Dutch remain paranoid about Islam

by Al-Hack, on 14th October, 2005

The Dutch government is instigating a bit of a war against the Burqa, which Muslim women wear to cover themselves fully.

Dutch Immigration Minister Rita Verdonk has proposed a ban on the wearing of Muslim burkas - full-length veils covering the face - in certain public places, to prevent people avoiding identification.
Practical or over the top? I get the feeling that the Dutch are doing everything possible to restrict freedom of religion for Muslims.
The authorities in the Dutch city of Utrecht have reduced unemployment benefit for women who say their refusal to remove their burkas is preventing them getting jobs. The measure was prompted by the case of two burka-clad women who said they did not attend job interviews.
It’s difficult to figure out where to stand on this. If they don’t want to work due to the burqa, then it’s their own choice, they shouldn’t be claiming benefits. Last year several Belgian towns, including Antwerp and Ghent, banned the wearing of the burka in public. Why punish everyone in the name of one mad nutter?

Entry Filed under: Religion, The World

108 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Sholay  |  October 14th, 2005 at 8:44 pm

    Verdonk is on a crusade to make life as difficult as possible in the Netherlands for Muslims. Her recent speeches and public appearences are just full of hatred for anyone whos not a native Dutchman.

    eg. http://www.expatica.com/source/site_article.asp?channel_id=1&story_id=11382

    Especially, “At the start of her speech Thursday, Verdonk indicated she had difficulty expressing a positive attitude towards the Islamic faith, pointing out that many innocent people have suffered in the name of Islam”

  • 2. Mokum  |  October 14th, 2005 at 9:14 pm

    I get the feeling that the Dutch are doing everything possible to restrict freedom of religion for Muslims.

    By simply talking about just maybe banning burqas in some public places? Give me a break! There’s more freedom for Muslims here than just about anywhere else in Europe.

    Also, since when are the Dutch required to have a “positive attitude” to Islam? Last time I checked, we have freedom of speech here. That speech includes a lot of criticism of all sorts of religions, and rightly so.

  • 3. eric  |  October 14th, 2005 at 10:06 pm

    What does a Burkha have to do with Islam?

  • 4. Sholay  |  October 14th, 2005 at 10:18 pm

    Its not just about the Burqa, there are many issues around in NL at the moment that are specifically targetting muslims. Im not one of those people that criticise each & every policy, but there is defenately an anti-muslim climate being stirred up by the politicians in NL.

    There is a report somewhere that only about 2% of the muslim women in NL wear a Burqa, so the issue isnt really JUST about Burqas, it is defenately about creating a certain environment in the public

  • 5. Eric  |  October 14th, 2005 at 10:56 pm

    There is a report somewhere that only about 2% of the muslim women in NL wear a Burqa, so the issue isnt really JUST about Burqas, it is defenately about creating a certain environment in the public

    An environment were the other 98% can continue to do what they want?

  • 6. Juan Golblado  |  October 14th, 2005 at 11:02 pm

    I feel about burkas as I do about balaclavas only more so: it makes me nervous to have people around me whose faces I can’t see.

  • 7. Sunny  |  October 14th, 2005 at 11:47 pm

    It isn’t really about the 2% is it? Only 2% of people in this country are Muslims but if the talk in the Telegraph or Jihadwatch are anything to go by, they’re supposedly taking over.

    This is about the freedom to express your religion. Given that the burqa is not compulsory in Islam. But then why create situations where you’re discriminating against them when it serves no purpose and only antagonises people?

  • 8. Sunny  |  October 15th, 2005 at 12:11 am

    Mokum:
    There’s more freedom for Muslims here than just about anywhere else in Europe.
    In the UK, yes. I’m referring to the Netherlands though.

    That speech includes a lot of criticism of all sorts of religions, and rightly so.
    This isn’t about criticising other religions. By all means if people want to engage in that debate, let them. This is about letting people practise their religion how they interpret it. I’m not really an advocate of the Burqa, but the choice should be there, no? Otherwise we move towards becoming like Saudi Arabia.

  • 9. Old Pickler  |  October 15th, 2005 at 12:16 am

    Only 2% of people in this country are Muslims, but that 2% seems to punch above its weight in terms of concessions demanded, for example religious hatred legislation, banning Holocaust Memeorial Day, ‘grievances’ and - yes tiny minority and all, but still Muslims - terrorism.

    Naturally this group hits the headlines more often. Some of this is to do with the Media. But some of it is to do with some of the Muslims.

    Given that the burqa is not compulsory in Islam. But then why create situations where you’re discriminating against them when it serves no purpose and only antagonises people?

    Why create situations where a woman cannot show her face in public. That antagonises and offends people who want to know who someone is, read their expression, and so on. And it antagonises me, as a woman, because I think it is a misogynistic and oppressive garment, and that in an enlightened society women should not be ashamed to show their faces, and that men who think they should are male chauvinists.

    The treatment of women is an area where multiculturalism and women’s rights clash. I know which I would put first.

  • 10. Old Pickler  |  October 15th, 2005 at 12:18 am

    No, Sunny, we are not becoming like Saudi Arabia where you can be imprisoned for following your religion if it is anything other than Islam, and where Jews are not allowed to set foot.

    That is an absurd comparison.

    Muslims in the West have it cushy, even compared with Muslims in Muslim countries, never mind non-Muslims in Muslim countries.

  • 11. Limerick  |  October 15th, 2005 at 1:05 am

    OP - You might want to seperate the demands of the MCB and most Muslims too, before you start making absurd comparisons.

    “multiculturalism and women’s rights”

    what about freedom of expression? You’re making the assumption these women don’t want to wear a Burqa. This shows your willingness to put everything into your narrow framework. Religion is not culture. If one religion has freedom of expression, why not all religions?

  • 12. Old Pickler  |  October 15th, 2005 at 1:13 am

    OK, maybe the MCB don’t represent most Muslims. Then hopefully we will see a more representative organisation arise that does.

    On the issue of women ‘wanting’ to wear a burkha, ‘want’ is a rather dubious concept in oppressive, patriarchal communities where men dictate how ‘their’ women are supposed to dress.

    But even if these women ‘choose’ to dress in an all enveloping sack, the rest of society has rights too. The right not to be confronted by masked people. I find that sinister and offensive. If women want to wear masks, they should do so behind closed doors.

    Plus there is the identification and security aspect, which would apply equally to Quakers and Bhuddists who want to wear masks.

  • 13. Mokum  |  October 15th, 2005 at 2:13 am

    There is a report somewhere that only about 2% of the muslim women in NL wear a Burqa, so the issue isnt really JUST about Burqas, it is defenately about creating a certain environment in the public

    Baseless accusation. Report I read and misread = believe me on everything. BS.

    Sunny,

    I am referring to the Netherlands, my home.

    No, my view is that the burqa choice should not be there. If you think that makes me Saudi, thank you. I do prefer traditional Islam, where the burqa should be banned, for Allah never hid a woman’s face.

  • 14. Sunny  |  October 15th, 2005 at 2:58 am

    1) No one Muslim org can represent the very diverse Muslim community. It’s like one person speaking for all the Christian denominations, with different races and cultures also chucked in for good measure.

    2) None the less, many women may want to wear it. Would you put it to them in a referendum?

    3) Its not sinister and offensive - that’s how you interpret it as.

    4) Burqa wearing women are not going to catch you anymore terrorists, but they will make more people think you have one rule for Muslims and one rule for the rest - thereby increasing alienation.
    Not that you would care for their alienation, but it would happen.

  • 15. Siddharth  |  October 15th, 2005 at 1:13 pm

    Sunny I can assure you that the people who are creating this atmosphere of discrminiation in the NL have their counterparts here in the UK as well. And its got sweet FA to do with the burkha as a function of Womens Rights. You can be sure that if the situation were any different, they would just as easily make it a point to create an atmosphere of pressure for, say, Sikh men to stop wearing the Pagri. The issue is so interchanageable, its untrue.

    If they really want to empower Muslim women, lets see them put their money where their mouth is. Lets see a policy to implement these women with a micro-credit policy whereby they get loans to start up businesses at, say zero percent return. Because proscribing the hijab is not going to bump up these women up the human rights food chain.

    So what is this anti-Hijab sentiment all about? I think we already know. Its about putting pressure on the weakest within the Muslim Community.

    I am no fan of the hijab myself, but things being what they are, it has turned from an article of subjugation to one of racism. And now I think women should wear it, if anything but to say a big vestamental “Fuck Off” to Rita Vedonk and her supporters.

  • 16. Old Pickler  |  October 15th, 2005 at 1:15 pm

    1) Agreed.

    2) Women who ‘choose’ to wear the burqa live in repressive communities where they do what the men tell them to. Their answers to any survey will be dictated by the men, either directly or by8 brainwashing.

    3) It is sinister and offensive and utterly alien to British culture. Why not have a survey of all Britons to see if they should be banned. That would be fairer.

    4) Burqa wearing women are choosing their own alienation by hiding their faces. This is a hostile act. IIt wouldn’t be one rule for Muslims - nobody should be allowed to hide their face in public.

  • 17. Old Pickler  |  October 15th, 2005 at 1:20 pm

    Siddarth - race has nothing to do with it, since Islam is not a race. The hijab is not being banned, only the form of it that hides the face. It is perfectly in order for the Dutch to determine what is and what isn’t acceptable in their own country. Just as they can make illegal child marriage or polygamy, both acceptable in Islam, they can make illegal a particular form of dress. Certainly there is no reason why such women should be given state benefits if they refuse to take a job that requires their face to be visible.

  • 18. Siddharth  |  October 15th, 2005 at 1:58 pm

    OP, the logic that discrimination against Islam is “not racist” because Islam is not a race is valid, but academic and worth debunking. The discrminiation against Muslims is just as real as discrimination against a race. And are you willing to argue that discrmination against Sikhs would not be racist since Sikhism is not a race and therefore it cannot be racism? Get real.

    This is a serious question: Would it be acceptable that a white man who cross dresses not to receive State Benefits because he refuses to apply for a job wearing men’s clothes? Or would it be discrminatory towards cross dressers?

  • 19. Old Pickler  |  October 15th, 2005 at 2:05 pm

    Would it be acceptable that a white man who cross dresses not to receive State Benefits because he refuses to apply for a job wearing men’s clothes?

