Social Question

Iclamae's avatar

What is your opinion regarding Syria's decision to ban face veils in universities?

Asked by Iclamae (2409points) July 21st, 2010

Syria has decided to ban face veils in universities. Here’s the article:

http://tinyurl.com/22lff83

What do you think about it?

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50 Answers

john65pennington's avatar

Not to sure about Syria, but i can tell you about an incident with a veil in the United States. this female and her two friends were caught shoplifting. store security called the police. the two thieves refused to give security their names, addresses, etc. i arrived and the two shoplifters still refused to give personal information. sooooooooooo, instead of issuing a state citation for shoplifting, they were taken to jail. this upset the pair to no end. during the booking process, both still refused to give their personal information to the intake jail personnel. so, they were booked as Jane Does, until they decided to co-operate. when it came time for their mugshot photographs, they both refused to remove their veils. i advised both that they were in America and their veils would have to go, for their pictures to be taken. both still refused, sooooooooooo, i politely grabbed the veils off both their faces and their photos were then taken. they both remained in jail for two days, until they decided to give the police their names and addresses.

The point here is this: people are welcomed to America. in order to live in America, you leave behind your old homeland customs and traditions, to a degree. wearing a veil is considered a mask. a mask is forbidden to be worn, except for holidays and special occasions.

judochop's avatar

My opinion? It’s really nice to see Syria taking the initiative.

ragingloli's avatar

And notice how this news is absent in the big media. Just shows their agenda.

josie's avatar

It is the quiet upside to the West’s aggressive presence in the Middle East. Most people are reasonable, and most reasonable people in the Middle East know that as long as the West perceives them as crazy and a threat, they will never be able to assimilate into the modern world. You will be seeing more of this as long as the Western world is making it’s presence known in the ME.
If the US bags out, as so many people seem to want, it WILL go the other way. I am not making this up. If you go there, you will see how the balance is slightly tipping the right way-not just for us, but for them as well.

Cruiser's avatar

My opinion is this is great news. Syria is and has been one of the most progressive Arab nations and women have it good there compared to other ME countries. Banning wearing wearing of the veil on campus empowers all women in college there to finally take a step away from Islamic extremest traditions. Hopefully this will gain momentum and trickle out and about to other nations in the region.

Pandora's avatar

I think it is great. I didn’t understand how you could educate a young woman and then say that they must hide their sexuality because men would not be able to resist. Why put it all on the woman. How about men should simply learn to resist their animal nature and be able to see the whole woman as a fellow human being to be admired for her own individuality. Not as someone who should be shrouded in shame for being born female.
Heck its great that when they walk the streets people can recognize them. I don’t know how they get recognized without a name tag anyway.
It would’ve irratated me to be called by someone elses name for years.
At the same time. I bet the girls who would have a friend cover for them are disappointed. Now they have to show up for class because the teacher will know when your not present. LOL

KatawaGrey's avatar

I think it’s ridiculous. The face veil is just another article of clothing. It would be like if Syria banned yarmulkes (sp) and I bet no one would like that very much.

@john65pennington: Your logic is ridiculous. As I recall, you’re not allowed to wear a hat or a hood when taking a picture for a government ID. Should we ban hats and hoods as well? You’re not allowed to smile or wear a shirt with anything on it for passports at least in CT. Should we ban smiling and shirts with things on them?

Fyrius's avatar

Well, this is an interesting development. I think it’ll end up creating a divide between the Syrian academic world and the local religious extremists, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Provided the reasonable people are not a minority. Otherwise it could make the moderate people turn against the academics for opposing their precious traditions and in the end do more harm than good for Syria.
If nothing else, I’m sure they’ve opened a debate. Let’s wait and see where it will lead them.

@john65pennington
I’m going to be a grumpy Europerson here and point out that this thread is about veil policies in Syria, and not about how stuff goes down in Eagle Land.

ragingloli's avatar

@KatawaGrey
The problem is that the face veil is notjust” another article of clothing. It is not even just a symbol of misogynistic oppression, it is a tool of oppression.
Unfortunately oppression does not go away by just saying “We would rather have you not do that, please”. You need to resort to “Stop it, or else…” or some other form of direct pressure.
Slavery in the US did not stop because of the government just saying “We would prefer it if you stopped this whole slavery thing”. No, it had to be outlawed after a bloody civil war.
Segregation and racial discrimination did not stop by simple pleas. It had to made illegal. They even had to call in the national guard to enforce it.
The veil prevents women from expressing themselves, their views and demands, in public and to show that there are people behind the voice. It is a wall that has to be torn down.

josie's avatar

@ragingloli Could not agree more. See my previous comment. That and the oil is why we are there.

