments. Secular country does not mean that people do not follow religion in it, it simply avoid any politics being influenced by religion. Secular university must not bow down to any religious influences in its decision making, however
      must allow its student to follow its religion freely. If the university wants to be secular expecting its students to be religious free is mere ignorance and if anyone place such demand then they must first think how to take away the Buddha statue inside the university.

      Those who try to differentiate monks wear and general public attire must understand that both are human and not just monks and nuns are practicing religion. Then we must call only monks and nuns are Buddhist or Christians. Islam is a religion which never asks you to be selective in religion based on activity; Muslim is a Muslim whether he is a coolie or president.

      Everyone have the right to practice his/her religion and its clear from the lady here her wish is being stopped based on sinister motives and there is no such security threat faced by sri lankan universities where not even seen in USA. People arguing whether its therein quran
      , for them answer is it is in sunnah of the prophet and for muslims both are sources for religious ruling. BTW like to know are the Buddhist worship Buddha statues or Christian worship Jesus
      statues based on tripitake and bible?

      Also people try to compare many other issues such as slavery
      here, this doesn’t make sense as what we discuss is individual freedom and choice where no other human is affected. So such arguments don’t seen in line with the discussion here, as by face covering none is going to affect and the reason they had given is absurd without any evidence. Do this administration believe any criminal will show his/her self in public while committing a crime? Also if such are seen they can be spotted well though they cover their face or not, then can be questioned, also the dress is not is favor of fast running. Also the lady had
      given the point they were showing their face at the entrance and so better not the administration fool the country.

      • Harmony

        Man don’t try to justify….forget about the religion, when u cover up your self it is easier for crimes. This is no-brainer. “The dress is not in favor of fast running” what a Joke. Do you know in Saudi there were so many cases where they found terrorist, thieves/looters wearing niqab and abaya. Yes I agree homeland security will find out eventually but at what cost. Most of the terrorist in the world have either got shot, hanged, beheaded or put it jail but those came at a huge cost. I’m sure the girl here in SL is a religious girl, not like in Saudi and other gulf countries where niqab is the custom so regardless of how religious or non religious you are, you got to wear it. There is a real debate among muslims regarding the niqab. Don’t lie here. This is a real grey area. I believe she can wear what she wants regardless of how religious you are or not but if Sri Lankan authorities come up with a certain rule, too bad… she got to obey it. Don’t expect everything in other countries try to cooperate and live in harmony. All other people obey muslim countries’ rules when they visit them/live in them, even if those countries introduce new rules, amend rules, change rules in favor of Islam and oppressing other religions. This is not only in 100% Muslim GCC countries but also in other countries where Islam is the Majority’s religion. I’m a Sri Lankan but I’m a christian. I will never change my religion cz that is not my faith. But I always believe that If Buddhism vanishes in this country Sri Lanka will loose its identity. When you talk about Sri Lanka it’s the Buddhism that comes to you mind not any other religion. In this country guys like you and me can live peacefully. Don’t expect everything in America or in Saudi Arabia, this is a different country. You can’t compare ordinary people because of their attire with Jesus, Mary, prophets,religious leaders, monks, priest or nuns. You can’t insult them with statements like Bold and Shaved Jesus. Enjoy the religious freedom that we have in this country like me. Don’t take everything for granted. BBS criticize Christianity also,,,, forget it cz we gonna live here anyway this is our country too. Nobody is going to deny that. But don’t try to be an arab and loose your sri lankan muslim identity.

        Don’t try to be a preacher when you are soooo biased about a particular religion.
        Christians have done so many bad stuff….remember the crusades.

        But we are not in a crusade now. we are in a world where you can logically understand things with facts and figures.

        No agendas here*…..I’m writing this cz you are so stereotype.

        • abudullah

          Man you have tried your best to cook,

          First of all not just niqab a criminal can have their way of
          choice to cover their identity . for that matter you can’t stop all those ways.
          Mean time did you find single suicide incident in sri lanka was with niqab,
          some even like pregnant woman and for that matter will you ban pregnant woman
          coming out to public?

          Secondly, whether niqab is a obligatory or choice is part of
          the discussion among muslims and it has nothing to do with here as both has its
          evidences in islamic sources and such differences within given limit is part of
          islam. Also I would like to know why just because there is no reference in worshiping
          jesus or buddah as statute in bible or tripitake haven’t stopped it? also
          compare the crime that took place under the niqab and without niqab. Which is
          showing the highest figure? Don’t try to cook the evidences in your favor. I don’t
          care what your religion you are and I am not interested in that. Also I am not
          interest to bow down your way of life too. First you learn to live with differences
          before advise others.

          //No agendas here*…..I’m writing this cz you are so stereotype.//

          infact i didn’t ask you not to wear western dress , while limiting our choice with absurd reasons you are calling i am stereotype while you being a secular extremist

          • Off the Cuff

            Dear Abdulla,

            You are right when you say “First of all not just niqab a criminal can have their way of
            choice to cover their identity”

            But the point is all those other ways raise suspicion. A person walking into a Bank with a mask or a full face covering motor cycle helmet would raise suspicion and would be challenged by security or police. They won’t have unchallenged access. But a Man under the cover of a Burka and Niqab wont be challenged as the Burka and Niqab is religious attire.The same concerns will apply when such a person enters a public place or public transport especially when tension due to security concerns is high.

            Harmony is right about the security issues.

          • guest

            In this country, people (who are connected to the ruling elite) are known to have worn masks and attacked innocent people, people who posed as grease yakkas, (coming from army camps and running into army camps, when challenged) have attacked and robbed and even murdered people!! None of these cases are investigated, or culprits apprehended!!!

          • Off the Cuff

            Dear Guest,

            You have proven my point about Masks.

            The Niqab and Burkha are Masks.

            The rest of your post is irrelevant to the subject under discussion.

  • Free Thinker

    As Final year student in same university, I have seen the occurrences where Muslim girls forced to wear the Head cover and face cover by their Muslim colleagues ( well, we all know this happen all over the country, not just in hour university.) May the decision is hash for few of you(actually 3). but I’m sure Muslim girls who enroll in future will be benefited by this decision, they will more free atleast inside the University, further I’ll be great if University can ban that head cover also, after all this is a Sri Lankan university and we don’t want to fell like we are in Arab.

  • Firedragon

    Tell the sister at the church to drop the veil because it is a sign of sexism, misogyny or bronze age theocracy. Dont tell me that they are committed to a priestly path and you cannot compare. With all due respect to everyone of any faith, a Muslim woman to consider herself to have submitted to God and consider herself such is no crime, and I am in no way a pro niqab, beard or uniform clothing defined by religion or division.

    A woman goes through so much in this world to keep up her individuality as it is, be it Muslim, Buddhist, Christian or Martian, and there are so many who tells her what to wear! Be it male egoistic enforcement by a Muslim to wear the Niqab or a judgmental retort of a citizen to not wear, it is violation of women’s rights, by me, you or society at large to do either.

    A crude cap, a veil or white robe could be illogical, unhealthy or/and misappropriate, but that is for that individual to judge. You could have intellectual arguments against it or discuss at peace but you cannot have institutional laws against or for it. I cannot believe this society of ascending secularism that considers a piece of clothing is nonsecular, condemns a woman’s wish to wear what she wants.

    What was never a security issue when at war, we have regressed to pin it on security to be pure racist. A man in Buddhist priests robes murdered the prime minister of our great nation. A nation that never practiced slavoury and practiced equity and equality in the history. Should we consider the robe to be scary? A sari clad woman wears an explosive jacket but that is not something you can ban or talk a lot of crap about.

    Let the individual judge if her clothing is sexist. Especially the woman, I mean any woman from any background, because she is fighting the good fight anyway.

    Peace.

  • J Fernando

    I wonder what “off the cuff” commentators think of this issue, since it does not offer an opportunity to bash the Tamils, I guess silence !

  • http://minnixio.com/ Minnix

    Dear Fathima Sahar,

    Niqab is not compulsory in Islam. Then why you should wear it when your university bans it? I can’t understand.

    • plane truth

      If the university decides to become secular all well and fine- but it should be applied to ALL , not to a selected few. this is an act of discrimination against a minority religion, freedom of choice and all the women.
      I wonder on what basis the university decided to ban the Niqab ?? could someone enlighten me ? well saying its security concerns is utter BS (Cow crap). My thought is that the seeds of hatred against muslims which was sown by BBS and other extreme organisations is getting deep rooted even in the minds of the University ‘intellectuals’ …. sad situ indeed

      • Reason

        Your assumptions about minority discrimination here are just that – assumptions. The fact is that the university can impose dress codes on students (for example, boys at Moratuwa are not allowed to wear shorts to lectures) and the niqab has been banned because it conflicts with security and communications procedures at the university. If there was actual discrimination against the Muslim students, hijabs and abayas (compulsory in Islam – unlike the niqab) would be banned too.

