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European Parliamentarians Reject Pro-Hijab Written Declaration (23/05/05)

To:

The Honourable Member of Parliament: 8 May 2005

Your Excellency Sir/Madam,

EURO. BAN ON HIJAB &PURDAH

We are Campaign Against Polygamy And Women Oppression International (CAPWOI) and our head office is based in Manchester, United Kingdom.

We write to inform you that, recently, we have sent letters to the BBC Television and Radio stations requesting the producers to please grant our members exclusive interviews on issues relating to the controversial ban on Muslim headscarves (hijab) and purdah (burqua) in Britain and Europe. While we are waiting to receive responses to our letters sent to the BBC we would like to acquaint you with the contents of the said letters so that you make take action where and when necessary.

Thank you.

Yours sincerely

Taiwo Onalaja (Chief Coordinator, CAPWOI)


The BBC Tv / Radio Station.

Dear Editor/Producer,

Media Interview.

We are Taiwo and Kehinde Onalaja, pioneers and co-promoters of the Campaign Against Polygamy And Women Oppression International (CAPWOI) based in Manchester, United Kingdom.

We request you to please accept to grant us a media interview or invite us to be part of any ongoing debate relating to the issues of Muslim headscarves (hijab), purdah (burqua) and polygamy. At the moment, we can confidently say we have over the years become authorities on these subjects. CAPWOI’s website: www.ploygamystop.org including the enclosed 370 page book titled: “Polygamists’ Wives,” ISBN: 0954681703, speak for themselves.

SUBJECT: Euro. Ban on Hijab, Purdah and Polygamy.

Hijab, purdah and polygamy are age-long traditions that still fester within most countries around the world today including Britain. Although, little is known about polygamy (many wives system) because it is illegal, but Hijab and purdah are a common place. Ask an average man or woman on the streets in Britain today, “What is the correlation between the ‘trio’?” And the response is inevitably one of amusement relying heavily on stereotype. When it comes to hijab and purdah, many people would say, “That is an issue for Muslims. How can one be hiding in that sort of clothing and be comfortable?’ And when it comes to polygamy, many would say, “isn’t one woman enough for a man to contend with? And how would he get anything done with all those conjugal rights to attend.”

However, the story of the 46 years old Nigerian born Taiwo and Kehinde Onalaja, aka, 'Onalaja Brothers' highlights the darker reality of the situation. Born into a polygamous-Muslim home, but later turned Christians, they are not only surrounded by polygamous neighbours but, women and girls in hijab and purdah. Much like any other products of polygamy they did suffered psychologically and emotionality as a result of their upbringing and were moved to take a stand against these practices. Having campaigned successfully for over 6 years, we now see the launch of their new book titled, ‘Polygamist’s Wives’, and a new website: www.polygamystop.org.

Taking courage from their ever growing supporters around the globe the identical twin brothers are steadfast in their believe that contrary to the popular believe by the Assembly for the Protection of Hijab and other Muslim groups that hijab and purdah systems liberate and not oppress women, these two cultures inarguably oppress women in many identified ways including the cultures of forced marriage, child marriage, dowry related violence, honour killing, polygamy (polygyny), lack of reproductive health rights, widowhood inheritance and sexual segregation, to mention a few (see the book Polygamist’ Wives’ for details). As a result, a large population of Muslim women and girls are rendered half literate, intimidated, less ambitious, impoverished and home wrecked. By implication, a vicious cycle of hands to mouth existence comes to exist among a large number of Muslim women and girls.

Employers Reject Women in Hijab

In Britain for example, since 9.11.2001 atrocity in America, women in veils now suffer more from lack of confidence, racial harassments to joblessness, such that many employers are too frightened to employ them. The problem remains the fact that many British employers have reasons to believe that many women in hijab and purdah are terrorists, religious extremists and lazy with attitude problems. They are non-confident and illiterates with warp sense of dressing that does not conform to contemporary corporate standards. In fact, referring to many Muslim women in hijab as terrorists has lately been substantiated in Metro Newspaper, Manchester 21 April 2005, Page 7 that reports in pictures how some Iranian women in hijab with a red band placed round their foreheads registering themselves as potential suicide bombers in Tehiran. Then, can any one blame some sceptic British employers? Of course, no! In other conspicuous publicised cases, however, a media survey reveals that many employed women in hijab are either underemployed or laid off so soon or hardly get promoted at work. (Source: Manchester Evening Newspaper 17 February 2005). This simple fact lays credence to some popular quotes that say, ‘A woman’s beauty opens doors to wealth, fame and honour for her and family, but hijab and purdah close doors to prosperity for her.’ ‘Hijad is a culture of poverty among Muslim women.’ ‘Hijab is a symbol of female backwardness.’ Here is how hijab and purdah have for decades collectively rendered a large number of Muslim women the poorest, destitute and the most oppressed women around the world today.

