Personal tools
 
Views

Debate Digest: Teacher-student friendships on Facebook, Law school, Balanced budget amendment, US debt ceiling deal.

Debate: Ban on Muslim burqa and niqab

From Debatepedia

Jump to: navigation, search
[Digg]
[reddit]
[Delicious]
[Facebook]

Background and context

A ban on the Muslim burqa and niqab has been proposed for many years in some countries, and was passed through the legislatures of France, Belgiam, and Quebec in early 2010. Fines have been leveled on women wearing burqas in Italy. A ban is seen as a way to preserve gender equality and the non-abusive treatment of women.
This is predicated on the assumption that the burqa comes from fundamentalist traditions in Islam that severely limit women's rights, in parallel with forbidding them from exposing any skin and "seducing" men. While some women do choose to wear the niqab on their own, others are forced against their will. Additional concerns surround the security implications of women (or men) being able to hide their identity under the burqa or niqab. This is relevant in the context of both terrorism and crime. And, others worry about the implications while driving a car, as the full facial veil limits peripheral vision, presenting some traffic safety issues. But, religious freedom advocates tend to support the right of women to wear the niqab and burqa as an expression of their beliefs. Banning the burqa could create major issues as individuals feel that their religious beliefs are being violated by the state. And, what happens when many women engage in civil disobedience, wearing the outfits irrespective of a ban? Will they be thrown in mass into paddy wagons or slapped with fines? Will bans incite mass protests, riots, and civil strife? Are these potential costs worth it? The pros and cons are examined below.

Contents

[Edit]
[Delete Subquestion section]
[Add new subquestion section]

Gender equality: Does a ban protect women's rights/equality?

[Add New]

Pro

  • Burqa generally disadvantages women as compared to men. The burqa places a range of limitations that categorically put them at a disadvantage to men. They lose their visible identity in society, which often means they are unemployable, but also means they are largely unfit to engage in most healthy forms of social interaction in society, on the street, at parties, and generally anywhere where visible identification is important. It makes it impossible for them to exercise, and deprives them of adequate sunlight. All of these things place them at a huge disadvantage to men.
  • Full veils represent misogynist ideology designed to oppress women French President Nicholas Sarkozy, laying the groundwork for a burqa ban, said in 2009: "In our country, we cannot accept that women be prisoners behind a screen, cut off from all social life, deprived of all identity … The burqa is not a religious sign, it’s a sign of subservience, a sign of debasement — I want to say it solemnly, it will not be welcome on the territory of the French Republic."
  • "Choice" to wear burqa is driven by oppressive ideology Women that wear the burqa say they are making an "independent choice," but this choice is heavily commanded by a fundamentalist religio-cultural context, in which they are made to believe that wearing the burqa is a requirement by God. Nobody comes to these conclusions "independently", just as nobody discovers a religion or a culture on their own. They come to it because a muslim preacher, their community, or family tells them that it is the "proper" interpretation of the Quran and God's will. These religio-cultural contexts originate from Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and Jordan, where burqas are almost universally worn and in which the worst violations of women's rights on the planet occur. This is where women are not able to leave the house without their husband's permission and with a burqa on, and where they are often not allowed to work, drive, and engage in socially meaningful lives. These fundamentalist contexts are what drive the "choice" of women in the West to wear the burqa. Trying to separate these oppressive contexts from the "choice" is naive. Women are making the "choice" because they have been taught to believe that it is God's will to live as second-class citizens under the control of men and that somehow the burqa is "modest".
  • If men were religiously required to wear burqa, it would end. Under no scenario would men accept this burden. This alone makes it clear that the burqa is part of a gender-biased culture, and unfair to women.
  • Those wearing burqa increase pressure on others to wear it. Sara Malkani. "Burka: the other view." Dawn.com. February 16th, 2010: "even an independent decision to wear it 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 pressures from their relatives, community or governments. [...] Their resistance is undermined when the burka becomes increasingly common in public places and more closely associated with Islam. [...] The question is wouldn’t the burka ban be a major impediment to the freedom of women who feel compelled to wear it when they are in public? Perhaps, but on the other hand, it may provide much-needed respite to the many Muslim women who are forced to wear the burka by family, friends or religious figures in their community."