        Think before you rage.

  • khan

    Happy Heathen, I hope you are a non Muslim girl. of-course a Muslim girl who is genuinely coming from an Islamic environment its a compulsory for her the hijab,certainly nobody is forcing her its the love on hear creater.

    Dear Sisiter Fathima,

    Pray isthihara continuously we can ask only the help of almighty he is the one who can change the heart of the ppl.If you need any support, as a brother in Islam we are ready to do anything sake of Allah.

  • Harischandara

    I know what your going through, in fact I too faced the same consequences at Moratuwa. Moratuwa is a oppressive institution and should be exposed for what it really is. I am an ardent follower of niganta natha putta, and as some of you may know niganta’s do not wear any clothes. However UoM did not allow me to express my religious rights, and did not allow me to come in through the gates. I was harassed, and verbally abused for expressing my religious beliefs, they told me that if you want to live in a society and be a part of that society you need to conform with those societal norms. They even told me that if I wanted to be so much a part of a belief system then I should probably go to a place where those belief systems are practiced. So, I left moratuwa and tried to find my place in the midst of other nigantas, only to find out that they don’t do that sort of thing anymore…again I ended up at the gates of Mora, but this time with pants on.

  • http://www.groundviews.org/ Groundviews

    The Higher Education Ministry states that there are no rules or regulations prohibiting female Muslim students from covering their faces, despite the Moratuwa University’s recent ban on the Niqab.

    “Legally, there is nothing against it, so I cannot say what the Moratuwa University authority’s reasons for banning it. There is definitely nothing against Muslim students wearing the face-cover as you know- even school students are allowed to wear it; and they’re allowed to do so even when they come to university,” Deputy Minister of Education Nandimithra Ekanayake told Ceylon Today.

    Via http://www.ceylontoday.lk/16-49661-news-detail-muslim-students-not-banned-from-wearing-niqab.html

  • jay

    i know some girls willing wear islamic attire. but some are forced to. There was a muslim girl like that in uni who was forced to wear hijab by senior muslim students. The moment the seniors graduated, she stopped wearing it

  • Samuel

    Muslim fundamentalism in Sri Lanka is growing and I don’t think anyone can deny it. What’s sad is that anyone who stands up against this is labelled a “racist” or a “chauvinist.” It’s amazing how people are trying to justify having women encased in a black sack in public and then passing it off as “women’s rights”! Enough is a enough. This growing Islamification of Sri Lanka needs to end, especially when it is the Saudi Arabian brand of intolerant, misogynistic Islam that seems to be spreading. Next there will be demands to stone homosexuals and those who engage in premarital sex to death, all in the name of “religious rights.” Nip this madness in the bud now.

  • cw

    I would like to point out that the current attire that we dress ourselves in, is in no way ‘traditionally sri lankan’. If you want to argue that a niqab is not traditional then we must all forgo our usual clothing options and opt to adorn a radaai hatte. And for the ill informed, the way most sri lankan women drape their sarees is Indian in origin. My point is, we’re a highly diverse society. And trying to tell someone what they can and cannot wear is a violation of basic human rights.

  • Oneshot

    [Edited out]. If she wan’t to come to the uni she should agree to the decision taken by the senate.

    She may show her face to authorities when necessary. But some one can bring a dress like this in to the university. Stab a person while wearing this. Then throw away the dress and leave as usual. So how her solution of showing the face to authorities when necessary address this.

    It is a free right to ware anything. But only a subset of clothes is suitable for a particular place. As an example can anyone ware a bikini to a religious place?

  • Alll_Rise

    spoken like an true believer of religion atheism. I guess a scientific research on the subject matter is not An Atheist trait. seems a cut-pasted wholesale statement is.

    • Reason

      Pray tell, what’s scientific about getting women to cover their faces?

    • A fellow atheist

      atheist isnt a religion either. please get your facts straight before trying to find loopholes in believers of scientific views.
      - A fellow atheist

    • Reason, Do You Speak It?

      Calling Atheism a religion is like calling someone without a weapon, “armed”.

  • Alll_Rise

    You Go Girl!!

  • Lady Architect

    Dear Fatima,
    I was also a student in the same faculty and now I,m practicing as an Architect.
    Yes you have the right to wear what ever you like yes that is true. But in future what are you going to do as an Architect.Can you visit difficult sites ,climb ladders or can you face such changers in profession with your niqab.
    Architecture is not a profession doing in a A/C room on a comfortable chair.

  • HasalaD

    Hey Fathima,
    If the case was u being not admitted to the university because of being a muslim, i would agree with ur views. But at edmission u sign a paper which says that u will submit to the regulations and laws governing the university. In these regulations covering the whole body head to toe is banned. You are trying to make a mess for everyone in the university by bringing up a issue fired by your need for revenge. You are not the only muslim studying teaching and working at UOM. We are a very secular university and believe in the rights of everyone. By projecting a scene at the university u are bringing a black mark to all of the university, the past and the future as well.
    Many have worn niqab in my time. But they have never made a fuss about it and tried to act in a separatist manner. It seems that your collegues or fellow students have made a fuss about this to the university administration and that should be the reason for your problems. If you had taken the time to make friends and integrate into the student life this would not have happened. So don’t put the blame of your bad attitudes on the university administration to make them look bad. They Have never taken any action without student complains.

  • clear look

    i am disagree to your comments.this is not good time to talk about other countries or muslim’s countries,this is srilanka,it is multy culture country with democratically. Srilanka’s rules not band face veil.other thing is why university not band full helmet and they allow drivers also.this is too un safety matter.
    if they want security they should find other solution.like fitting cct camera,ect. there are many violence held without face veil within university,and there is no statistics for crime with face veil within university.

  • Atheist

    Your argument is that if someone jumps in the well, we should follow?
    It’s not what others do, but what we do that matters…….. Most SriLankans call it a Buddhist country but forget their history….. it was in fact a Hindu country and we are thought how we were converted to Buddhism.
    The Buddha thought tolerance…. Christ thought compassion….. yet most of you seem to be festering with malice while waving the flags of your religion.

    Chris if you don’t like it in Saudi, come back to Sri Lanka, it’s unbecoming to eat off someone and complain about them too.

  • Jennifer

    One of my Muslim friends was forced to wear face cover. She studied with us at school, and dressed like the Tamil/ Muslim girls except for the head scarf. That’s how she initially attended university. Then she started wearing the face cover and when we inquired, she said the Muslim senior students forced her to wear it, and when she didn’t, they had gone to the society level, and her family were threatened by the mosque.

  • Florine Marzook

    Niqab is a security issue in as much as a face stocking is. Anyone can wear a niqab to conceal HIS or her identity – security cameras become a white elephant if faces are covered. In this day and age with security being a serious issue everywhere I think every precaution should be taken to safeguard everyone and even questions of fundamental rights have to be viewed in this light.

  • TrueMan

    I doubt whether this article is written by true Fathima Sahar…….

  • Janak

    Mate, being a non-muslim I don’t know all the rules of marriage but I do know that (Sunni) Muslim men can divorce their wife by uttering the word talaq thrice. The woman can’t do the same. To me that is discrimination along with requiring women to cover their hair. I also know that in Islam a woman who was raped is by default an adulterer unless there are male witnesses who can testify otherwise…..no such rules for men!!

  • Reason

    “Showing skin” is not the issue here, the abaya and the hijab are not banned at the university. The niqab obscures the face and hence identity, and leads to security and communication issues.

  • Reason

    And during no point of her comment did “DW” mention Islam. You’re the person who is bringing religion into a discussion of women’s rights in Arab countries vs. Sri Lanka.

  • Mr. K

    Dear Sis,
    As a final year student of same faculty I suppose it would be a real shame to have passed out for us or at least your fellow batch mates without knowing how you even look like (hypothetically speaking). After all when you are supposed to spend more than four years with a small batch close to 60 students or so as common to the faculty of Architecture. Besides this I don’t see what the authorities can really argue with if you come to a debate with them.

    However if you are interested you might know that there are lots of female Muslim students in the faculty with their faces exposed and if you ask them I do not think they have faced any problem from non Muslim students, nor threats from male Muslim students either. Moreover I believe they are doing great with the group works and other events with the batch mates and in your case I sincerely do not believe you will be an intellectual success with the Niqab hiding your face. As a first year student I don’t expect you to argue with me with little university experience behind your back. (No offense – for your own good)

    Also there are three muslims in our batch as well, 2 girls and one boy. the girls who I have seen wearing only the scarf but not the Niqab. Would you say they are not true followers of Allah ?

    Religions were developed in certain contexts with most of their teachings based on responding to the conditions of the context. for any religion including mine which is Buddhism, I believe following some rules irrationally irrespective of the modern context is nothing less than dogma. Even the spokesperson of the Hamas, “Isra” does not wear a Niqab. Would she not be a true follower of your god ?

