In common human culture Niqab has always been considered as one iconic symbol for persecution, oppression and freedom constraint, it is similar to the chains that used to constraint slaves in the past. This prototype picture of Niqab might not be very oppressing because the vast majority of women wearing it do so against their will.
However there might be a different side of the story that needs to be highlighted here:
Niqab as freedom of choice:
Having said that the majority of women are forced to wear Niqab (forced either by family or by political regime as in Saudi Arabia) this doesn’t mean that no woman is wearing it by her full will. So Niqab in this case should not be considered as symbol of oppression since we have to deal with it as a costume like any other normal costumes, otherwise it will be an act of discrimination against those who wear it.
It is worth mentioning that Niqab is not a Muslim only, although it is often associated with them due to their large populatin around the world, which in turn made many anti-Niqab movements become against Islam and even against arabs even though they might not be muslims.
Niqab as freedom practicing:
Despite the fact that associating Niqab with freedom is so odd, it is still possible to find a strong relationship between the two! And here we don’t mean Niqab as an appearance but as a tool to hide identity. The world today is between two options: freedom or security, and since feeling secure is one of the most important things, the freedom is often given up in an exchange of more security.
The ability to hide identity may be one of the major forms of freedom. Hiding identity helps overcoming many obstacles imposed on people in a form laws and constitutions, which will put more constraints on specific groups of people because of their identity, belonging or even location. Niqab plays here the role of Virtual Private Network (VPN) that helps internet browsers to bypass the limitations within the geographical borders since it hides users’ identity by giving them a different one, therefore keeping their real information safe from being exposed, and protecting them against discrimination.
Freedom is the power to act, speak, or think as one wants
It is interesting that the ultimate meaning of freedom does not necessarily mean that the type of act or speech has to be “non-harmful” because limiting how to act or what to say is limiting the freedom. Therefore, from a neutral point of view, killing is considered a level of freedom because there is no ethical criterion for ultimate freedom.
And to compare between free community and restricted community or the “legalized community” we can do a comparison between two social media websites that represent two virtual communities. The first one is Facebook which is similar to an open but restricted community with a group of rules that make its users to show their real identity.
The second site is “page b” on Chan Hacker website, The main difference here is that on this site there is no need for identities and you can publish & reply as anonymous and there won’t be any difference between your comment and others’ since everyone on this platform is anonymous.
The hackers and activist groups who have the same name “Anonymous” have started at Chan 4 in the beginning.
On page b specifically there are no rules that limit publishing and you can see anything on it whether it is strange or repulsive, So since the concept of this site is to give the users the right to hide their identity then there will be no more social or family restrictions, because no one knows you so there is no need to worry about anybody’s reaction towards you, and this is exactly what Niqab – or any other means of identity hiding- offer in reality
Niqab as a threat:
Despite the fact that hiding identity is considered a freedom, it carries lots of threats toward communities’ safety. It destroys the social union by hindering law enforcement by letting outlaws flee easily.
However this could apply to any used tool to hide one’s identity, like masks and over-sized sunglasses. This is the reason why no country banned Niqab.
It’s important to mention again that there are some women who willingly wear Niqab, therefore it is better to fight the social persecution and family bullying that forces women to wear it, instead of fighting Niqab itself. The only suitable context to fight Niqab is because it represents a threat to security.