    Yes, because it is a matter of personal choice. He can wear frocks in his spare time!

    In fact that is a very good comparison. To me it is as ludicrous for a woman to wear a mask as it is for a man to wear a frock.

  • 20. Eric  |  October 15th, 2005 at 2:23 pm

    Surely it is It is sinister and offensive if it is imposed by peer pressure on others. I’m all for the Stars Wars Cantina approach to life, but there are some who, rather than wishing to celerate diversity, wish to impose values on others.

    See the reaction of some Muslim girls to the Jilbab case. They were not happy to be given the “freedom” to wear the Jilbab, since it meant it could be imposed.

  • 21. Sunny  |  October 15th, 2005 at 3:26 pm

    It’s a tough one to crack, but here are my thoughts on the full body wear (Jilbabs etc).

    Firstly, an assumption is being made that “these women live in patriarchal societies so they don’t know what they are doing”. It’s this whole condescending “you guys are still a bit uncivilised” viewpoint that Asians will instantly see and reject. What’s your thinking OP? Once we become ‘civilised’ and more equal, then you’ll let the women wear what they want?

    Secondly, feminists don’t really like other women wearing short skirts either because they see it as degrading and a cheap attempt to get the attention of the man - but they are forced to accept it because a woman should have the choice to make up her own mind.

    For Asians (or Muslims specifically), you seem to be saying ‘look, you can’t make up your mind properly because you live in a patriarchal society so let me make the decision for you’, which is just as condescending as how many Asian men behave.

    The straightforward choice here is between letting a woman wear what she wants (revealing clothing or covered clothing) or dictating what she can or can’t wear.

    Some of the most fiesty Asian women you will ever chat to will be wearing a Hijab, trust me.

    Some feminists seem to have jumped on this bandwagon because it is an easier war than demanding more women representation in the business and politics world (still woefully patriarchal). Ultimately though, its a distracting action.

    There are many Asians (men and women) who are trying to deal with the inherent sexism in our communities, but that is a battle we need to fight from the inside, not have it imposed from others.

  • 22. Siddharth  |  October 15th, 2005 at 3:29 pm

    “In fact that is a very good comparison. To me it is as ludicrous for a woman to wear a mask as it is for a man to wear a frock.”

    Not even a small black Prada number?

  • 23. Old Pickler  |  October 15th, 2005 at 3:39 pm

    The straightforward choice here is between letting a woman wear what she wants (revealing clothing or covered clothing) or dictating what she can or can’t wear.

    No it isn’t. It is about banning extreme forms of either. Women are not allowed to walk down the street naked, so they should not be allowed to walk down the street wearing masks.

    To invoke freedom and choice is a little bit meaningless in this context, since women who really think that their faces are shameful have been brainwashed or are intimidated by the men in their family.

    Dressing head to toe in black with slits for eyes is uncivilised. I would not wish to employ such a woman as she would intimidate customers and staff. If such a woman refuses to dress in an acceptable fashion in order to get a job then she should have her benefits cut.

  • 24. Sunny  |  October 15th, 2005 at 4:09 pm

    If such a woman refuses to dress in an acceptable fashion in order to get a job then she should have her benefits cut.

    I’m not actually disagreeing with that. Professionally it would not work. But if she wants to walk around like that, then that should be her choice, not imposed by society. That is my take on it.

  • 25. Eric  |  October 15th, 2005 at 6:11 pm

    she wants to walk around like that, then that should be her choice, not imposed by society.

    That’s the same argument for banning the Burkha. ;-)

  • 26. Usman  |  October 15th, 2005 at 6:59 pm

    Meanwhile, Dutch Immigration Minister Rita Verdonk has proposed a ban on the wearing of Muslim burkas - full-length veils covering the face - in certain public places, to prevent people avoiding identification.

    They can’t ban the burka - to do so is against conventional human rights - Art 9 & 10

    Article 9 – Freedom of thought, conscience and religion1

    1. Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief, in worship, teaching, practice and observance.
    2. Freedom to manifest one’s religion or beliefs shall be subject only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of public safety, for the protection of public order, health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others

    Article 10 – Freedom of expression1

    1. Everyone has the right to freedom of expression. This right shall include freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers. This article shall not prevent States from requiring the licensing of broadcasting, television or cinema enterprises.
    2. The exercise of these freedoms, since it carries with it duties and responsibilities, may be subject to such formalities, conditions, restrictions or penalties as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society, in the interests of national security, territorial integrity or public safety, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, for the protection of the reputation or rights of others, for preventing the disclosure of information received in confidence, or for maintaining the authority and impartiality of the judiciary..

    all derived from here in plain engish…http://www.echr.info/

  • 27. Usman  |  October 15th, 2005 at 7:02 pm

    Last year several Belgian towns, including Antwerp and Ghent, banned the wearing of the burka in public.
    hmm

  • 28. Usman  |  October 15th, 2005 at 7:03 pm

    Utrecht city council spokeswoman Sylvia Borgman said the 600-euro (£400) per month benefit was initially being cut by 10% in such cases. Further cuts would come if unemployed women continued to wear burkas.

    consitutional discrimination against a womans expression?

