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Old 04-14-2011, 08:01 AM   #1 (permalink)
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The Burkha Debate

Ive been mulling over whether i should start this thread for over a week now. So this evening, i thought, what the heck. let's see what TFP has to say about the Burkha debate.

As some/most of you might know, France has introduced a Burkha ban in public which is enforceable and anyone breaking the law can be arrested and fined for not complying with the new laws.

do you think that the burkha ban should be introduced in other countries in the west and europe? should this type of ban apply only to muslims, or should other cultures face similar enforcement.

As a note, the burkha, although a religious symbol is not an islamic requirement. it is not enforceable under shariah law, and no one can force someone to wear it. Those that do, do it of their own will. And if there are any that are forced to wear it, then those that force their women to wear it are in breach of islamic teachings.

im afraid that this ban will spread across the western world. that in order for right wing politicians to garner support from their constituants, they'll pull out the burkha ban and wave it around to show how they are fighting those that dont want to integrate, like somehow they are doing the country a favour.

what this will do is cause a divide between the muslim population and the rest of the country. This could well be the intention, and it could well work, singling out an entire community and painting them as fanatics.

I think its worth mentioning that out of a muslim community of a few million in France, there's approximately only 2000 women who wear the burkha. quite a small number for such a large demographic.

As a western muslim im concerned. Ive previously mentioned that ive had family in australia attacked, abused and driven off the road because they look apprently muslim. My wife was abused on a train home for the crimes of 10 nutters in september 2001 and as a young kid i was called a 'wog' many more times than i'd like to remember. My wife does wear a hijab by choice, and im concerned that these laws will be extended not by the government, but by vigilante groups fanned by a hatred of anything foreign. Those that carry this fire only need an excuse to vent their anger. This ban could spread, and this ban could affect me and my family.

i can see how vigilante groups will take matters in their own hand if they see a woman in a burkha on the street. This will evenetually lead to muslim women going underground and secluding themselves from the rest of the population in the western world. It will work against the liberation of womens rights, and against the liberation of muslim women who are 'subjugated' by thier husbands.

I regard myself as integrated into western society. I speak two languages, and i can fit in anywhere in the west, parts of europe, the middle east and parts of south asia. I may not agree with the Burkha being worn in the western world, because it would cause more conflict than good, but it is the choice of a select few who do this for their own religious beliefs. And although they may do this for personal reasons, the effects will spill over into other parts of the world.

Is this Europe throwing down the gauntlet?

what do you think? should muslims be allowed to wear the burkha? should they be banned? should they be shipped 'back home' for breaking the law? how can it be policed? will people take matters in their own hands to enforce the law?


i'd love to hear what TFP has to say, pro and con.
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Old 04-14-2011, 08:16 AM   #2 (permalink)
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This blog post might help with some context. I think many Westerners—and more than a few non-Europeans—aren't quite sure what's going on in France.

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Burkas — religious / cultural freedom vs. women’s rights / dignity

The big religious news in Europe the past few weeks has been French President Nicolas Sarkozy ‘s recent address to the French Parliament, in which he declared that burkas "won’t be welcome" in France. Well, he said it in French obviously, but that’s the translation.

I see the Pat Condell has recently posted a video on this as well. If you’re stateside or just haven’t read much about it, you may have a few questions: what the heck does a burka look like, and why would the French President seemingly attack women who are just practicing their religion?

Well, here’s a photo montage from the French daily newspaper Le Monde showing different types of veils often associated with Islam. People in the West have a tendency to call them all veils or burkas, but there are differences.



In a nutshell, the hijab in the 1st picture s the headdress that is described in the Quran, although according to Le Monde what exactly it is supposed to cover is "subject to interpretation".

The niqab (photo 2) has two veils, one to cover the hair, and the other to cover everything but the eyes. Le Monde says it’s "mainly worn in Persian Gulf countries."

The burka itself (photo 3) is the one that has a "grill" on it, basically netting with small holes so that you can’t even see the woman’s eyes. Le Monde says they are normally worn in Afghanistan and some regions of Pakistan.

The last photo shows the chador , worn in Iran says Le Monde, which shows the entire fact but has no place for one’s hands.

So Sarkozy specifically singled out burkas apparently because they, according to him, "deprived women of identity" and are a "sign of subservience" (translations by BBC News ; the full video and part of the original text in French is here; note that the speech dealt with many issues, not just the burka).

[...]
I Am The Blog Blog Archive Burkas ? religious / cultural freedom vs. women’s rights / dignity

I have little idea of what the specifics are on the ban. Can anyone illuminate us?
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Old 04-14-2011, 08:16 AM   #3 (permalink)
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YES! This has been very interesting to me.

FWIW, both the US's Anti-Establishment clause in the First Amendment and IIRC, the Int'l Covenant on Civil and Political Rights Article 18, along with Universal Declaration of Human Rights Article 18 all militate against the Burkha ban (on the basis of free exercise of religion).

I think the law is more anti-alien than anything, and I'm a strong proponent of free exercise of religion. Arguments for security and women's rights ring hollow for me.

I'll add more later.

/Anticipates a heated debate.
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Old 04-14-2011, 08:21 AM   #4 (permalink)
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It angers me, scares the shit out of me and breaks my heart at the same time.