KatawaGrey's avatar

@ragingloli: I am going to respectfully disagree. Outlawing the veil has nothing to do with preventing oppression. It’s about saving face for the Westerners and using women as the tool to do that. The thing is, the veil can be just another article of clothing. Look at the United States. Women are required to wear shirts at all times. Personally, I think that is unfair and misogynistic but nothing is being done about that. The same is true of skirts and high-heels. These popular articles of Western clothing were originally intended to keep women from being able to move very well. Look at corsets. They are damaging and reform bones and mash internal organs, but those are still legal in the US and other countries, as far as I know. I think that the veil should be made optional, rather than required. Just the other day, I saw a Muslim woman walking with her daughter at least, I assumed she was the woman’s daughter. The older woman was wearing a headscarf, long sleeves and long pants. Her daughter, who was old enough to wear “proper” Muslim attire, was not wearing a headscarf and had on short sleeves. I think that would be the ideal situation. Women, indeed, anyone, should be allowed to wear the clothing they so choose in public.

When I said that the face veil is just another article clothing that is what I meant. And no, I still think it should not be banned. We discussed this very subject at great length in my latest women’s studies class.

john65pennington's avatar

Hey, don’t shoot the messenger here. i realize that my situation had nothing to do with Syria. i only wanted to point out that this is a problem in America, also.

Sorry, if my answer was a little misleading.

KatawaGrey's avatar

@john65pennington: And I was pointing out that this is not a problem in America, it’s only a problem in very specific circumstances. It sounds to me like the biggest problem in the scenario you gave was that these women refused to give you names or addresses. I would think that would be a problem whether they were wearing veils or not.

Edit to add: I’ve just read the article and when they talk about urging students to remove veils and headscarves, that often means not allowing women certain jobs because they wear them and not allowing them to graduate from university because they wear them and sometimes forcefully removing the veils and headscarves. I don’t know if that happens in Syria, but it happens in other Muslim countries trying to be more Western.

judochop's avatar

The problem with the veils was the mugshot. Not their name and numbers.
The problem with wearing anything that can hide anything is that now a days it is perceived as a mask and whether it is worn for religious right or fashion, given the days we live in now it does not matter. It scares people and it is impossible to record and identify criminals in this case who were caught stealing if we allow masks, veils, hoods, bandannas, etc in photo ID’s.
And regarding the wearing of veils and headscarves at a university in a Muslim country…I don’t see it as the country trying to me more “western.” That is pompous to think so. I see it as an evolution. The veil has been a form of oppression and control. It is true some women feel safer behind it, I see that as fear.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Um, so they aren’t allowed to wear veils even if they want to? Isn’t that a form of reverse-banning?

judochop's avatar

@Dutchess_III good question. I only live in America and in the highly liberal city of Portland, Oregon. If someone tells you, you can’t paint your face to look like your ass here then the next day 5000 people will be doing it.
I have no idea.
Sometimes I argue for the sake of bringing things up and balancing sides out here on in the threads. Really, my honest opinion at first was great, moving forward but after rreading some of the opinions here I just can’t make up my mind.

MaryW's avatar

I do believe this will have to be addressed everywhere. To answer your question, I think they should be banned. The veils are male made religious “law” but they are also useful for the lawless. I think they are a safety hazard and a security hazard.

It is interesting that it is banned in Syrian institutions of higher learning and that they find that ... extremism is “unacceptable.” Good.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@judochop I think the answer is simple….wear it or not. It’s your choice. That’s the only way it could be considered “real” progress. It’s kinda sexy and mysterious, you know? I kind of wish we had a fashion statement like that here!

Dutchess_III's avatar

@MaryW How could a veil be a security hazard, any more than a hat or baggy pants? If they refuse to remove the veil, do the same to them as you would do if someone refused to remove their hat….don’t let them on the plane, or whatever.

judochop's avatar

@Dutchess_III it’s hardly a fashion statement. Women are forced to wear it. The only mystery it provides is for the man. Husbands do not allow their wives to show other men their faces.
please read this story

Dutchess_III's avatar

@judochop I understand that. But the the “requirement” to wear them were lifted, then they could choose to turn it into a fashion statement if they wanted to. I’m sure there are some women who would choose to continue wearing the veil, if given the choice. Perhaps some just feel more comfortable with it on. Is it right to tell them that they can’t wear it? Isn’t that just as oppressing? Put it this way, why do they have to “BAN” wearing it? If every woman saw that as nothing but a sign of oppression, and they were free to remove it you would think they’d all be taking them off in heart beat. Apparently, some aren’t doing doing so voluntarily so they have to ban it.

By lifting the requirement, you allow the veil to take on a whole different meaning other than oppression.

MaryW's avatar

@Dutchess_III

The veil is a mask when it is worn for reasons a mask is worn.

