Whether I am dealing with people or just reading about them, I like to see their faces. I understand that there is a certain power in hiding one’s face; we judge each other by how we look and what emotions our faces show. But although I try hard to wear a mask when not with friends, I still hope to get a glimpse of where people are at by what their faces show.
People hide their faces in my culture (Canada), and it can be done without niqabs, etc.; just use makeup and sunglasses and beards and hats and scarves. We can relate to that here. We like to hide (remain anonymous?) as much as immigrants do – we just do it in different ways.
I think we are probably very similar all around the world, with differences only in rural vs. urban experiences*, individually and as a society. If so, then when we realise this, we can leave our tribal, knee-jerk, small-mindedness behind and begin to develop some progressive paradigms for passing on to our children – paradigms that are not fleetingly based on the good times oil is currently giving us. And if we don’t do this, when the good times end, so, I fear, will our progressiveness.
Of course, to me, all niqabs look alike, and my own view is that they are meant to remove identity and individuality, but is that just my ignorance and unfamiliarity? Perhaps in Islamic neighbourhoods, wearing a niqab doesn’t hide your identity at all – isn’t meant to. Perhaps it’s just meant to show your “submission to god”, for example, while you know full well that everyone around you knows who you are.
*education, exposure to variety of thinking, exposure to anonymity of crowds, loss of immediate interdependence with neighbours, etc