    What I have to say dear Sahara, is that if you were to accomplish your dream of making the lives of you and your family better through a good university education, with all my heart I believe the Niqab is gonna stand between you and your bright future. Not because of the secular people but because the Niqab was intentionally designed to regulate and limit the sociability of women and it will certainly achieve it. If that is what you want, I wish you best of luck.

  • Randy mathew

    Yes, I agree with the university that the Niqab should be banned within the University premises. Sri Lanka is a multicultural country but it cannot allow everything that the Muslims want to do.

  • Dutugamunu

    The Niqab and ratial commentaries .if you carefully look at this site you will find there are very important articals about one of the greatest person ever lived in our life time who is NELSON Mendale, but there are only two comment to speak few words about a such man ever lived in our planet , Unfortunate of our humanity there are comments piling up in regard of the Niqab .
    Nevertheless , I guess the main reason is not the Niqab with furious about as it has been already informed by the education authority ,I think it is an immediate reaction of intolerance some where toward another religious aspect . AND where you will witness how far people would ready to react on religious issues .
    By the way .it should be our responsibility and awareness where we live and how we live . This is needed to be realised by people who live in a country or area with different religions and faiths . As none of the religions can be said that one is better than other. Because we create the problems not the religions . This is the reality.
    You may remember when France declared the ban on burka they face unprecedented criticism from right a cross the world , but it didn’t affect to them as they pointed out the reasons why it brought up . After this new out come many countries in the Europe nearly Thought about following up France .therefore this issue has a good market in the world , as I told above it is not necessarily rising as an isolated incident.i hope it is necessary to understand by us .
    It is also vital to consider why such issues not arise between other religions . And Why people try to have a go with Islam always .this is very important to discuss in a society widely before delivering its pains.
    If you think about Fathima’s case alone,I suppose she should have thought about it before she go to the university. She should have better prepaired than she has been as she should know the situation in Sri Lanka since post war .i do not know what is the truth out of this out come but taking them to multi media and making it as such a fuss would not do any goods for all of us . Instead it can be self inflicted . it would not easy to vanquish every thing in a society with few days or years, it could take generations .However these incident will never vanish in a society if the society does not ready or make a vital effort to understand about all living things , where I mean a rational thought of nature and undestanding of it which can answer to many questions that we face day to day life . If you take this small issue of Fathima’s Niqab as an example . Just imagine she tries to implement a part of her religion which she has been taught in her religion , which isn’t a bad thing but she should undestand not to use her religious purpose of advocating to affect others . In same context ,some one might could argue as the Niqab is compulsory to Muslim ladies , therefore it should know by others. So , it can work in both ways , but in realty it can take different direction .where I feel Fathima would have thought more about what we see in a society , if she had done that bit we would have not faced what we face at this moment , in such a situation that I blame ourselves , because we are the people create all these problems Not investing enough time to think what would fit us to live .

  • Samuel

    No where in the Quran is it stated that women have to wear the niqab. This is nothing but an Arabic (Saudi Arabian) form of dress. It is has nothing to do with Islam but now it represents backward side of Islam and it is without a doubt misogynistic. Saudi Arabian Islam is an intolerant, backward, primitive form of Islam that has no place in a civilised society. Sri Lankan Muslims should be ashamed of themselves for importing this type of Islam into Sri Lanka and for trying to pass it off as “real Islam” when it is the total opposite.

  • Samuel

    No. She shouldn’t be allowed to wear an all encompassing black sack with the presumption that all males are rapists and that she is protecting herself from them. It is disrespectful for others and is a legitimate security concern when you can’t see the face of the person either on a security camera on in person. If you can’t go to university completely naked, then you shouldn’t be able to go to university completely covered up. This is not Afghanistan or Saudi Arabia.

    • Sharanga Ratnayake

      Your comment demonstrate exactly what I’m talking about. If your real concern is security, you wouldn’t be talking about going around in a university naked, and drag Saudi and Afghanistan into it. What’s going on is you just don’t like them wearing niqabs, and you try to find a reason other than your dislike so that it’s more legitimate.

      Even if a legitimate case can be made for security (I’m sure we can reduce the threat of a bomb in the university by at least 95% by doing this), this is not where the real objection is coming from, which questions the validity of the entire argument.

      • Samuel

        What exactly are you talking about? That is it completely ok – security wise – for people to cover their entire bodies in a black sack and walk about doing as they wish? Sorry, not buying it. If you want to support misogyny and backwardness go right on ahead, it’s pretty clear most people here don’t share your opinion.

  • DW

    “Its just implementing the strict rule that one woman should dress very modestly in public covering her body. Easiest way to do it is to wear an abaya over
    whatever dress you wear.” —> EXACTLY!!! That is ‘forcing’ us to wear that dress code when we are in ‘their’ country!! Sri Lanka is not that bad at all! Sri Lanka is generally liberal where even Westerners can maintain their standard of dress. So when a university takes a stand to ban a symbol of ‘oppression’ such as the burqa or niqab, it is highly commendable and understandable. Same reason why the university and every where else have banned the Swastika. It is natural the niqab would follow suite.

  • Reason

    Times change, and we should modify our behaviour accordingly.

    In the Bible, slavery is legal. But in the modern world, slavery is illegal and frowned upon. We cannot cling on to books that were written by prophets of their time, the world would never progress. Modern liberties and technology would never have come forth if we clung on to ancient ways of thinking.

    That being said, I agree it’s her right to wear whatever she wants – be it a niqab or a Daffy duck costume. But the university too has to take into account the safety, well-being and discipline of its entire student and staff population, and enforce things like dress code. The rights of one cannot compromise the rights and safety of many.

  • Amaya

    Fathima, as you say, you have worked very hard to get into university. While it is very commendable, here is something to consider regarding making use of this hard earned degree:
    When you graduate from the university and go into employment, how many employees would tolerate having someone wearing this face cover? If you cannot find an employer who would not tolerate that, would you remove the face cover?

  • DW

    Neutral, kindly re-read your own comment. I was challenging your statement that woman in Sri Lanka is treated ‘worse’ than Arab countries. They are not. Arab country legalizes the abuse of women, doesn’t make it right.The quaran states very clearly that it is OK to hit your wife (not hard of course, however a little slap is ok) if she disobeys you. Here’s another gem from the Quaran: “Such of your women as have passed the age of monthly courses, for them the prescribed period, if ye have any doubts, is three months, and for those who have no courses (it is the same): for those who carry (life within their wombs), their period is until they deliver their burdens: and for those who fear Allah, He will make their path easy.” Again I am not saying abuse of women doesn’t happen in Sri Lanka, it does to a large scale, but at least it is still called abuse. Your quaran and the arab countries (in general) actively promotes the abuse of women and stripping away their rights. It is written in your Quaran. You have every right to believe what you want, however way you want to. I respect your right to believe it, but I need not respect it. I do not respect criminal activity and SEXISM is a crime. So there’s nothing wrong with an educational institution actively getting rid off a garment that is not practical and is a symbol of oppression. Best example I can give is the swastika. The swastika has no place in a decent society. Even if a dumb witted Jewish man decides to tattoo his arm with the swastika does not make it any less criminal to wear it. Similarly however many ignorant women decided to wear a Niqab, it has no place in a civilized society. Both are symbols of oppression and suppression.

  • Happy Heathen

    “How is Fathima insisting on wearing niqab similar to the Bodu Bala Sena insisting on banning Halal?”

    The answer is simple.
    Both BBS and Fatima are insisting on things based on religion.
    (Even though BBS states the ostensible reason being economics)
    If one is permitted why not others? And where do you draw the line?

    One cannot insist on things based on irrationality. (i.e.religion)

    As some one has sarcastically posted (Refer Harischandara below) I can invent a ‘religion’ while I am high on LSD and demand things as it is my right as per freedom of religion!
    In Harischandra’s case to walk naked in to the university.

    The world does not work like that, hence Harischandra had to wear pants!

    I for one am against Halal but for different reasons which are beyond the scope of this article. However, I am vehemently against the campaign against Halal carried out by BBS for obvious reasons.

    Furthermore, just as BBS, she insists that the reason for wearing Niqab is that it presents an alternative (not religion), which I find naive and hilarious. (Sorry Fathima – no offence intended).

    An alternative to what if I may ask?

    She is not going to challenge the status quo with covering her face. And Pussy Riot did much more than just wearing balaclavas……

    (http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/a1/Pussy_Riot_by_Igor_Mukhin.jpg)

    I can shave half of my head and say it present an alternative between a full head of hair and bold heads! And for what?

    Here is a little counter argument for you:
    Would you keep slaves as it is permitted in the holy book(s)?

