News and current issues

Ditch scarf to be safe, says leader

04/08/05
In the wake of 7/7 London bombings the head of Muslim college in London, Dr. Zaki Badawi advices Muslim women and girls to stop wearing the hijab as to keep them safe and not molested as commanded in the Holy Quran.

Muslim women should stop wearing traditional headscarves to prevent them from becoming victims of crime, a moderate Muslim leader said yesterday. Dr. Zaki Badawi, head of the Muslim College in London and chairman of the Council of Mosques and imams, issued the extraordinary advice amid concern over rising religious abuse and attacks on Mosques in the wake of the London terror attacks.

‘In the present tense situation, with the rise of attacks on Muslims, we advise women who fear being attacked physically or verbal to remove their hijab so as not to be identified by those who are hostile to Muslims.’ Said Dr Badawi.

‘A woman wearing the hijab in the present circumstances could suffer aggression from irresponsible elements.

‘Therefore, she ought not to wear it.

Dress is meant to protect from harm not to invite it; he added.

His advice is likely to receive a mixed reception among Muslim communities, many of whom will feel they should not abandon an outward symbol of their faith.

However, Dr. Badawi issued an explanation of why the Kuran justified the abandoning of hijab in the current social climate. He said the holy book instructed women to dress in a certain way so that they could be ‘identified and not molested.’

But if that dress itself led to women being molested the ruling was that it should not be used, he said.

‘The preservation of life and limb has much higher priority than appearance, whether in dress or in speech.’ he added.

There were 269 faith hate crimes in London in the three weeks after the July 7 bombings, compared with 40 in the same period of 2004.

Met Police Assistant Commissioner Tarique Ghaffur said there were 68 in the first three days after the July 7 attacks-compared with none the previous year. (Source: Metro Newspaper, UK, 04/08/2005)