  • 29. Sparkz  |  October 15th, 2005 at 7:28 pm

    To ban the wearing of a facial covering without understanding the underlying reasons behind why it is worn is just the same as not allowing someone to wear a helmet because you don’t understand how it helps someone protect their head.

    You’re never going to understand why someone does something unless you actually make effort to ask them and to understand the reasoning behind it. There is an islamically consistent reason for wearing a burkha, that if you took the time and effort to understand is totally reasonable and comprehensible. There isn’t a societically understood norm or understandable reason for society as a whole to understand why a man would wear a frock, so this comparison is absurd.

    You do not counteract ignorance with more ignorance; you educate. If you feel intimidated by women wearing burkhas, take the time to understand why they wear them rather than simply dismissing them as ‘uncivilised’. Racists use the exact same ‘we don’t understand your kind so we wan’t you to be like us’ statements to impose their societical norms on people who have their own. If people understood eachother there would be a lot less conflict in the world.

  • 30. Mokum  |  October 15th, 2005 at 8:24 pm

    Some parts of this thread are ridiculous. Starting from the headline. “Dutch Remain Paranoid About Islam”. Wow, all of them, really? Time for other blogs to run with “Muslims Remain Paranoid About Christianity”. Fair’s fair, right? Accuracy and all that, yeah.

    I mean, sure, I spent the afternoon in a Turkish neighbourhood, and you should have seen the paranoia on the thousands of Dutch faces over there. Scared clogless, they were, those evil racist Amsterdammers, uh huh.

    Come on. Immigrants in the Netherlands, including Muslims, have very generous support from the state system. Politics, society, education and welfare have all been re-arranged, from top to bottom and for decades, to meet their needs, real and perceived.

    Then a few Dutch politicians start talking about just maybe banning burqas in some public places and people here cry “racism!”. Odd when some of them are among the first to criticise dumb traditions in their own countries. Even odder when Western ways too are freely criticized here, but Westerners doing the same with other cultures is deemed, well, too sensitive.

    Alienation, yeah. It is a man ritually murdered in the street in broad daylight. It is terrorist plots to bomb airports, nuclear plants, government buildings and nightclubs. It is people who chase Ayaan Hirsi Ali into hiding with their death threats. And more and more.

    It looks as if the Netherlands just might be calling time on tea for radical Islam. It has every right to do so. It has one of the best records on tolerance in the world, stretching back centuries. BTW, it also has an excellent record in development aid abroad, including, whoda thunk it, micro-credit. I have no doubt that any action this country may take – so far there is only talk on this issue - will be judicious, measured, and fair. If people don’t like it, they can toss this lot out at the next election and reverse course.

    There is an islamically consistent reason for wearing a burkha Is there? Show me, in a way a traditional, knowledgeable and fair scholar will .endorse without resorting to any sophistry. There’s a lot of liberating and beautiful language in the Qu’ran and some fairly clear rules on covering up. How anyone could read them and then turn to burqas is beyond me.

  • 31. Old Pickler  |  October 16th, 2005 at 12:11 am

    Also, it is not just a matter of ignorance about some aspects of Islam but it is a matter of understanding them and not liking them. Holland, the UK etc are not Muslim countries. However, they are among the most tolerant countries in the world for people of all religions, including Islam, to live in.

    I know enough about the Koran to know that it does not demand face covering, and also that Islam is not a race. As a non-Muslim or non-Asian woman I have just as much right to criticise male chauvinism within the Asian community as Asian/Muslim women do. Stop playing the race card as an excuse for repressive, backward practices. It cuts no ice.

  • 32. Sparkz  |  October 16th, 2005 at 1:23 am

    To understand that it is an islamically acceptable option is to understand that it has relevance within Islamic tradition. Because someone feels intimidated by it does not excuse their ignorance. What harm does it do to you personally if someone wears a burka? You are intimidated? Why? Because you don’t like not being able to see someone’s eyes? What difference does this personal interaction with someone make to your daily routine? Someone wearing a burkha wears one as a uniform of respect to the phrase that people (not women, people) should dress ‘as barrels’, shapeless, formless bodies. This is a choice that they are entitled to make just as someone can choose to wear a veil over their face. I don’t see you kicking up the same fuss about Michael Jackson wearing a face mask to come out and visit Amsterdam; no no no, that was just ‘fashion and quirk’.

    Its the same issue as someone wearing a turban. Those that do not understand how and why it came about dismiss it as folly to wear one as it is seemingly ‘unnecessary’ in today’s interpretation of the religion. This is rubbish, people have the choice as to how they choose to observe their religion and this is just as much of a right to someone to wear as it is to wear a hat in public. If it is anti-establishment to wear something as simple as a burkha, then my God, why the hell does the country allow people to smoke weed?

  • 33. Old Pickler  |  October 16th, 2005 at 1:35 am

    Just because it is ‘Islamically acceptable’ - and I know for a fact that face covering is not Islamically compulsory - does not mean that it should be acceptable in Holland or any other non-Muslim country. Child marriage and polygamy are acceptable under Islam, while gays and unveiled women, women being in charge of men, people living together without being married etc are not. In Western countries, the reverse is true.

    While Holland, the UK and other Western countries should be tolerant - something that Muslim countries could learn from - this does not extend to tolerating intolerance, and extends only to what is acceptable to Dutch or British culture. That is the way it is. That is the way all countries are.