On the “religious” side of the question: The veil imposed on women by the men of extreme religions is not a fashion statement. It is repression and by taking someones identity away you possess them and have power over them. If you think the requirment to wear it is going to be lifted by the men of the extreme religions you have not followed the beatings and stonings to the death women who removed the veil have suffered.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@MaryW As long as it is imposed on the women, as long as they are forced to wear it, then yes. It’s oppression. But isn’t it oppression if they aren’t even given the choice to wear it if they want to?

Re: The mask. Is there a law that says people aren’t allowed to wear masks in public? I wouldn’t just because I wouldn’t want to (why would I want to look like Spidey Man or Nixon??) but I don’t think there is a law against it. There is no law against wearing face-covering ski masks, either.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@Iclamae Thanks for the info, @Iclamae.

Iclamae's avatar

@Dutchess_III The Muslims I met in college had beautiful headscarves and before I knew it was a religious practice, I thought it was a fashion thing I had missed out on. Just the headscarves alone are gorgeous. Also, if more companies make beautiful and fashionable headscarves, Muslim women can keep that tradition of their religion while feeling pretty and/or sexy. It would also be less off-putting for people unfamiliar with the tradition. Fashion statement = increased exposure and tolerance

Fyrius's avatar

@Iclamae
“if more companies make beautiful and fashionable headscarves, Muslim women can keep that tradition of their religion while feeling pretty and/or sexy.”
Haha, what? Sexy headscarves?
Do you know what Muslim headscarves are for?

Iclamae's avatar

@Fyrius yes, yes, I am aware.

The way I figure it is: It would be too much of a culture shock to just get rid of the headscarf and let women express their sexuality for the muslim world. But we want their women to feel empowered and all that. So the compromise is pretty headscarves. It’s a small thing to put a pattern on the headscarves or to allow decorative pins. And maybe with time and getting used to the colorful scarves and designs, they’ll realize the scarves don’t serve their original purpose and won’t be required any more.

Fyrius's avatar

@Iclamae
How clever! That sounds like a marvellous idea. :) No sarcasm.

Many Muslim men would probably still complain once they figure out what’s happening, trying to draw lines between decent headscarves and slutty ones and telling their wives and daughters which ones they can wear. But it would surely be an easier step than forgoing the scarves altogether.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Once upon a time, here in America, women were seriously frowned on for wearing pants. Nobody cared that the dresses, which were required to be really long, and probably quite cumbersome, was a form of oppression (granted, not on the scale the Muslim women have to deal with.) That’s changed. Women can wear whatever they want to. BUT would it be right for our country to absolutely BAN women from wearing dresses because of the oppression it represented a hundred years ago?

The women should be given a choice. If total nudity in public became legal, I doubt there are many who’d jump for joy. Most folks would choose to continue to wear clothes in public because they’d feel extremely uncomfortable going to the store naked. I imagine there are Muslim women who would feel the same way, because it’s how they were raised. I think they should be given a choice.

Fyrius's avatar

@Dutchess_III
As a tangential curiosity about your analogy: do you figure Western men are currently suffering from a form of oppression, because they’ll still be looked at funny if they wear a dress?
Or are clothing norms only oppressive if it’s for women?

Back on-topic: in the case of Muslim women, giving them a choice may not be as straightforward as making several options legal. It seems the ‘bottleneck’ in their freedom of choice is not the law, but their husbands and male relatives. There’s a lot of cultural development to be made.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@Fyrius I’m not sure what you’re talking about….if I understand it, then yes. Men are looked at askance if they look like a man but wear a dress. I suppose it’s a mild form of oppression, but if they really want to wear a dress they can. Men and women can walk around in a barrel if they want. It’s legal, as far as I know.

Iclamae's avatar

@Fyrius I agree that law is not the only problem here and in general that seems to be the main concern of those who are opposed to the veil altogether. But I think putting a law against something that potentially makes these women comfortable is not helping the situation. Especially in this case where it will cause many women to miss out on education. A friend of mine hopes that this will cause long term acceptance of women not being forced to wear the veil (within their culture) and the eventual women’s rights that will come from that. I’m a little more paranoid that it will just push more women into being uneducated. I guess we’ll have to wait to see how it ends.

Also, about men, yes those expectations and weird looks are there. Those expectations and looks will always be there for anyone who breaks the current norm, regardless of what that norm is and where it is.
The difference in this case is whether or not there are laws opposing it. Even so, the argument can still be made regarding cross dressers and transgendered people in the US. No those aren’t right either but we’re working on fighting them. Sort of for example:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/us_lesbian_prom_date

The “sort of” being the loosely similar fact that she wanted to wear a tux and bring a girl to prom.