Another problem is, even when most Muslim women know they may never get employed or stay in work as long as they don the hijab or pudah, yet they are always reluctant to abandon the veil in fear of rejection and persecution from male Muslims including honour killing circumstances. This is how the spirit of work, the essential ingredients for wealth is lacking in the lives of majority of hijab donning women in Britain and worldwide. By implication a large number of Muslim women including migrants are largely jobless and idle women in hijab and purdah with no other form of recreation other than sex and the breeding of both wanted and unwanted number of children. As a result, most of these desperate housewives are largely welfare dependent at the expense of the unsuspecting hard working taxpayers. (Source: Daily Star Newspaper, UK 10 March 2005 titled: ‘Migrants on Dole Cost You £1Billion A Year,’ and Daily Star Newspaper, UK 22 March 2005 titled: ‘Migrants Have 70% Of Babies’).

The Only Way Forward

Formally, when men relied on cheap labour in the form of wives and children to farm lands or fast breed children as religious converts, the hijab, purdah and polygamy culture could have been seen to have some economic, social and religious benefits. But, modern methods of farming or gaining religious convert have replaced this primitive practices but a fervent following of the traditions still remain, even in the civilised societies such as Britain.

Taiwo and Kehinde have spent considerable amount of years researching and analysing the different societies across the world including Britain and campaigning to shift public opinion – not only within Britain but their native country, Nigeria and around the world. They believe that the only way to achieve speedy and total liberation of women and teenage girls either Muslims or non-Muslims is the total eradication of these practices in the form of legislative ban of hijab and purdah. And of course a stricter law prohibiting ‘Islamic polygamy’ in Britain and worldwide.

Anti-Hijab Newsletters & Its Immediate Impact

In the recent times, apart from their widely publicised books and Internet website, the Onalajas have successfully circulated their February 13, 2005 media release tilted: British Ban On Hijab A must or Else...  in Britain and worldwide. Such that over 6,000 internet e-mails and surface post-mails were sent out to the world Media, most members of the British Parliament, European parliament, permanent representatives of the United Nations General Assembly, including the British Prime Minister, Her Majesty the Queen, USA president and the UN President. The list also includes Muslim Council of Britain, Muslim Parliament of Britain and the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) in Saudi Arabia, etc. A copy of the said 13 Page document is available on CAPWOI website: www.polygamystop.org/index.html.

And to God be the glory, within 72 hours after the said worldwide media release, and for the first time, British Muslim women and girls abandoned the hijab and purdah for about 11 days, having been convinced that rather than liberate women, hijab and purdah systems oppress women, rob them of dignity and set limits on their lives especially when it comes to being confident about themselves or getting jobs or developing their natural talents in education, sports, entrepreneurships and entertainment fields. Thus explain why Muslim women and girls are not conspicuously represented as contributors in the media, athletics, music, fashion-modelling industries, cinema, and mainstream British politics. These include the armed forces, i.e. the police, army, air force and the navy.  

To be precise, British Muslims decided to abandon the hijab and purdah on 17 February 2005 - 2 March 2005. Such that designated CAPWOI members travelled from London to Birmingham and from Manchester to Glasgow without sighting any Muslim woman or girl donning the hijab or purdah. This extraordinary spectacle was also evident in a Manchester Evening Newspaper report on 17 February 2005 where a Muslim group was inviting Muslim women and girls to a forum titled, ‘Muslim Women Unveiled.’

Temporary Setback

Incidentally, this good news soon suffer a temporary setback on 2 March 2005 when an appeal court ruled that a 16-year-old Muslim schoolgirl, Shabina Begum should be allowed to wear hijab to school. As a result, within few hours of the said court ruling thousands of Muslim women including girls donning the Hijab and purdah flooded the streets of Britain once again, even more than ever before. Although many Muslims viewed the said court ruling as a form of ‘victory’ for Muslim women but those of us at CAPWOI believe that such pro-hijab appeal court ruling has in no way liberated the Muslim women, instead, it has further legitimised and glamorised the same Taliban like hijab and purdah clothing in a civilised British society. This development is unfortunate and a rude surprise to many British feminists and the media and thus, the struggle continues. Why? Because, we suspect that the next thing some radical British Muslims would ask for from the appeal court, and which they may likely get, would be polygamy and then the Sharia law to the detriment of Muslim women’s human rights, future security of children, coherence in the British society, impeccable image Islam so desires in the West, and importantly, peaceful co-existence between Islam and Europe, nay, the West.

Gains Of Anti-Hijab Campaigns

And, despite this aforementioned temporary setback accentuated by the presumably ‘bad’ appeal court ruling in favour of hijab in Britain, we strongly believe that the globally circulated - CAPWOI’s over 6,000 internet-email-media release in February 2005 has yielded its gains in Britain after all, and on the following grounds;

