Saturday, April 10, 2010


Belgium's banning the burqa- (the full face covering). The first European country to do so- when they do it- some time this month. The law won't allow anyone to cover their face in public so that would also include the niqab (allows the eyes to be seen) in the ban.
France wants to push for a law that would ban the burqa as well, expanding the 2004 law that banned headscarves in state schools. Other countries such as Britain, the Netherlands, and many German states are also facing the debate in whether or not to expand their ban on headscarves in schools- to burqas in public places. And of course there was Switzerland last year banning mosques from building minarets.
But the thing that makes the Belgium ban different from the headscarf bans in other EU countries is that, it has the support- albeit cautious, of the Muslim community there.

Belgian Muslim: "It is wrong to say the burqa is part of Islam. The vast majority of Muslims do not wear it. And it's not a bad idea to give a signal that we need some rules to live together."

Another Belgian Muslim: "I don't like the burqa. Every person should be visible. In most cases, it is not a religious act, but a macho one...But I wonder if we need a law on it. If we do this, we could make it a symbol and reinforce extremists on all sides. And in the middle of this economic crisis, where everyone is concerned about their job, this is not the number one problem."

Belgian non-Muslim: "The Muslim community is not yet well-integrated in Belgium. The difference between them and us is still there. This law draws a line, saying we in western European democracies accept Muslim beliefs, but in order to live together and even communicate - we have to be seen."

This makes for an interesting conundrum. As a Muslim and as a female, I have thoughts on this- obviously. But does it matter what I think when the Muslims in said country are accepting of this? There is no doubt in my mind that when this law passes, there will be HUGE backlashes across the world from offended and outraged Muslims, but I don't live in Belgium and the closest thing I know about Belgium are their deliciously scrumptious waffles. So who am I to say that this law steps on the toes of Belgian women's rights to wear what they want? Even though that is kind of my first reaction. I don't know. It's complicated to say the least. When Denmark published those cartoons, it only turned into a big deal when Muslims outside of Denmark made it a big deal. Yeah of course there were Muslims in Denmark that were offended and angry, but the majority of people were like, oh.
Sometimes I think in trying to assert freedom and "democratizing" countries- we take away their right to feel and express the way they want to. I mean why can't we live in a world where we have countries and places that express their values in different ways- why does there only have to be one way? If the people are happy what right do I have to say- no, you would be happier this way?

Whatever thats just my mental vomit on the issue.


controlled chaos said...

you're posts are awesome

and my mental vomit.....I don't know. While I disagree they should ban the burqa or anyone else's dress apparel this whole thing is confusing.

I feel like people are moving to the direction of stupid and more are forgetting the things that are actually important.

I like your posts. The end.

Constructive Attitude said...

How is wearing the burqa macho? I dont get it.

And what does that one Muslim mean when they say that "everyone should be visible"? Burqa doesnt make one invisible.

I truly understand when people say things about the niqab and safety precautions and what not, but the burqa is different. And I understand that Muslims in Belgium may not agree with the burqa and may not think of it as necessary in Islam, but I think being given a choice is a part of Islam. Hell, it's a part of ANYTHING. And just because a couple of Belgian Muslims dont agree with it and dont think it's a big deal doesnt rule out others in that area who would like to have a choice.

It's putting limits on things that shouldn't be limited. And I dont think a government has the right to make that decision for people.

Zasia said...
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Anonymous said...

At first I thought a burqa was similar to an abaya/jilbab because in my culture, any outer "coat" that is worn is referred to as a when I read in your post that Belgium was banning it, I got pissed! But then I thought, "hold on, let me look up what a burqa REALLY is"...and I came to find out the face covering is PART of the Burqa attire....

I can understand why the burqa/niqab is so disliked BUT to ban an article of clothing from ever being worn by an ENTIRE community, in my opinion, is freaking ridiculous. I am so glad to be living in the USA.

Snake Charmer said...

ok i totally should have explained what a burqa is in this context: its the full face covering as opposed to niqab which is just partial face covering. belgium isn't trying to ban the jilbab/abaaya just the face covering

Almost Close said...

I completely agree, I really don't understand the whole concept of democratizing a country/ community when they are just forcing all of these new values and ways of life. What makes me really upset about this is that Muslims are speaking out for the burqa ban. What's next? A ban on abayas/jilbabs? No more mosques in the area? No praying in public? There have already been several movements to try to stop the call to prayer from a nearby mosque in a primarily Muslim community, but alhamdullilah they have not been successful in doing so. As long as religion isnt harming anyone, then there should be no reason why anything should be banned.

Facta Non Verba said...

It's interesting that in trying to assert freedom and liberty they seem to be trampling over individual rights....though on the same coin - I'm not sure if their is any statistical evidence for this but i'd be willing to bet that the majority of burqa wearers do it from a cultural standpoint/pressure.

My understanding of the origins of the burqa as we know it stems from pre- Islamic Persia and Arabia cultures. So theirs that to consider. Though at the end of the day i feel that - if a woman choses to wear it, knowing all the facts, then more power to her. The state has no right to intervene. You can't call yourself a liberal democracy and trample of individual choice if that choice does not harm another individual - its the bases of all western though really. It's funny that western europe should have a problem with such a small percentage of the populace - as if they represent something more that they fear. I'd bet - again with no statistics in hand- that theirs less than 1,000 burqa wearers in belgium at any particular time.So the question becomes WHY? The answer is nuanced I'm sure but it is defiantly rooted in xenophobia, islamophobia, and just plain prejudice. Fear never gets you anywhere accept it - and move on.

EmptyWords said...

That was a really good post and I agree with Facta Non Verba... Liberty is something that one chooses - stopping it is not democratic