Saudi Cleric Comments on French Burqa Issue

Saudi cleric Sheikh Ayedh al-Garni declared last week that it is permissible for women to only wear a hair cover in places where the burqa is banned, namely France. According to the Washington Post, he said, “We should not confront people in their countries or else where. In case a ban is enforced against a Muslim woman there – and as a consequence there is a reaction or negative implications or harassment or harm – it is better for the Muslim woman to reveal her face.” The cleric’s advice is known as fatwa, or religious guidance, which is not obligatory. The proposed French ban on the burqa was approved by the country’s lower parliament two weeks ago in a 335 to one vote. The bill will go to the Senate for approval in September. If passed, the legislation calls for $185 fine or citizenship classes for those caught wearing face-covering veils in public. A year of prison and a $38,000 fine will be placed on anyone convicted of forcing others to wear a veil, states to the Associated Press. The cleric also said, “It is illogical and unreasonable that the French government undertakes such a thing, which is condemned by neutral people, not just Muslims, because the secular state assures freedom of religion,” according to USA Today. Mohammed al-Nujemi, a professor at the Institute of Judicial and Islamic Studies in Riyadh, said, “The Saudi woman should not go on tourism to non-Muslim countries. Going to a non-Muslim country without a necessity is not permissible according to the sharia (Islamic law).” He did, however, say that women who live in France already could show their face “when need and necessity demand it,” according to Reuters.


Washington Post 7/24/10; Feminist Newswire 7/13/10; Associated Press 7/6/10; Reuters 7/25/10

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