After Shiv Sena released a controversial editorial in Saamna on Wednesday demanding ban on burqa for Muslim women saying it is a threat to national security, Muslim women activists who fight for gender justice and religious tolerance called out political bluff of the party. “Shiv Sena not burqas are a threat to national security,” said documentary filmmaker Saba Dewan who also mobilized the famous ‘Not In My Name’ campaign against mob lynching of a young Muslim man in 2017.

Attempt To Hurt Country’s Secular Fabric

“Our constitutional values of which secularism is one of the cornerstones have been under systematic attack for the past few years. There have been consistent attempts being made by various Hindutva outfits including Shiv Sena to erode those values. It is them who pose the greatest threat and challenge to the integrity of India. Such thoughts when made public hurt the fabric of the country in a very real and physical way on Muslims and minorities. It is an entire hate campaign unleashed unfortunately by the ruling party itself,” Dewan added.

Women’s rights activist and the founding member of Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan, Zakia Soman shared that there are two fundamentals as the justice and equality for women is very real. “There is a high prevalence of conservatism and patriarchy in the community and women are fighting that in several ways like the Triple Talaq movement and the entry to Haji Ali dargah etc. So gender justice is a very genuine question. Now there is another angle to it how political parties and vested groups are trying to encash from the issues faced by Muslim women and harming the entire cause of gender justice within the community,” said Soman, adding that there is an attempt to trivialise and nullify everything that feminists stand for.

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Fighting Such Comments – A Double-Edged Sword For Activists

The political class is trying to take advantage and the right-wing of both political and Islamic groups are working hard to define the status of women in society, noted Soman. “It is a double-edged sword for people like us as at one end we are fighting the real issues entrenched in the society and making reforms and on the other end we have to fight such demonizing and villainizing of Muslim women,” she said.

Shiv Sena in its article has demanded Prime Minister Narendra Modi to ban burqas in public spaces across the country as it poses a threat to national security on Wednesday. “This restriction has been recommended as an emergency measure to ensure the security forces do not encounter difficulties in identifying anybody. People wearing face-masks or burqas could pose a threat to national security,” the Sena said in its editorial.

“This work will require as much daring as a ‘surgical strike.’ The Sri Lankan President had done it by overnight banning burqa or veils or face-covers of any types in all public places. This is a work of great courage and restraint exhibited by (Sri Lanka) President Maithripala Sirisena,” lauded the Sena.

Burqa is a symbol of safety and defending oneself when a Muslim woman goes out in public so no one can lay a bad eye on her. It isn’t just Muslim women, several other women also follow purdah system

Understanding Burqa And Level Of Politics

Talking about terrorism and the danger that the party talked about in its editorial, advocate Farha Faiz, who is also the president of Rashtriya Muslim Mahila Sangh, said that terrorism shouldn’t be limited to ISIS and the Muslim outfits. “Terrorism encompasses every person working towards destroying the security of this country. It can be any person from any religion or caste group who is working against the secular fabric and to destroy the integrity of the country. Every country has different scenario and their constitutional value, ours is a secular country and we must not try to follow other countries because of the difference in ideologies among the two.”

She also opined that this demand is just for political gains and that it is a low-level politics that these parties have stooped down to. “The kind of principled politics seems to be lost and the brand of politics that is done by maligning others seems to be the new flavour,” said Faiz.

Pic credit: news18

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