The Veil and Secularism

Tuesday, October 14, 2003

The Veil and Secularism
By Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad

Today, the veil has taken an important role in the public appearance of Muslim women. It is not an exaggeration to say that the Islamic veil is one of the most visible symbols of Islamic revivalism. To say that the veil is a modern invention of Islamic movements is a mistake; but it is true that it was Islamic revivalism that has placed the veil into the modern life of Muslim women throughout the world.

The most visible sign of Huntington's clash of civilizations, indeed, is the revival of the Islamic veil, at a time when the West had just celebrated feminism and sexual liberation. In an agnostic age, the veil is seen as an aberration. The veil is seen as symbols of medieval Islam, of the oppressive side of Iran's Islamic Republic and Afghanistan's Taliban regime. Recently, the debate goes on as French Prime Minister Jean Pierre Raffarin declared that veils have no place in French State schools.

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