    Masked women, in my view, and I would imagine the view of most British and Dutch people, cross that line. If their democratically elected representatives want to outlaw masks in public places, that is fair enough.

  • 34. Kulvinder  |  October 16th, 2005 at 3:06 am

    Sweetie, it has nothing to do with tolerance, and the law doesn’t care what you think.

  • 35. Sunny  |  October 16th, 2005 at 3:20 am

    Your reasoning is really silly OP. A bunch of Muslims a few months ago complained that a massive poster of women in sloggi underwear (and nearly bare bums) were offensive to people in the area because it was near a Mosque (or a school I think).

    To them, the near nudity of a woman was offensive and intolerant, plus the thinking that a woman who is paid to show off her body is nothing more than a glorified prostitute. And society has made her that way.

    You would scoff at Muslims then, but they’re saying exactly the same as you, just from the other end of the spectrum.

  • 36. Eric  |  October 16th, 2005 at 8:26 am

    Sunny,

    Do you accept that some of the push behind so-called Islamic dress is a political push driven by males?

    Islamists do view markers like this as an indication of their success and in some French Neighbourhoods even attempt to enforce it on non-Muslims - to the extent that those not wearing Islamic dress have been gang-raped (since they are viewed as whores).

    I’m torn on this, because I think it is a fundamental right for people to wear what they what, but at the same time there is a difference between Islamic dress and, for example, the Sikh Turban.

  • 37. Kulvinder  |  October 16th, 2005 at 11:42 am

    It isn’t a fundamental right for anyone to wear what they want (as this would allow people to wear nothing, alas or thankfully depending on your POV this isn’t the case).

    If there is an item of clothing that is crucial, that is vital to the way you live your life you will be allowed to wear it.

    If someone has threatened you if you do not dress as they wish, they will be prosecuted.

    I don’t understand why this is so difficult to comprehend.

  • 38. Old Pickler  |  October 16th, 2005 at 12:13 pm

    Sunny - the difference is that the hijab in all its forms, but particularly the burkha is a symbol of female subordination. The implication is that women who don’t wear it are fair game. It reflects a profoundly chauvinistic view of women.

    Women appearing on underwear ads are getting paid and doing it by choice. In most Muslim countries women are forced by law to wear oppressive covering, and in communities in the West they are under huge pressure to do so. Nevertheless, in the West, theoretically at least they are ‘choosing’ to wear the hijab, so, while I reserve the right to criticise that choice and the misogynist philosophy behind it, I would not make it illegal.

    The burkha is completely different as it covers the face. It is frightening for children to see this outside of a halloween party and disconcerting for adults not to be able to identify someone and see their expression. Plus there is the security aspect. This security aspect also applies to any Buddhists and Quakers who have it in mind to carry out or aid and abet acts of terrorism. They should not be able to conceal their identity either.

  • 39. Siddharth  |  October 16th, 2005 at 12:57 pm

    Sunny

    You’ve hit the nail on the head, once again. The discussion for and against the Hijab is populated by the two (largely reactionary) extremes of both camps. Hence, to me, they are merely commentary.

    This discussion is rendered meangingless since there are no voices on here from Muslim women who live in the West and who do choose to wear a hijab.

    Strangely enough, all the women I know who wear the Hijab here are well-educated, professional women do it of of their own choice (a few against the wishes of their husbands!), and, I might say, in response to robustly stupid ideas as represented here by OP. So the female subjugation tack, though largely true in Muslim countries, is baseless for those women here in the West who do.

  • 40. Old Pickler  |  October 16th, 2005 at 1:05 pm

    Siddharth - the hijab is one thing, the burkha is another.

    Personally, regardless of their level of education, I regard women who wear the hijab as rather silly. In doing so, they have bought into a system of female subordination, and are doing a disservice to their ’sisters’ in Muslim countries who would give anything to ditch the stupid thing. In a free society they are at liberty to criticise anything I wear too. This is not a matter for the law.

    The burkha is completely different. It crosses a line from silly to oppressive, threatening, and, in the light of terrorism, dangerous.

  • 41. Siddharth  |  October 16th, 2005 at 1:23 pm

    OP, the words are not different nor do they represent diffrent types of article. They’re simply from different languages:
    Hijab is Arabic and Burkha/Burqa is Farsi.
    Both words mean veil.

    The rest of your argument is similarly unconvincing and badly thought out blue-rinse twaddle and in the words of a Jamaican friend, bumbaklart.

  • 42. Old Pickler  |  October 16th, 2005 at 1:34 pm

    You saying this does not make it so.

    Clearly the distinction being made in Holland, and which in my view should be made here, is between a hijab like the headscarf or even the jilbab which doesn’t cover the face and one such as that commonly known as the burkha or niqab, which does.

    The former is silly, but not a matter for the law. The latter is sinister, dangerous and oversteps the mark in terms of oppression.

    Do you know that women in Afganistan died from asthma attacks wearing burkhas? That it is impossible to see out of the side and difficult to see through the front, causing loads of accidents? That women suffer from vitamin deficiencey because no part of their skin gets any sunlight? What about driving - I wouldn’t trust a masked woman behind a wheel.

