Two main topics were covered in the Human Rights Council: the impact of terrorism on women rights in the Middle East and the Arabic world and if the burqa and niqab are seen as a symbol of terrorism nowadays. Both are sensitive subjects and are well connected, as it was seen from the division of the delegation in two sides, one with more Arabic perspective and the other that promoted European values.
The burqa and niqab have become a topic of much controversy and heated debate. A number of countries have banned the wearing of these religious garments, while others have considered banning or limiting their use.
Many arguments have been made against the wearing of the burqa and niqab, claiming they are anti-social, backward, oppressive, and not part of Islam. This debate itself discussed the burqa and niqab from both an Islamic viewpoint and from the Human Rights perspective and addresses the many concerns and allegations made against the wearing of these garments.
All of the Islamic countries interfered and stated that the hijab can generally be found amongst Muslim women all over the world, while the niqab and burqa are more common in specific regions and it is not obligatory for a Muslim woman to dress in one of the above fashions in front of other women. It is only obligatory in the presence of men who are not closely related to her and in some countries they are not obliged but wear them voluntarily. One of the Arabic delegations supported this with a quote from their Holy Book :
“O Prophet! Tell your wives and your daughters, as well as all believing women, that they should draw over themselves some of their outer garments [when in public]: this will be more conducive to their being recognized as decent women and not molested.” Quran 33:59
From this is understated that the main role of them is not about being inferior to men or anti-social, but rather, it is the personal choice of women wanting to gain closeness to God, and should be respected as such.
After reaching no real consent on this an unmoderated caucus was in order and it proved productive, the delegates finally concluded on draft resolution that have proper amendments. The final of the session revolved around voting which of them are respecting the whole councils opinions and basically making real progress.
By Claudiu Sulea
HRC Press Officer