When I was in Muslim countries, I was expected to dress modestly in keeping with the traditions of the culture.
When in Rome...one tries to fit in. Or so it was before the Islamic disapora.
I might be wrong but I believe that Muslims are the first people to come to live in our country and openly disapprove of us. It's hard to forget the cleric who described Australian women in summer attire as "meat left out for the cat".
There are now a lot of Muslims in Australia. They are spread widely and evenly through the urban population, but they don't blend in. The women's dress makes them instantly recognizable. Their range of religious habit goes from a token headscarf to abaya, those long drab button-up overdresses, and huge hijab around their heads.
The full burqa or niqab face covering is rare here but it is seen.
However, it now is in the news and and we are all forced to think about how, exactly, we feel about this sort of dramatic separation from the rest of the community. As a liberated country, we don't conform. We display our diversity with everything from muted conservative garb to a mass of tattoos and piercings. We are proud of our freedom to self-expression.
This should, of course, including the Muslims. Yet, by dressing differently, Muslims are dividing us.
And, thanks to political correctness, we feel inhibited and compromised about expressing reservations. This automatically makes us racist.
But I am getting to the age when one speaks one's mind. And I have to say that I am disturbed by the sight of Muslim women shrouded under burqas. They rouse a confusion of emotions in me. I am intimidated by them. I feel they are spying on us, shunning us, and hiding in plain sight. I also mistrust that they are actually female. I have no way of knowing.
The thing that most disturbs me is that the Islamic rationale that women are covered from head to foot because of the belief that they are too tempting to be seen. They need to be protected from their own sexuality. Just the sight of their hair is such a provocation that men may completely lose control.
What does this make of Islamic men? They have such crude sexual urges that they cannot safely see women in public?
This religious dress code, therefore, not only oppresses and insults the women, it demeans men.
It makes no sense to me at all.
Photo: CharlesFred, Flickr