[Add New]

Con

  • Some women wear burqa to emulate wives of prophet Muhammad. The wives of the prophet wore the burqa. And, so many see the burqa as a way of emulating them, and further expressing their faith.
[Edit]
[Delete Subquestion section]
[Add new subquestion section]
[Move subquestion section down]
[Move subquestion section up]

Rights: Do women not have a right to wear the burqa/niqab?

[Add New]

Pro

  • Burqa undermines identity, responsibility, social compact Jean Francois-Cope. "Tearing away the veil." New York Times. May 4th, 2010: "in both France and the United States, we recognize that individual liberties cannot exist without individual responsibilities. This acknowledgment is the basis of all our political rights. We are free as long as we are responsible individuals who can be held accountable for our actions before our peers. But the niqab and burqa represent a refusal to exist as a person in the eyes of others. The person who wears one is no longer identifiable; she is a shadow among others, lacking individuality, avoiding responsibility."
  • Burqa presents some security/safety risks for others. Some crimes are being committed by individuals wearing burqas (documented in section below). Terrorists have also dawned burqas as a disguise (documented below). Those that wear burqas while driving also present a risk, given the limitations on range of vision. These risks are born by other citizens, and could be considered a violation of their rights.
  • Burqa can be banned on the grounds that it is indecent. Why are nudity and prostitution banned? There is no direct "damage" to other citizens and their rights, so why? It is because a society has judged that something is indecent and possibly immoral about them. The same can apply to the burqa. If it is concluded that the burqa is indecent because it is a symbol of the oppression of women and for other reasons, than it is not out of the question to ban it on these grounds.
  • Burqa is socially divisive and damaging. The burqa generates anxiety among those that fear Islamic terrorism. It also generates frustration and concern for those that see it as representing the oppression of women. Non of this is justification alone for a ban, but it is a cost.


[Add New]

Con

  • Burqa ban violates religious freedoms John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s expert on discrimination in Europe, expressed Amnesty's official position in this way in April of 2010: "A complete ban on the covering of the face would violate the rights to freedom of expression and religion of those women who wear the burqa or the niqab."[3]
  • Burqa ban violates rights of women to their own body. According most laws nowadays, everyone has a right to control his or her own body. The choice of a woman to wear a burqa or niqab on her body is part of that freedom.
  • If neo-Nazis can wear their outfits, women can wear burqas. Neo-Nazis freely go around with t-shirts that says 'Heil Hitler!' and with old-Nazi uniforms with swastika symbols on them. Laws protect their right to do so. And, certainly, a burqa is no more threatening than "Heil Hitler". It should be protected as well.
  • Limits can be imposed on burqa when necessary, but not ban "Banning the burqa. A bad idea." Economist. May 13, 2010: "European governments are entitled to limit women’s rights to wear the burqa. In schools, for instance, pupils should be able to see teachers’ faces, as should judges and juries in court. But Europeans should accept that, however much they dislike the burqa, banning it altogether would be an infringement on the individual rights which their culture normally struggles to protect. The French, of all people, should know that. As Voltaire might have said, 'I disapprove of your dress, but I will defend to the death your right to wear it.'"
  • Discomfort with burqa is inadequate to ban it "What's behind France's proposed burqa ban?" Christian Science Monitor Editorial. January 27, 2009: "The burqa does not fit comfortably with Western sentiments. It’s closed; Westerners are open. They want to see people’s faces. It’s also viewed as a prison for women – even if Muslim women are free to choose it. And it symbolizes fundamentalist Islam, which conjures up images of terrorism. [...] But sentiments shouldn’t be confused with bedrock freedoms, including the right to practice one’s religion. Being uncomfortable with another’s faith or even dress – and encoding that discomfort in law – puts one on the slippery slope to official discrimination. Will Sikh turbans be next?"
  • State should not judge culture/burqa; slippery slope Sandeep Gopalan. "Behind the burqa." New York Times Op-Ed. January 27, 2010: "judgments about cultural values are very subjective. Who decides if particular items of clothing fit with French values? Can we trust politicians and bureaucrats to make these decisions for us? [...] Secondly, where do you draw the line? Are turbans, yarmulkes, saris, salwars and long skirts next? Many groups, including some feminists, assert that crucifixes and crosses are examples of patriarchal oppression. Would a government ban on jewelry containing crucifixes be justified? This is a slippery slope. [...] If we support a burqa ban on the basis that we dislike the clothing, or that it offends our notion of freedom, or that it makes us uncomfortable, we would then be opening ourselves to all manner of compromises on the many unpopular personal choices that we make in daily life."