    • Fairly Liberal

      Happy Heathen,

      As a fellow secularist, I must point out that your view of secularism is rather illiberal. It is possible (and necessary) for a secular and liberal society to allow individuals to bear any form of religious symbolism on their person in public because to not do so would be restricting their individual freedoms.
      I quite agree that institutions of state (or institutions financially supported by the state) should not be promoting one or even all religions that exist in a given society. Neither should organised religions have sway in determining what is legal or acceptable for society as a whole.
      However, the individual is different. As long as their choices do not extend to forcing others the state cannot be paternalistic in determining what you can and can’t do. Separating religion from the state (the artificial division between private and public life) can work for institutions but does not work for the individual who may consider religion as a way of life. A pluralistic society therefore is not one that privileges those who do not believe in a religions by respecting their right not to believe but provides a space for those who do to carry out their practices without any hindrance (with the caveat that their practices don’t infringe on the rights of others)
      If Fathima states that she wears the niqab willingly that is her choice and we must accept it as such and not speculate about coercion which we have only suspicions of. Her wearing of the niqab does not in any way infringe on your rights or mine. However, if you attempt to enforce your views on religion on her them you become the oppressor denying her both freedom of worship and expression

      • Happy Heathen

        Dear Fairly Liberal,

        I do agree with your response with few reservations:

        “your view of secularism is rather illiberal.”

        Neither did I say my views were liberal nor my response pretended to be liberal as liberalism comes in many different shades just like religion.
        There are economic liberals who are socially conservative.
        Would you call them Half-Liberals or Quarter-Conservatives?
        Furthermore, political scientists like Alan Wolfe argue that Liberalism “rejects ideological thinking” altogether. (Religion = ideology)

        “As long as their choices do not extend to forcing others the state cannot be
        paternalistic in determining what you can and can’t do”

        That argument could be extended to almost anything.

        For example can one bear homophobic and racist views without forcing those views on others? Most ‘holy books’ are full of such views.
        What about ritualistic animal slaughter and animal cruelty? Why do you think kosher and Halal are banned in some ‘liberal’ countries?

        ” A pluralistic society therefore is not one that privileges those who do not believe in a religions by respecting their right not to believe but provides a space for those who do to carry out their practices without any hindrance (with the caveat that their practices don’t infringe on the rights of others)”

        The problem in your argument is that religions are inherently incompatible hence they naturally infringe on the rights of others.

        Most religions are exclusivist, hence anti-pluralist to begin with.
        Most religions teach that theirs is the ONLY way to salvation and to religious truth – otherwise we’ll see Muslim Christians or Jewish Hindus!
        What does the right of others mean?
        Where does animal cruelty infringe on the rights of others?
        Why do you think most ‘civilized societies’ has banned ritualistic animal slaughter and animal cruelty?
        Similar arguments could be extended over issues like abortion and pornography.
        Does public nudity infringe your basic human rights? If not, can I invent a religion that demands public nudity?
        We can argue about liberalism or secularism till the cows come home without getting anywhere.

        But the elephant in the room is the need for a religion in a modern world?

        “If Fathima states that she wears the niqab willingly that is her choice and we
        must accept it as such”

        I did not disagree – please re-read my response.

        The problem I have is not the Niqab but the representation. (Please see my original post). Why do you think LTTE flag is banned in Sri Lanka and Nazi flag being banned in most EU countries? They are just flags after all.
        Do they infringe on any ones rights?

        Sri Lanka bled for 30 years, because we couldn’t agree on the ownership of the land and I can see Sri Lanka being war with itself for another 30 more years over whose god is great!

        “One of the great tragedies of mankind is that morality has been hijacked by religion.”
        – Arthur C Clarke – Former Chancellor,University of Moratuwa

  • Menaka

    Dear Mr. Jayasingha Perera,

    It is people like your self which are a [edited out] to society in Sri Lanka. Unfortunately people like yourselves are unable to comprehend and respect the faith people have in religion.

    A pluralistic society, is any society in which citizens can legally and publicly hold multiple competing ethical views and are allowed to choose for themselves what ethical beliefs if any they wish to hold. A society that is influenced by numerous factors is considered a pluralistic society. An example would be a society that is made up of people of various ethnic, cultural, and religious beliefs and backgrounds. When Buddhist monks wear an orange robe, do Muslims complain? In conclusion a pluralistic society is a 2 way street.

    • gasw

      Pluralism and the right to choose will end when ……….. (fill in the blank) become the majority.

  • abdullah

    whether its black sack or yellow sack its their choice just like accepting quran’s teaching, don’t you see some muslim women going to clubs and drink in sri lanka.

    • Samuel

      If you aren’t allowed to go to university completely naked, you should not be allowed to go to university completely covered. Both are offensive.

  • Nash

    “Hence, I have a problem in you wearing a Niqab
    as much as I have a problem seeing a Buddha statue in the premises of Moratuwa University.”

    The difference is that the premises of Moratuwa University are the property of the University. Fathima’s body is not the property of the university. You may have preferences about what she wears or does not wear, but you should not be able to enforce your preferences on her via the university authorities. It’s separation of religion and state. She’s not chattel of the state.

  • Hansi Munasinghe

    Just because Saudi Arabia does it, doesn’t mean that the rest of the world should do it too. And Sri Lanka is not a Buddhist kingdom, it is a democracy with a constitution that protects everyone right to believe in a religion of their choice.

    • mahinda

      yes, provided by the peace loving buddhist people. Don’t forget that what makes SL people act different from people in other countries (Muslim countries) is their religion. If not for buddhism this impoverished nation would have become a hellhole.

      • Hansi Munasinghe

        I agree that Sri Lankans have some good qualities that are fostered by the influence of Buddhism, but it is not religion that is keeping us from turning into a “hellhole”. You forget our politicians who steal and lie and rape and murder, but go to temple and get their blessings from the noble triple gem.

        • mahinda

          So what’s your point? Srilanka is a good place because those politician who rape and murder is minority. Not like muslim and some christian countries where racism is institutionally accepted. Buddhism brought more than anything common sense, do not do things to others that you don’t like if they happened to you. Morality is not in our jeans it comes from somewhere. THe day we forget buddhism is the day we are not different from everybody else.

    • Jalabdeen

      Hansi, Hansi, Hansi… Always running into you on threads with you defending all the wrong ideals.

      Nobody is infringing upon her right to believe in Islam, and nobody is even infringing on her right to dress Islamically (abaya and hijab). The niqab is a very selective and minority interpretation of Islam, and not mandatory at all. You speak about the constitution and democracy, but what you forget is that democracy is built on a society stable enough to support it. If that society and its ties are hampered by people who don’t play by the rules (dress code and lack of interaction with others in this case), then everything comes tumbling down like a house of cards.

      • Hansi Munasinghe

        Yes, they’re infringing on her right to practice her religion. Go read the constitution.

        Just because you’re the majority, doesn’t mean everyone else has to “play by your rules”.

        Also, what proof do we have that a piece of cloth is going to prevent her from being a good informed and involved citizen? You’re jumping to conclusions.

        • Buddhist

          “Just because you’re the majority, doesn’t mean everyone else has to “play by your rules”.”
          Oh but it does, its called democracy.

          • Burning_Issue

            No it doesn’t! You have confused majoritism with democracy!

        • Off the Cuff

          The Highest Sunni authority of the Muslim world, Grand Mufti of Egypt, Sheikh Mohammed Tantawi says, the Niqab is only a TRADITION and has nothing to do with Religion. Was Tantawi, illiterate on Islam?

          In October 2009, Tantawy launched a campaign against the niqab (the full-face veil which covers the entire body except for the eyes, increasingly worn by women in Egypt) by personally removing the niqab of a teenage girl (after she failed to remove it) at a secondary school affiliated to Al-Azhar University, which he was touring in Cairo’s Madinet Nasr suburb, much to the shock of all concerned. He had asked the teenage girl to remove her veil saying: “The niqab is a tradition, it has no connection with religion.” He then instructed the girl never to wear the niqab again and promised to issue a fatwa against its use in schools, saying he was determined to officially ban any person wearing the niqab from entering schools dependent on Al-Azhar University.

    • Buddhist

      It will be a democracy only as long as ‘a certain group” are a minority, if this changes we will be just like Saudi.

  • Off the Cuff

    Dear Hassan,

    Islamic women have been in Lanka for Centuries but the Niqab was very rarely seen. Does that mean that in the past Islamic women did not comply with awrah?

    • abdullah

      answer is yes,

      • Off the Cuff

        Dear Abdullah,

        In that case what did the Sri Lankan Muslim society do about it for centuries? Were they Ignorant of the Awrah to allow it to go on for time immemorial and you have suddenly got wise? Why did they not find it objectionable? Absence of Religious knowledge?

        Were these women committing a Sin for Centuries past?

        Were the Muslim men Complicit in that Sin?

        Were the Muslim Clerics Complicit in that Sin?

        Why now? Moving towards fundamentalism?

        Religious Nudity was accepted in the ritual of Baptism in the past and even Adults were Baptised in the nude.

        Mahavira and his followers were naked. The Monks of the Dighambara Sect of Jains are Nudists (sky clad) and the Shwetambara Sect are clad in white as the names imply.

