In the letter ‘Religious dress’ (Dec 25), G.B. Shah Bokhari accuses Raja Awais Naeem, a Lahore-born Muslim taxi driver in the American city of St. Louis, Missouri, of obscurantism for taking his municipal authorities to court because they would not allow him to wear shalwar-kameez and a kufi cap while driving his cab.
However, he doesn't explain how Mr Naeem’s insistence on wearing an outfit of his liking justifies the statement that ‘obscurantist-minded people of the like of this type of taxi driver bring a bad name to Islam.’
Taxi drivers are not exactly soldiers who must wear a certain gear because of obvious considerations. Even America’s male Sikh police officers can wear headgears. Why can a taxi-driver not wear what he wants to?
America stands for freedom of expression. A few years ago a Muslim girl in the US state of Kansas was asked by her high school not to wear hijab while in school. She knew exactly what to do. She took the matter to the Supreme Court.
The Department of Justice joined the case on her behalf, because the issue dealt with nothing less than the matter of personal freedoms. It didn't take the court long to opine in her favour.
Every now and then an incident of obscurantism occurs in America in which one’s constitutionally-guaranteed basic freedoms are questioned by someone. But Americans as a group support the wronged individual. Freedom is embedded in America’s collective psyche. That’s why we believe that the laws of Saudi Arabia and Iran requiring women to wear a burqa and the Turkish and the French laws forbidding women to do the same are all an affront to humanity.
I am quite sure the court will rule in favour of Mr Naeem. Under the First Amendment, it is a foregone conclusion.
SIDDIQUE MALIK Louisville, US