NIX TO NIQAB
BEHIND THE VEIL
A French journalist who posed as an Islamic woman and wore a full-length niqab in public for five days to report on the experience says she felt isolated, humiliated, and disgraced.
Elizabeth Alexandre, who reports her findings in this month’s issue of the French publication Marie Claire, wrote the article in an effort to deal with with the controversy surrounding the niqab, or Islamic face veil, that is raging in France.
“I wanted to feel the fabric on my cheeks and forehead and see the world from this tiny slit. I also wanted to know how the world would see me,” Alexandre writes. “I felt as if I am inside a tent. I couldn’t see my feet and when I walked the garment rolled around my legs and I had to slow down. I was terrified I was going to fall on my face.”
The French journalist draws three conclusions from her week under the veil. She says the veil is impractical and uncomfortable; that it creates isolation; and that it arouses self-consciousness.
“Being totally covered made me feel that my body is a disgrace. All men around me turned into sexually obsessed beasts that want to devour me. It is then that I felt I need the veil to protect me from this imminent danger. For the first time in my life, I felt I was a sex bomb and a source of sin,” Alexandre maintains. “This secrecy gives free reign to everybody’s imagination and makes people wonder about what the hidden parts look like.”