        In 1981 there were over 1.2 million Digambara’s in Maharashta and Karnataka alone. Religious Nudes can be seen on display during the Khumb Mela. Such religious nudity is not limited to India.

        There is nothing preventing a fundamentalist lay Jain from being nude in public claiming a religious right. There is nothing preventing a Sri Lankan from becoming a Digambara Jain. There is nothing preventing a current male student of the Moratuwa University from changing his religion to Jainism of the Digambara Sect. Then there is nothing preventing him coming in the nude making the IDENTICAL claim as Ms Fathima Sahar!

        If Religion can be cited to claim head to toe cover in public what is there to prevent head to toe nudity in public? Would you and the Muslim women be comfortable with that?

        Where do you draw the line?

        Please let wisdom and prudence prevail over dogma.

        Burkha
        http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/8/8c/Burqa_IMG_1127.jpg/150px-Burqa_IMG_1127.jpg

        Khumb Mela, Religious Nudity.
        This is a selected link that proves the point without being explicit.
        Look it up in the Internet for more information.
        http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2262132/Kumbh-Mela-110-million-pilgrims-attend-worlds-largest-festival.html

    • Hassan

      Off the Cuff,
      You didnt get what i mean. My argument is that wearing niqab is her wish. It is more than wearing Habaya. She is doing it for own fear of god. That should be Appreciated. Not to be restricted. people that is a threat for public security. But how often people use that for the purpose of terrorism??? very rare. Let her follow the religion. Even Article 14(1)(e) of the constitution allow her to manifest her religion. so what??? y Bother???

      • Off the Cuff

        Dear Hassan,

        Perhaps you did not understand what I wrote.

        The same 14(1)(e) of the Constitution allows a male Fundamentalist Digambara Jain to manifest his religion. In this case Total Nudity with exposed genitals.

        Would Muslim women and Muslim men find that offensive? Have you visited the link I provided and searched the Internet to be informed of more explicit Religious Nudity? If you find that offensive, you have no argument to make.

        You have stated that “She is doing it for own fear of god” but you are silent on the question why for centuries and time immemorial Lankan Muslim women did not wear the Burkha or Niqab. Did they not have fear of God then? Did Muslim society which allowed that to happen for centuries have no fear of God? Why this new found fear? Are you moving towards a more fundamentalist Islam? The type that can issue Fatwas against people like Salmon Rushdie?

        A woman’s voice is also part of the Awra. A sexy glance combined with a sexy voice can do more than the rest of the face could do.

        Facial expressions are part of normal communication. Facial expressions indicate the truthfulness or otherwise of a person.

        Regarding the issue of Public Security that you have raised, can you be certain of the gender of a person under a Burqa with face cover similar to what is depicted in the picture of my post above? If you cannot then Public Security is compromised. You can read more detail in my post to Abdulla at this link. http://groundviews.org/2013/12/09/the-niqab-and-the-university-of-moratuwa/#comment-1160207324

        What is required is not to seek the pound of flesh but wisdom and prudence in exercising one’s rights.

  • abdullah

    read this you will get an answer for that, after all we are talking about action who accepted the prophet and it has nothing to do with the subject you are raising, any [edited out] can have any thought about others and thats not a way to farm the rule. https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=206319222859847&id=161957150629388

  • Samuel

    Sri Lanka is not a Muslim country and the vast majority of Sri Lankans are NOT Muslim. You do not get to do whatever you want, when you want. When in public it will have to be accepted by the majority of the people. That’s just the way it works.

    And there are various types and interpretations of Islam. It is certainly not a monolithic entity. What people are opposing is the backward, primitive and misogynistic Saudi Arabian brand of Islam that many Sri Lankan Muslims are now trying to inject into Sri Lankan society.

    • Nimal Perera

      I think muslims in Sri Lanka who wear the niqab are doing so to show themselves as better muslims than others. It is a dress for mid east people to guard against the harsh weather there and these people copy this in Sri Lanka just to be different and show one-upmanship over others. Other communities need not get upset by this, just ignore as they are doing this for their ego.

  • M

    HI my friend
    Sorry for my English and i am a Saudia guy from jeddah, we need to understand that Saudi Arabia is a Islamic kingdom every one knows that there is no democratic over there but Sri Lanka is a democratic country who have all the rights to follow there own religion and the life what we need. So we don’t need to bother our own problems with other countries. And Fathima i know that islam allows you show your face and palm, so don’t bother your self. And for my idea islam asked us to follow the rules in the country where we living with terms and conditions. And i thing that in Sri Lanka have all the rights to all religions.

  • Sujeewa

    Jayasingha- we are talking about Sri Lanka, and not Saudi Arabia. So stop your twisted argument. If you want us, to be a [edited out] nation like Saudi Arabia, with the stone age mentality, then may be you should consider living somewhere else. Sri Lanka is much better country than Saudi, so stop comparing.

  • ram2009

    Wearing a niqab HAS NEVER been a religious requirement. A women certainly should have the freedom to wear it at home. When she is in the public eye she needs to be recognised for who she is, NOT for her etnic origin or the religion she professes, and if she commitis a crime the RIGHT person needs to be apprehended and punished.
    Recently at least one criminal escaped from Britain wearing the black sack that some women are fond of. Impersonation at exams by such is also a good possibility. Prevention is better than attempting to close the gate later on.

  • Sujeeva Gunaratne

    It is a huge joke this post . She says she had a very bad poor life up to University . But her English is impeccable . I who was in the top 10 in Science stream, had lectures and discussions in English, also as an avid reader of English Novels and Books and 5 years of work in 2 official English speaking Western Countries , I cant write this good. From the relevant Education I received in writing, this one is clearly written by a Lawyer and been given to her to post. We also have come through S.L. University systems and we have seen the cross section of the knowledge of students in English many times during Rag season.
    She is unaware of the issues. She is unaware of the 4 Extremist Muslim groups in S.L. reported by Canadian Intelligence. She is unaware this stupid dress has been totally banned in France. Angola has gone further and banned Islam and destroyed all Mosques. This has been a Sinhalese Buddhist Country for past 2500 years. Imitiaz Bakeer Markar , an old Anandian is on record saying , if Muslims cant live in a Sinhalese Buddhist society , there is nowhere else in the world to live. I would like to paste an edited excerpt from I Net .

    ‘This is OUR COUNTRY, OUR LAND, and OUR LIFESTYLE, and we will allow you every opportunity to enjoy all this. But once you are done complaining, whining, and griping about Our Flag, Our Pledge, Our Buddhist beliefs, or Our Way of Life, I highly encourage you take advantage of one other great Sri Lankan freedom, ‘THE RIGHT TO LEAVE’.’

    ‘If you aren’t happy here then LEAVE. We didn’t force you to come here. You asked to be here. So accept the country YOU accepted.’

  • http://www.groundviews.org/ Groundviews

    “The face veil is banned in countries like France because terrorists tried to use the niqaab as a mask, and there have been national security risks. But here, he further said, in Sri Lanka, there is no such risk and people have the absolute right to wear it if they so wish.

    Despite the university’s sudden security concerns, the niqaab was not banned during the height of the civil war.
    Salmiya Azeez, a niqaabi student, entered the Moratuwa University in 2006 and graduated from the IT Faculty in 2009.

    “It was during a tight security period,” she told Ceylon Today. “But I didn’t face any security threats during my stay at the university. The lecturers and the other students were really very supportive and they helped me wholeheartedly in all my academic and non-academic work. My period at the campus was really nice and normal,” she said.

    This leaves us with the question once again – if face veils were allowed at the height of war and was not perceived as a security threat then, why are the girls suddenly banned from entering university while donning it now?”

    Via http://www.ceylontoday.lk/51-50061-news-detail-the-right-to-wear-the-veil.html

  • Off the Cuff

    Dear Hassan,

    You are avoiding questions. Why?

    From time immemorial Muslim women of Lanka did not wear the Burkha or the Niqab. Why? The Lankan Muslim community (Lay and clergy) did not see that as transgressing Islam. Suddenly there is an interest in changing the centuries old dress code that even Ms. F. Ashroff wears. Is it because of growing Islamic Fundamentalism?

    It was Islamic Fundamentalism that called on any Muslim to Kill Salmon Rushdie. The reward offered was USD 2.8 million. It was Ayatollah Khomeini’s fatwa of 1989 that caused such terror. Today the reward is USD 3.8 million.

    In 2012 India did not allow Rushdie (who is Indian) to attend the Jaipur Literary festival stating his physical presence or even an address via video link might lead to assassination attempts, riots, injuries and deaths. That is what Islamic Fundamentalism has done to a country next door.

    Would Sri Lankan’s want that type of Islamic Fundamentalism to grow here?

    You have not answered my question, can you identify the gender of the person under the Burkha linked to my post? Instead you are going in circles about tinted windows etc. Obviously you cannot identify the gender which confirms the security risk.

