By Anjum Altaf
What is the difference between the yarmulke and the burqa besides the fact that one is minimally small and the other is maximally large?
By now the controversy over the burqa is well known. In France, President Sarkozy has said: “The burqa is not a religious sign. It is a sign of subservience, a sign of debasement... It will not be welcome on the territory of the French Republic…. In our country we cannot accept that women be prisoners behind a screen, cut off from all social life, deprived of all identity.”
In Cairo, President Obama has said: “I reject the view of some in the West that a woman who chooses to cover her hair is somehow less equal…. and I respect those women who choose to live their lives in traditional roles. But it should be their choice.”
There can be many responses to the Cairo speech each depending on how one wished to incorporate it in one’s agenda for the future.
This is most obvious in the realm of politics: some want to see it as a hopeful point of departure and do not wish to be critical; others see in it the need to support Obama in his struggle with his domestic constituency that restrains his genuine aspirations; yet others read it as a reiteration of the Bush policy couched in more sophisticated words. Depending on the agenda some wish to emphasize the positives, others the negatives.
This blog is not about politics. Our focus is pedagogy and analysis that serves the interest of pedagogy. We often choose political themes to illustrate pedagogical points simply because students engage readily with issues that are topical and of wider significance.