[Edit]
[Delete Subquestion section]
[Add new subquestion section]
[Move subquestion section down]
[Move subquestion section up]

Protecting women: Is burqa abusive or does it help protect women?

[Add New]

Pro

  • Protecting women from lustful men is primitive idea. The idea that, in modern society, men are lustful creatures stalking women, and that women must, therefore, be protected by completely smothering their identity is ridiculous. In societies without the full veil, there are no problems adequately protecting women with existing measures and laws, and by the education of men on proper behavior and conduct, and through severe punishments for sexual harassment, molestation, and rape.
  • Burqa worsens attitude of men toward women Burqa cultivates an attitude that women are possessions, or "jewels" to be protected for a man's own use. This attitude, and the sexual repression that comes from an environment where men can't even see women until they are married to them, creates a dangerous combination that fosters abuse, sexual harassment, molestation, and even rape.
  • States where burqa is prominent violate women's rights. There is a clear correlation between countries where the burqa is prominent and countries where the worst violations of women's rights occur. Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Saudia Arabia, the three countries with the highest prevalence of women wearing burqas, all also have the worst records in the world of the oppression of women. This includes, with only slight variation, forbidding women to leave the home without supervision, forbidding them to drive, work, go to social gatherings, swim, etc. The burqa is intimately tied-up with these horrendous human rights and women's right violations. Attempting to justify the burqa outside of this context is intellectually irresponsible.


[Add New]

Con

  • Burqa is more modest and less primitive than Western culture. If the burqa is primitive then does that mean that those who say that women can be used as an object of lust in the form of models, girl friends, fashion shows on bill boards etc are modern and not primitive. Remember that primitive people covered themselves with very little dress as many so called liberated women wear.
[Edit]
[Delete Subquestion section]
[Add new subquestion section]
[Move subquestion section down]
[Move subquestion section up]

Security: Are the burqa/niqab a security risk?

[Add New]