That would be like telling Jews they can't wear a yarmulke in public. Freedom of religion, freedom of expression ... ? Que pasa?

Is the reason stated for the protection of Muslims from profiling, or something else?

Not that it matters, as it's a simple matter of choice.
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Old 04-14-2011, 08:45 AM   #5 (permalink)
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I see this also as a tie-in to a woman's right to her own body. For example, I see also a relation to instituting a ban on abortions.

Both of these bans say something similar: the state can take away women's right to make decisions about their own bodies, whether it is to cover them in public as a means of religious modesty or to determine whether or not she will carry a pregnancy full term. Either way, it is the state interfering with a woman's right to make decisions about her own body.

The inverse of this would be for France to also ban bikinis, short skirts, cleavage, etc., on the basis that it objectifies women's bodies inappropriately in public. I don't think that is any more or less right.
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Old 04-14-2011, 09:08 AM   #6 (permalink)
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This smacks of the majority imposing their wills and norms on a minority under the guise of protecting the minority.

With respect to the pregnancy and abortion argument, I think it's distinguishable since the state has a vested interest in the fetus as an individual--indeed IIRC the concept is that The state's interest protecting the fetus as an individual (under a police power protection of person's safety concept) congeals after the 3rd trimester, hence overruling a woman's right to self autonomy.

Here, what is the state's interest in denying Burkhas?
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Old 04-14-2011, 09:23 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Notwithstanding the obvious xenophobia actually going on in France, I support the banning of any attire that completely obscures the face of an individual who is using public transportation, assembling in public (even peaceably), using a public thoroughfare or attempting to make a purchase.

On a personal note I loathe Islam and religion in general, but I do believe I am fairly separating that from my feelings here. I am just as uncomfortable by a man in a ski mask entering a 7-11 as I am by a woman in a Niqab or Burqa walking down the street.

I fully support the exercise of religion in the US, and the freedom of (and from) it. But I think that restricting specific headgear is a reasonable restriction of freedom of expression for the security of a State; much like shouting "fire", making menacing gestures, verbally threatening harm or directly assembling with the purpose of inciting violence.

Framed in a different light, there are a great many religious "requirements" which we do not accept as reasonable under the protection of (and from) religion, like FGM. In this sense, we have a state that highly values internal and external security, a compelling national interest in protecting ourselves from terrorist attack and an incredible interest in protecting infrastructure and life. Why should we except religious head coverings when a man walking into a 7-11 wearing a black ski mask wouldn't similarly be allowable?
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Old 04-14-2011, 09:58 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Good points:

I think Wisconsin v. Yoder is instructive here:

In that case, the Amish objected to truancy laws which required their children to go to school. The Amish in that case typically required their children to stop attending school beyond middle school and learn the way of life.

The SCOTUS held:

Quote:
State has an interest in ‘universal education’ but it must be BALANCED when it impinges on a ‘fundamental right and interest.’ To assure that there is a state interest of sufficient magnitude.
(My broad summation copied from my notes).

I think here, you will be hard pressed to make an argument for wearing ski masks--but a burkha may be the expression of other unpopular values.

Of course, you run in to the issue of
Quote:
Problem with TWO PEOPLE WITH IDENTICAL BEHAVIOR—WITH ONLY ONE GETTING BENEFIT BECAUSE HE COUCHES HIS BEHAVIOR IN RELIGION.
Sherbert v. Verner (In that case a woman was fired for not working on Saturdays on religious 'sabbath' grounds--question was whether she could claim unemployment and whether her religious objection was 'good cause' for being fired or not).

Here, we don't have an issue of a slew of 7/11 robberies with robbers wearing Burkhas, so I don't think there's much of a compelling state interest....
=======================

We can also do wearing burkha as a freedom of expression issue (when does action become expression) but...I'll stop rambling for now.
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Old 04-14-2011, 10:07 AM   #9 (permalink)
 
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there's more to the context in france for this. i was going to make a longer post, but decided i'll just note a few things and maybe explain them if it's helpful along the way.

1. you can't understand this law without taking the front national into account. the front national is a neo-fascist political party. they've been around since the early 70s and are, in many ways, the french correlate of the populist right in the united states. they've been arguing for a while that the "real france" is white and catholic/christian. so that's the "us"----as over against the is, in particular (because most visible) the north african population. islam is a convenient symbol for them ethnically, and plays to the front's arguments that "real" france is catholic as well. for the front national, france is being "invaded" by "them"---little matter that the vast majority of the north african population of france is french citizens and has been in france for generations.

so the law itself is a shameful capitulation on the part of the mainstream french right to the neo-fascists. and it legitimates them.

2. the socio-economic divisions within the north african population, particularly in the banlieuex, which were for a time the main sources for such traction as "fundamentalism" (whatever that means really) had in france. one irony is that the "fundamentalist" groups were just as much against the mainstream islamic organizations in france (paris in particular)---which did nothing to help these poorer communities---as against the french state.