Fyrius's avatar

@Dutchess_III
To clarify, perhaps redundantly: what I meant is that I was a bit surprised that you would think the old norm that women wore dresses was a form of oppression. Particularly because the guys were in the exact same situation with pants. And it gets particularly interesting considering that nowadays women in pants are okey dokey but men in dresses are still awkward, implying women are freed while the men remain oppressed.

Truth be told, I think the comparison is all wrong.

@Iclamae
“But I think putting a law against something that potentially makes these women comfortable is not helping the situation. Especially in this case where it will cause many women to miss out on education.”
Yes, I think you’re right.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@Fyrius The thought that it was oppressing that the women had to wear dresses comes about through my own musings, especially thinking of the poorer farm women and the settlers. You know, it’s hard to run in a long dress, and they had reasons to run more than we to run. To fight a barn fire, run from Indians, to hide, whatever. The dresses were HOT, too. They’re hotter than pants because they hold so much more body heat around the the body than pants do. They get caught on things. They get caught on FIRE! Mice run up their dresses (which is why women used to jump on chairs when someone hollered “MOUSE!”) They had to ride side-saddle, which would be really HARD I’d think, especially if the horse started bucking. They made no sense in the common sense scheme of things, and in fact put women in jeopardy at times, but that is what they were expected to do. In that way it’s oppressive.

Fyrius's avatar

@Dutchess_III
You make a good case against the old-fashioned dress.

ragingloli's avatar

mini skirts for boys!

ragingloli's avatar

Sparta style, baby fyrius!

Fyrius's avatar

That’s madness.

ragingloli's avatar

Madness?
THIS IS SP… oh what the hell.

Fyrius's avatar

Good thing this thread is in the social section.

Iclamae's avatar

<facepalm>
:)

Dutchess_III's avatar

@Iclamae What does <facepalm> mean?

Dutchess_III's avatar

: ) Thanks! That’s what I was hoping it meant because that’s the first thing I thought of!

mattbrowne's avatar

Excellent decision.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@mattbrowne Don’t you think it would have been more enlightening to tell the women they have a choice whether to wear them or not?

Iclamae's avatar

or you could just give your reasons for liking it. Would be helpful to hear.

mattbrowne's avatar

@Dutchess_III – I think there should be limitations. No naked people in public. No people hiding their faces in public. Women are free to choose wearing a headscarf or not, a tank top or not, a mini skirt or not. There are plenty of choice.

I’ve said this before: Veils or headscarfes to cover hair are fine if women want to wear them. But a veil is not required to prevent women from being looked at as a sex object as many Muslims would argue, because this is the problem of ignorant men – and foolish men should not be the reason for women to turn into faceless ghosts whenever they are in public. If anyone has to change it’s the men, not the women. When I look at women I see human beings, not sex objects. Good parenting is required to raise boys so that they become mature men. When I look at a beautiful women I see beauty. When women look at attractive men, they see beauty too. No big deal.

Dehumanizing people by taking their faces away is very wrong in my opinion. Facial expressions are a form of nonverbal communication. They are a primary means of conveying social information among humans. There are seven universally recognized emotions shown through facial expressions: fear, anger, surprise, contempt, disgust, happiness, and sadness. Regardless of culture, these expressions are the same.

Face perception is the process by which the brain and mind understand and interpret the human face. Mirror neurons help humans understand goals and intentions of other humans and many researchers argue that the mirror neuron system is involved in empathy. The human face’s proportions and expressions are important to identify origin, emotional tendencies, health qualities, and some social information. From birth, faces are important in the individual’s social interaction. Face perceptions are very complex as the face expressions involve vast involvement of areas in the brain. Sometimes damaged parts of the brain can cause specific impairments in understanding faces or prosopagnosia (Source: Wikipedia).

As I said there’s no problem for women wearing a headscarf either as a symbol for religion or to keep the head warm in winter. There is a problem with face veils and moderate Muslim women should come up with creative strategies to make this unfortunate tradition disappear. Face-hiding garments are wrong except when walking to the south pole or riding a motorcycle at high speeds.

Women should participate in public life, show their faces and have a significant influence in society. Showing their faces in private is not enough. Faces is what makes us human. As social creatures we rely on face perception. Therefore taking faces away is a way of dehumanizing people. To me a burqa symbolizes a mobile prison. Not even the eyes are visible through the bars of the women’s tiny prison windows.

In Western countries we got dress codes too. In a city it’s not appropriate to run around naked and it’s also not appropriate to run around fully cloaked. This has little to do with religion. It’s a matter of culture and dress code. When Western women travel to Iran, for example as journalists, they respect the local dress code which means wearing a headscarf. This is okay. We should respect that. But we also want some respect when it comes to our culture and our dress codes in Western countries.

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