Tag Archives: Naqab

President Emmanuel Macron, Secularism and Islamophobia

“The French state does not favour any one religion and guarantees their peaceful co-existence in respect of the laws and principles of the Republic,” the government’s website reads.

France has the largest population of Muslims in Western Europe, with more than 5 million estimated Muslims in a nation of 67 million.

In recent years, a specific phobia has gripped Western societies called Islamophobia. Islamophobia is an exaggerated irrational fear, hatred, and hostility toward Islam and Muslims that is perpetuated by negative stereotypes resulting in bias, discrimination, and the marginalization and exclusion of Muslims from social, political, and civic life.

The tensions between certain sections of Islam and the interpretation of secular values have intensified in recent years and have been particularly divided in recent weeks. There have been demonstrations in many Muslim countries against France in the past few days. French President Emmanuel Macron became a special target of anger in certain parts of the Muslim world because of his speech following the beheading of the French teacher.

Three weeks after an attack on the former offices of Charlie Hebdo, Samuel Paty a history and geography schoolteacher was beheaded by an 18-year-old man for showing cartoons of Islam’s Prophet Muhammad in his class. The professor had discussed the subject with his class after Charlie Hebdo magazine republished the drawings of the Prophet Mohammed to coincide with a trial related to the deadly attack on his journalists in 2015. Paty, advised Muslim students to avert their gaze if they thought they were offended. The assailant followed Mr Paty, who was on his way home from school, inflicted multiple head injuries with a knife and then decapitated him. The man later posted photographs of the victim on a Twitter account.

President Macron began his speech by reasserting that the French principle of secularity guaranteed the freedom to worship, rejecting the “trap” laid by extremists which would seek to “stigmatise all Muslims”. The president singled out the ideology of “Islamist separatism” which sought to “create a parallel order” to the French Republic, asserting its own laws as superior. People should face up to a phenomenon that was enticing significant numbers of young people.

Emmanuel Macron defended freedom of expression: “We will not give up caricatures and drawings, even if others back away”, he said, calling for an end to hatred and violence and for respect for others.

“Our challenge is to struggle against the downward slide of some in the name of religion, by ensuring that those who want to believe in Islam and are full citizens of our Republic are not targeted.” 

He described Islam as “a religion that is in crisis all over the world today”, before unveiling his plan to tackle radicalism. There was a need to “free Islam in France from foreign influences”, outlining plans to end a system allowing imams to train overseas, reduce home-schooling, and take control of religious funding. Associations would have to sign a contract respecting “the Republic’s values” in order to obtain subsidies.

He also acknowledged that France had failed its immigrant communities, creating “our own separatism” with ghettos of “misery and hardship” where people were lumped together according to their origins and social background. We have thus created districts where the promise of the Republic has no longer been kept, and therefore districts where the attraction of these messages, where these most radical forms were sources of hope.

Soon after his speech some leaders of Islamic world condemned President Macron, including Pakistan, Turkey, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia and Iran; while tens of thousands have attended protests in Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Palestinecalling for a boycott of French goods.

Prime minister Khan did not mention the attack on Paty, or other violent attacks related to alleged blasphemy including a Pakistani migrant who attacked two people outside the former Paris headquarters of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.

“It is unfortunate that he has chosen to encourage Islamophobia by attacking Islam rather than the terrorists who carry out violence, be it Muslims, White Supremacists or Nazi ideologists,” the prime minister said in a Twitter post.

In an interview with Al Jazeera President Macron said: he understood and respected the feelings of Muslims who are offended by the drawings, but that could never justify physical violence. Blaming “lies and distortions of my words” for the reaction, he pointed out that the caricatures were “not a government project” but came from “free and independent newspapers”. Macron denied attacking Islam, saying France has “no problem” with the religion which is practised by millions of people in France who “want to live in peace”.

His targets, he said, were terrorism and those who promote “radical Islam”. These are violent extremists who distort the religion and commit violence within Islam, claiming that Muslims accounted for 80% of the victims of Islamist terrorism in the world over the past 40 years. I understand the sentiments being expressed and I respect them. I will always defend in my country the freedom to speak, to write, to think, to draw, he also hit out at what he described as “distortions” from political leaders, saying people were often led to believe that the caricatures were a creation of the French state.

Article 1 of the French Constitution is commonly interpreted as discouraging religious involvement in government affairs, especially religious influence in the determination of state policies; France shall be an indivisible, secular, democratic and social Republic. It shall ensure the equality of all citizens before the law, without distinction of origin, race or religion. It shall respect all beliefs.

A ban on Muslim headscarves and other “conspicuous” religious symbols at state schools in France was introduced in 2004.In 2011 France became the first European country to ban the full-face Islamic veil in public places, while alternatives such as HIJAB, which cover the head and hair, remained legal. The French government has insisted it will not seek to ban Muslim women who wear headscarves from volunteering to help on school trips after outrage when mothers accompanying pupils were told to remove theirs.

In October 2019, French President Emmanuel Macron hadwarned against “stigmatising” Muslims or linking the Islamic religion with the fight against terrorism. “Communalism is not terrorism.”

There are many factors that can influence how Muslim and Western societies interact and respect each other. Cultural, religious and political differences can influence the opinion of one population towards the other. That is why before judging President Macron, one must keep in mind that France is an independent sovereign state like Pakistan or any other country, protests against his controversial remarks are justified, but his government should  get the credit where its due. His government blocked the bill passed by Senate to impose a ban on Hijab in 2019.