3. anxiety about what france is, what the french nation-state is given neo-liberalism, given the e.u., etc.---this helps explain the traction of 1 as well.

the central arguments for this law regarding the burkha is the same as was outlined around the 2007 law banning hijab in the schools....that the republic is the assembled public and that public is secular by definition (a legacy of the french revolution, which was, in part, a revolt against religion. you know, catholicism). public space, therefore, is secular. that was the argument.

and it might have appeared other than totally craven had the pope not died a week or two after the hijab ban went into effect. the flag over the assemblé nationale was flown at half mast. so, you see, there's secular and there's secular.

at the same time, this delightful moment mirrors front national discourse--the conflation of catholicism and frenchness (identical, really) as over against what is Outside or Other.

this gives an idea of the way these things have been working. it's not an awesome essay, but it does the job:

OPINIONS

here's the site for the front national:

Front National Le site officiel du Front National

they're pretty foul.
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Old 04-14-2011, 10:50 AM   #10 (permalink)
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An awful lot of security and identification is based on facial recognition. The extent that a burkha inhibits that is a valid concern, in my opinion. A driver's license of a woman in a burkha could be shared by nearly anyone.


I'd be fine with a law written terms of recognition or identity, not so fine with one written in terms of a religious garment.
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Old 04-14-2011, 11:28 AM   #11 (permalink)
 
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the security argument would be a much easier sell, yes?
do you think it would change anything substantive, though?
i haven't an opinion yet--just thinking about it.

but i think the religious garb argument is a residuum of the earlier brawl over the schools. and a function of the creep of neo-fascist identity politics into mainstream debate.
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Old 04-14-2011, 11:49 AM   #12 (permalink)
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from what ive read on the ban to date, this law wasnt introduced on the basis of facial recognition than the championing of women rights by sarkozy. the law itself doesnt single out muslims, but other forms of face covering have been excluded from the ban including ski masks. i wonder if these exceptions are only exceptions during proper use, or whether the exception can be extended.

Quote:
France BURQA BAN: French Parliament Approves Ban On Face Veils
Officials have taken pains to craft language that does not single out Muslims. While the proposed legislation is colloquially referred to as the "anti-burqa law," it is officially called "the bill to forbid concealing one's face in public."

It refers neither to Islam nor to veils. Officials insist the law against face-covering is not discriminatory because it would apply to everyone, not just Muslims. Yet they cite a host of exceptions, including motorcycle helmets, or masks for health reasons, fencing, skiing or carnivals.
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Old 04-14-2011, 11:50 AM   #13 (permalink)
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ok my comments just pertain to the US, i don't know much about other cultures (specifically french). please dont mistake me for speaking about western countries everywhere.

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Originally Posted by dlish View Post
do you think that the burkha ban should be introduced in other countries in the west and europe?
...


As a note, the burkha, although a religious symbol is not an islamic requirement. it is not enforceable under shariah law, and no one can force someone to wear it. Those that do, do it of their own will. And if there are any that are forced to wear it, then those that force their women to wear it are in breach of islamic teachings.
to answer the question: no; it'd be like telling nuns they can't wear their habits (not exactly the same thing but i'm trying to make comparisons)

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Originally Posted by dlish View Post

im afraid that this ban will spread across the western world. that in order for right wing politicians to garner support from their constituants, they'll pull out the burkha ban and wave it around to show how they are fighting those that dont want to integrate, like somehow they are doing the country a favour.
i can't really see this happening. if right wing folk are generally for the minimization of government involvement in the lives of the individual citizen, not to mention how hard they'd get smacked with the "this country was founded on religious freedom" so hard they'd shit. also if they played the "integrate or GTFO" card, they'd be hard pressed to keep their credibility to as wide of an audience as possible (which is what politics is all about right?)

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Originally Posted by dlish View Post
what this will do is cause a divide between the muslim population and the rest of the country. This could well be the intention, and it could well work, singling out an entire community and painting them as fanatics.
i smell conspiracy theory, but then again i underestimate the stupidity of how really really really retarded a large amount of people can be (see noodle's sig for more info). as for a schism between muslims and everyone else, [U]if[U] something like that happens, it wont be drastic, just the overly outspoken muslim people will clash hard with the outwardly outspoken anti-muslims and the rest of everyone else will continue on with their lives thinking "both of these people need to chill out"

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Originally Posted by dlish View Post

As a western muslim im concerned. Ive previously mentioned that ive had family in australia attacked, abused and driven off the road because they look apprently muslim. My wife was abused on a train home for the crimes of 10 nutters in september 2001 and as a young kid i was called a 'wog' many more times than i'd like to remember. My wife does wear a hijab by choice, and im concerned that these laws will be extended not by the government, but by vigilante groups fanned by a hatred of anything foreign. Those that carry this fire only need an excuse to vent their anger. This ban could spread, and this ban could affect me and my family.

thats really fucked, if i were you i would recommend putting foot to ass for the purpose of self defense

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Originally Posted by dlish View Post

i can see how vigilante groups will take matters in their own hand if they see a woman in a burkha on the street.
maybe for a few extremist groups but i have faith that the majority of muslims will continue to practice as they see fit and the majority of the people won't criticize them

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Originally Posted by dlish View Post
what do you think? should muslims be allowed to wear the burkha? should they be banned? should they be shipped 'back home' for breaking the law? how can it be policed? will people take matters in their own hands to enforce the law?
burkhas should definitely not be banned. i dont know much about the Islamic faith but would it be unreasonable to have religious advisers to politicians? it seems like that'd solve alot of problems
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Old 04-14-2011, 12:04 PM   #14 (permalink)
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I am currently in Afghanistan and from my perspective (at ground zero if you will) women wear burkhas because they are forced to.