    Would you and Muslim ladies be comfortable with a Religious Nude male with exposed genitals walking about in public or attending University, though he has a fundamental right to do so under the Constitution?

    It is not Ms Fathima Sahar that poses the threat. It is the precedence that she will create. I did not question Ms Fathima Sahar’s right to wear the Niqab though even you and Abdulla cannot agree on the religious need to do so.

    What I said was that exercising one’s rights should be done with wisdom and prudence. In this case the attempt to change Centuries old Sri Lankan Muslim Tradition to an Islamic Fundamentalist form, under cover of the Constitution.

    What I see is a demand for the pound of flesh, despite possible serious consequences.

    • Hassan

      Off the Cuff,

      Your question was answered in my previous reply, From time immemorial Muslim women of Lanka did not wear the Burkha or the Niqab, this was your Question from the time you started posting. I said, the important reason is Thaqwa, I explained you the difference between Thaqwa and Fatwa. There might be some other reasons such as Unawareness about the Path Of Truth. When Muslims get to realize the actual authentic way, the start to change their selves. Niqab is a change of such. You said you need to identify the gender, due to security risk. That is why I asked you, how often do they cause harm or make violence with that dress. Obviously very rare. Yet they wish to Prove their identity in police check points and bank ATMs and for other purposes of security check. So why do you need to know their gender?

      That is why there are police and defense units are taking charge for. Why do you worried about? Sri Lanka has an extreme powerful and intelligent defense service and they are doing such things in such a manner of dignity.
      People who want to bother with Salmon Rushdie are not only Muslims, there are several Christians and Hindus as well. Because his publish was contrary to all religions. But I do not bother in his matter.
      And what you say about Islamic Fundamentlism is that you are using for counter argument, coz no religion exist without at least a little bit of Fundamentalists. Can you give one single such religion which does not have Fundamentalism???
      You just always worried about Niqab and Burka of muslim women. Isn’t it foolish??? I proved you that there is not a single problem with Niqab of muslim women.
      What you people always argue is that, security purpose, gender matter and some other irrelevant matters.

      • Off the Cuff

        Dear Hassan,

        You say “Your question was answered in my previous reply, From time immemorial Muslim women of Lanka did not wear the Burkha or the Niqab, this was your Question from the time you started posting.”

        You need to read with care. That was not my question that was a statement. The question was based on that statement. Did Muslim women fail to comply with the Awra from time immemorial?

        Abdulla said yes. You avoid a straight answer. But for Centuries the Lankan Muslim Clergy did not see anything wrong with it. God knows what else is wrong with the Islam practised for centuries in Lanka, in the eyes of fundamentalists!

        You say “I said, the important reason is Thaqwa, I explained you the difference between Thaqwa and Fatwa. There might be some other reasons such as Unawareness about the Path Of Truth. When Muslims get to realize the actual authentic way, the start to change their selves. Niqab is a change of such”

        That is your opinion of the niqab but the Highest Sunni authority of the Muslim world, Grand Mufti of Egypt, Sheikh Mohammed Tantawi says, the Niqab is only a TRADITION and has nothing to do with Religion. Was Tantawi, illiterate on Islam?

        In October 2009, Tantawy launched a campaign against the niqab (the full-face veil which covers the entire body except for the eyes, increasingly worn by women in Egypt) by personally removing the niqab of a teenage girl (after she failed to remove it) at a secondary school affiliated to Al-Azhar University, which he was touring in Cairo’s Madinet Nasr suburb, much to the shock of all concerned. He had asked the teenage girl to remove her veil saying: “The niqab is a tradition, it has no connection with religion.” He then instructed the girl never to wear the niqab again and promised to issue a fatwa against its use in schools, saying he was determined to officially ban any person wearing the niqab from entering schools dependent on Al-Azhar University. (Wiki) The Sri Lankan Moors make up almost 9.2% of the population of the country. They are predominantly Sunni Muslims. (wiki)

        I am not an expert on Islam but going by what you say the Muslim Clergy in Lanka and even the Sunni’s Apex Imam is ignorant of the Real Islam that you seem to know and has been ignorant for centuries from the time Islam came to Lanka!

        Is Education for Muslim women also a Taboo? The Islamic Taliban says it is prohibited in Islam. They even shot a girl. Who is right? If the Taliban version is right Muslim women should not be in the University in the first place and Muslim girls schools should not exist!

        You say “You said you need to identify the gender, due to security risk”

        No I did not. You are confused. Please reread with care.
        You are the one who raised a public security issue and I responded with the following,

        Regarding the issue of Public Security that you have raised, can you be certain of the gender of a person under a Burqa with face cover similar to what is depicted in the picture of my post above? If you cannot then Public Security is compromised.

        I have asked you whether YOU can differentiate the Sex of the person under the Burqa. Obviously you cannot. You will then be unable to say what that person is concealing under that Burka. Stolen goods/ Firearms/ Bombs/ Explosive Laden Suicide Kit/ etc.

        You say “That is why I asked you, how often do they cause harm or make violence with that dress. Obviously very rare”

        You must be very naive or you must be thinking that we are. Here are a few of the many easily available on the Internet.

        Male suicide bombers disguised in women’s’ burqas stormed government buildings and security headquarters in co-ordinated attacks which killed a dozen people and injured 22 others in eastern Afghanistan yesterday. Hamid Karzai’s government described the “commando-style” raids as a new tactic being employed by the Taliban in what has been one of the most violent months in the country’s war. Bombers wearing burqas, male and female, have struck on a number of occasions in Iraq. The modus operandi is, however, new to Afghanistan where, due to religious sensibilities, women in traditional dresses face less risk of being searched than in Iraq. Fierce firefights broke out in the towns of Gardez and Jalalabad after about 15 bombers produced Kalashnikov assault rifles from under their long robes and opened fire. Several of the insurgents who managed to get inside the buildings then detonated their explosive vests, causing carnage. Azizuddin Wardak, the provincial police chief said that all the bombers had entered Gardez town centre wearing all-enveloping burqas. (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/the-burqaclad-bombers-who-terrorise-afghanistan-1755887.html)

        A burqa-clad female suicide bomber in Pakistan lobbed hand grenades, then detonated her explosive belt among a crowd at an aid center Saturday, killing at least 45 people (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/burqaclad-suicide-bomber-kills-45-in-pakistan-2169050.html)

        On April 17, a refugee camp at Kohat in Pakistan was struck by two suicide bombers that disguised themselves with burqas, the full-body veil worn by some Muslim women to make sure none of their skin is exposed. The attacks, which killed 41 people and injured 62, are sure to heighten the debate in Europe about whether wearing burqas and niqabs in public should be banned. (http://www.frontpagemag.com/2010/ryan-mauro/the-burqa-bomb/)

        male terrorists dressing up as burqa-clad women in order to carry out attacks is becoming more and more part of their modus operandi. This tactic has even been used by bank robbers and other criminals on many occasions, including in the U.S., as thoroughly documented by Daniel Pipes. Terrorists have repeatedly donned burqas in Afghanistan and Pakistan, as well as in the United Kingdom, Iraq, the Gaza Strip, India, Somalia and Mauritania. In the United Kingdom, one man who tried to set off a bomb in July 2005 in London was able to escape by wearing a burqa. The use of this clothing makes counter-terrorism more difficult because female police, which are in shorter supply, must be used to search those wearing it. The police chief of Iraq’s Babil Province in August 2008 complained about this after two burqa-wearing females attacked Shiite pilgrims. However, a surprising amount of Muslims, including imams, support the ban. The Conference of French Imams has declared its support of the ban, saying it is not required in Islam. The chairman of the group, Hassen Chalghoumi, has had his Paris mosque stormed and has received death threats in response. The ruling of the group of French imams is supported by Sheikh Mohammed Tantawi, who was until his death in March the Grand Mufti of Egypt and highest Sunni authority in the Islamic world. (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/the-burqaclad-bombers-who-terrorise-afghanistan-1755887.html)

        Since the rest of your post has been dealt with within the above I would not proceed to analyse it. But what I have stated above makes a strong case for banning the Niqab from public places altogether as even the Sunni’s Highest Religious authority has personally removed the Niqab from a female teenager as it is not part of Religious attire. Traditional Sri Lankan Muslim attire does not include the Niqab hence you cannot argue Tradition.

        Though the Fundamentalist want it, there is no argument that can justify it.

  • Atheist

    Maybe we should stop bringing religion into a secular discussion about a decision made by a university.

  • das

    If the face veil is allowed, its only a matter of time before it will be used as an excuse to create a huge issue within the entire university system. Wouldn’t you agree?

  • Thrishantha Nanayakkara

    Fathima,

    As a former student and subsequently a senior lecturer at
    the University of Moratuwa, I am a bit disturbed by this news. I don’t remember
    Muslim students wearing the Niqab in my time, but if there were, it wouldn’t
    have been an issue for me and many others to be interacting with them as fellow
    sisters in the community, because we mostly interact with ideas and voices than
    exposed parts of the body or muscle power. A more dangerous hindrance to
    interaction is the “Mukavadama (the mouth wrap)” that a lot of Sri Lankans
    volunteer to wear in civil society. So, this hindrance to interaction is just
    rubbish.

