Just a few months ago in April 2011, France introduced a law to prohibit Burqa and made it a crime to cover your face in public. The tyrants claimed that the law is meant to bring gender equality; it was certainly a rightwing nut job. The government of France believed that all they are doing is to liberate the women and to protect the dignity of women1 . Only a fool could believe this explanation of simple tyrannical act.
One of the politician who actually tried to act like an apostle of liberty defined burqa as “walking prison” and he was in favor of liberating all women out of this walking prison and to do this, the tyrant government jailed a number of women right in their homes because those women were in no mood to give up their right to wear whatever they like. Ban on burqa for them was a ban from any public activity including walking down the street, taking a bus, going to the shops or collecting their children from school.
Obviously, there were women who defied the law and took the challenge to declare that they won’t bow down under the duress of tyranny. It was an extreme where the tyrant government declared that they have a right to dictate what a woman should wear and what should they not. Hind Ahmas, a daring woman decided to stand against the tyrannical government. She claimed that the ban on burqa effectively forced Muslim women under house arrest. She was arrested by the police and the court fined her2 .
France is too far from Egypt and the Egyptian system of government is too different from democratic government of France. Yet, the nature of government is same in both country and so is the nature of citizens.
Just like the French women had the will to defy government, an Egyptian girl of age 20, Aliaa Magda Elmahdy3 decided to take her nude pictures and to post them on her blog. It was all her frustration against the religious tyranny of fundamentalist tyrannical party. She was afraid of future and wanted to do her best against the fundamentalist Islamic parties which are expected to win the upcoming elections on November 28. Nudity is strictly prohibited in Egyptian society yet, this girl from Cairo who is a university student dared to “scream against a society of violence, racism, sexism, sexual harassment and hypocrisy.”
Hind Ahmas and Aliaa Magda Elmahdy4 are two pictures of ray of hope fighting against the tyranny, the tyranny of government and the collectivist society to control individuals under the pressure of social obligations. Obviously, wearing a burqa isn’t a sign of oppression if the woman is free to decide what to wear. Wearing a burqa becomes a tyranny when a woman is oppressed to wear it as an obligation. Similarly, walking down the street in a skimpy skirt doesn’t define freedom; freedom is defined by the ability of a woman to wear whatever she likes. The message is simple, We need to learn how to separate between nudity and sex, and we need to learn how to separate between nudism and freedom.
Religion has always been used as a tool to be played by the government. Government of France used religion and targeted Islam by going against individual will and natural rights of citizens and Egyptian society use religion to target Individual denying individual rights. There is hardly a difference between the burqa ban announced by France and the burqa culture forced on women by fundamentalist Islamist parties in Egypt.
However, the spectrum of tyranny is too vast. Another picture of tyranny of government appeared in Saudi Arabia where the Saudi Arabian government announced that its moral police in Ha’il will force women to cover their eyes5 . The Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice which is also known as Haia or the kingdom’s religious police announced, “the Haia men will intervene to force women to cover their eyes, especially tempting ones.”
While Aliaa Magda Elmahdy in Cairo, Egypt, decided to go against every social boundary and posted her naked pictures on her blog, the tyrannical kingdom of Saudi Arabia announced a fatwa against every Saudi Arabian woman to remain ready to cover up their eyes. The religious rulers of Saudi Arabia believe that those innocent eyes of women may temp the men and it is a crime. Obviously, what they are trying to claim is the fact that all women are vice. The police men of this religious political group of Saudi Arabia have the power to approach and arrest anyone they deem as breaking their rules, even if they are as ambiguous as inciting “fitna,” or temptation.
Saudi Arabian Haia is the most strong and fearsome picture of tyrannical spectrum of which, the government of France and the fundamentalists of Egypt are two parts. One can easily distinguish the similarity between these three pictures of cruel governmental tyranny. Government of France decided to be the authority of liberty and chose to rob the individual freedom to decide what to wear and ultimately imprisoned many women in their own house, the Egyptian fundamentalists for their own patterns of sexual oppression and violence frustrated a young girl to raise her voice, and the Saudi Arabian government, in order to show that no voice against tyranny will be entertained, announced the law that the women in burqa have no right to keep their eyes out of the veil.
The Picture of tyranny from France gave way to the ray of hope as Hind Ahmas dared to go against the tyranny, the picture of tyranny from Egypt was washed away by that daring young girl named Aliaa Magda Elmahdy, who tore away her cloths and posted her nude pictures in stalking on her blog, claiming that this is the voice against the society of violence, racism, sexual oppression and tyranny. Saudi Arabia on the other hand is a different scenario, yet the human nature will prompt many individuals in Saudi Arabia to defy the tyranny.
These extremities of collectivism and tyranny explain the fact that no matter what is the shape of a government, if there is a government, there is oppression, harassment, exploitation and tyranny. Democracy of France couldn’t save right of an Individual to pursue her choice, the recent revolution in Egypt couldn’t provide enough peace to an individual mind to lead their own way, the Saudi Arabian kingdom is obviously the most gruesome pattern of tyranny which cannot allow a woman to look at the open sky with her naked eyes.
Unless individual will not understand that collectivism in any form is the enemy of freedom, governments like that of France will keep oppressing women on the name of liberating genders and the governments like that of Saudi Arabia will keep oppressing women on the name of Prevention of vice.
- France’s Burqa Ban:women are ‘effectively under house arrest’, The Guardian [↩]
- Niqab Women Fines by French Court, The Guardian [↩]
- Aliaa Magda Elmahdy posted her nude pics to protest against fundamentalist society of Egypt, A Rebels Diary [↩]
- Egypt activist posts nude pictures of self on blog, sparks outrage, Times of India [↩]
- Saudi vice committee to force cover women with ‘tempting’ eyes, Ahram Online [↩]