You can make any argument you want to say otherwise, but in most places around the country if a women goes outside without a Burkha she will be beaten or worse (it is common for acid to be thrown in the face of an uncovered woman).

There is also the social pressure put upon her by her family... The pressure if often physical in nature. Conformity is not optional but obligatory.

Of course there is the 'brainwashing' that goes along with a lifetime of being always hidden from view, unable to get an education, speak to men, choose who to marry, and constantly being told it will be 'your fault' if a man sees you and thinks impure thoughts.

Which brings me to the reason behind the burkha:

If a woman 'exposes' herself and a man is tempted to sin, it is the womans fault, somehow.

Here in Afghanistan I would absolutely 100% support a Burkha ban. It is not at all a matter of 'choice' and is absolutely another control measure to keep control over a commodity (women). I think it is the only way to move forward here.

We have had women die of perfectly treatable ailments because their husbands would not even allow them to speak with a doctor through a closed door, with the husband present. Instead we have to ask the husband what is wrong with the woman and then our medics have to 'guess' what the most likely ailment is and treat accordingly. Of course we can't ask any question that involves describing a part of the body (aside maybe from an extremity or head). The woman can be screaming for help, but the husband has the final say.... We dare not force our way in to help her or it will cause a war against that tribe. A woman has no rights here, at least in practice.

In the United States I would not support such a ban on the grounds that free will should remain as inviolable as possible. However, I would absolutely support educating women from those families and offering them alternatives.

France is facing a difficult dilemma. The original debate was and continues to be politically driven. What is being lost in this debate is the actual situation faced by the women who (choose?) to wear a Burkha. I can see how the argument of free will can be made and I am tempted to make the same argument.

However, when you grow up in a fundamental community it is hard to 'choose' to disobey someone who will likely feel honor bound to beat you for it. By passing a law that discourages Burkha use it may allow some of these women to integrate into Western culture a little bit more.

The problem with this is that following a Burkha ban, the fundamental families are likely to simply not allow their women out of doors anymore; which makes the problem less publicly visible, but worse.



Dlish: I think you could find that the majority of the Taliban disagree with your premise that a man cannot force his wife to wear a Burkha...

Also, the problem extends beyond Afghanistan/Pakistan. Iranian authorities famously forced girls back into a burning building because they tried to flee the fire without their head coverings... I am sure if those girls had just told the authorities "you don't understand, I choose not to wear that head scarf" they would have let them flee...


Oh, and even in the US I would require that the full face be shown for any ID photograph. You can wear anything you want in public or private, but your ID has to have an accurate representation of who you are. Don't like that? Then don't immigrate. As Dlish said, it can't really be claimed to be a religious requirement, which means we are perfectly free to legislate as we see fit on the issue.
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Old 04-14-2011, 12:09 PM   #15 (permalink)
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What right can the state have to tell people what to wear?

When they can do this, and you say nothing, dont cry when they come for you next or down the line...

(you've all probably heard the German preacher's quote... "when they came for the Jews I did nothing because I am not a Jew, etc etc")
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Old 04-14-2011, 12:16 PM   #16 (permalink)
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Slims,

so maybe this is a cultural debate within the religion of Islam? Muslims in the US are less likely to throw acid in the face of a woman because she isn't wearing a burkha which is obviously not the case in Afghanistan. but then this brings up the interesting debate of whether anyone has the right to impose their culture on anyone else which will probably lead to some kind of moral relativism vs absolutism discussion. im no nostradamus, but we'll see what happens.
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Old 04-14-2011, 01:02 PM   #17 (permalink)
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slims, you're talking about a culture that has had no education for the last 30 years at least. many cant read or write, women are subjugated by their male counterparts, they dont have access to the outside world, and the basically live in a fishbowl that is a sandpit. you cannot seriously think that the people of afghanistan are representative of the islamic religion.


slims, the only islamic school of thought that ive seen that have said that the burkha is mandatory is the salafists, of which OBL and the taliban are adherants as well as the saudi regime. there isnt anything in the quran or hadith to justify that postion. the quran at best calls for women to cover themselves and be modest, but here is not specific reference to a hijab or burkha.

an interesting thought..if a french convert is wearing a burkha, and wants to continue doing so, how can she be told to go back where she came from or to not immigrate?
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Old 04-14-2011, 01:25 PM   #18 (permalink)
 
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one of the underlying issues surfaces here, then. it is---when you construct an image of islam for yourself, what do you appeal to?

what does the situation in taliban-controlled areas of afghanistan have to do with france?

it seems that the slide "taliban=islam" makes the arguments against the burkha seem more compelling, particularly if you're purporting to be acting in the name of defending women's rights...because what women's rights are violated if it's voluntary? you have to imagine coercion and the more explicit it is the better.

but i don't think that's the real issue in the french situation. i think it's much more about the front national's basically racist political viewpoints leaking into mainstream conservative politics.

