This article was submitted to Open Democracy and The Guardian earlier this year but remained unpublished.
Two years ago, I wrote on Open Democracy on the French attempt to ban of the Niqab as anti-social in the courts. The European judges had just agreed with the French government by majority rule.
Now the European assault on Muslim women who wear Niqab continues. Austria is yet another country that banned the veil. I am deeply uneasy about this as a European Jew occurring at a time the far right has also seen huge gains across the continent.
When Hitler, the Austrian, may he burn in hell, saw orthodox Jews as backwards to modernity, he dreamt about the holocaust as the solution to this obstacle to a progressive world order, ruled by modernity. The German race and through the enthusiastic Anschluss Austrians, topped the assumed order of progressiveness. Austrians and Germans soon led the ranks as the world’s history biggest mass murderers instead, killing the largest amount of humans in the shortest span of time ever, amongst them members of my own family. The modern death factory of Auschwitz, alongside the machine gun was the superlative of modernity, to follow the argument of the late philosopher Zygmund Bauman.
With six million Jews killed for their crime of being apparently backwards people, today Austrians alongside many other Europeans, found a new anti-modern parasite, that of women who wear #Niqab and already there are laws made, policed by the state and an enthusiastic loud populus. Feminism, in this case, is now a concept owned above all, in German über alles, by Austrians.
I wonder if that nation and its government could endure a closer examination of equality in Austria and that claim of being woman’s best friend.. The Muslim woman in veil has followed the faith of the orthodox Jew that Hitler observed in Vienna. She is the obstacle to progress in Austrian society, über allem. She is now an object that lost her right to be seen as a human equal. To be an equal, she must shed her veil as Jews had to shed their clothes to become invisible. But the shedding is futile. Many movements in Europe indicate that Islam itself, like Judaism then, is the anti-modern, anti-European projectile.
Sieg Heil then, to the inability to eliminate fear of the other, ignorance, hate and self-righteousness? Or perhaps Europe could still get to its senses?
So small is the group of women wearing Niqab that any argument of them being a threat must be ridiculed. The issue is much more a subjective and imagined fear of the other, principled by ignorance and a deliberate triumphant patriarchal view of the Western self over these few women. They do not need to be more rescued than others or made into an example of teaching feminism. That struggle is one that can be fought in a much wider and effective way, by legislating full parity, full equality, full equal pay, and ensure sexual crimes and discrimination is prosecuted with the full might of the law.
The Niqab prohibition is a politics of deflecting from the former and pretending that one is committed to feminism. Right, by battering already marginalised and publicly often abused women? Sure there may be a gender dimension to the veil, but it is not always, directly or essentially forced. The West must be more careful in its judgement and not use the Niqab as a trophy in place of much needed societal reforms of equality that have hardly anything to do with the veil. It should concentrate rather on ending the privileges and advantages to men and it should force instead better education on Islam and other people many in Europe currently view as others. There should be a duty to see the human being in spite of the clothes surrounding the woman wearing Niqab.
One thought on “Imagening the Niqab as the European anti-Modern is a precursor of Auschwitz ”
Could the title have been ‘Imaginging the Niqab as backward and anti-European is a precursor to Aushwitz’ ?
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