    A country that is prepared to ban smoking in public places should certainly consider the health hazards of these cloth prisons, if nothing else.

    But don’t let this bother your, it’s all part of the cute, multicultural rainbow, isn’t it?

  • 43. Siddharth  |  October 16th, 2005 at 1:48 pm

    Has Holland moved to ban the “the burkha or niqab” based on studies, research and data from indepedent sources that show that it can cause:
    1. Asthma attacks
    2. Vitamin defficiency
    3. Driving hazards
    As they would do in the event of a move to public smoking?

    Or by subjective and reactionary emotions brought on by
    1) Prejudice
    2) Fear
    3) Cynical victimisation of women, particularly Muslim women.

    Or does Verdonk get the indepedent research data on “the burkha or niqab” from reading Harry’s Place?

  • 44. Sunny  |  October 16th, 2005 at 1:54 pm

    Firstly, I’m not denying we have a huge amount of male chauvanists. I’m not denying there is a lot of female subjugation within Asian (incl Muslim) societies.

    But OP, you have to accept that the perception you have of women wearing a full burkha, is just that - a perception.

    I don’t want females to be told what to wear anymore than you do. Theoretically, I want to support the idea of banning the burkha because then at least not a single woman can be forced into it. But what about those who want to wear it out of choice? Where do your libertarian ideas go?

    the burkha is a symbol of female subordination.
    According to you, but others may not see it in that way. The world doesn’t have to revolve around one train of thought in liberal societies.

    The implication is that women who don’t wear it are fair game.
    That mysoginistic train of thought by many Muslim men (and those of other races) will not go away just by forcing women to drop the burkha.

    Percentage wise, more women in America get raped every year than Saudi Arabia. With everything else being equal, you could infer that women are less valued in America than SA.

  • 45. Old Pickler  |  October 16th, 2005 at 2:19 pm

    But what about those who want to wear it out of choice?

    Tough. This is a price worth paying so that nobody is forced to wear it. I would use the same argument about polygamy and Koran-sanctioned wife beating. In theory a woman may consent to both. In practice they are beyond the pale of what is acceptable in Western societies.

    You have not addressed the health issues, the security issues or the intimidation issues that I raised.

    Percentage wise, more women in America get raped every year than Saudi Arabia. With everything else being equal, you could infer that women are less valued in America than SA.

    Sunny, I cannot believe that you can’t see the flaw in this argument.

    America is a open society and one that collects statistics on its own faults and failings. It is also one in which all types of rape are regarded as a crime.

    Saudi Arabia is a closed society. Marriage there of very young girls to much older men is quite simply rape by any other name, but they don’t call it so. Rape is not seen as a crime separate from zina, or unlawful sexual activity, and the woman is generally punished rather than the rapist.

    Have you read ‘Princess’ by Jean Sassoon? Perhaps this will disabuse you of your illusion that rape does not happen in Saudi Arabia. Girls as young as 8 regualry raped in temporary marriages, then killed if they get pregnant as a result. But it’s their culture, and how racist of me to judge.

    You have a lot to learn about women’s rights, Sunny.

    I believe a spokesman for the Saudi government once said ‘There is no torture in Saudi Arabia’. Apparently there is no aids epidemic either. And the word ‘gullible’ does not appear in any dictionary.

  • 46. Don  |  October 16th, 2005 at 2:20 pm

    OP

    Your argument would carry more weight if you could decide what it was. Security, subordination or vitamin deficiency?

    The original article said the move was to ban the burqa in ‘certain’ public places. It wasn’t specified but I can certainly see a case for refusing entry to specific places to people covering their faces. Banning an article of clothing outright is a lot more extreme, but so far no-one has provided precise details of the ban, a context for it or the full rationale behind it. The fact that the move is supported by Ayaan Hirsi Ali would suggest it is more complex than simply ‘a crusade to make life as difficult as possible in the Netherlands for Muslims’.

    As a secularist I take a very negative view of the burqa and all that it symbolises to me - the subordination of women, rejection of secular norms, all points which have been covered by others in this post - but you don’t use the force of law to compel people to accept your cultural norms except in circumstances where actual harm can be demonstrated. Or at least not in a secular democracy.

    If it could be demonstrated that the burqa has been used in the commission of terrorist acts that would be a different matter.

    If it could be shown that women are being pressured into wearing the burqa by the men of their community either as a way of asserting dominance or as a way of using women as a vehicle for a political point, then some sort of legal action could be justified. Personally, I believe that is the case, but we need a lot more than personal opinion or a vague sense of being threatened before we start passing laws.

    Some aspects of traditional (rather than specifically religious) life imported into western democracies are going to be unacceptable and most of these relate to the position of women. Domestic violence, forced marriage, female genital mutilation, these are not religious issues but aspects of traditional culture within some moslem countries. No tolerance need be extended to them. But to choose a garment as a battle ground seems to be ill-judged.

  • 47. Old Pickler  |  October 16th, 2005 at 2:31 pm

    Don. You make some good points. However, banning the burkha sends out a very visible signal regarding the limits of tolerance. Elements within the Muslim community are becoming more, not less reactionary, which bucks the trend of other immigrant communities. It would in practice be very difficult to prove that a burkha was coerced. Women in these communities are so brainwashed and have internalised misogynist ideas so deeply that the may well see it as a choice, just as they would see themselves freely choosing to allow their husbands to beat them, something allowed in Islam.

  • 48. Siddharth  |  October 16th, 2005 at 2:50 pm

    OP: The problem with your argument is that, for whatever reason, no one on this thread is convinced for a second that your reasons to ban the Burkha are specifically for the emanicipation of Women and the Rights of Muslim women in particular. There are far more competent voices and campaigns who are involved with that.

    Your intention is to jump on any bandwagon to suppress and malign the rights of Muslims in general. And your language throughout this and other threads and your history on other blog comments boxes have shown this to be the case.

  • 49. Old Pickler  |  October 16th, 2005 at 2:55 pm

    My main focus is indeed less on the rights of Muslim women than on standards of what is tolerable here in 21st century Britain, which I understood to be a country where women and men are equal, and where women should not, therefore, hide their faces.

    My views on Islam in general are not directly relevant to this.

    ‘Malign the rights of Muslims?’ What rights are Muslims denied here in Britain that adherents of other religions have?

  • 50. Siddharth  |  October 16th, 2005 at 3:01 pm

    What rights are Muslims denied here in Britain that adherents of other religions have?

    Whatever you consider to be ‘intolerable’ at any given time? But don’t ask me, ask the woman who wishes to wear a burkha.

  • 51. Old Pickler  |  October 16th, 2005 at 3:07 pm

    Siddhart - you’ve touched on something. Adherents of other religions seem less willing to make demands over and above the norms of Western society. Is it an infringement of their rights to say that all their demands cannot be met.

    What about the man who wishes to take more than one wife? Or to beat his wife for disobedience?

    Or what about a Hindu widow who wants to commit sati? Have we imperialists any right to stop her, to impose our nasty Western ways?

  • 52. Siddharth  |  October 16th, 2005 at 3:11 pm

    Have we imperialists any right to stop her, to impose our nasty Western ways?

    No.

  • 53. Old Pickler  |  October 16th, 2005 at 3:16 pm

    Siddharth, are you serious?

    Shall we then change the law to allow sati, polygamy, child marriage, the caste system. On the caste system - perhaps some Hindus of their own free will regard themselves as subordinate to those of a higher caste.

    Shall we introduce sharia tribunals, as was proposed in Canada recently.? After all, though such tribunals would not treat women equally, some women might consent to be bound by them.

  • 54. Siddharth  |  October 16th, 2005 at 3:18 pm

    Calm down dear. We’re talking about an article of clothing. Try and keep up.

  • 55. Sunny  |  October 16th, 2005 at 3:33 pm

    You say you care for the emancipation of Muslim women’s right.

    Yet you also say: Women in these communities are so brainwashed and have internalised misogynist ideas so deeply that the may well see it as a choice, just as they would see themselves freely choosing to allow their husbands to beat them, something allowed in Islam

    I doubt you’ll see this, but this is exactly the sort of condescending attitude that will get you no support from any of the Asian communities and many liberals.

    Your view is that Muslim women can’t stand up for themselves or too crap to do so, so you have to intervene. That’s the sort of imperialist “lets civilise these savages” attitude that churchill had when he saw non-whites. It won’t get you anywhere.

    Lastly, why do the “limits to tolerance” only apply from whites to non-whites? Are we not British citizens too? Or do you still see us as secondary citizens deserving of your good will? ;)

  • 56. Old Pickler  |  October 16th, 2005 at 3:48 pm

    First off, white vs non-white has nothing to do with it. Islam is not a race - correct me if I’m wrong?

    Of course you are British citizens too. My point is that British citizens should act like British citizens. In my view dresssing like a dalek or a black ghost is not what British citizens do. To even it out, neither is Sati, the caste system, witch doctoring etc.

    Secondly, you have yourself admitted that there is oppression of women in Muslim communities. Of course there is in other communities too. I have just as much right to comment on abuse within these communities as you have. As a woman you could argue that I have more right.

    I am not saying that all Muslim women are unable to stand up for themselves. However, Islam builds sexual inequality into its rules, and to deny that this is a particular cause of oppression is, I think unrealistic. Irshad Manji would agree with me, rather than you, on this one, and so would Ayan Hirsi Ali. But what do they know?

  • 57. Sunny  |  October 16th, 2005 at 4:11 pm

    Prejudice is prejudice OP, whether against race or religion.

    My point is that British citizens should act like British citizens.
    And pray, tell us, how all British citizens should act?

    I have just as much right to comment on abuse within these communities as you have.
    No doubt, I’m just saying you come to the issue with a condescending attitude that Muslim women are not equal to you, but brainwashed people who you should look after.

    Islam builds sexual inequality into its rules, and to deny that this is a particular cause of oppression is, I think unrealistic
    The culture does, not the religion. The same problem also applies to Sikh and Hindu women, even though the scriptures there are quite explicit on equality too.

    I’m not going to be dragged into cussing Ayan Ali or Irshad Manji. I think they are strong women with their own experiences and attitudes. However, they hardly represent most Muslim women or even command respect from the communities.

    You can’t glorify two women who’ve been built up by the media precisely because they have rebelled, to change the system.

    It’s a bit like me taking the head of Christian Voice to say he has the right idea on how Christianity should develop.

