Josef Matrai, 15 June 2008

on The Headscarf in the Intellectual Discourse, by Ahmed Farouk

I am really stunned about the absurd dimensions which the dispute about a piece of cloth has reached now.

For an average person it has become hard to find his or her way through the jungle of existing opinions and attitudes. It has been claimed that the scarf is a simple fashion accessory, a symbol of religious fundamentalism, of misogyny, of progress, of feminism, of solidarity, of traditionalism, of freedom etc.

The heated discussion has by now reached a point in which it becomes almost amusing to watch it; even people from Muslim countries tear each other apart while disputing this piece of cloth (e.g. in the article "The Headscarf in the Intellectual Discours"). Not to mention the international hysteria which started after the ban of the headscarf in French schools, or the more recent fuss about wearing it in Turkish universities.

I think it is time to become aware of the fact that such a ridiculous fuss is only made possible by religion. There are much more important problems than this one, but it seems typical for religions that they never turn to urgent and dangerous problems (like terrorism, global warming, Aids etc.,) but instead prefer heated and often violent disputes about absurd questions like which animals are permitted to eat and which aren't, when does a lump of cells develop a soul (dispute about abortion,) which kind of eternal punishment is in store for people who use contraceptives etc.

Europe is a secular continent, and we should be happy about it. We should be glad that there aren't any religious signs allowed in schools. By the way: not only headscarfs, but also crucifixes or any other religious symbols – so for instance Professor Abu Zeids statement (in the aforementioned article) that France would be racist against Muslims, is ridiculous. That's only another strategy often used by religions; demanding tolerance and accusing everybody of racism who dares to criticize them, but on the other hand not applying any tolerance themselves.

If anyone cannot accept Europe's secularism, then Europe is probably not the right place for this person to live in. If I lived in a Muslim or Jewish or Christian country, I would not constantly insult the religion of that country's inhabitants either (though nowadays every reasonable person becomes more and more obliged to do so). So it is probably not too much to ask the religious crowd not to pester us with ridiculous arguments which are constantly on the edge of becoming violent and dangerous.

Josef Matrai, Switzerland

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