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Opinion: Why I'm proud to wear the burqa

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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • French Muslim Oumkheyr speaks to CNN about why she chooses to wear the burqa
  • Has worn the veil for 10 years and never been forced to wear it, she says
  • A French parliament report has called for a ban on the burqa in schools, hospitals
  • Oumkheyr: "I really believe that France is scared of Muslims"

Oumkheyr is a French Muslim woman in her 40s. Of Algerian origin, she is divorced and has a daughter. She tells CNN why she's proud to wear the burqa, also known as the niqab or full veil, and what she thinks of the law proposed by the French government to ban the burqa. A French parliament report has called for a ban on the burqa in schools, hospitals, government offices and public transport.

(CNN) -- I wear the burqa for the simple reason that I am a Muslim and the Koran says that I must wear the full veil in order to be modest.

I am proud of my Muslim faith and my modesty. I am proud to follow God's law.

Nobody ever forced me to wear the full veil and I have been wearing it for around 10 years now.

In fact, very few of my friends actually wear one. There are, of course, situations in which some men force their wives or daughters to wear the burqa but, believe me, these cases are a very, very small minority.

For those of us who are believers, we just want to do God's will and live by the sacred text, so what any man says has nothing to do with that.

I am testament to that as I don't have a husband and I practice my religion freely, that's why I'm always shocked when people say it's the husband who forces his wife to wear a burqa.

It is actually the case that a lot of men in France do not wish their wives to wear the full veil because when they go out, they are insulted or attacked and their husbands don't want them to be put in that situation.

I first started wearing the full veil when I was a teenager but I stopped for a while because when you're young, you don't want to be set apart, you want to look like everyone else.

I obey the laws of God not the laws of man.
Video: Should France ban burqas?
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But later after seeing what was happening with terrorist attacks involving Muslims all over the world, I decided to become more conscious and find out more about my faith.

In the process, I found myself becoming more spiritual and decided to start wearing the burqa.

Now, my liberty is being threatened with this law proposed by the French government. If this law is passed, it will be a great injustice. It is very unfair that they are even considering this law.

Perhaps the French authorities are terrified that women will start dressing like this, despite evidence to the contrary.

Why am I, as a Muslim woman, targeted unfairly, when there are less than 2,000 of us in France who wear the burqa? Where is my freedom of clothing or expression?

France prides itself as a country that upholds the rights of man but where are my rights? Why am I not free to wear what I want?

Many cite security reasons because they can't tell who is under the veil. But myself and a lot of women who wear the burqa are always happy to identify ourselves when asked.

In the past, I have taken off my veil when it is asked of me -- as long as it's a woman who does it. My religion demands that I cover my face in front of any man who is not either my brother, father or husband.

I have been wearing the veil in France for years and it has never been a problem, I use public transport like everyone else and I've never had any problems.

Although, it can be quite strange when I'm on a bus for example and people say to me: 'You poor thing, we feel sorry for you.' And I wonder exactly why they feel sorry for me.

I'm very happy wearing the veil and it makes me spiritually fulfilled as I'm practicing my religion, so I don't really see it as anything to pity me for.

I really believe that France is scared of Muslims, which is the motivation for this law, but people shouldn't generalize as not all Muslims are the same.

Yes, some have done terrible things, but it is done in the name of man, never in the name of God. I, as a French Muslim woman, have nothing but love in my heart towards all people.

And whatever the outcome, if France succeeds in banning the veil on its streets, I will never take mine off. My freedom means a lot to me and if this law is passed, I would rather move to another country where I can worship in peace.

I obey the laws of God not the laws of man.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Oumkheyr.

 
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