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Philip Hollobone and the (il)logic of the burka debate


11:15 am - July 1st 2010

by Carl Packman    


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I’m yet to be convinced that the burka is anything other than a symbol of deep rooted oppression, and even if worn by a free woman in a free country, is still an expression of a patriarchal notion that frankly ought to have stayed in the dark ages where it belongs.

However, a Tory MP has represented to me the reason why appeals to banning it is cowardice and reactionary in many cases.

As the BBC described it:

Philip Hollobone has put forward parliamentary legislation to regulate the use of “certain facial coverings” in public. … “We are never going to get along with having a fully integrated society if a substantial minority insist on concealing their identity from everyone else.”


I find Mr Hollobone’s final comments more moronic than offensive, but to suggest that blame lies in the woman wearing the burka herself for a disintegrated society shows a level ignorance that makes me extremely cross.

A better example for the debate can be found in France.

Last year France denied a Moroccan woman citizenship for her incompatibility to French values, particularly equality of the sexes. Further details saw that the woman, known as Faiza M., had lived in France since 2000 with her husband and three children all of whom were born in France, though social services reported that she lived in “total submission” to her husband.

Reports of her incompatible radical politics were subsequently quashed. So what made her incompatible? At first it would seem too extraordinary that the reason she was incompatible to French values was because she was the human embodiment of inequality.

But wouldn’t this show cowardice on the part of the French government for not vilifying the oppressor? Of course it would, and it is this precise reason that the French government has chosen to pick on the oppressed and not the oppressor, cowardice.

French philosopher Alain Badiou said of burqa banning in 2004:

Grandiose causes need new-style arguments. For example: hijab must be banned; it is a sign of male power (the father or eldest brother) over young girls or women. So, we’ll banish the women who obstinately wear it. Basically put: these girls or women are oppressed. Hence, they shall be punished. It’s a little like saying: “This woman has been raped: throw her in jail.”

Most would recognise that the burka is a symbol of oppression but if this is so, then why are coward governments attacking the symbol, and not the oppression itself. It is this logic that Mr Hollobone and others can’t get round, and it damages the whole debate.

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Carl is a regular contributor. He is a policy and research analyst and he blogs at Though Cowards Flinch.
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Reader comments


1. Chaise Guevara

“Most would recognise that the burka is a symbol of oppression but if this is so, then why are coward governments attacking the symbol, and not the oppression itself. It is this logic that Mr Hollobone and others can’t get round, and it damages the whole debate.”

While I feel that banning the burkha is heavy-handed and in itself oppressive, how would you go about attacking the oppression or the oppressor? The former is a religion, the latter the people who communicate that religion. Aside from making slow progress through education and cultural assimilation, how exactly do you plan to ‘attack’ this faith or people who disseminate it? It seems to me that any swift cure would be far worse than the disease.

“Hate speech” has been banned has it not, despite being only the “symbol” of (eg) racism?

I thought the left was rather in favour of “symbolic” bans?

Well, you can (attempt to) ban the garment or you can (attempt to) ban the interpretations of islam that mandate it.

The end result is the same, though – muslim women who feel unable to leave the house.

And, no, I don’t have a solution up my sleeve either. Well, certainly not a practical one. “Live and let live” works to an extent – and I can’t imagine the burkha take-up of the next generation will be particularly high – but then we’re surrounded by omfgrepression…

4. John Meredith

Although this is something

5. margin4error

Christianity in England was largely bought down by a combination of rising living standards, rising education levels, and satire.

I can’t help think the long term solution is in there somewhere.

6. John Meredith

Sorry, meant to say :

“The end result is the same, though – muslim women who feel unable to leave the house.”

Although this is something that could be tested, isn’t it? If we found that on balance Muslim women had or felt they had more freedom post-ban, would it be acceptable?

I don’t think there is a very strong in principle argument against a public ban (lots of serious practical problems).

I’m not in favour of a ban on the burqa, but I think it would be perfectly reasonable to see it as a collective action problem. It might be the case that the majority of burqa wearers do more so out of fear and cultural convention than religious choice and would actually prefer not to have to wear it. A law banning it would simply allow these women to stop wearing it at the same time, and have a credible reason to allow them to stop wearing it permanently.

