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wtorek, 19 kwietnia 2011

The Niqab and Economic Development

France's recent ban of the niqab, the full face covering worn by many Muslim women, has fueled much debate. Critics of the ban cite freedom of expression and French President Nicolas Sarkozy's prejudice towards Islam; proponents speak to the empowerment of women and national security. As a liberal woman from Massachusetts, I find it challenging to take a side on this issue. Weighing women's liberation against free speech is not an easy task, and I do not know if Sarkozy is right or wrong in pushing forward this ban. Yet, after working in Saudi Arabia and wearing a niqab on a number of occasions, I believe that there is an economic development argument to this debate that is missing from the highly emotional arguments currently underway. Granted, an item of dress is not the problem to deep rooted economic issues nor is it the solution, but I do believe that the niqab is hindering the economic progress of certain countries as they look to increase prosperity and diversify their economies. [As a disclaimer, I fully understand and appreciate the religious motivations behind the niqab, but will not address those in this piece.]

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