Pro

  • Ban on burqa/niqab preserves identification for security Daniel Pipes. "Ban the Burqa - and the Niqab Too." Jerusalem Post. August 1, 2007: "In contrast, burqas and niqabs should be banned in all public spaces because they present a security risk. Anyone might lurk under those shrouds – female or male, Muslim or non-Muslim, decent citizen, fugitive, or criminal – with who knows what evil purposes. [...] One of the July 2005 London bombers, Yassin Omar, 26, took on the burqa twice – once when fleeing the scene of the crime, then a day later, when fleeing London for the Midlands. [...] Other male burqa'ed fugitives include a Somali murder suspect in the United Kingdom, Palestinian killers fleeing Israeli justice, a member of the Taliban fleeing NATO forces in Afghanistan, and the murderer of a Sunni Islamist in Pakistan."
  • Burq/niqab ban preserves identification for fighting crime Jean Francois-Cope. "Tearing away the veil." New York Times. May 4th, 2010: "This face covering poses a serious safety problem at a time when security cameras play an important role in the protection of public order. An armed robbery recently committed in the Paris suburbs by criminals dressed in burqas provided an unfortunate confirmation of this fact. As a mayor, I cannot guarantee the protection of the residents for whom I am responsible if masked people are allowed to run about. [...] The visibility of the face in the public sphere has always been a public safety requirement. It was so obvious that until now it did not need to be enshrined in law. But the increase in women wearing the niqab, like that of the ski mask favored by criminals, changes that. We must therefore adjust our law, without waiting for the phenomenon to spread."
  • Identity need be visible at all times, not just upon request. While it is possible that security officers could ask women to lift their veils in specific security-related situations, this is insufficient. Many countries are set up with video cameras, for example, designed to be able to track the identity of individuals who may pose a risk. The veil compromises this entire system, and lifting the veil upon request obviously does not solve the issue. Nor, does it solve issues like individuals wearing the burqa in order to commit a crime.
  • Ban all face-covering masks in public places, including burqas. In 1975, a number of European towns banned the wearing of ski masks and motorcycle helmets in public, specifically because they covered the face, and so posed a security and crime risk. The same logic applies to the burqa. So, the ban on the burqa and niqab should be considered part of a broader ban on all face-covering masks in public, particularly in and around crowded areas and in public transportation.
  • Burqa ban applies to public places, not private. The focus of the burqa ban is usually on forbidding the wearing of face-covering veils in public, but not necessarily in private. The reason is purely that of security.


[Add New]

Con

  • Women wearing burqa aren't committing crimes; others are. While it may be true that some criminals are exploiting the burqa in order to commit crimes while concealing their identity, the women that have legitimate reasons to wear the burqa are not actually the ones committing these crimes. It is unfair to, therefore, target these women with the burqa ban for crimes that they themselves are not committing.
  • Suicide bombers don't care to disguise identity w/ burqas. The concern over wearing burqas on public transportation seems to surround fears about suicide bombers using them to conceal their identity before detonating a bomb. But, suicide bombers have never needed to or really wanted to conceal their identity before committing their act. Rather, they simply strap on explosives under baggy clothing, go to crowded places, and blow themselves up without concern about getting caught and punished because, clearly they will be dead. So, a ban on the burqa will do nothing to prevent a determined suicide bomber from committing their act. Therefore, a burqa ban does little to help counter terrorism and ensure national security.


[Edit]
[Delete Subquestion section]
[Add new subquestion section]
[Move subquestion section down]
[Move subquestion section up]

Discrimination: Is a burqa ban not based on discrimination?

[Add New]

Pro

  • Many Muslims disapprove of burqa, call for ban Sara Malkani. "Burka: the other view." Dawn.com. February 16th, 2010: "I am a Muslim woman and I do not wear the burka or the headscarf. The constant reference in liberal media to those women who choose to wear it has made it increasingly difficult for countless Muslim women such as myself to express our discomfort with it. [...] The reality is that many women have reason to dislike the garment even when they do not harbour any Islamophobic sentiments. The fact is that the burka is often imposed on women by hardliners — in parts of the Middle East, state authorities force women to wear it in all public places."


[Add New]

Con

  • Banning full veil is act of discrimination and racism "What's threatening about European attacks on Muslim veils." Washington Post Editorial. May 1, 2010: "the deputies [of Belgium's parliament] managed to achieve near-unanimity this week on one pressing issue: discriminating against Muslims. A law passed by the lower house would ban the wearing of full Islamic face veils in any public place -- and exacerbate what is becoming an ugly European trend. [...] Like many of its neighbors, Belgium has a significant minority Muslim population -- about 3 percent of a population of 10 million. Like those neighbors, it has done a poor job of integrating Muslim immigrants, and many cluster in ghettos that can be breeding grounds for extremism. This is a serious and complex problem. But too often the response of governments has been bigotry directed at immigrants or Muslims as a whole -- which serves only to further alienate even non-devout members of the community. [...] Belgium's burqa ban is a good example."
  • Ban on burqa/niqab is seen as part of war on Islam Noha Ahmed Eid, 18, a medical student at Cairo University and a plaintiff in a Cairo court case on a burqa ban there: "The war against the niqab is just the beginning of a war on different aspects of Islam. The state, which is supposed to be Islamic, should go back to Islam, not fight it."[4]


[Edit]
[Delete Subquestion section]
[Add new subquestion section]
[Move subquestion section down]
[Move subquestion section up]

Society: Does the burqa ban improve social strength?

