I’m often traveling here and there, from study sessions to shopping and visiting friends and family. I use public transport a lot and have often been out in the summer during the numerous heat waves we’ve had. On the whole I’ve enjoyed wearing my veil with a few negative experiences with ignorant people from time to time – but I had just as many, if not more negative experiences before I wore my veil and even before I wore my Hijaab! The problems are in the society we live in – with Muslims and non Muslims alike – not the veil.
I have never had problems communicating with people, men or women. Although as a Muslim woman I will refrain from talking to men unnecessarily, regardless of whether or not I cover my face.
During the summer I’ve noticed people in town, on the buses looking really hot and bothered. They strip down to cool themselves, using the ‘Metro’ as a fan. I just sit there quite comfortably head to toe in soft cotton. I make my own chadors so I get to choose what fabric I wear and obviously certain fabrics are better than others for different seasons. And because they are so loose and flow, they allow a breeze and feel quite cool.
Women have often asked me if I feel hot, when I’ve let them feel the fabric of my Hijaab, they’ve often replied things like, and ‘Wow that does feel cool!’ Or, jokingly, ‘Can I borrow it?’
Regarding my career I chose to work with special needs children and teach. I’ve had several different jobs where I was able to wear my Niqaab. I’ve also worked in a couple of state schools where I did remove my Niqaab in the classroom, in the presence of just the children or female teachers.
With regard to Aisha Azmi’s case I feel that disallowing her Niqaab and consequently sacking her, is denying children their right to a full education! An education of understanding faith and diversity.
Recently a friend of mine graduated with a 1st class honors from Uni. In full Hijaab and Niqaab, one would assume a certain degree of communication was needed, in her tutorials or presentations for her to achieve that result.
I can understand though, why persueing certain other careers with Niqaab would be difficult in this country. Like being a doctor for example. Mainly due to lack of understanding and Education. But I don't think it would be impossible.
My husband and I visited Sweden last year, and if it wasn’t for the weather and the exceptionally high Tax rates - I would want to live there. It is said that 95% of the lakes are so clean you could actually drink from them! Not to mention the public toilets, they reminded me of a scene from a DAZ advert.
Whilst we were there I met up with Umm Anas – a Swedish national whose husband is in prison in France under the so called war on terror. (Read about her campaign on www.cageprisoners.com).
She is probably one of a few Muslim women in Stockholm who wears the Niqaab and as I accompanied her in running some errands I thought we would in the very least get a few stares, as it’s so rare to see the Niqaab or even many Muslims there. But nobody looked at us or treated us any differently, it was as though we weren’t dressed the way we were.
And why are the Swedes the way they are? Their education system.
I think there is much we could learn from the Swedish people. From a young age right at the beginning stages of their education they are taught to respect. Respect nature, respect people, and respect each other.