but the debate skirts around that---and to an extent it has to----sarko could not be seen to endorse front national positions. so the secular nature of the republican public (in the sense of the french republic) and a variant of defending universal human rights (both central features of the french revolutionary tradition), which in turn enabled a knitting together of **one** feminist position on the politics of the veil in general (as it's called)---one in which the whole position rests on an assumption of coercion. which gets back to the initial question.

how are these images constructed?
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Old 04-14-2011, 01:39 PM   #19 (permalink)
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I didn't realize that it was illegal to wear a ski mask in a convenience store. Even when it's cold? Of course, it probably wouldn't be practical or comfortable to wear a ski mask in a convenience store, but then again there are no religious complications restricting someone from removing their ski mask in a convenience store, either, so to leave it on might appear, at the least, odd. Nor am I certain that the mandatory exposure of one's face makes us more secure. After all, there are other reasons that a person might be uncomfortable exposing their face in public - burn victims and those with various deformities, for instance. I don't think the two, the ski mask and the burkha, are necessarily relative at all.

I would be against this ban anywhere, including Afghanistan as it seems to assume that women shouldn't be allowed to make the choice for themselves. In Afghanistan, there are women who have worn the burkha all of their lives and they are comfortable in the burkha. To force exposure on them would rob them of their freedom to choose and in some cases cause great psychological trauma. Of course, I would agree on measures that would give women the choice to wear the burkha or not in places like Afghanistan, that would be fantastic, but I don't see forcing them not to (particularly in the west) as a compassionate or even reasonable way of going about it.
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Old 04-14-2011, 01:43 PM   #20 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by roachboy View Post

what does the situation in taliban-controlled areas of afghanistan have to do with france?
...
the slide "taliban=islam"
because dumb people around the world (or at least the people in south dakota that i still talk to) actually believe that taliban=islam. since the rest of the muslims are getting a bad reputation, no thanks to some supremely shitty apples in the barrel, they're being punished for the crimes of a few. is it fair? nope. is it happening? obviously. i think a more educated general population would result in a different national response from france. unfortunately, the first time many people have ever even heard of islam was from 9/11.

a government unfamiliar with the traditions, rules, and guidelines of islam is likely to make rash decisions and therefore not put any effort into educating their citizenry since the govt in question is unfamiliar itself. to defeat the prejudice against islam, people need to first understand islam. maybe muslims in big business or muslims that dont look like a typical "haji" should hold public forums telling people what its really about instead of letting the stereotype run rampant.
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Old 04-14-2011, 02:44 PM   #21 (permalink)
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maybe muslims in big business or muslims that dont look like a typical "haji" should hold public forums telling people what its really about instead of letting the stereotype run rampant.

these forums have been happening for years. i know for a fact that theyve been happening in australia for many years now.

but that's not going to sell you any stories is it?


i agree with MM totally. i'd love to give women of afghanistan the choice to either wear it or not. but unfortunately the status quo dictates that fear of retribution be the order of the day.
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Old 04-14-2011, 07:02 PM   #22 (permalink)
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Old 04-15-2011, 01:26 AM   #23 (permalink)
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slims, you're talking about a culture that has had no education for the last 30 years at least. many cant read or write, women are subjugated by their male counterparts, they dont have access to the outside world, and the basically live in a fishbowl that is a sandpit. you cannot seriously think that the people of afghanistan are representative of the islamic religion.


slims, the only islamic school of thought that ive seen that have said that the burkha is mandatory is the salafists, of which OBL and the taliban are adherants as well as the saudi regime. there isnt anything in the quran or hadith to justify that postion. the quran at best calls for women to cover themselves and be modest, but here is not specific reference to a hijab or burkha.

an interesting thought..if a french convert is wearing a burkha, and wants to continue doing so, how can she be told to go back where she came from or to not immigrate?
Dlish:

I was making a point that the Burkha is cultural. I never said that Afghanistan is representative of the Islamic religion and I don't really think this debate is about religion, but rather control. Likewise, when a family from that community immigrates to the US or elsewhere and lives among other like-minded immigrants, it can be nearly impossible for a woman in that situation to suddenly 'wake up' and start making her own decisions.

To me the Burkha is representative of complete subjugation of one sex by another and it is exactly as you described it in Afghanistan: "slims, you're talking about a culture that has had no education for the last 30 years at least. many cant read or write, women are subjugated by their male counterparts, they dont have access to the outside world, and the basically live in a fishbowl that is a sandpit." This is a valid cultural sickness for a country to defend against, rather than a religious issue.

Since you agree that Islam does not require a face covering people should not be able to refuse an ID photograph on religious grounds.

Again, a convert who chooses to wear a burkha is at best making a fashion statement and at worst has no choice anymore. If it is not a religious mandate then religion should not be part of the debate. Even then, religion can go too far and require some regulation (human sacrifice, for instance). The question is where this boundary lies and whether prohibiting wear of the Burkha does more harm than good.

I seriously doubt there are many native-born French women who are raised in French society and suddenly decide "Hey, I am going to isolate myself from the rest of the world as much as humanly possible and subjugate myself completely to my husband." There are surely a few, but the debate is being driven by aliens who want additional freedoms not afforded to the population as a whole (I couldn't refuse to show my face when coming into the country through customs and a Frenchman would not be allowed to have his ID photograph taken while wearing a bear-suit or other silly mask).

