France ban on wearing hijabs (headscarves) in schools and British MP Jack Straw’s comments against veils drew worldwide Muslim condemnation while being widely publicized by the mainstream media. Now Tunisian Government has enforced a law that states women in Tunisia can no longer cover their heads according to Islamic teachings by wearing the hijab! But unlike France or England majority of the Muslims worldwide haven’t even heard about Tunisian Government’s deadly and preposterous ban let alone condemned it.
The Tunisian government has succeeded in keeping the news away from the Muslim masses outside of its borders. As expectable Western Governments or the international media downplayed the Tunisian governments preposterous law that grossly violates basic human rights, fearing of uproar amongst the already frustrated Arab Muslims would fuel the emergence of Islamic governments in place of west dependent despotic Arab regimes. More pathetic was the indifference from few non-Tunisian Muslims privy to the illusive news item.
Owing to its French colonial legacy Tunisia is the most western Arab-Muslim country. This is reflected by Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ali enforcing the ban and describing the hijab as “a sectarian form of dress, which had come into Tunisia uninvited!” Observers say recent years have seen an increase in Islamic sentiments among Tunisians and the increasing number of women starting to wear the hijab despite government efforts to stem the revival of Islam had caused them to move towards banning the hijab.
However justifying the hijab ban on “sectarian” grounds is absurd in a society where 98% of the population is Muslim. This ban also violates basic personal freedom guaranteed by the Tunisian constitution which also states Tunisia is an “Islamic country”. Added to this the law brazenly violates the basics rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states that everyone has the right to freedom of religion and choose the clothes which suit him/her. Most of all the hijab is a religious requirement in Islam and every woman should have the right to practice her religious beliefs.
In fact the Government is crushing Islam in Tunisia while at the same time trying to avoid charges of being un-Islamic. In the 1990s President Ben Ali crushed Tunisia’s Islamic opposition party when fighting erupted in neighbouring Algeria between Islamic movements and the military Government. He has forbidden Dawah activities in Tunisia and stipulated only personnel appointed by the Government may lead activities in mosques and that mosques must remain closed except during prayer times and other authorized religious ceremonies, such as marriages or funerals.
The current hijab debate, which started earlier this year and dating back to a 1981 government circular has ended in a dangerous crackdown on any woman, girl or child wearing a Hijab. It has even included the Hijab-clad ‘Fulla’ dolls, which inspired millions of Muslim girls worldwide. Last month Tunisia security forces raided soft-toy shops across the country to withdraw the ‘Fulla’ dolls.
“Sign here, take this piece of rubbish off your head and go home! Never ever think of going back to school with it. Right now, I am going to attach it to this sheet of paper in which you declared your full compliance with circular 108. Don’t you understand! There is no place in our schools for fundamentalists. We are a modern country!” Fatima the 18-year-old school girl stood as if pinned to the ground in a state of bewilderment, listening carefully to a zealot policeman whose sole mission has been to frighten and punish women, university students and schoolgirls who challenge the hijab ban and force to sign a form, which says they will never ever wear the hijab again.
Many Tunisians are upset by the ban but they fear to protest, as the Tunisian Government does not tolerate dissent.
However are we going to stand idly while anti-Islamic forces are at work against Islam in Muslim Tunisia? Please consider signing the petition to eliminate the Hijab ban in Tunisia and spread the news to stop this ban once and forever, because once one Muslim country bans the Hijab then many are likely to follow.