Written By: Elena White
Article Date: May 7, 2012 - 2:22:10 PM
Disturbing reports of acid attacks and beatings of women are now coming from Yemen’ southern provinces as women are coming forward and accusing Ansar al-Sharia, an offshoot of al-Qaeda in the region of using violent and repressive methods to impose their rules on women throughout their controlled territories.
Ansar al-Sharia whose name means the followers of the Sharia, God’s laws are claiming to want to return Yemen to strict observation of the Scriptures, promising redemption to all those who would follow in their footsteps.
In a move which chillingly resemble the Taliban, al-Qaeda is now turning its attention towards women dress code.
Although women in Islam are required to cover their hair, ears, neck and chest, preventing in essence any men other than their close relatives and husband to lay eyes on their charms, no text impose the covering of one’s face altogether.
And if the Prophet’s wives (PBUH) did indeed cover up when in public, it was because their station imposed on them an even stricter morality. Considered the “mothers of all Muslims” the face veil was protecting them from others, setting them apart to prevent vicious gossiping. In no circumstances did the Quran or its prophet (PBUH) require women to hide their faces. As proof, when women are performing Haj, the holy pilgrimage, the Scriptures specifically prescribe all women to only cover their hair prohibiting face covers.
“The face veil is a personal choice. If women feel they prefer to cover-up completely when in public it is perfectly admissible. However forcing one to do so out of bigotry if contrary to Islam,” said Sheikh Mohamed Hassan al-Sharjabi from Aden to the Yemen Observer.
He added that al-Qaeda was giving Islam a bad name by perverting its teachings and turning what was a religion of peace and free will into one of violence and punishment.
“Islam has always been about one’s free will and choice. Our beloved Prophet taught us that only through patience and perseverance could one follow onto the path of God. He, himself never asked more form his disciples than to admit that there was only one God and that he was His prophet. He of course encouraged them to practice according to His teachings but never through violence. I wish Ansar al-Sharia to reconsider their positions towards women as they are held in great esteem in Islam.”
One woman, Fatma from Aden, who for obvious reasons preferred to hide her last name, told the Yemen Observer that men from al-Qaeda had harassed her as she was going to the market, calling her a whore for she wasn’t covering her face with the Niqab. “They pushed me around a bit and threaten to hurt me if I continued to defy God. One of them said he would throw acid at my face to forever remind me of my treachery towards Islam.”
The young woman was much too scared to tell her father so she confided in her mother, who herself wears the veil. Determined to support her daughter’s personal choice, Fatma’s mother now accompanies her daughter wherever she goes, having sworn that anyone who would try to hurt her daughter would have to go through first.
But other women and young girls were not as lucky as Fatma…many were asked by their families to cover up as to avoid more persecutions.
“It is so unfair”, said Waffa Abdel-Aleem, “I don’t want to cover my face at all, I found insulting that I am being forced to do so because a group of extremists decided it is what they wanted me to do. I wish the government would do something to protect us,” she added angry.
Women all over Yemen are now watching with much fear the advance of al-Qaeda in Yemen, worry that their homeland will turn into another Afhganistan.
“I found that Yemen is reverting to lawlessness and moral piracy,” said Noora Saadi a right activist, adding “I personally fear that Ansar al-Sharia will turn a once traditional yet tolerant community into an Arabic version of the Taliban, in which case God help us all.”
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