‘Burka’ spins another tale

The ‘Burka’ is known for its controversial spin pertaining to every thread of its existence, specifically in the last decade. From being the ultimate garment of female oppression, to being the ultimate symbol of piety; this cloak has a new tale to tell each time

Burka is notorious for its widespread use in being the ultimate disguise. No wonder the government of France suffers from delusions of Burka clad terrorists invading their country. Its application is interestingly varied; from a low-budgeted Pakistani horror flick – Zibahkhana, where the scary antagonist dons a gruesome burka; to a real life desperate lover who uses the concealment to meet his girlfriend in a girls hostel; and wait, it gets even better! I recently read about an under-age teen who bought liquor in Toronto last year, dressed in a Burka, and almost got away with it.

Amid this mockery of an otherwise benign attire, comes a refreshing new addition. The `Burka Avenger`; Pakistan`s first woman super hero! For someone who loves the entire superhero shebang, all oodles of curiosity were kindled the minute I laid eyes on those big, brown eyes courageously peeping through her shadowy attire. A brilliant concept on many levels. Firstly, tackling a recent and important issue on girls education in Pakistan, following the Malala incident. Secondly, using the Burka as a disguise in a country where it is still a mark of respect and acceptance, no matter how much ridicule it may disperse globally. This may be the most viable use of the poor garb just yet. Lastly, using a Pakistani woman as a superhero to impart the importance of education over a widespread ignorant and misogynistic society is ironic yet perfect on all accounts.

At the risk of sounding like an over worried mother, I can almost feel my blood boiling at the criticism this cartoon may invoke. I sincerely hope that my worries are uncalled-for. Yet, it is not hard to imagine our country’s religious zealots tightening their turbans and pulling up their shalwars, all set to violently denounce the avenger’s blasphemous black nail colour. Maybe if they actually read Islamic history, they would discover brave and heroic women like Khawla Bint Al Zawar who courageously fought battles in Syria, Jordan and Palestine. In the battle of Ajnadin, not far from Jerusalem, her brother was taken prisoner. She brilliantly disguised herself as a male knight and rode to her brother’s rescue aided by her expert swordsmanship skills.

Then there were more; the ever persistent Women rights activists or habitual feminists trotting our globe like wolves sniffing their next wretched prey. I am by no means a proponent of this cultural/religious garb and I am all for freedom of women. But please don’t always associate the idea of the burka with increased oppression on the female kind. It is after all just a piece of clothing, as is the two-piece. My advice to them is to dig deep on western super-hero comics before banking on superficial facets of the avenger’s choice of guise.  Burka Avenger is not alone in her selection. Dust (a.k.a. Sooraya Qadir), a fictional character in the famous X-men marvel comics is a powerful counterpart who has the power to transform her body into malleable clouds of dust. She is originally from Afghanistan and proudly uses a Burka as her normal attire.

In an attempt to spread appreciation for the occasional good that comes out of Pakistan, I humbly request people to enjoy this cartoon animation for what it simply is: a creative and meaningful entertainment for the whole family. Carping criticism is just not that fashionable anymore. If nothing else, I am sure ‘Burka Avenger’ will make numerous children all over the country happy; and perhaps even give them reasons to dream and hope for a masked crusader, who not only saves the day, but is also from their beloved land.