Reader JDM has kindly translated this Danish newspaper article. He includes this introductory note:
This article is from today’s Information (aka “the paper for left-wing Danish intellectuals”). I can’t really explain (very well anyway) why I think it’s an important article, but something tells me it is.
And the article itself:
The Veil is Islamism’s Symbol
… and therefore comparable to Nazism’s swastika, claims Chahdorrt Djavann. There is a big job ahead to teach Muslim women to realize this, says the author of the book Toss the Veil.
Among the critics of the use of veils on Muslim women, there are not many as eloquent as Chahdorrt Djavann. From the ages of 13 to 23, Chahdorrt, from a Turkish-Azerbaijani family, was herself forced to wear the veil. In 1993, she came to France and is today a French citizen. She became an anthropologist and earlier this year published the novel How Can One Be French? [reference to a Danish source deleted]. Information met up with this controversial author, who is presently visiting Denmark.
Information: How did the veil come to be and why?
Djavann: The veiling of women is older than Islam. It was known to exist among Jews and Christians and is spoken of by Paul much more than in the Koran. However, while Christian and Jewish societies liberated themselves over time from religious dogmas, Islam has retained its own. And one of the primary dogmas of Islamic Sharia Law is that the value of a woman is only half that of a man. A woman is forever a de facto minor, unable to control her own body, her life, or her future. And, in this context, the veil has an extremely important psycho-sexual and social meaning. In addition, we have followed a development from the 80s in which Islam has been affected by the ideologies and politics of Saudi Arabia and Iran who both finance the Islamist movements around the world — movements that gain more and more influence. So, the emblem for these movements and their political system, the “sharia state” is the woman’s veil. In the same way that the swastika was the symbol of the Nazis.
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I: But what about all the ordinary immigrant women who wear the veil? They don’t know this, do they?
D: What I am analyzing is an ideology, a fascist system, that has agents of influence from Saudi Arabia and Iran who are spread around the world even though they don’t openly agitate. Some of the women who wear the veil are themselves Islamists. In Pakistan, for example, we have seen that a new law to protect rape victims is rejected as “un-Islamic” by female members of parliament who are completely covered in black cloth. So, yes, some women who wear the veil know what they are doing. Others perhaps don’t but are in a sense “trapped” in their environment. Some wear it just to be like other Muslim women. Some to be provocative, others wear it to hide. But regardless of the underlying motives, the Islamist ideology is the one that benefits.
I: But can’t we in democratic and free countries require that when women wear the veil that it is because they have chosen so, of their own free will?
D: Sure, for those Islamist women have chosen to do so. Women as well as men can fall for fascist ideologies. Others have also chosen to wear the veil, but do not understand the meaning of their choice and still others, probably the majority, simply give in to the pressure from their family, especially their fathers and brothers — well, the whole immigrant ghetto. I have spoken with many Muslim women from the immigrant communities who tell me that they simply have no choice. They can’t go out on the street in these areas without wearing a veil. The social pressure is massive.
I: Isn’t there some sort of religious police?
D: No, it’s more subtle and less obvious to those are not part of the milieu. Let me give an example: in France there has been much debate about reserved periods of time for Muslim women at public swimming pools. In all the places in which these reserved periods have been introduced, Muslim women will no longer swim during the open (for all) periods. This is because, the men from their neighborhood say to them that now that a special time has been set aside for them, they need not expose themselves to “those infidel men”. This is how it works, but to truly understand the “hidden codes” one has to live inside the system. Just as soon as Muslims achieve some sort of “minority right”, this right must be exercised, a demand internal to the group that all must follow.
I: But how do you explain that Islamism can grow in the European democracies in which freedom must be more appealing than totalitarianism of Islamism?
D: For the first, among those who sympathize with Islamism are many who are prominent Muslim intellectuals in Europe — even though they might hide their sympathies by speaking of things like multiculturalism, diversity, and tolerance. Enormous sums of petro-dollars have been poured into this project and it is systematically “marketed” on the internet. Secondly, the general public in the West has not woken up to recognize the Islamist threat. What should ordinary Danish schoolteachers do when confronted by veiled girls? They have no idea how to confront or argue against the veil, but these girls know everything about Islamism’s arguments about the rights of minorities. A large number of Western intellectuals also aid the Islamist cause because of their defense of the rights of minorities as a misunderstood fight against racism.