Allow me to ask you to reflect upon the following verses of the Holy Quran:

Those will be given their reward twice for what they patiently endured and [because] they avert evil through good, and from what I have provided them they spend. And when they hear ill speech, they turn away from it and say, “For us are our deeds, and for you are your deeds. Peace will be upon you; we seek not the ignorant.”

The Quran, Al-Qasas 28: 54, 55



In 2013 the Birmingham Metropolitan College had told all the students, staff and visitors to remove all hoodies, hats, crowns and veils while on the premises so that they were easily identifiable at all times. But the controversial ban of the Niqab a veil that leaves only a slot for the eyes sparked fury among some Muslim girls, who say they are being discriminated against. More than 9,000 people signed an online petition set up by Students’ Campaign calling on the college’s principal, to remove the proscription.

David Cameron the then PM of United Kingdom, backed the decision and said through his spokesperson; he believed educational institutions should be able to, set and enforce their own school uniform policies.

But only after three days, the Metropolitan college decided to modify its stance to permit individuals to wear, specific items of personal clothing to reflect their cultural values. The conclusion came after thousands signed a petition against the ban and just before a planned protest by hundreds of students in Birmingham.

Recently Morocco has been in the headlines for the same ground. I am more interested because I have spent nearly four years in Marrakech and I am quite familiar with Moroccan culture and King Mohammad’s moderate policy and his strict stand against religious extremism. I have witnessed the increase of tough security all over Morocco, police check posts in cities and on freeways, the Army has been posted at the airports and busy places since the Syrian War. Adult females are free to wear whatever they feel like, whether it’s a skirt or a traditional hijab or burqa. But hijab is not admitted on National television. Around two weeks ago I saw the news of ban on production of Burqa in Morocco.


China Lahsini a freelance journalist, reported from Rabat that the Moroccan Ministry of Interior notified Burqa producers and retailers of the immediate prohibition on the sale as the destruction of current stocks. Traders have disclosed that the decision is motivated by security reasons, about criminals having repeatedly used this garment to commit their crimes.


In Judaism, Christianity and Islam the concept of traversing the head is or was associated with appropriateness and modesty. The veil or Naqab has a cultural background specially in deserts, women and men both cover their heads and facial expressions to avoid heat sand. Even nowadays there are parts of Northern and Western Africa, where the veil is part of men’s cultural dress, e.g. men from Taureg tribe residing in the Saharan interior of North West Africa descendant of Berber ancestors.


Tin Hinan, ancient Tuareg Queen of the Hoggar  by Hocine Ziani

When I turned towards Holy Quran for guidance on Hijab, veil or Burqa I found the following verse of Sorah  Ahzab  ayat no 59 which is quoted in reference of hijab and Naqab;


O Prophet! Tell your wives and daughters and the women of the Momineen to draw their outer garments closely round themselves. This makes it more likely that they will be recognised and not be harmed. Allah is Ever-Forgiving, Most Merciful.

Aisha Bewley

O Prophet, tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers to bring down over themselves [part] of their outer garments. That is more suitable that they will be known and not be abused. And ever is Allah Forgiving and Merciful.

Umm Muhammad

O prophet, tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers that they should draw down their shawls over them. That will make it more likely that they are recognized, hence not teased. And Allah is Most-Forgiving, Very-Merciful.

Muhammad Taqi Usmani

O Prophet, enjoin your wives and your daughters and the believing women, to draw a part of their outer coverings around them. It is likelier that they will be recognised and not molested. Allah is Most Forgiving, Most Merciful.

Abul Aala Maududi

O Prophet! Tell thy wives and thy daughters and the women of the believers to draw their cloaks close round them (when they go abroad). That will be better, so that they may be recognised and not annoyed. Allah is ever Forgiving, Merciful


O Prophet! Tell thy wives and daughters, and the believing women, that they should cast their outer garments over their persons (when abroad): that is most convenient, that they should be known (as such) and not molested. And Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.

Yusuf Ali

O Prophet! say to your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers that they let down upon them their over-garments; this will be more proper, that they may be known, and thus they will not be given trouble; and Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.



O Prophet, tell thy wives and thy daughters and the women of believers to let down upon them their over-garments. This is more proper, so that they may be known, and not be given trouble. And Allah is ever Forgiving, Merciful.


Prophet, tell your wives, daughters, and the wives of the believers to cover their bosoms and breasts. This will make them distinguishable from others and protect them from being annoyed. God is All-forgiving and All-merciful.


O Prophet!  tell thy wives and thy daughters, and the women of the believers, that they should pull down upon them of their outer cloaks from their heads over their faces. That is more likely that they may thus be recognized and not molested. And ALLAH is Most Forgiving, Merciful.

Sher Ali

Now there are two identical words used by the people who translated the Ayat to signify hijab, cloak and outer garments; whether it’s a cloak or outer garment, none of the above scholar including two women scholars translated or pointed out that covering the face is obligatory.

The hijab is one name for a variety of similar headscarves.

The Niqab covers the entire head and face; however an opening is left for the eyes.

I am not personally against Naqab as long as it is worn as a personal choice or cultural identity, I differ, where people associate it  to an obligatory religious act of religion. Whether its Middle East or West in the presence of Quran Niqab cannot be coerced.

I am not a scholar, but there is another verse of Quran for our guidance Sorah Al Qamar verse 17;

And we have indeed made the Qur’an easy to read and remember: then is there any that will receive admonition?

This article was first published in Dunya tv blog