'Give Me the Freedom to Cover My Face'
'Bans as oppressive as Islam demands'
By Mary Papenfuss,  Newser User
Posted Jul 19, 2010 2:02 AM CDT
A London woman argues that banning women from wearing face-covering Islamic garb like the burka shown here is as oppressive as forcing women to wear the clothing.   (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)
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(Newser) – A suffocating Islamic abaya at first triggered tears of "rage and shame" from Londoner Nesrine Malik, humiliated by the oppressively "cumbersome" and "sexist" garb she was ordered by her parents to wear in Saudi Arabia. But the face-covering clothing has since become a "comfort and delight," she notes. "It was a relief not to have to think about what to wear," she writes in the Telegraph. "The uniform black costume has a charming egalitarianism about it, and is both a social and physical leveler." She enjoys wearing it so much that she often opts to don her abaya even when she returns home to London after visiting her Mideast relatives.

Now she demands the continued right to wear the garb whenever she pleases, and regards the potential ban on the burka in the UK as no different from the "oppression in Saudi Arabia." She blasts the growing European trend to ban face-covering clothing as "racism veiled as liberation." A mix of Islamophobia, busy-bodying feminism and resurgent nationalist sentiment has contributed to this demonization" of Muslim women," she writes. "To force a female to remove her veil is just as subjugating as forcing her to cover."