Doha (AsiaNews/Agencies) - Concerned about too many uncovered faces, elbows and knees, the women of Qatar and the United Arab Emirates have launched a campaign against Western clothing. The initiative was proposed by the "One of us" association and aims to "teach" the tourists to respect local Islamic traditions concerning clothing.
Najla Al-Mahmoud, a Qatari, said that during the summer it is scandalous to see foreign women exposing bare shoulders and knees, who don't respect the local culture based on sharia. "We are offended by this behavior", she says, "many tourists who come to our country do not know our customs and we are convinced that they will welcome our initiative. We only want to educate them."
In the Emirates, the campaign was launched by two women, Hanan al-Rayes and Asma al-Muhairi, who on their twitter accounts have expressed their disgust towards foreigners, who tour the country in inadequate clothing. "Like it or not", reads one of their slogans posted on the social network, "this country has its own culture that must be protected and respected by its own people."
Women residing in Qatar and the United Arab Emirates are obliged by law to wear the "abaya", a dark mantle that covers almost the entire body. For men there is instead the "kandura", a white robe that leaves only their wrists and ankles uncovered.
Hamad al-Rahoumi, a member of the Federal Council of the UAE, said that many tourists, even if they know the local traditions, choose not to respect them. According to the politician, the campaign is not sufficient to impose the rules on clothing. He also proposes to extend to foreigners the dress code that applies to residents. "Its application", he says, "serves as a deterrent. We shall only enforce it, but without imposing penalties or fines."
On the Internet, hundreds of people have applauded the campaign in defense of a dress code in line with sharia. But there have been several criticisms. For some, the government should not waste time teaching Westerns how to dress. The authorities should undertake to enforce laws that save lives, such as the ban on smoking in public places, often ignored, and the requirement to wear seat belts.