|Fadlullah: The French President’s position regarding the burqu' undermines women and confiscates their freedoms|
His Eminence, the Religious Authority Sayyed Muhammad Hussein Fadlullah, responded in an interview to the recent position of the French President Nicolas Sarkozy regarding women who wear the burqu' in France. Sayyed Fadlullah said:
Although our fatwa regarding the burqa says that it is not obligatory for women to cover their faces, because Allah has excluded what women need in their personal and public lives, because they are social beings that have needs in the society. God Almighty has said: “Do not display their ornaments except what appears thereof”, in addition to many other religious texts in our Islamic heritage including the prophetic Sunnah.
Therefore, women are not obliged to wear the burqu', but in view of the statement of the French President, Nicolas Sarkozy, who approached the issue in a negative way, we would like to give the following comment: Women enjoy complete freedom in what to wear, and they cannot be forced to wear the burqu'. However, if they decide to wear it for psychological, personal, or social considerations, their will should be respected, because they enjoy the freedom to choose what God does not prohibit.
Sarkozy’s statement, and that of Chirac earlier, about banning women from wearing the hijab in the universities and schools and public institutions in France - as well as some Muslim rulers who prevent women from wearing the hijab in schools like Turkey – disrespect the women's willpower and freedom to practice their beliefs and what they consider as a religious duty, especially since this does not belittle them or prevent them from engaging in the society and embarking on all sorts of social activities.
We believe that this approach oppresses women and confiscates their freedoms. It might also prevent some Muslim women from enrolling in colleges or high schools due to the official ban [of the hijab or burqu']. Freedom is one of the sacred issues for all human beings. But freedom should come from the will of the persons, and not from laws and regulations dictated by people whose visions emerge from their cultures that differ from others’ cultures.
We would like to tell the French President: You should study the issue from a humanitarian perspective, in terms of respecting the human being that is inside the women and their preference in deciding to wear the burqu' or not to. We should not oppress women, depriving them, as an Arab poet has said, from the freedom of wanting something and not wanting another: