It’s not often that I come out in support of a French President. In fact, this is a first.
Recently, President Sarkozy spoke out in favor of banning the Burka in public. More on the story here, here, here, here and here. It is an incredibly gutsy move, and one that President Obama seems to be unwilling or unable to make.
France is the biggest Muslim enclave in the Western world, and the muslims in that country are particularly prone to going on the rampage when they don’t get the special treatment that they feel that they deserve – (they did it in 2005, and now they are at it again).
The burka is not a part of Islam. There is nowhere in the Koran (correct me if I am wrong), that states that a woman has to be covered from head to foot with only her eyes showing. Both the Bible and the Koran state that a woman should dress “modestly”, but that is a subjective term, relative to cultural norms.
The burka is a cultural symbol. In point of fact, the Burka comes from that bastion of Freedom and Democracy, Saudi Arabia (where they really know how to treat their women), a nation that provided the majority of those nice people who flew their planes into our buildings one fateful Tuesday…
Some might say that many women choose the Burka (would you prove it?), while others argue that it is a tool of subjugation in the name of religion. I favor the latter, for one simple reason: while Muslim women have to go around wearing tents, their lords and masters can dress as they please. If that isn’t a prime example of religious sexism, what is?
I do not have a problem with the headscarves that are worn by many muslim women. As long as the person’s face is visible, I am ok with that. It is the burka and the niqab that I have a problem with. See here for a good summary of flavors flavors of headscarves and veils.
This piece, written by Saira Khan – a British Muslim woman – states the case better than I can. Here is another piece that makes some excellent points.
In our culture, hiding your face in public is generally regarded as suspicious or threatening – the burka reminds me of the Imperial guards in Return of the Jedi. Wearing what is essentially a tent makes it appear that you have something to hide. What’s under there – lingerie? a machine-gun, twenty pounds of Semtex? Try wearing a balaclava next time you go shopping and see how that works out for you.
It's a religious thing. Honest.
We shouldn’t need to have an explicit ban, but some people will not take “no” for an answer. There is, however, a precedent: The Governments of Tunisia and Turkey have both banned the wearing of headscarves and burkas in public – and these are both muslim states. Do they know something that we don’t?
Supposing my religion required me to prominently carry a weapon such as a gun or a knife in public? Would that make other people feel safer? An extreme example, but it makes a valid point. Here is another example: If my faith required me to “share Jesus with everyone I meet” whether they liked it or not, I would soon find myself the target of legal restraining actions – and rightly so. Bottom line: My faith does not give me the right to upset, annoy, disturb or irritate everybody else.
No. Just… no.
The burka is a cultural symbol, but one that causes discomfort to others. To me, it says “I live here, but I don’t want to have anything to do with your culture“, which leads to the obvious question: So why are you here then?
If you insist on wearing a burka, feel free to live in a country where that is a norm – like Saudi, where they know how to treat women.
Here in the western world, it simply isn’t.