In the desert a BURKA makes a hell of a lot more sense than a BIKINI

Burkas have their origins in the Middle East. What to they have a lot of in the Middle East besides oil and war?

Sand.

And not soft, damp beach sand. Hot, dry desert sand. The kind of sand that can be whipped up into a storm by the slightest breeze.

Sandstorms are painful

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A massive sandstorm in Sudan

I don’t know if you’ve ever experienced a sandstorm but if you have you will probably have run for cover, shielding you mouth and eyes as you did. Millions of tiny grains crashing into you at high-speed is not a pleasant experience. In an environment where sandstorms are common, covering as much of yourself as possible makes complete sense. Even covering your eyes with a mesh doesn’t seem like a bad idea.

Do you know what else they have in abundance in the Middle East?

Sun.

If I were to venture out into the desert at midday I would burn in minutes. I have weak melanin. Even people with naturally darker skin can’t stay out for long in those temperatures. When people started wearing burkas, Nivea had not yet started making sunscreen and air conditioning was not a thing, so the only way to prevent skin damage and stay cool was to stay out of the sun as much as possible.

Sunburn is not fun and skin cancer is even worse

So maybe wearing a burka or niqab had more to do with protecting women from the harsh desert than from the carnal desires of men?

Certainly there are tribes in the Sahara, like the Tuareg, where men routinely cover their faces as protection from the sun and sand.

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A Tuareg village

Most Muslims, at least that I know, do not think it is a good idea for women to wear the burka or niqab in Britain. Just like everyone else, Muslims communicate with our faces: smiling, frowning, biting our lips, gritting our teeth and a million more micro-expressions that can signal any one of our complex emotions. By covering her face a woman denies others the ability to read these signs and this certainly affects her ability to have a full and active role in modern society. She may not be being oppressed by a man or a religion, but she is choosing to oppress herself.

I support any woman’s right to wear a burka in Britain, but it is not a decision that she should take lightly. Are the advantages, as she sees them, worth the negative consequences?

 

 

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