It is a parallel to some radical feminist positions on high heels. Ban high heels, no-one has to wear them and every woman benefits (so the argument goes). Be laissez-faire and the women who wear high heels benefit a little bit, but only by imposing costs (competing) with other women for male attention, and screw up their backs later in life too.

8. John Meredith

“I’m not in favour of a ban on the burqa, but I think it would be perfectly reasonable to see it as a collective action problem.”

Yes, I agree. The principled arguments against it aren’t all that strong . Certainly I would ban it from schools and public officers without any qualms.

I think the principled argument is very strong. Personal liberty trumps, even in cases where collective action might bring about a slightly more optimal outcome in short or medium term.

You can’t weigh the interests of the 10% who genuinely want to wear a burqa against the 90% who might prefer not, and might like to be compelled not to. Its a matter of such personal conviction that you can’t sacrifice the freedom to choose what you will wear or not wear for political/social outcomes. Of course, we still have laws against public nudity so it isn’t as if we, right now, approach this issue from a neutral civil libertarian position.

1. A friend who works with domestic violence victims says some women take up the niqab (the burkha as shown in that photo is very uncommon in the UK) so they can go out and about without their potentially dangerous relatives recognising them. Not a perfect solution, clearly, ridding the world of patriarchy and violent behaviour would be perfect. But until then…

2. Although it may well be true that the younger generation are less likely to feel they need to ‘cover up’, it is also true that an increasing minority of young women feel they do need to do so. My daughter’s school friend has taken up the hijab in a big way (and I mean BIG, just saw the end of term photos!) whilst her mother doesn’t usually wear one. A few months ago I saw three young women on the bus all wearing hijabs and niqabs. They all spoke with a north London accent so they hadn’t just arrived from the sub-continent which is the usual stereotype of an oppressed young Muslim woman from a tiny village in Pakistan…

Never mind what grown ups decide to do (clearly coercion is not on, but how do we know women are being coerced?) what I don’t like is seeing little girls all hijabbed up. Saw a small girl, about six, on the bus head tightly covered, but with shoes on the wrong feet. I thought it was a shame her parents were so concerned about preserving her ‘modesty’ (though what need a 6-year old has to be modest I don’t know) when they should have been more concerned about the health of her feet! Not to mention the dangers of not getting enough sunlight and suffering a vit-D deficiency in later life.

It is no business of the government to dictate how an individual may dress.

Of course that should not preclude the invidual business owner from dictating what mode of dress he permits on his premises.

Presumably nobody here has a problem with a shop sign that says “No Crash Helmets, No Hoodies, No Burqas” ?

12. Watchman

Ah, the joys of trying to deal with old men with beards. Now, if Islam actually had more female teachers and preachers (they have no established church, so can’t have the Christian prohibition on them – just cultural issues) maybe we’d get somewhere. Although there is of course no reason why women wouldn’t support their own oppression (in our eyes not their own).

Ultimately I cannot see how we can force people not to wear what they choose…

13. John Meredith

“It is no business of the government to dictate how an individual may dress.”

It is when it comes to public spaces and public dress codes are quite strong, although they rarely need reinforcing. It is also their business when the individuals work for them or if they are attending school. We must agree with that surely?

14. Chaise Guevara

“I think the principled argument is very strong. Personal liberty trumps, even in cases where collective action might bring about a slightly more optimal outcome in short or medium term. ”

Exactly, I could spend a long time debating whether banning the burkha would do more harm or good to the women themselves and society overall, but in the end I can’t support such an attack on personal choice.

One thing I would say is that, while the two situations are far from identical, the idea of equal rights campaigners getting burkhas banned reminds me very strongly of gay rights campaigners outing closet homosexuals. The end is noble, the means are not.

15. Chaise Guevara

“It is when it comes to public spaces and public dress codes are quite strong, although they rarely need reinforcing. It is also their business when the individuals work for them or if they are attending school. We must agree with that surely?”

Fine with me as far as business goes, but I think to avoid prosecution for discrimination they should have to be able to provide a rationale for each rule and show that it’s followed fairly. If a shop owner doesn’t allow burkhas because of the added security risk but is fine with people wearing motorbike helmets, I think there’s cause for a lawsuit.

If a shop owner doesn’t allow burkhas because of the added security risk but is fine with people wearing motorbike helmets, I think there’s cause for a lawsuit.

