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On burka and niqab

 
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Freedom to dress as you like?

What is right and what is wrong?

On the one hand individual freedom of choices and equality are integrated parts of human rights and democratic principles. Individual freedom of choice means that people should be allowed to determine what they want to wear and dress like they want without any interferences from the stat and without anyone dictating them what to wear. Equality demands that this should be a right to everyone Jews, Christians, Moslems etc. without any religious discrimination. Individual freedom and equality excludes any form of censorship and discrimination. In a democratic society there are to be no obligations about dress or dress codes, no dictates about dress and no use of force to enforce special kinds of cloths or way to wear them. Individual freedom includes of course freedom of thoughts and freedom to practice religious believes (religious freedom).

On the other hand some kind of dressing are used within some religions as a kind of uniform (contrary to individual freedom of choice), as a kind of oppression, as a means of oppression, as tool of creating inequality and as a social force to maintain old power structures thereby hindering universal freedom, equality in rights and possibilities, free individual choices and equality in rights and possibilities. Some religions keep old habits of censorship concerning the adherents dresscodes prescribed in their ‘holy texts’ or within their religious traditions.

Sometimes therefore in practice the concept of religious freedom and the concept of individual freedom may collude. Both principles (ideals) therefore can not be unlimitedly applied in real life – sometimes one of them have to be set aside in order to make the other be established and thrive. Sometimes there is no right or wrong – or rather sometimes what is right in one way is wrong in another way. The protection of one fundamental right may sometimes mean the suppresion of one other fundamental right.

The use of burka and niqab is a very good example of such a conflict between individual freedom and equality on the one hand – and religious habits and the religious use (misuse) of dress codes on the other. Especially it is very difficult when a woman is wearing a veil because she is doing it out of her own free will or because she is forced to do it by the will of her husband, the will of the local imam, the enforced habits of her community etc.

In some parts of Africa and the Middleeast there is and have been a religious tied habit of demanding that women cover their body, hair and head to avoid that they attract any other man than their own husband or father. In other parts of the world there is a social habit of the opposite, namely that women should cover as little as possible in order to become attractive to her husband, her relatives and any other person. Those two habits may become in contradiction if they exist side by side within the very same society. They may both be wrong – but the can not both be right at the same time. The society will sometime have to choose as a common solution which of the two conflicting habits should be given priority if the result of one of those habits develop into a loss of individual freedom or equality.

But no doubt neither priests, rabbis, imams or other religious individuals, nor governments have any rights to suppress fredom or destroy equality.

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Barcelona is to become the first major Spanish city to ban the wearing of the full Islamic veil in public places. The move was announced by Socialist mayor Jordi Hereu who said that it would ban items of clothing such as the niqab and the burka in institutional buildings such as schools and hospitals.

“It is unthinkable that someone can enter a place without being identifiable,” the mayor declared. He clarified that the ban would not be aimed at any specific religious belief, but at anyone wearing an item of clothing obscuring the face, such as a helmet or balaclava.

However Barcelona’s right-wing opposition leader Alberto Fernandez said the measure was half-baked.

“The municipal decree is a half measure as if you ban the burka and the niqab in institutional buildings, you must also ban it in the streets,” he said.

KOPJIK INTERNATIONAL suppose that what Alberto Fernandez really intend to ban in the streets are this kind of half-baked burka-wearing women?

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Burka-wearing woman.

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Comprehensive Burqa-ban

in France 2010

Transportation, hospitals, post offices, resident cards, citizenship and all other public services in France would be off-limits to women wearing face-covering veils when a new parliamentary recommendation become law in 2010.

The Interior Ministry estimates there are only 1,900 women who cover their faces with veils, the planned law would be another defining moment for Islam in France as the nation tries to bring its Muslim population — at an estimated 5 million, the largest in western Europe — into the mainstream, even by force of law.

A bill to ban Muslim veils covering the face to be presented to France’s Cabinet this week (26.05.10).

Article 1 of the bill stipulates that “no one can wear a garment intended to hide the face in the public space.”

The bill calls for a fine of euro150 ($185) for those breaking the law and eventual citizenship classes. The measure creates a new crime — inciting to hide the face — and anyone convicted of forcing a woman to wear such a veil would risk a year in prison and a euro15,000 ($18,555) fine.