    I understand that there is a security issue with any form of
    covering of the body. But, there are technological solutions for that all over
    the World. University of Moratuwa being the flagship institute for technology
    in Sri Lanka, should give an example to the country by adopting right
    technologies to detect security threats, rather than falling down to primitive
    arguments about security.

    Correct me if I am wrong. My gut feeling is that Muslim
    women increasingly wear the Niqab partly as a form of expression than a
    religious obligation. The urge to express intensifies when obstacles to
    religious freedoms are thrown at them. A core teaching in Buddhism is the
    principle of dependent co-arising. That is, the nature of things arising in
    pairs or clusters at the same time. One in the pair exists because the other
    exists, and they grow together. I can see that the absence of LTTE has made one
    remaining form of Sinhala-Buddhist extremist Nationalism to feel threatened. To
    exist, they need an enemy counterpart. Then they are turning towards Muslism to
    make them radicalized to an extent to justify the formers’ existence. So,
    express yourself with care. Fight for your freedoms. We are with you. At the
    same time, be conscious about this dependent co-arising phenomenon. Don’t let
    it provide a breeding ground to any form of extremism.

    • yapa

      Dear Thrishantha Nanayakkara

      “Correct me if I am wrong. My gut feeling is that Muslim
      women increasingly wear the Niqab partly as a form of expression than a
      religious obligation. The urge to express intensifies when obstacles to
      religious freedoms are thrown at them. A core teaching in Buddhism is the
      principle of dependent co-arising. That is, the nature of things arising in
      pairs or clusters at the same time. One in the pair exists because the other
      exists, and they grow together. I can see that the absence of LTTE has made one
      remaining form of Sinhala-Buddhist extremist Nationalism to feel threatened. To
      exist, they need an enemy counterpart. Then they are turning towards Muslism to
      make them radicalized to an extent to justify the formers’ existence. So,
      express yourself with care. Fight for your freedoms. We are with you. At the
      same time, be conscious about this dependent co-arising phenomenon. Don’t let
      it provide a breeding ground to any form of extremism.”

      A wonderful understanding and conclusions of the Niqab phenomenon through the doctrine of Dependent Arising!

      1. The nature of things arising in pairs or clusters at the same time?

      I don’t think this is what meant in Dependent Arising/Dependent Origination/Paticca Samupppada.

      In principle it talks about “Causes and Effects”.

      Causes always precede effects and do not arise at the same time. And also effects vanish when the causes cease.

      Dependent Arising/Dependent Origination/Paticca Samupppada in principle can be stated as follows.

      “This is, because that is.

      This is not, because that is not.

      This ceases to be, because that ceases to be.”

      OR

      “When this is, that is.

      From the arising of this comes the arising of that.

      When this isn’t, that isn’t.

      From the cessation of this comes the cessation of that.”

      Again is clear from the above too that Arising/Dependent Origination/Paticca Samupppada doesn’t say the things arise the way Thrishantha says.

      It has been observed that these days many people want to be scholars in Buddhism and to preach Buddhism than learning and practicing it. What Buddha said was to decrease their ego, but many use Buddhism itself to increase their ego by way of using it as a show piece without understanding what is meant by the deep teaching of Buddhism.

      Incorrectly applying a Buddhist doctrine to analyses a problem and arriving at conclusions, hhe has not only arrived at a wrong conclusion, but he has also mis-interpreted and distorted a great piece of philosophy.

      I hope Thrishantha Nanayakkara
      will correct his mistake for the benefit of him and all.

      Thanks!

      • Off the Cuff

        Thrishantha’s following statement is confusing to say the least.

        “the nature of things arising in pairs or clusters at the same time.
        One in the pair exists because the other exists, and they grow together.”

        The Twin Birth is Simultaneous (Synchronous) and not dependant on either birth.
        Their death however is dependant on the death of the other (Asynchronous).

        Hence till one of them dies (perhaps with divine intervention) BOTH live and grow forever.

        Yapa is right the principle of cause and effect gets prostituted when effect comes before cause or when effect and cause becomes Synchronous.

        Nature has turned on it’s head!

        • yapa

          Dear Off the Cuff/;Thrishantha Nanayakkara
          and All;

          According to Thrishantha Nanayakkara
          EFFECTS go in search of CAUSES for their existence. Please see his statement reproduced below..

          “I can see that the absence of LTTE has made one
          remaining form of Sinhala-Buddhist extremist Nationalism to feel threatened. To
          exist, they need an enemy counterpart. Then they are turning towards Muslism to
          make them radicalized to an extent to justify the formers’ existence.”

          It is a case of “EFFECT AND CAUSE” not Cause and Effect. We don’t know that the Buddha or anybody in this world has ever taught such a thing. [Edited out]

          I think Thrishantha has got confused Dependent Arising/Dependent Origination/Paticca Samupppada with Newton’s Third Law of Motion,. The Third Law of Motion says “Every action has equal and opposite reaction”, which also can be stated as “Forces always exist as (equal and opposite) pairs”.

          But it is a misconception to say that effects go in search of counterparts for existence or they arise at the same time for existence. Causes always precedes the effects and hence cannot go in search of counterparts. This is a great distortion of a piece of well known philosophy and Buddha’s doctrine. I think seponsible people should respond and immediately rectify their mistakes. I think Thrishantha Nanayakkara is a responsible citizen of this country.

          Thanks!

      • Thrishantha Nanayakkara

        Dear Yapa,

        I am not pretending to have realized Paticca Samuppada in
        full, but if you are a practicing Buddhist, I am happy to discuss it offline.

        For those who may be confused, Buddhist doctrine of
        dependent co-arising explains natural phenomena as CONDITIONS that arise WITH
        other CONDITIONS one containing the other WITHOUT a time dimension in it, and
        those EFFECTS that arise as a direct result of other causes and conditions WITH
        a time dimension in it. The above “music” and “silence” example has no time in
        the way they condition/contain each other, though how one may perceive them may change
        in form with time. However, a “wave” arising from a “vibration” has a time
        dimension in their relationship. By misclassifying things that arise together
        as those related in a chronological sense, one can easily get caught up in a
        swirl that will gather momentum till one or both collapses, especially because
        we are too good at blaming the thing that arose “first”. In my previous
        comment, I tried to take only the relevant aspect of this dependent co-arising
        doctrine to keep it simple. The subtleties involved in this doctrine that lies
        in the core of Buddhism needs seeing through practice, than an intellectual
        understanding, which is likely to be contaminated by conventional knowledge
        strongly conditioned by chronological reasoning.

        It is my personal feeling that Sinhala-Buddhist Nationalism
        is a strong co-existing factor among other radicalisms/Nationalisms in Sri
        Lanka. However, it doesn’t rule out the possibility that certain factors can be
        lined up in a chronological cause and effect series too. That is why I requested
        the Muslim brothers and sisters to reflect on it the way they wish, possibly in
        combination with what is taught in the Holy Quran. By trying to react to
        Sinhala-Buddhism Nationalism, if they perceive that they are slowly drifting
        towards some radicalized form of Islam, may their wisdom dawn upon them the
        fact that they are caught up in a swirl that will bring both dipoles towards
        misery. May those Buddhists yet to become fuel to Sinhala-Buddhist Nationalism notice
        its nature as it is and what it is doing to Buddhism itself. A Golden
        opportunity is to see its dynamics after the LTTE ceased to exist, and how it found
        new enemies to exist in its form. May people realize how political leaderships
        they themselves elect, people’s own paranoia, and cosmetic attachment to cultural
        aspects of religions without a strong practice, play as elements in the
        clusters of Nationalisms/radicalisms/extremisms that co-arise as dependent
        phenomena. Then, it is easy to see that just not reacting to extremism with an eye-for-eye
        attitude coupled with things they can do peacefully to reduce the power of
        certain conditions will just let those extremisms that arise die down without
        being able to find anchoring points.

        This is my final note on this. As I said, please contact me
        offline if a further discussion is needed.

  • http://www.groundviews.org/ Groundviews

    “But my disagreement with Ms Sahar – and everybody else working within the categories of the modern episteme – pivots around the question of agency. Before getting to which, let me state my position on the niqab and associated garments. I consider them a patriarchal imposition; Muslim men do not find their attire similarly regulated when in the public sphere. Nevertheless, I hold that if a woman – or a man, for that matter – desires to wear it, anywhere, that should be permitted. The University of Moratuwa, or any other institution, including the French state, should not be in the business of regulating dress. The University should apologize, rescind its order and allow the three women to resume their studies. No university, an institution grounded upon the freedom of expression, debate, disagreement, should ban any form of expression. The Vice-Chancellor’s argument to the BBC, that three niqabis pose a security threat to his university, is ludicrous. One could ask him to resign his post on intellectual grounds alone.”