Of course, I would argue that the shopkeeper should be allowed to dictate what he wants (and does not want) to happen on his property without having to produce any rationale for his preferences.

Alain Badiou’s quote is a very sound analysis of what’s going on here. But as posters have already commented, it is easy enough to say ‘tackle the oppression, not the victim of oppression’ but harder to come up with ideas for a way forward.

One thing I think is well-funded English lessons. Perhaps even making them compulsary to live in the UK. Not being able to communicate with the outside world deprives people massively of their freedom, and their knowledge of their rights and therefore confidence to use them. In the long-term, I think this would really empower females who can’t speak English, boosting their confidence and interaction with the outside world.

@16, I disagree purely on the grounds that if the shopkeeper wants to earn a living selling things to the public, this should be to all the public .

I don’t support a ban: people should have the right to wear what they want. Yes, I can’t understand why anyone would actually want to wear a burqa, and don’t like to see people wearing it: but it’s their choice.

I could support a law against compelling someone to wear a burqa against their will, although such a law would obviously not convict many people. But if you make the wearing of the garment an offence, you are trying to eradicate oppression by banning being oppressed. As a justification for the law, it simply does not add up. There are a whole host of other dubious justifications, too, which are apparently flitted between at random by ban advocates.

Apparently you could hide a bomb in a burqa, so they’re a ‘security threat’. But you could also hide a bomb in a puffer jacket – but ban proponents don’t seem very interested in banning other baggy clothing.

Apparently under a burqa you could pretend to be someone else to defraud the tax office. But that doesn’t require a total ban, just a law that providing reliable ID in critical situations trumps religious concerns. Yet ban proponents don’t seem interested in that type of law.

Apparently burqas are anti-social and therefore prevent integration. So is going round covered in piercings and wielding a snarling dog. So is never leaving your house except to go to work. Yet ban proponents don’t seem remotely concerned for these people’s integration.

I’m sure most of the support out there for banning burqas does not come from deep concern for the oppressed status of female Muslims, but from deep hostility to the presence of female Muslims on British soil. Should this proposed law get passed, the average ban proponent isn’t about to go on to campaign to ban other things damaging to women; they’re much more likely to move on to minarets, Shari’a law and Islamic schools…

I’m sure most of the support out there for banning burqas does not come from deep concern for the oppressed status of female Muslims, but from deep hostility to the presence of female Muslims on British soil. Should this proposed law get passed, the average ban proponent isn’t about to go on to campaign to ban other things damaging to women; they’re much more likely to move on to minarets, Shari’a law and Islamic schools…

I wouldnt describe it as deep hostility, I would say its just your average zenophobic reaction to something different.

Some people view the world like its a cd cabinet that needs to be arranged, when they should just listen to some music

@ 18

I disagree purely on the grounds that if the shopkeeper wants to earn a living selling things to the public, this should be to all the public .

Why?

22. Watchman

Dave,

they’re much more likely to move on to minarets, Shari’a law and Islamic schools…

Shari’a? You seriously think that a seperate system of law should not be banned? Whatever happened to equality before the law.

Otherwise though, I think you are right. The calls generally come from the idiot right, those who think their beliefs can be accepted without argument or engagement with others.

@21 – I dont appreciate you trying to make me explain my spur of the moment, ill conceived opinions but I’ll try.

Because then the person with the burka has to go to a different shop, and I dont think thats fair.

Although a shop is a business it is also serves a fucntion in the community, if it isn’t serving that community fully then the space should go to someone who is willing to do that.

@22 – the first paragraph was a quote of 19, sorry forgot quotes.

I could support a law against compelling someone to wear a burqa against their will, although such a law would obviously not convict many people.

As a general rule, laws that are impossible to enforce are not a good thing.

26. the a&e charge nurse

[19] “I can’t understand why anyone would actually want to wear a burqa”.

First of all it is not ‘anyone’ but women who wear this type of medieval garb.

As far as I can tell compliance with the burqa (or similarly oppressive clothing) almost represents a mass form of Stockhausen syndrome?
http://www.thefreedictionary.com/Stockholm+syndrome

I agree with M4E [5] that in time education and greater economic freedom are far more effective change agents than heavy handed legislation.

If we found that on balance Muslim women had or felt they had more freedom post-ban, would it be acceptable?

I’m wary to say yes. “On balance” the public might feel better off if, say, the drinking age were raised to 21. The words “tyranny” and “majority” were bound to arise, so I’ll just throw ’em out there.

28. Chaise Guevara

@16

“Of course, I would argue that the shopkeeper should be allowed to dictate what he wants (and does not want) to happen on his property without having to produce any rationale for his preferences.”

Being on home turf, as it were, does not generally entitle you to commit actions which are otherwise illegal. If you can’t murder someone simply because they’re on your property, why should you be allowed to discriminate against them unduly? You don’t get carte blanche to treat them however you like.

(And if women felt freer with miniskirts banned? Oh, all these parallels! I’m in blog heaven.)

30. gwenhwyfaer

Apparently burqas are anti-social… So is never leaving your house except to go to work.

No, that’s asocial, not antisocial. I’m sick to death of people being unable to distinguish the two.

Anyone catch the BBC episode where they sent a british-resident afghan adolescent off to afghanistan to see her extended family?

She walked around in ordinary clothes for a bit and ended up under so much social pressure she hopped straight into a burkha to avoid the hostility being directed at her.

Obviously, such hostility would be much less universal across the entire UK – but among the extended family and friends of the oppressed woman looking to throw off her burkha? I’m very unconvinced.

This Coalition MP who is attempting to introduce this law is not doing so because he wishes to tackle ‘oppression’ of women (Muslim or otherwise), he is doing this because there is large numbers of Islamiphobic people in this Country who he feels that he can appease them with this attack. No-one should be conned by his stated ‘motivation’ he is nothing more than a nasty piece of work.

If he is really interested in helping poor Muslim women escape oppression, he should campaign for a Muslim women’s refuge. Let us build it in his constituency.

@30 – Then surely burkas are asocial rather than antisocial

34. the a&e charge nurse

[32] Indeed, Jim – this right wing firebrand will have had his little-england credentials stoked into a near frenzy at the ‘Monday club’.

Philip Hollobone also voted against equal gay rights.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philip_Hollobone

He certainly doesn’t strike me as very tolerant person – here he is at work, armed with just a green pen
http://www.islamophobia-watch.com/storage/Philip%20Hollobone.jpg

Frankly this is all far too complicated. There should be one (gender neutral) dress code for everyone, and the state should decide.

36. Chaise Guevara

“Frankly this is all far too complicated. There should be one (gender neutral) dress code for everyone, and the state should decide.”

Agreed. I’m leaning towards overalls, in a fetching blue colour.

37. Just Visiting

It is strange that so few of the feminists on LC have chipped in here?

As so often on LC, they are silent in the Islamic area so far…

38. Just Visiting

a&e – 34

Hollobone can’t be written off totally:
” gained public attention as the thriftiest Member of Parliament in terms of expenses: the average MP claimed £150,000 whereas Hollobone’s expenses bill amounted to £47,737″

“Voting very strongly for an investigation into the Iraq war”

“Voting very strongly against introducing ID cards.”

39. CommiusRex

No-one is made freer by restricting their rights. Not to mention the knock-on effect that what may well be widely perceived by Muslims as a further attack and singling out of them may have…

Shari’a? You seriously think that a seperate system of law should not be banned? Whatever happened to equality before the law.

The background here is that some bigoted nutjobs want to stop Muslims exercising the right (which everyone in England & Wales currently has, not sure how it works in Scotland) to take a civil dispute to an independent arbitrator operating to a set of rules agreed by both parties, and to have the arbitrator’s judgement viewed by the courts as binding.

It’s OK when we choose to go to ACAS, or when Orthodox Jews choose to go to the Beth Din – but if two Muslim parties to a dispute choose to use their preferred method of arbitration, then that’s OMG t3h $hariAz!!! and hence evil.

41. Antonio Lorusso

The point made in this article about laws criminalising the people they are supposed to protect is nothing new, in fact it is common place for all prohibition laws, sex workers and drug users get thrown in jail by those trying to protect them.

In the hysteria around the deaths that were mistakenly linked to meow-meow, a government minister said with a straight face in the same interview that he wanted to protect people from this and he was going to do this by throwing them in jail.