[Add New]

Pro

  • Face-covering veils undermine social interaction/cohesion Jean-Francois Cope. "Tearing Away the Veil" New York Times. May 4th, 2010: "The permanent concealment of the face also raises the question of social interactions in our democracies. [...] Individual liberty is vital, but individuals, like communities, must accept compromises that are indispensable to living together, in the name of certain principles that are essential to the common good. [...] [Wearing the burqa or niqab] is an insurmountable obstacle to the affirmation of a political community that unites citizens without regard to differences in sex, origin or religious faith. How can you establish a relationship with a person who, by hiding a smile or a glance — those universal signs of our common humanity — refuses to exist in the eyes of others?"
  • Few wear burqas, but it impacts all of society. While some argue that the small number of people impacted makes Laws on the burqa and niqab unnecessary, this is not the case. Major court cases and widespread controversy on the topic make it necessary for the government to take a position. These include: Should women have to de-veil for photo ID's? Should women have to de-veil when entering banks? Should stores have to allow those that wear burqas? Should businesses have to employ those that wear them? Should schools have to accept veiled students? And, should schools have to accept adults that wear the veil and come to school to pick up their kid in a veil, when it may be hard to determine if they are actually the parent? Should it be banned in public transportation, where terrorist threats are greatest? And, what about the babies of those that wear burqas, whose vitamin D deficiencies cause them to develop rickets? What's the policy on pregnant women wearing the burqa? And, what about driving, when a burqa limits range of vision and poses a traffic safety issue?
  • Burqa and niquab make people uncomfortable Jack Straw, a British Labour politician, said in 2008 that he would prefer Muslim women to uncover their faces during appointments with him, because he “felt uncomfortable about talking to someone ‘face-to-face’ who [he] could not see.”[5]
  • The burqa and niqab are meant to make women look unappealing. Why would society want to condone something that intentionally makes women look bad? While there are ways of maintaining modesty in dress, the burqa goes beyond this in an effort to make women look like shapeless, faceless blobs. There is no reason for this extreme denigration of the female form.
[Add New]

Con

  • Most are willing to lift burqa when necessary "Is France right to ban wearing the burka in public? NO:" Stephanie Street on Guardian. March 21, 2010: "She took it off when she went to work because she had to, knowing she was 'going to get the reward for the time I was wearing it, making God happy by fulfilling his covenant to me.' [...] She related to me an incident that took place when she had her photo taken for her university ID. They requested she remove her niqab, so she asked for a female photographer. When the male photographer at the adjacent booth asked if she'd like the men to look away, she told them not to worry about it, not wanting to cause a scene. And when he did still turn away, she was touched: 'I thought, I just wish people could be kind like that.'"
  • Burqa ban based on bias of Western cultural superiority Monty Self. "Burqa Ban Will Erode Mutual Understanding." Ethics Daily. April 7, 2010: "Banning the burqa on grounds that it is not French, that it destroys the French ideal, that it is not compatible with French culture, is just as damaging. This position fails to acknowledge the evolution of society. Cultures always evolve. The hyper-protection of the current state of a society only reveals our own assumptions of superiority. It reveals that we think ourselves better than the rest of the world. The danger here is that one day we will be surpassed and ultimately subjugated by those whom we rejected. Our current culture will cease to evolve and be left behind."
[Edit]
[Delete Subquestion section]
[Add new subquestion section]
[Move subquestion section down]
[Move subquestion section up]

Young women: Does ban help/hurt teens that wear burqa?

