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Burqa bans conceal some far more difficult problems

Burqa bans conceal some far more difficult problems

Is European legislation against the Islamic face covering merely a way of sidestepping some far more complex – and perhaps unsolvable – issues?

April 26, 2010 7:31 by

European legislation banning Islamic women’s head coverings are resulting in heated political debate, making headlines across Europe and the Middle East in what is often deeply divided coverage.

The French and Belgian governments have announced plans to ban the niqab, or full-face Islamic veil, from many public spaces. Some corners of the western media present this debate as one of women’s rights; ironically, the European legislation itself violates the rights of the women who choose to wear the face-covering veil in public.

Indeed, many have questioned the legality of such bans, which could well be challenged in the European Court of Human Rights on the grounds that they violate freedom of religion.

But what is the actual threat posed by the burqa?

Certainly, the threat must be severe. Severe enough for western governments to put aside some rather more pressing concerns – such as national security, the economic crisis, nuclear threats, unemployment, global warming, poverty and starvation – in order to endlessly pursue this issue.


On the surface, we are told that the burqa bans are about protecting national identity, security, secularism and women’s rights.
But is that all there is to it? Have the burqa bans come about merely because – at least in the eyes of the French and Belgians, and notwithstanding a ruling by the European courts – it is possible to legislate against such things? Is it, perhaps, merely a way of sidestepping some far more complex – and perhaps unsolvable – problems?

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  1. Ibrahim Qaddah on April 27, 2010 7:47 am

    Dear Sir/ Madam,

    I would like to share with you the subject of the Islamic cover (Hijab) or (Buqa).
    In the Arab peninsula the European and American together with Australian and other non Muslim expats comes to this region and no one force them or dictate what they have to wear or not to wear.
    It’s not a mater of the Hijab or Burqa it’s a mater of principle, personality and respect to the traditional uniform. They should respect our traditions as much as we do show respect to theirs and this will not come from individuals but the Islamic governments should put a step down on what’s going on outside the Islamic countries and some unity about what’s going on.

    I’m not and refuse to be an extremist because Islam is a peaceful religion and a religion of equal that gives the women equality in life with men. I advise all to read more about Islam to see how a peaceful religion it is. I’m a Moderate person and would like people to treat us with the same respect we treat everyone.
    I thank you for giving me the chance in sharing my thoughts and I hope I pass the message without offending anyone.
    With B. Regards,

  2. Andrew on April 27, 2010 10:26 am

    In countries that are not Islamic, the opinion of people on these forms of dress ranges from simply disrespectuful that you can’t see the person’s face when talking to them – to feeling outright intimidated. That coupled with security fears, such as previously wanted terrorist suspects disguising themselves as women and evading security checks, there exists a significant amount anxiety.

    In a country like France they strictly enforce laws on secularity and conspicuous religious symbols in their schools, despite being devoutly Catholic themselves. Whilst I’m not the biggest fan of the French at the best of times, I admire their promotion and defence of their national motto; “Liberté, égalité, fraternité”. The French will ensure everyone is equal, even if it means using the law to do it.

    Whilst Islam might consider itself a religion that transcends national borders, most non-muslim countries neither believe or accept this. Freedom of worship is given, but that still means adapting and conform to certain cultural norms in these nations, no different to what non-Muslims such as myself have to do when living in this part of the world. How these changes manifest themselves change from place-to-place, but the concept remains the same.

    Your argument is effectively that non-Muslim nations should let you wear what you wish. If that was the case Muslim nations should reciprocate for non-Muslims – which we both know isn’t going to happen. There are very very few modes of dress of a religious nature found in the western world, and most are directly tied to those of the cloth who’ve devoted their life to their religion. Hence why beyond the concept of “modesty” few demands or restrictions are placed on how expatriates (at least those from the western world) are dressed. These however are still restrictions.


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