The debate on the burqa is symptomatic of the liberal muticultural dilemma we have discussed here before.

How can it be liberal to criticise an alternative culture or behaviour, even when that culture or behaviour is fundamentally illiberal or oppressive?

Just as all points of view should be respected, should we not declare that all cultures are of equal value, even when they are misogynistic and homophobic?

How can it be liberal to ban things we don’t like?

I have some answers to the above but I’d be interested to hear other views.

And a final question.

Why do we welcome those with authoritarian, fundamentalist religious views to our liberal democracy and permit them to retain their own system of law and fund their religious schools and simultaneously try to impose our liberal values on extreme Muslims in Afghanistan?

44. the a&e charge nurse

[44] there are few shibboleths that the fashionistas will not dabble with;
http://www.saltypopcorn.com/images/bruno-baby-bees1.jpg

The burqa is still a long standing emblem of oppression though – even so, Hollobone’s oppressive posturing is not the best way to challenge it.

As they say attitudes are caught, not taught.

45. Chaise Guevara

@39 “No-one is made freer by restricting their rights.”

Generally true, and a good rule of thumb. I’d argue that there are exceptions, though. Technically, your freedom is restricted by the fact that you can’t sign a clause on a loan saying “if I fail to pay in time, I agree to work as my creditor’s indentured slave for ten years”. But I think most people would agree banning this system makes us more free, not less so.

Basically, there are times such as the above when your personal freedom can be used against you by exploiting it at a time of crisis: you’re about to lose the house without a new mortgage, so you sign the one with the slavery clause out of desperation. These are the rare instances where I’d say our freedoms should be removed for our own good.

46. Watchman

john b @ 40,

It’s OK when we choose to go to ACAS, or when Orthodox Jews choose to go to the Beth Din – but if two Muslim parties to a dispute choose to use their preferred method of arbitration, then that’s OMG t3h $hariAz!!! and hence evil.

Did anyone say Beth Din was OK either? ACAS is open to all, so is not a problem. There is a huge difference though between trying to ban burqas, which is illiberal and does not deal with the root of the problem which the burqa probably reporsent, and opposing supporting shari’a courts, which are part of the root of the problem, considering that shari’a is explicitly sexist and expects women to take an inferior place. I don’t think it is in anyone’s interest for religions to have their own courts (yes, religious leaders will act as mediators anyway, but I have no problem with this as it is not formal).

47. Rhys Williams

It is quite amusing watching the many right wing libertarians on this site consistency just erupt in flames with very mention of Islam and it’s adherents. At least the French are consistent in their secular beliefs

48. the a&e charge nurse

[47] “At least the French are consistent in their secular beliefs” – and so is the Daily Mash it seems?
http://www.thedailymash.co.uk/news/international/jailed-saudi-men-blame-burqa-wearing-cock%11tease-20080225748/

Pagar @ 42

The debate on the burqa is symptomatic of the liberal muticultural dilemma we have discussed here before.

This is nothing to do with a multicural dilemma. This is to do with at what point we start defining what people can or cannot wear in the street. Even worse, this is aimed at attacking one group of people by using a law designed to cause people problems.

The motivation behind wearing the particular garment is irrelevant, in terms of whether or not covering your face/body. We should not concern ourselves with what the garment stands for. That is just a distraction; this is purely a civil liberties issue. The question is: should the State have the right to intervene in our clothing choices? If so, what sanctions should sanctions should the State impose on enemies of the State dress code? Are people to be arrested for failing to wear State approved clothing? Before we know it we will be banning saris and Paisley patterned shirts. Are our police supposed to go about with measuring tape swatches to test the suitability of clothes?

What about a compromise to satisfy the three groups in the equation?

1) The Government to stop legislating every aspect of our lives away.
2) The general public: continue to wear what you want to wear without fear.
3) Islamiphobes: Fuck of and stay in your houses, lest ‘someone’ walks past you without revealing their face to you.

There you go, everybody wins. MPs stop pointless debates, the public manage to make decisions on their own lives and the bigots never have to confront their prejudices.

50. the a&e charge nurse

[49] “the bigots never have to confront their prejudices” – does this include male prejudice associated with the female form, or is anything permissible providing it is sanctioned by a suitably anti-rational monotheism?