Moderate Islamic families don't require or encourage wear of the Burkha. This ONLY effects people who are of the 'Afghan' mindset. So addressing the culture of Afghanistan (basically the only one in the world where Burkhas are worn) is a perfectly valid way to assess the reasons behind this practice.


Lastly, so that I am not sucked into a tangent I don't want to go down...I think the debate, rhetoric, and reasoning put forward by the french media and politicians on this issue are pathetic. I don't agree with the 'Why' but I can support some of the decisions that have been made.
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Old 04-15-2011, 02:22 AM   #24 (permalink)
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Disgusting religious oppression of women through clothing? Or women's freedom of choice to worship and dress as they choose?

I'm against banning ANYTHING without a valid rationale. When it comes to dealing with the government, such as in voting, receiving social services, getting a driver's license or passport, I have no issue with requiring the removal of facial coverings to allow identification. Yes, there are other ways, but humans are visual, and facial recognition is paramount to our social interactions. As well, when there are legitimate safety concerns, such as when driving a car, facial coverings have to go. It is illegal to drive with a ski mask on (at least around here). These are, in my own simple mind, legitimate reasons for requiring uncovering of the face, and not related to one's religion.

In other cases... who cares what they want to wear? I'm more concerned that my son's pants are halfway down his ass. I know the arguments that the niqab/burqa represent the repression of women, but you won't eliminate that through legislation.
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Old 04-15-2011, 02:44 AM   #25 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Slims View Post
Dlish:

I was making a point that the Burkha is cultural. I never said that Afghanistan is representative of the Islamic religion and I don't really think this debate is about religion, but rather control. Likewise, when a family from that community immigrates to the US or elsewhere and lives among other like-minded immigrants, it can be nearly impossible for a woman in that situation to suddenly 'wake up' and start making her own decisions.

To me the Burkha is representative of complete subjugation of one sex by another and it is exactly as you described it in Afghanistan: "slims, you're talking about a culture that has had no education for the last 30 years at least. many cant read or write, women are subjugated by their male counterparts, they dont have access to the outside world, and the basically live in a fishbowl that is a sandpit." This is a valid cultural sickness for a country to defend against, rather than a religious issue.

Since you agree that Islam does not require a face covering people should not be able to refuse an ID photograph on religious grounds.

Again, a convert who chooses to wear a burkha is at best making a fashion statement and at worst has no choice anymore. If it is not a religious mandate then religion should not be part of the debate. Even then, religion can go too far and require some regulation (human sacrifice, for instance). The question is where this boundary lies and whether prohibiting wear of the Burkha does more harm than good.

I seriously doubt there are many native-born French women who are raised in French society and suddenly decide "Hey, I am going to isolate myself from the rest of the world as much as humanly possible and subjugate myself completely to my husband." There are surely a few, but the debate is being driven by aliens who want additional freedoms not afforded to the population as a whole (I couldn't refuse to show my face when coming into the country through customs and a Frenchman would not be allowed to have his ID photograph taken while wearing a bear-suit or other silly mask).

Moderate Islamic families don't require or encourage wear of the Burkha. This ONLY effects people who are of the 'Afghan' mindset. So addressing the culture of Afghanistan (basically the only one in the world where Burkhas are worn) is a perfectly valid way to assess the reasons behind this practice.


Lastly, so that I am not sucked into a tangent I don't want to go down...I think the debate, rhetoric, and reasoning put forward by the french media and politicians on this issue are pathetic. I don't agree with the 'Why' but I can support some of the decisions that have been made.
i welcome debate, and im open to discuss peoples thoughts on the issue. im happy if you or anyone else wants to throw in some thought provoking questions. dont let the OP stop you from going on a tangent if you think its worthwhile to the thread.

just to clarify something, when i say burkha i mean it synonymously with niqab.

i got this from The Independant. The article gives an interesting insight into the burkha debate in france.
Quote:
France wakes up to a burka ban as Sarkozy unveils a new era - Europe, World - The Independent

Since there are an estimated two million adult Muslim women in France, niqab wearers amount to roughly one in 1,000 or 0.1 per cent. The typical fully- veiled woman is young, French-born and a recent convert to a purist or radical form of Islam. Half are under 30 and the vast majority under 40. Two- thirds are French born. One in four is a white French woman who converted to Islam before or after she got married.
i personally dont think the burkha or niqab has a place in the west. women here in the middle east gulf region wear it a lot, but you grow used to it here that you dont pay it any attention.

however, if my wife one day told me she wanted to wear a niqab, who am i to tell her what she can or cant do. ive never asked her to put a hijab on, and ive never interefered in her religious convictions. so, that decision would be hers and hers alone. I wouldnt be encouraging it, but i wouldnt be against it if she wasnt breaking any laws. i guess it would be the same if she decided that she wanted to express herself by becoming a tatood punk rocker. that'd be her choice again.