I: Well, what about the crisis of identity and the feeling of “rootlessness” among immigrants and their children? They don’t feel at home in their new country.
D: True, but personal identity problems are not the sole domain of immigrants: it’s part of growing up. What is the meaning of life? All teenagers ask this. Of course, a crisis of identity can grow if one’s parents come from another culture but this problem occurs in both teenage boys and girls. I have never heard of one case in the entire world in which a Muslim boy with personal identity issue who took to wearing a veil. There is no doubt that Islamists manipulate these crises of identity.
I: I have read about Muslim women, some of them Danish converts who deny that their motive to wear the veil has anything to do with submission to the sexual control of men. They also deny that they are Islamists. For them, the veil is a way to explore their spirituality and a guide to Allah. These women are unhappy about being stigmatized as Nazi-like from that hard criticism by you and others. They are also unhappy about being accosted on the street by Danes who hate immigrants because they are wearing a veil.
D: But the Muslim veil is not a religious agent as such. Look at the Catholic nuns. For them, their form of the veil has a religious meaning. It signals that they have retreated from life to offer themselves to their religion. Nuns also wear the habit inside their convent, when they are alone or with other nuns. They don’t wear it to hide from view of men. But the Muslim women wear their veil to hide their hair from men and why? Let me ask a simple question: if a women cuts all her hair off, does she still have to wear a veil? To the veil-wearing Danish converts who buy Islamism’s rhetoric I would ask, “When you are alone in your bathroom does not God see you — do you cover yourself for God?”. It is far more likely that the veil is the most obvious way to refuse Western values, in this case, the equality of the sexes.
I: But the veil-wearing converts respond that they feel more free now than before. Now they can avoid men’s hungry, sexist stares — now they are no longer forced into the role of sex objects.
D: Really now, in Western lands, men don’t stare particularly hungrily at women and those that do are the exceptions, because they are surrounded by women. On the other hand, in the gender segregated Muslim countries, many men come with whistles and dirty stares regardless of whether one wears a veil or not — something many Western women have experienced. And in spite of the chador [veil], the problems of prostitution in Iran are enormous. The veil does not protect chastity. For me, the veil is pornographic. When a women is veiled, the relationship between the man and woman is reduced to a bestial sexuality of the same obscene types of the worst pornography.
I: If you are correct that veiling is an Islamist plot, what can we do? In Iran under the Shah, it was forbidden to wear the veil, which was part of the reason for the Islamist revolution. To match force against force, forced “unveiling” against forced veiling, this can’t be the way to go?
D: With regards to Iran, it is very difficult in a single generation to change the mentality of a country that, for thousands of years has lived under a feudal system. I do not believe that force should be a starting point. First and foremost, it is necessary to create a giant pedagogical and persuasive effort to counter over twenty years of Islamist propaganda. It can be decisive, I believe, in the democratic countries to recognize that forcing minors to wear the veil is akin to child abuse — something that must be forbidden.
I: Which brings us back to force. If this ban is to be enforced… these children will be ostracized from their own families?
D: But forced child removal is already being done in cases of sexual or violent physical assaults. Isn’t forcing the child to wear a veil a similar offense?
I: That can be debated…
D: Is it not an assault to say to a little girl that your body is a source of shame, that is shameful to be a woman, and that you must therefore wear this veil of shame everywhere you go? That, to me, is a psychologically debilitating assault and infinitely worse than a slap in the face. In Muslim countries, minors have little or no legal protections. According to Sharia Law, a father has the power of life and death over his child. In a democratic country, on the other hand, a child is not a thing that belongs to the parents but an individual with given rights and who can demand society’s moral considerations.
I: Your positions must seem quite controversial to the Islamists in France. Have you been threatened?
D: I am fortunately under the protection of the French state and the police. This was promised to me personally by Chirac himself.
I: The French law that forbids wearing of obvious religious symbols in state schools has been in place for three years. How has it worked out?
D: It has gone wonderfully. The Islamists have threatened: if you pass this law, you will have war. The war has not happened and locally, the conflicts have been very limited. And actually, many Muslims agree with the law. Sometimes it is necessary to be hard when it is just.
Many thanks to JDM for supplying us with this translation.