    Via ‘Should a Muslim eat wedding cake? A note on interpellation and agency’ by Qadri Ismail, http://groundviews.org/2013/12/27/should-a-muslim-eat-wedding-cake-a-note-on-interpellation-and-agency/

    • Off the Cuff

      Terrorists have repeatedly donned burqas in Afghanistan and
      Pakistan, as well as in the United Kingdom, Iraq, the Gaza Strip,
      India, Somalia and Mauritania. In the United Kingdom, one man who tried
      to set off a bomb in July 2005 in London was able to escape by wearing a
      burqa.

      The use of this clothing makes
      counter-terrorism more difficult because female police, which are in
      shorter supply, must be used to search those wearing it.

      The
      police chief of Iraq’s Babil Province in August 2008 complained about
      this after two burqa-wearing females attacked Shiite pilgrims. However, a
      surprising amount of Muslims, including imams, support the ban. The
      Conference of French Imams has declared its support of the ban, saying
      it is not required in Islam. The chairman of the group, Hassen
      Chalghoumi, has had his Paris mosque stormed and has received death
      threats in response. The ruling of the group of French imams
      is supported by Sheikh Mohammed Tantawi, who was until his death in
      March the Grand Mufti of Egypt and highest Sunni authority in the
      Islamic world.

      (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/the-burqaclad-bombers-who-terrorise-afghanistan-1755887.html)

  • fathima

    how does wearing the niqab affect other people? i agree that security is a big issue in the times we are living in now.. so she shud unveil at security check points .. to FEMALE security personel.but asking her to take it off at all times is jus going too far…
    why cant you respect the sentiments of the muslim community?

  • fathima

    finally… something interesting to reply to..
    niqab and issue of human dignity..
    u are having a misconception of the niqab…
    a girl wearing niqab in modern society today.. does so of her own free and informed choice..
    she is allowed to pursue education.. work.. etc.. if she wishes
    however, most muslim women dont live in modern societies.. i accept.. but thts not the fault of the religion..
    ppl in this day and age..shud b more open minded .. they shud b able to accept all versions of personal expression.. veiled or unveiled..
    the dignity of a girl wearing the niqab in modern society today is not being suppressed or oppressed by her father or brother or her husband or her religion….. but… its by many ppl such as yourself who due to lack of understanding… oppress !

    • Burning_Issue

      Dear Fathima,

      “its by many ppl such as yourself who due to lack of understanding… oppress !”

      You have leveled a serious charge against me that I “oppress” your freedom of expression!

      My view is that the concept of freedom of expression has limitations. Men wearing pants and shirts or Women wearing skirts and blouses are not native to Sri Lanka. The vaddas for
      example wear minimal of clothing. A Sri Lankan whether a Sinhala or a Tamil may
      choose to attend a university class wearing just Kovanam (just a piece of cloth
      covering his genitals); in theory, it was once traditional! You for example,
      will find it uncomfortable and deem it as out of place for such a showing. I
      would agree with you. Similarly, niqab that covers the whole body including the
      face is inappropriate; this is my view; I am very sorry that you feel that I
      “oppress” but this is not my intention.

      1. Exchanging verbal communication between two or more people requires interactions not just exchanging verbally, but one’s body language is equally paramount especially
      the facial expressions. If you take this element away, it becomes incredibility
      hard and off putting.

      2. I would deem it as an insult to me personally and would seek to avoid
      communicating in such a situation.

      3. A fully veiled person cannot conceivably make friends from outside her circle.

      4. Such attire is an insult to fundamental human dignity and it should not be justified
      on account of religion or freedom of expression.

      “ppl in this day and age..shud b more open minded .. they shud b able
      to accept all versions of personal expression.. veiled or unveiled”

      I completely agree that people should be open-minded and accept other versions of personal expressions. I am all for it. However, personal expressions have limitations. For example, certain households openly use vulgar language within their normal interactions. This is normal as far as they are concerned. Do you think others can accept such
      language in public places as their personal expressions?

      The issue of niqab was discussed on Question Time, a BBC political programme where representatives from various political parties and invited guests participate and answer
      questions from a selected audience. There was a question that was in relation
      to a judge in the court of Law demanding a woman to remove her veil and reveal
      her identity. She was accused of intimidating a witness. The Judge did not
      agree to the suggestion of the defense council that she could confirm her
      identity to a female police officer in private. The judge demanded that she
      needed to reveal her identity in the court and in front of the Jury. A similar
      incident happened when a Muslim lady attended a job interview for a post of
      Teacher’s Assistant without covering her face. The job was duly awarded to her.
      She reported to work fully veiled and the school concerned refused to accept
      her. These two incidents are very different; the Judge was keen to apply the
      law impartially and in accordance with the law of the land. The second case is
      more to do with the job and the issue of communication and interaction. I have
      given you these points to ponder; as I said before, the freedom of expression
      has limitations. I am not in the business of oppressing anyone or other
      viewpoints but in favour of removing obstacles for people to get along in modern
      societies.

      “the dignity of a girl wearing the niqab in modern society today is not being suppressed or oppressed by her father or brother or her husband or her religion”

      I believe you when you say that you chose to wear niqab on your own accord; I have ne reason to dispute you. I am sure that there are some Muslim women who do chose to wear niqab by their own choice. However, you cannot conceivably claim universally that free
      choice is respected. On the same BBC programme; a well respected politician
      called Bareness Shirley Williams said that, once she was returning from a
      Middle Eastern country; at the Heathrow airport, a group of Arab ladies landed
      with her fully veiled went in to toilet and hurriedly changed into jeans and
      skirts! This is just a tip of an iceberg.

  • fathima

    Muslims are religious spiritual people who have devoted their lives for their religions and are unfortunately not identified as such for their role in society

    islamic idea of an imam… is “the most religiously educated person” …he lives a life as a normal man.. we dont separate them frm the rest of society.. unlike other religions.

    so let us live, dress, etc …as u let ur “religious leader ” …

  • yapa

    A little bit different different perspective of another Muslim woman.

    http://n.pr/1emeVtX

  • Buddhist

    If muslims become the majority here, as some people fear, SL will immeadiately be declared a muslim country and other religions might be banned.

    • Stel En

      Thats definetely true. Its a religion of intolereance

  • MaxV

    The Virgin Mary’s face is never covered. She’s wearing the headdress like a Catholic nun.
    Why is the world are you citing the constitution for deeply religious matters? The Constitution has no bearing on theological issues like the niquab, which is controversial even in the Muslim world whether it is a truly Islamic or whether it is just a cultural tradition. Even some Muslim countries have banned it.
    You cannot compare the niquab issue with monks and priests. They are clergy so different rules apply to them according to their respective religious traditions. Niquab is a Muslim laywoman’s issue.

  • http://www.groundviews.org/ Groundviews

    Even as publics in many of the surveyed countries express a clear preference for women to dress conservatively, many also say women should be able to decide for themselves what to wear.

    Via http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2014/01/08/what-is-appropriate-attire-for-women-in-muslim-countries/

    • yapa

      I am sure when this girl finishes her studies and educate a bit more and learns a bit more about the world, she will appreciate the freedom of thinking, freedom to choose what she wants to wear etc. and I am sure she would give up the dress imposed upon her by her rigid culture. What she should struggle is to be free from the tunnel vision imposed upon her to see just one suit/uniform as the best one when there are millions of beautiful dresses in this world. Isn’t it an idea of hysteria to think that one uniform is always and forever better over all the other dresses in this world?

      Thinking so is the freedom to decide for themselves what to wear? It is a wonderful freedom!

      Imprisonment too can be interpreted as freedom in this line of argument????????

      These people make antonyms synonyms!

      Thanks!

    • yapa

      No person has freedom to damage even himself/herself in the name of freedom in the name of own will. You have no freedom to kill yourself, cut off your nose or leg. You have no freedom to use Heroin even though you don’t give to anybody else. You have freedom only to do things really (objectively) benefit you. Even in personal sphere, wearing niqab is more damaging to health than most of the other dresses available and worn by non Muslim ladies in this country. It is very unhealthy dress.

      So, citing wearing of niqab as freedom is a myth. It has been craftily conditioned and implanted in innocent women’s mind that wearing it as freedom.

      It is said that slaves are proud of shining chains around their necks (used to tie them up).

      “Interpretation” is a pretty smart game.

      Thanks!

    • yapa

      Love for shining chains around their necks is not a sign of their freedom of thinking and should not be treated as a right of the slaves.

      This is downright misinterpretation!

      Thanks!

      • Off the Cuff

        The Burka and the Niqab are nothing more than a mask. Islam does not mandate it. It should not be allowed in public if hiding a persons’ identity is not acceptable in public. Males have worn it for criminal activity including murder and there is nothing preventing men from donning a Burka or Niqab