  1. Race hate crimes where Muslims are the main victims have reduced, as more number of radical Muslims are now less confrontational with non-Muslims. Noticeably too, the number of Muslim clerics preaching all kinds of  anti-Western feeling and rhetoric in the public has also reduced.
  2. The number of ‘honour killers’, suicide bombers, and terrorists has reduced, as a larger number of British Muslims are now convinced that it not true that a Muslim would go to ‘paradise’ and enjoy 72 virgin-wives when he kills innocent persons or get killed while ‘defending’ Islam and Islamic cultures.
  3. Also reduced is the number of Muslim leaders and teachers who are known to publicly incite their followers to practice polygamy. More radical Muslims now make careful statements in the public.
  4. There have been unprecedented reductions in the number of Muslims and non-Muslims that still believe in the rationale behind hijab and purdah systems. Even, those pro-hijab Muslims attempting to anchor their argument largely on human rights and religious sentiments could no longer offer credible reasons why Muslim women and girls should keep hiding in veils in any civilised country in Europe.
  5. Between the months of February and May 2005 and onwards more numbers of the British public have voted in favour of the immediate ban of hijab in schools. This is evident on the online –website opinion poll in the www.metro.co.uk that says, “out of over 6,199 vote cast 50% say ‘yes’ to the hijab ban, 48% say ‘no’ and 2% say ‘don’t know.’”
  6. Only few British MPs, Euro. MEPs and European politicians are in favour of pro-hijab and purdah legislation in France and Europe-wide. Such that most feminist MPs and MEPs now deliberately abstain from signing any declaration aimed at reversing the controversial hijab ban in France and other places.     

Muslim Leaders Misguide Women

We therefore, if given a chance, want to use your media spotlight not only to expose our campaign book and website but to continue to support Pakistan’s president Musharraf when he said on his visit to London, “Muslim women should stop hiding behind the veils” (Source: BBC News 10 December 2004). Also, we want to further encourage Muslim women and girls to be more self-confident. They should be proud of their hair and beauty and stop hiding in hijab and purdah to the detriment of their freedoms and freedoms of their daughters and daughters yet unborn. The insinuation is, the Holy Quran instructed Muslim women to draw their cloaks close around them and not over their heads (Compare Quran 33:59). This is where our Islamic leaders and teachers are misguiding world Muslim women and girls. In consequence, and on daily bases a large population of British Muslim women and girls do suffer from bullying, racial harassment, honour killing, joblessness and shame.

Britain Should Follow French Example

Apart from overwhelming damaging evidence against hijab and purdah systems at our disposal, we have a strong conviction that apart from the fact that a court of appeal may want to have us believe that donning the hijab or purdah is part of human or religious rights, but these sort of controversial clothings have no substantial advantage to Muslim women and girls, especially in this modern Britain, nay the West, the bastion of ultimate women’s freedom. Besides, one then should not underestimate the possibility where a large number of wanted or potential terrorists may choose to hide in the purdah for days and months waiting to wreak havoc on Britain. Here is why a ban on hijab and purdah would not mean a ban on Islam or the decency of Muslim women and girls. This is more reason why there is urgent need for Britain to follow the French example and ban the hijab and purdah in schools and public for good, so as to achieve coherence in British schools, curb honour killings and race-hate crimes, as well as promote genuine sexual equality among British Muslims.

Another important fact is, only the abolition of hijab and purdah in Britain can effectively discourage many Muslim men and boys from choosing to becoming suicide bombers and murderers of innocent people in desperate attempt to defend and perpetuate the Islamic cultures of hijab, purdah and polygamy in Britain, Europe and worldwide, with the belief that killing innocent people in the name of Islam would qualify them to enjoying 72 virgin-wives in ‘paradise.’ Of course, Islam is a great religion but such erroneous believe in ‘Islamic-polygamous paradise’ is dangerous and damaging to the impeccable reputation that the Islamic faith so strongly desires.

EU MEPs Urged To Reject Pro-Hijab Written Declaration

Essentially therefore, we would appreciate if your establishment would kindly grant us the requested media spotlight so as to enable us to further discourage a large number of members of British Parliament (MPs) and European Parliament (MEPs) from accepting to signing any ‘Declaration’ reversing the hijab ban in France or continued legalisation of hijab in British schools and public.

Although, soon after CAPWOI’s February 2005 media release many members of British parliament and European parliament have individually written letters/emails to CAPWOI secretariat saying that they are anti-hijab in schools and would continue abstain from signing any pro-hijab declaration put before the European Union, and sponsored by the Assembly for Protection of Hijab (www.prohijab.net). But, we still feel the need to take advantage of the requested media spotlight to encourage all men and women MPs and MEPs to please abstain from signing any pro-hijab declaration at the EU, instead, they should please remain role models of smart, corporate and contemporary dressing to both Muslims and non-Muslims in Europe and worldwide. This becomes necessary because any MPs/MEPs effort to signing any declaration, that will further glamorise and legitimise the oppression of our Muslim women and girls in hijab and purdah, anywhere in the world, cannot be a rational and honest effort at all. Of course, “Charity that does not benefit the beneficiary or will further oppress the beneficiary is no charity at all.” And for this simple fact, we strongly believe that, ‘lies about the true meaning of hijab and purdah may have travelled for over a thousand years but one day the truth would catch up with it and liars would be put to shame, and ultimately, world Muslim women and girls would gain their total freedom.’ Insha Allah.

We look forward to hearing from you soon.

Thank you.

Yours sincerely,

SIGNED

Taiwo Onalaja

Chief Coordinator CAPWOI