Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Proud Of You Cennet

I’m sure many of you have already heard the news of the 15 year old French Muslim girl: Cennet Doganay who shaved her head after being banned from classes with her headscarf on.
Respecting both the law and her religion, Cennet tried out everything to cover her hair without “violating” the new law of France that banned any religious symbols in schools. She tried berets and bandanas but still she was not allowed to attend classes. So shaving her head was the only solution she could think of.
Now whether shaving her head left a positive or negative impression by others, that’s not the issue, simply because no one would feel the paradox of loving her country and her religion at the same time, but the ones who are like her, the ones suffering from the same ban in their own country, the country which raised them on the courage of making a choice, the country which taught them to think and act freely…
Personally, I believe that since Cennet didn’t harm anyone, didn’t violate any law, didn’t cause any trouble by shaving her head, then her act should be respected. She stood up for her beliefs and tried to prove to the world that all she seeks is practicing her religion peacefully. She wanted the whole world to see that her will was never to show disrespect to her country, she never wanted to look different than her fellow colleagues, all she wanted is to lead a normal life, a balanced life that combines respect and love of religion and state. In return, she should be given freedom and respect, not humiliation and bans.
I respect her courage and admire her determination to follow both her religion’s instructions and her country’s law. Although, deep inside me I’m sure she’ll still feel the absence of democracy and freedom every single time she looks in the mirror, everyday she sits in the classroom being taught the meaning of democracy, the value of freedom, and the importance of respect. I know that shaving her head may not move the feelings of anyone, I know it may not result in any improvement she’s wishing for, I know she might be thought of as a careless teenagers, or even a silly girl, I know she might be even laughed at. But she knows she made her point, she sure knows the ones who really care about freedom, democracy and principles will respect her. She must know, that Muslim women from all around the world are proud of her, because she, in these difficult circumstances and in this young age did something that older women, in other less complicated and difficult circumstances wouldn’t even think of doing.

One last thing I feel obliged to say is: if a Muslim does not wear a headscarf, if a Christian does not wear a crucifix, if a Jew does not wear a skullcap, that wont change the fact that they are still Muslims, Christians and Jews. And governments should know, that not wearing a religious symbol wont hide the fact, a simple question like: "what’s your religion?", will unveil the fact. Unless of course, you're also considering than ban of religion-related questions. But even if you do, be sure that you can’t stop people from belonging to a religion they love, because religion, whether you like it or not, is a part of us, without it we’re lost. So instead of banning religious symbols, why not focus on teaching tolerance, love, peace and respect to other religions, because after all, this is what religion is all about.

I also encourage you to read Le Hidjab de Strasbourg , it’s in English.