Quote:
The question is where this boundary lies and whether prohibiting wear of the Burkha does more harm than good.
thats quite ironic. i question whether the burkha or niqab does more harm than good if it was worn in the west, and you're questioning whether prohibiting is does more harm than good.
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Old 04-15-2011, 03:18 AM   #26 (permalink)
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Just as a coincidence and almost totally unrelated, my oldest daughter and I (she is 25) were watching a documentary about the Taliban and Afghanistan a couple of weeks ago and she said something totally unexpected about the burkah:

'I can understand how she might feel safe and secure inside that thing.'

Granted, my daughter, even though she is emotionally pretty healthy, has been the victim of sexual abuse. But I knew what she meant by that. Even though in places where women are subjugated and forced to wear the burkah it is obviously not about protecting women, ostensibly all of these forms of Islamic attire are meant to minimize the attention that women get from men. And as a woman myself, sometimes that attention does become tiresome and when I am feeling a little downtrodden and vulnerable, sometimes feels like a violation.

So even though I don't agree with the enforcement of it, I can at least understand why a cultural group might think the use of hijabs, niqabs, burkas, etc. are of a benefit to women and their society as a whole. And, just because a woman in Afghanistan is wearing a burkha, it doesn't necessarily mean that the men in her life are inhuman animals just waiting for an excuse to beat her or kill her. Sometimes people really do believe in the ways of their culture and sometimes people just follow along. It doesn't do any service to the women of Afghanistan or any other primarily Islamic country to paint their society with a broad brush stroke and tell them they are all victims.
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Old 04-15-2011, 09:16 AM   #27 (permalink)
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There is also the social pressure put upon her by her family... The pressure if often physical in nature. Conformity is not optional but obligatory.
Slims, thanks for the ground level view of Burkhas (common problem with attorney types--they cruise at 30,000 ft and miss the small things).

I think it's interesting here you say "conformity is not optional but obligatory." In France, by banning Burkhas, the same result inheres--except it's on the other side of the spectrum.

===========

I don't think many people will have problems with laws that force individuals to show their face for IDs or for security checks (i.e. passing through airports, traffic stops). What's troubling is when the state moves to a blanket ban against a specific minority.

In addition, the 'neutrally worded' thing is crap--it reminds me of anti-miscegenation laws. That laws prohibiting marriage between races survives equal protection because it 'applies equally to all races.'

=============

Here's where religious freedom gets exploited:

A Current Affair > Video Index
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Old 04-15-2011, 11:01 AM   #28 (permalink)
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just a side note - i know the guy that was interviewed who said that the court should have shown compassion for the sake of her 7 children.

i have no remorse for people that will go out of their way to screw other people over. i do think that the judge should consider her kids when sentencing though. only this week, and indian woman in Adelaide in South Australia was given a suspended sentence for manslaughter for burning her husbands penis after she discovered he was having an affair. the judge took into consideration the effect that the incarceration would have on the children. i do fear that the burkha hysteria will envelop australia. this story certainly wont help.

im glad that the heads of the islamic community in sydney have stated that women should be showing their faces to policemen when requested. the problem is that with no structured heirachy, some sections of the community with stricter interpretations of islamic beliefs wont accept that statement as they wont believe that that mufti or shiekh is not representative of them.

just a heads up - this is the Channel 9 A Current Affair program that keeps getting worse as the years go on. its been many years since ive watched it. I like to call the presenter Trashy Grimshaw instead of Tracy Grimshaw. its interesting that the only politician they found to interview was the reverend fred nile who is leeader of the christian democrats party, who's been a inflammatory politician calling for many anti muslims bills over the last few years.
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Old 04-15-2011, 06:40 PM   #29 (permalink)
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Wow I confuse myself...oops.

Dehydration is a beautiful thing.

No booze this evening. sorry all.
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Old 04-17-2011, 05:09 PM   #30 (permalink)
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i wonder what the tsa'a policy is regarding this issue
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Old 04-20-2011, 08:51 AM   #31 (permalink)
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Interestingly, this isn't just an issue in France. Turkey has a similar issue and is predominantly Muslim.
Headscarves slam brakes on women's careers - World news - Europe - msnbc.com


On a more local level, a hijab or veil wouldn't get a second glance around here. Boulder is fairly multi-cultural and Colorado is tourist centric. A burqua might, I've never seen one locally.

Last edited by StanT; 04-20-2011 at 08:53 AM..
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Old 04-21-2011, 10:34 AM   #32 (permalink)
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On my runs I usually see a couple of ladies wearing Tchadors, going for a walk with their children. It's interesting to see, imho.

====================

Devil Advocate Time:

What about the doctrine of secularism? If a public display of the Nativity scene is impermissible, why should we tolerate a public display of burkhas?
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Old 04-21-2011, 10:37 AM   #33 (permalink)
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Nativity scenes are permissible. They are not allowed to be displayed by gov't institutions. But someone can enter a gov't institution wearing any religiously-mandated clothing that they choose.
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Old 04-21-2011, 10:58 AM   #34 (permalink)
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Okay, so you've touched on the point of government action versus private action. I'm also asking this in an international context (not in the tradition of American cases).