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Several thousand women in France are thought to wear burqa-style garments, usually pinning a “niqab” across their faces to go with their long, dark robes. Such veils are widely seen as a gateway to extremism and an attack on gender equality and secularism, a basic value of modern-day France. According to the president of the parliament “The all-enveloping veil represents, in an extraordinary way, everything that France instinctively rejects. This is the symbol of the enslavement of women and the banner … of extremist fundamentalism.” A woman seeking unemployment benefits or other state aid, for instance, would not get anything if she refused to uncover her face. She would also not be admitted to the local town hall, the bus, the Metro and the university classroom.

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Female teacher allowed to dress in burka ? Recommendations aimed at dissuading Muslim women from hiding their faces is contained in the report, which was drawn up after six months of hearings from experts, Muslim leaders and others. President Nicolas Sarkozy put the issue before the French in June when he told a joint gathering of parliament that face-covering veils “are not welcome” in France.

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Løkke:

Slut med burkaer i staten

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(The end of burqa’s and niqab’s the the Danish public sector)

“Muslim women will not be allowed to wear a burqa or niqab while working if they wish to be public servants”,

said the Danish Prime Minister, Lars Loekke Rasmussen, after the Government presented its burqa move.

A public sector without veiled women are the pivotal point in the plan, but there will be no full ban.

[In Denmark the public sector accounts for about 50% of the economy.]

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The Danish Prime Minister Lars Loekke Rasmussen

28. 1. 2010

Muslimske kvinder skal ikke have mulighed for at bære burka eller niqab, hvis de vil være offentligt ansatte. Sådan lyder det fra statsminister Lars Løkke Rasmussen, efter at regeringen i dag præsenterede sit burkaudspil. En offentlig sektor uden tildækkede kvinder er det centrale omdrejningspunkt i planen, men der vil ikke blive tale om et egentligt forbud.

– Der er brug for, at vi klart sender det her signal: Burka og niqab er kvindeundertrykkende symboler, som vi ikke ønsker, siger statsministeren. Tager øjeblikkelig effekt Ifølge Lars Løkke Rasmussen skal statens ledere nu udarbejde retningslinjer, der udtrykkeligt siger, at man ikke både kan være statsansat og bære burka eller niqab på samme tid. – Det har øjeblikkelig effekt i staten, for når regeringen har udtrykt holdningen, bliver det en opgave for statens ledere at forvalte den holdning, siger Løkke. Regeringen holder om kort tid møde med Danske Regioner og Kommunernes Landsforening, og statsministeren forventer, at kommunerne og regionerne er på linje. – Jeg håber og tror, de deler vores synspunkt. Og så er det op til kommunale og regionale chefer at sørge for, at det bliver sat igennem på de offentlige arbejdspladser, siger Lars Løkke Rasmussen.

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One comment

  1. A comment on the post “On burka and niqab” by Melissa Crawford
    (IP: 71.33.200.85 , 71-33-200-85.hlrn.qwest.net)

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    I am Muslim and I do agree that the burka and veil are extreme. ( … I was not born muslim ).
    This is my opion. I do wear hijab and I am very modest. I am teaching my children the same.
    I understand why this law is needed. I see nothing in the quran that stated we as women must cover our face and eyes. I do believe in covering our neck, bust, our hair and our backside. This I do follow but in Islamic states and countries if wearing a burka and/or veil is the law (all religions and persons) should obey their laws also and apply the burka and/or veil to their attire, also if in a freedom of choice situation if that is what some wish to do then great they should be able to wear a burka and/or a veil without prejudice or improper treatment, but we also should understand where this law is comming from, reasearch this and then make judgement, also follow the law if it is in the area you are at. The U.S also has in some places stopped people from wearing ski mask, hats and any type of clothing that hides the face(only the face, hijab is fine) inside certain places, I believe this law is actually protecting all parties, most of all the Muslim women.
    An example is, a person walking into a bank wearing a burka hands the teller a note that this person is robbing the bank and has a bomb or gun,is this person male or female, what race, how tall, and most of all is this person, this evil person, even a muslim etc., Nothing can be used to help authorties to stop this person or even bring them to jusdice, again Is this person even a muslim, no one would know and it could also cause attacks against muslim women wearing a burka or veil.
    The only thing we as an entire race need to do is stop judging and pushing other beliefs upon one another … not to judge an entire group from one person or persons actions. …
    I hope everyone can remember that all religions and sects have had a bad egg in its history but this should not comdemn all who are in that sect or group. May we all learn to love one anothers’ differences and stop all the judgement against one another.

    (Slightly edited and abridged by the editors.)



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