I don’t trust this tory’s motives but I do wonder why women put up with this kind of outlandish garb, although M4E has hinted at possible reasons [5].

a & e charge nurse @ 51

but I do wonder why women put up with this kind of outlandish garb, although M4E has hinted at possible reasons [5]

Does it matter? No-one should be forced to wear (of forced not to wear) clothing against their will, but are we going to examine EVERY woman in the Country to see if they are being forced to wear something by their menfolk? What if ‘some’ woman wear stocking just to please their man? Should we ban them? Or what about women who wear figure hugging shorts to tease men and annoy other women? What about women who wear..well, you get the idea, we could be here all day, but we will never really ban any other piece of clothing, because no other piece of clothing annoys the Islamiphobes.

I wonder if this guy supported banning page three on the grounds of ‘helping’ women?

52. the a&e charge nurse

[51] fair points, Jim – as I say I would not adopt the same line taken in France.

Having said that the Burqa is emblematic of male fears about their own sexual feelings – captured nicely by Daily Mash item [48].

If women want to be submissive then I guess that is a matter for them?

53. Watchman

Rhys,

It is quite amusing watching the many right wing libertarians on this site consistency just erupt in flames with very mention of Islam and it’s adherents. At least the French are consistent in their secular beliefs

So are libertarians. Any form of Islam which considers itself able to dictate to people about their lives regardless of their choice is clearly inconsistent with libertarianism. Where most libertarians go wrong is forgetting to apply the same principals to Christianity.

Incidentally, was the comment aimed at my preceding comment? Just wondering if I’ve been bursting into flames (that wasn’t a passionate comment in my judgement you see).

54. Chris Baldwin

I’ll never understand why September 11th has caused people, even sensible liberal people, to start obsessing over Islam. It’s insanity.

Jim @ 49

I agree. And I said earlier that government should have no role in what people choose to wear.

My comments that Islam is fundamentally illiberal and that this poses a dilemma for liberals in how to deal with it stand. On another thread here there is a discussion on how our sexual mores are rooted in a patriarchal mindset.

What could be more patriarchal than encouraging (or compelling) women to conceal their faces and bodies and the lack of condemnation of this makes my point about cultural relativism.

Just saying.

For me, the fundamental issue will always be the libertarian one. There is no way I would ever accept the state telling me what I can and cannot wear. If I want to walk around naked, or in a hijab, or as a 19th century fop, or in a bloody novelty chicken suit, then that is my decision. And as long as it remains MY decision then that’s fine. The state dictating a dresscode rather than a religion is still illiberal and oppressive.

Now, I personally don’t like the Hijab or Niqab or the Burkha, I do feel that they are oppressive to women, because they are often imposed by men and at odds with liberal society. But there are a whole load of other religions with outrageous rules. The Jehova’s Witnesses and blood transfusions spring to mind. But then most religions are fundamentally illiberal because they are generally concerned with limiting free will.

57. Rhys Williams

No watchman , just a general comment.

People should be able to wear what they want, as long as it doesn’t harm others and if it is their individual choice but when it comes to Islam, all those arguments for individual freedom are put on hold.
I agree Islam or any other religion is not libertarian but does it mean you have to change your views.

58. the a&e charge nurse

[57] “People should be able to wear what they want, as long as it doesn’t harm others” – but some have argued that the burqa does not fall into that category, first of all, “even an independent decision to wear a burqa is not carried out in a vacuum. It is important to understand the effect of this choice on other Muslim women, many of whom may be trying to resist the pressure of their relatives, their community or their governments to wear the burqa”.
http://camelswithhammers.com/2009/07/02/a-muslim-woman-against-the-burqa/

And ……. “In some sense, a burqa leads to the most perverse kind of sexual objectification – a woman wearing it is identified by absolutely nothing other than her sex: she is a nameless, faceless, shapeless “woman” and nothing more” (same source).

Personally I find something very disingenuous about arguments that women should have the ‘freedom’ to be treated like second class citizens?

59. Rhys Williams

A and E but if it is their individual choice, then however we feel it is wrong, it is their choice. Many Muslim women want to wear them
A prostitute can wear an exotic basque, that is degrading to females, would you ban that

60. the a&e charge nurse

[60] please read my comments Rhys, I am not arguing for a ban.