Say for example, a country is adamantly secular--that religion has absolutely nothing to do in the public eye. If all worshipping should be done behind close doors, what gives someone the right to couch their actions in religious terms and splay it in the face of other secularists?
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Old 04-21-2011, 11:07 AM   #35 (permalink)
 
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this is the problem that was raised by the french state's lowering of the flag to half staff because the pope died two weeks after the government had carried the legislation banning all forms of the veil from public schools on the grounds that the republic was secular and so public space was secular by extension--and schools are public functions (including, presumably private schools) so there we are.

the underlying racism of the claim to "be secular" in this context became apparent.

christianity so saturates the context that it ceased to figure as an impediment to secularity. public displays of adherence to islam are somehow problematic.

sounds like the front national to me.
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Old 04-21-2011, 12:58 PM   #36 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by KirStang View Post
Okay, so you've touched on the point of government action versus private action. I'm also asking this in an international context (not in the tradition of American cases).

Say for example, a country is adamantly secular--that religion has absolutely nothing to do in the public eye. If all worshipping should be done behind close doors, what gives someone the right to couch their actions in religious terms and splay it in the face of other secularists?
I would think they are free to wear whatever they like as long as yamulkes are not banned, all Hasidic Jewish attire, too, for that matter. Christians who wear crosses or any sort of jewelry, t-shirts, patches, etc. that symbolize their religion. Nuns, priests and monks - not in public in France, no way. The Dalai Lama, that man better don a turtleneck and beret before showing his face in Paris, right? Enough of that saffron robe business. And how about bindis? Those signify a religion. If I had the wherewithal, I'm sure I could go on.


My opinion is that the 'adamantly secular society' rationale is utter bullshit. I mean, if they don't want women to wear burqas, then just say so. The French government are the only ones 'couching and (di)splaying' anything in this situation if you ask me.
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Old 04-22-2011, 11:57 AM   #37 (permalink)
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Old 04-22-2011, 01:42 PM   #38 (permalink)
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France should be immediately expelled from the EU and UN for this criminal action.
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Old 04-22-2011, 10:08 PM   #39 (permalink)
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It angers me, scares the shit out of me and breaks my heart at the same time.
Me too.

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Originally Posted by Jinn View Post
Notwithstanding the obvious xenophobia actually going on in France, I support the banning of any attire that completely obscures the face of an individual who is using public transportation, assembling in public (even peaceably), using a public thoroughfare or attempting to make a purchase.
Sounds like pre-crime.



Quote:
Originally Posted by Jinn View Post
I am just as uncomfortable by a man in a ski mask entering a 7-11 as I am by a woman in a Niqab or Burqa walking down the street.
Let the business owner restrict it if they wish. Banning masks won't stop criminals from wearing them when comitting other crimes.

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Originally Posted by StanT View Post
I'd be fine with a law written terms of recognition or identity, not so fine with one written in terms of a religious garment.
If someone isn't being arrested, detained or investigated for a crime, why do they need to be identified, categorized, registered, labeled and documented? What does it accomplish?

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Originally Posted by mixedmedia View Post
I didn't realize that it was illegal to wear a ski mask in a convenience store. Even when it's cold? Of course, it probably wouldn't be practical or comfortable to wear a ski mask in a convenience store, but then again there are no religious complications restricting someone from removing their ski mask in a convenience store, either, so to leave it on might appear, at the least, odd. Nor am I certain that the mandatory exposure of one's face makes us more secure. After all, there are other reasons that a person might be uncomfortable exposing their face in public - burn victims and those with various deformities, for instance. I don't think the two, the ski mask and the burkha, are necessarily relative at all.
I agree.

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Originally Posted by GreyWolf View Post
As well, when there are legitimate safety concerns, such as when driving a car, facial coverings have to go.
What safety? People ride motorcycles everyday with helmets that completely obscure their face. Massive sunglasses and brimmed hats are fashionable with many young women nowadays; tons of women wear makeup or change their hairstyle (even wearing wigs) to alter their appearance. Hooded sweatshirts, bandages, Halloween masks, are all common sights. Should we dispatch teams of cops to tug on mens whiskers to make sure that they're real, and not in place for the purposes of disguise?

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Originally Posted by GreyWolf View Post
I know the arguments that the niqab/burqa represent the repression of women, but you won't eliminate that through legislation.
Ain't that the truth.
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Old 04-24-2011, 09:30 PM   #40 (permalink)
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some interesting developments in the muslim world of late.

Egypt is banning the niqab from examination rooms in universities. An interesting turn of events. could this be a tide of change in the muslim world?

Quote:
http://www.almasryalyoum.com/en/node/410335

Supreme Administrative Court upholds niqab ban in exams


The Supreme Administrative Court on Saturday upheld a ban on wearing niqab in examination rooms.

The court said a university may decide to ban niqab during examinations, and if the niqab constitutes a personal freedom for Muslim women, such a freedom should not contradict security, educational, or any other considerations that require a student to reveal her face.

The court mentioned that its ruling is supported by the Grand Mufti, who said that in the viewpoint of the majority of Muslim scholars the niqab is only a tradition.

It said the ruling does not contradict Article 2 of the Constitution which states that Islam is Egypt's official religion.

The court further said that the Maliki school -- one of the four main schools of religious law within Sunni Islam -- said the niqab is “disliked” by Muslim women if this is not the tradition in their country. They said it is not part of the Prophet's tradition and is not stated in the Quran as an obligation.

Translated from the Arabic Edition
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