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Muslim Leader Advises Abandonment of External Regalia

It is interesting to contrast Badawi's perspective, and the freedom he feels to voice it, given Islam's currently decentralized leadership environment, with the Sikh handling of hate crimes in the aftermath of 9/11 and the reaction of religious communities to France's ban on religious symbolism. Bikramjit Singh (London, U.K.) points out that Badawi's comment is in line with the Islamic concept of Takiya, which has no parallel in Sikhism (Sikh-Diaspora, Yahoo! Groups, August 14, 2005).

A.F.P., London, Aug. 3, 2005

Photo: Zaki Badawi, chairman of the Council of Mosques and Imams and head of the Muslim College in London

A leading moderate Muslim in Britain advised women against wearing the Islamic veil for safety reasons in the aftermath of the London bombings.

'A woman wearing the hijab in the present circumstances could suffer aggression from irresponsible elements. Therefore, she ought not to wear it,' said Zaki Badawi, chairman of the Council of Mosques and Imams and head of the Muslim College in London.

The Egyptian-born leader made the call amid fears that Muslims could be targeted in a backlash over the July attacks.

London's Metropolitan Police said faith hate crimes were up 600 percent on the same period last year after the attacks.

'In the present tense situation, with the rise of attacks on Muslims, we advise Muslim women who fear being attacked physically or verbally to remove their hijab so as not to be identified by those who are hostile to Muslims,' said Badawi.

The July 7 attacks were perpetrated by four British Muslims.

They blew up themselves and 52 others in three blasts on the London Underground and one on a bus.

A repeat attempt by another gang of four men failed when the bombs failed to detonate fully.

Badawi said the Koran justified removing the hijab, as it instructed women to dress so they could be 'identified and not molested.'

'The preservation of life and limb has a much higher priority than appearance, whether in dress or in speech,' he added.

Badawi was denied entry to the United States with no explanation a week after the deadly attacks but accepted an unreserved apology offered later.

He was due to speak in New York on the law and Islam.