Any item of clothing freely chosen is one thing but the cultural conventions surrounding the burqa make such choices anything but ‘free’.

Islam (like other monotheism’s) begins as a form of indoctrination – in the case of the burqa it is then imbued with a deeply embarrassing form of sexism.

It astonishes me that we are so anxious about upsetting people nowadays that an obvious injustice (like covering women from head to toe in a tent) is seldom challenged because of cultural sensitivity.

#55 The only way I can think of to render the burkha pointless without a ban (which I also oppose) is for us all to wear burkhas. If we really wanted to screw with the ideology of the burkha, we could all wear assless burkhas.

Watchman: “Any form of Islam which considers itself able to dictate to people about their lives regardless of their choice is clearly inconsistent with libertarianism.”

Surely equally any government law (e.g. banning an item of clothing) which considers itself able to dictate to people about their lives regardless of their choice is also clearly inconsistent with libertarianism?

a&e charge nurse: “It astonishes me that we are so anxious about upsetting people nowadays that an obvious injustice (like covering women from head to toe in a tent) is seldom challenged because of cultural sensitivity.”

You don’t have to *like* something to be against the government banning it. There are other – far more effective – ways of campaigning against the burqa, such as supporting Muslim women’s rights organisations. Such organisations hold regular street demonstrations in Pakistan, for example.

This type of legislation is just going to cause many Muslims to see the burqa as a symbol of resistance against western anti-Muslim bigotry, increasing its popularity massively.

Some have suggested education – English classes and the like. You’re assuming that face-covering Muslim women are all recent migrants – my experience tells me otherwise. It appears to me that a small minority of British Muslim women are taking up the hijab, the jilbab, the niqab (but not the burkha as in the photo at the top of the page – that’s an Afghan tradition and not often seen in the UK). They might be forced to by their families – who knows – but I’d suspect that if they’ve grown up and been educated in the UK it’s unlikely. Particularly, as I pointed out above, if their mothers don’t cover up.

So what’s to be done about these educated young women who feel they need to cover up completely? Why should we feel we need to do anything other than ensure their basic human rights are met? And if we go on and on and on about this issue, isn’t it likely that even more young women will feel the need to publicly state their religious allegiance?

I would really like to just put a suggestion on the table for a point of possible comprimise. I can see the perspective of both sides of the argument and have pondered a comprimise, if it is possible. I am wondering if a burka made of netting would be sufficient for public places they cover the face at a distance but close up identification should be possible whilst still giving a covered face as a barrier to the bare flesh being seen. Just a thought.

The Muslim Canadian Congress calls for a ban on the burka and the niqab, arguing that they have “no basis in Islam”.

http://www.cbc.ca/canada/story/2009/10/08/canada-muslim-burka-niqb-ban-government.html

scott

Thankyou for your response, whilst I accept that their is no written basis in Islam Law for wearing the burka, i understand that it is an issue of choice much the same way as a cross for a christian, there are a lot tof things for which there is no basis in law and yet we would encourage or discourage in terms of health welfare and social norms. In a democratic country though people have a right to wear what they want say what they want and do what they want so long as they do not cause undue alarm and distress or put someones life at risk. The main risk with the Burka is security and safety. The safety aspect is when one is working or driving it can obscure vision or get trapped in doors and machinery, The security issue is identification and what can be hidden under them. but the risk of hidden implements etc is only the same as any coat or cape. I felt that clear netting would solve the security problem. If someone is wearing a hiqab a burka with sunglasses this is clearly unacceptable. I am worried that if we as a country are seen and heard to be attacking muslim women in a way which would be deemed as to dishonour her, we could face reprisals. A woman made to effectively disrobe her face in the muslim community could be seen as adulterous, the woman would be beaten. I know that just as with our own culture not all would view it like that but some would. I knew someone who was hacked to death for something very similar.


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    Agreed: attack the oppression, not the symbol: RT @libcon: Philip Hollobone and the (il)logic of the burka debate http://bit.ly/b0OTYC

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    @Biotruck there is a different slant to the debate being discussed at: http://bit.ly/d9IAog

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    RT @thegreatgonzo: @Biotruck there is a different slant to the debate being discussed at: http://bit.ly/d9IAog

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    RT @libcon Philip Hollobone and the (il)logic of the burka debate http://bit.ly/cUxvXE

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