[Add New]

Pro

  • Children are in no position to make choice about burqa. An adolescent cannot be said to be making an independent choice about whether to wear the burqa. This choice is heavily influenced by their father, mother, and surrounding community. In this case, the child is in no position to reject these forces and to go without the burqa. They have no recourse and cannot be expected to complain to their teachers or school principles. Any expectation that they can do so places an unfair burden on the shoulders of individuals that are just beginning to learn about the world around them, ethics, and faith. A burqa ban protects children from being placed in this unfortunate situation.
  • Burqa ban protects children from being picked-up by impersonators. In 2008, The Dutch banned parents from coming to pick up their young children from school while wearing burqas. The rationale was that it was a security risk, as teachers and the children themselves needed to be able to verify that an individual was actually the parent of a child.[6]


[Add New]

Con

  • Risk of further isolation. Should the ban be enacted, there is a possibility that women who were previously forced by their husbands to wear burqa would face further isolation in the home. "Running for cover", The Economist, May 2010
[Edit]
[Delete Subquestion section]
[Add new subquestion section]
[Move subquestion section down]
[Move subquestion section up]

Health: Are burqas and niqabs detrimental to health?

[Add New]

Pro

[Add New]

Con

  • Burqa ban violates rights of women to their own body. According most laws nowadays, everybody has a freedom to his or her own body. The choice to wear a burqa or niqab on her body is part of her freedom to her body. Then, why are we violating this most basic law with a burqa ban? Even if we conclude that the burqa is bad for women's health and even for their babies, so are many things that are legal, like cigarettes and alcohol. That the burqa is bad for women's health, however unfortunate that may be, nevertheless does not give the government the right to take away a woman's right to her own body and to treat it how she wishes.


[Edit]
[Delete Subquestion section]
[Add new subquestion section]
[Move subquestion section down]
[Move subquestion section up]

Enforcement: Is enforcing a ban feasible?

[Add New]

Pro

  • Foreigners adopt local customs in Islamic countries; same in West If non-Muslims are forced to wear the Hijab or other head-coverings in some Muslim countries when they visit, why is it that Muslim women visiting the West should be protected from not-wearing the burqa/niqab in the West? If the rule is that women must adopt the local custom, then let that be the rule.
[Add New]

Con


[Edit]
[Delete Subquestion section]
[Add new subquestion section]
[Move subquestion section down]
[Move subquestion section up]

Public opinion: Where does public opinion stand on these things?

[Add New]

Pro

  • A majority of Europeans tend to support a ban. A 2010 poll found that a majority backed one in France (70%), Spain (65%), Italy (63%), Britain (57%) and Germany (50%).[8][9]
  • Majority of Canadians support Quebec burqa ban Gurmukh Singh. "Niqab ban gets unanimous support in Canada." UMMID.com. March 28th, 2010: "Canadians have unanimously supported the niqab ban announced by French-speaking Quebec province this week. After France, the Canadian province is the first in North America to ban the niqab, a top-to-toe dress worn by Muslim women. [...] According to the survey - conducted by Angus Reid for the Montreal Gazette newspaper - 95 percent people in Quebec province supported the law to ban the Muslim dress which they say contradicts the liberal, secular values of their society. [...] Across Canada - which has 10 provinces and three national territories - four out of five people supported the ban."


[Add New]

Con

  • Ban on Burqa is supported by a small minority in America. A 2010 poll found that, with a fairly strong culture of religious freedom in America, only a minority (33%) was in favor of banning the burqa and/or niqab.[10]
[Edit]
[Delete Subquestion section]
[Add new subquestion section]
[Move subquestion section down]
[Move subquestion section up]

Pro/con sources

[Add New]

Pro

[Add New]

Con

[Edit]
[Delete Subquestion section]
[Add new subquestion section]
[Move subquestion section up]

Pro/con videos:

[Add New]

Pro

Ban the Burqa.[11]

[Add New]

Con

See also

External links and resources

Problem with the site? 

Tweet a bug on bugtwits
.