Official Transcript from SBS
JENNY BROCKIE: Uthman, how do you see the burqa. Do you see it as an absolutely….
AMINA GHAFOOR: I don’t think there is such a thing as a non practising Muslim.
UTHMAN BADAR, HIZB UT – TAHRIR: I think Mr Myard in the beginning – his comments were quite indicative, particularly because in France he has been banned whereas in Australia the discussions are more at the beginning stage. I think the issue about the niqab is not an issue about the niqab itself. It comes in the context that all things Islamic has increasingly come under the spotlight. We are talking about the mosques, the teaching of the Koran in schools, halal food and so on and so forth. Muslim loyalties, we have had that debate a few years ago, and so it is not about the cloth but what it represents in terms of Islam itself and the revival, and this is where Tanveer’s comments, I think he has given it a western interpretation but what we see is an Islamic revival on the global stage. It has been said before, Tony Blair in 2006 said that the full face is a mark of separation. He went further to very importantly, I think, say, or indicatively that there is need not only to debate the full face veil, but the place of Islam and how it fits in the modern world. So for me it – for us I think it is a very clear a discussion of values and differing values and the whole question of integration.
JENNY BROCKIE: Can I ask you the same question I asked Sheikh Omran earlier, because you are from an Islamic political group which has been banned in some other countries and I wonder whether you think the burqa and the niqab are central to being a Muslim woman. Do you think the wearing of these garments is central to being a Muslim woman?
UTHMAN BADAR: That is an interesting question but from the Islamic perspective it is important to understand that Islam is vast in the sense that it allows for differences of opinion, and a thing can be Islamic, even though there are difference opinions, so the niqab is certainly Islamic, even though there are opinions which say it is obligitory.
JENNY BROCKIE: Is there freedom for women to not wear it if they are Muslim?
UTHMAN BADAR: There is a very important distinction between law and fact, as there is in the western law.
JENNY BROCKIE: I want you to answer from your perspective, from your group, as one Islamic group, do you think it is central to being a Muslim woman to cover your face like this?, is it central?
UTHMAN BADAR: What I am saying the world ‘Central” is not adequate.
JENNY BROCKIE: Do you think that woman should?
UTHMAN BADAR: The point is that Islam has certain rules, it says the Hijab is obligatory on everyone …
MAN: Why can’t you answer the question? I have heard the question be asked five times and why can’t you answer it.
UTHMAN BADAR: You are asking it from a western premise.
JENNY BROCKIE: Could I ask you just to be quiet for a second.
RUBY HAMAD: I think some people from the more, some men from the more extreme side of Islam do think it is central for women but they want it to come across as if the women are doing it by choice. The word choice has been bandied around a lot tonight can we just discuss the context of this choice that women are made to wear the burqa. It is a patriarchal symbol, it was around before Islam for the first 200 years of Islam, Muslim women were not required to wear the burqa, for 200 years they were not required to be veiled. OK, but as Islam spread it absorbed the patriarchal tradition of the countries that it spread into. The burqa, the veil, whatever you want to call it, is one of those. The reason – no, this is history, if you read history books beside the Koran …..
JENNY BROCKIE: Let her finish.
RUBY HAMAD: It is a cultural symbol and it was absorbed by Islam and for hundreds of years scholars have been using religion as an excuse to keep women covered up. In a patriarchal society women are viewed as sexual beings, that are there to tempt men into immorality and the reason they are covered up is so they don’t tempt …no that is absolutely true.
AHMED SAGHIR: That is not history – that is not history at all. That is not true. Stop making up stories.
JENNY BROCKIE: Sheikh Omran just wait a moment and let this lady speak.
KHADIJA AL KADDOUR: I wore the niqab for four years, I am a seventh generation Australian. My mother is a sixth generation Australia, she grew up with Christian values, she converted to Islam in the early 70s. My mother now wears the niqab, and she chose to wear the niqab.
RUBY HAMAD: I am talking about women – I’m talking about history.
KHADIJA AL KADDOUR: I grew up and I decided to choose to wear the niqab at a stage in my life.
RUBY HAMAD: But why?
KHADIJA AL KADDOUR: On my spiritual journey, I decided at a time in my life to wear the niqab. Because I decided…
RUBY HAMAD: Why — But what function does it serve?
JENNY BROCKIE: OK, OK, everybody we can’t hear anyone!! We can’t hear anyone!!, sorry, everyone, please, time out. Sheikh Omran.
SHEIKH MOHAMAD OMRAM: We didn’t say we refuse to answer two of them have said I refuse to answer or he refuses, no, we don’t refuse to answer the question. The question is there anyhow, in any book as you are studying and seeing the history of Islam you should know the answer yourself. But the answer is not required here. We are not here debating a separate issue, is it compulsory or is it not compulsory. That matter should be decided somewhere else, not here. We are not – no, excuse me –
MAN: You guys misunderstood the question. I just ask whether you think women should wear.
JENNY BROCKIE: Sheikh Omran, should women wear it…. No, you didn’t say. That you said — I was just trying to get a clear answer from you about whether you think that women should wear the burqa.
MAN; Listen to the question.
SHEIKH MOHAMAD OMRAM: I answered that question.
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