    Plenty of Muslim women reject the headscarf, others embrace it. but if you want to deal with women’s rights, its better for the govt to concentrate on supporting women’s groups (which hardly get any help or mention) than try and legislate a utopia. That’s blinkered thinking that will only satisfy your kind, who care more about superficial changes than deep grassroots change.

  • 58. Siddharth  |  October 16th, 2005 at 4:11 pm

    Irshad Manji would agree with me, rather than you, on this one, and so would Ayan Hirsi Ali. But what do they know?

    Almost all the fiercely liberated Muslim I know and speak to don’t agree with Irshad Manji and Ayan Hirsi Ali at all actually. These people are simply well publicised individuals with opinions that are their own. Their right to be regarded as self-appointed voices that universally represent Muslim issues is as valid as Sir Iqbal Sacranie’s.

  • 59. Old Pickler  |  October 16th, 2005 at 4:19 pm

    And pray, tell us, how all British citizens should act?

    There are ways that British citizens should not act. Some of these rules contradict those of the immigrants’ country of origin, or that of their parents. This is true, whatever race the person is. Examples include polygamy, sati, caste system, stoning, and I would argue the burkha. It is not ‘condescending’ of me to say that these things are unacceptable.

    You can’t glorify two women who’ve been built up by the media precisely because they have rebelled, to change the system

    Indeed I can. And if these women are not ‘glorified’, the system will never change.

    Perhaps we should instead glorify ‘community leaders’ as more representative? I think your views on community leaders are not dissimilar to mine.

    It’s a bit like me taking the head of Christian Voice to say he has the right idea on how Christianity should develop.

    It is nothing like that. Christian Voice is exceptionally reactionary. These two women are exceptionally progressive.

    Nobody is suggesting that the government should ‘legislate a utopia’, merely that it should ban an extremely oppressive, sinister and unhealthy item of ‘clothing’.

    .

  • 60. Don  |  October 16th, 2005 at 5:03 pm

    Ayan Hirsi Ali is not self-appointed, she is an elected representative of the Dutch lower house. I don’t think she claims to universally represent Muslim issues. Well publicised? Only because of those who want her dead.

    ‘its better for the govt to concentrate on supporting women’s groups ‘

    Absolutely.

  • 61. Siddharth  |  October 16th, 2005 at 5:35 pm

    Only because of those who want her dead.

    My God, I think we’ve stumbled on a foolproof way of getting stupid and venal policies implemented. Just push the idea that these policies must be good because the whoever wants them implemented is “wanted dead”.

  • 62. Don  |  October 16th, 2005 at 5:49 pm

    I’m going to have to ask for clarification here, as I don’t get your point.

  • 63. Kulvinder  |  October 16th, 2005 at 6:21 pm

    I was tempted to get involved in this further, but it would serve little purpose. The use of words such as ‘tolerance’ ‘culture’ and the like in some of the above posts are as irritating and incorrect as those who don’t understand the concept of the word ‘rights’ or for that matter ‘theory’.

    Be annoyed, be upset, be anything. Noone will try to apply those measures in this land, and if anyone did they would be stopped, because Britain is Britain.

    Incidently, for better or worse none of us are citizens.

  • 64. Old Pickler  |  October 16th, 2005 at 6:47 pm

    Banning masks could well happen here. Masks of any kind, of course. I hope so.

    Technically we are subjects not citizens. However, it makes no practical difference.

  • 65. Jai Singh  |  October 16th, 2005 at 8:49 pm

    A few quick points:

    1. One of the Sikh Gurus (Guru Amar Das ji) actually banned veiled women from entering his presence until they had removed their veils, because the Gurus viewed this as a suppressive practice.

    Here is a short description of the historical incident (http://www.sikhs.org/guru3.htm) :

    “When the Raja of Haripur came to see the Guru. Guru Amar Das insisted that he first partake a common meal in the langer, irrespective of his cast. The Raja obliged and had an audience with the Guru. But on of his queens refused to lift the veil from her face, so Guru Amar Das refused to meet her. Guru Amar Das not only preached the equality of people irrespective of their caste but he also tried to foster the idea of women’s equality. He tried to liberate women from the practices of purdah (wearing a veil) as well as preaching strongly against the practice of sati (Hindu wife burning on her husbands funeral pyre). Guru Amar Das also disapproved of a widow remaining unmarried for the rest of her life.”

    There is a verse from the Guru Granth Sahib ji which also supports this view (pp. 931):

    ‘False modesty that suppressed is ended.
    Now with veil cast off am I started on the way of devotion.’

    HOWEVER, it is worth bearing in mind that the faith does not condone interfering with practices in other religions if the customs do not hurt anyone; so if a Muslim woman (or anyone else) insists that she wants to veil herself and is not doing so under duress, she has the right to do so. Of course, according to Sikh tenets such a practice may well be misguided, hence the ban on “false modesty” at least in Sikh-related surroundings — but the Gurus didn’t go around proactively trying to ban burkhas/veils/etc EVERYWHERE. I hope you understand what I’m trying to say here.

    2. I have to strongly disagree with the proposal of cutting Muslim women’s state benefits if they continue to wear burkhas — it’s like the historical “jizya” tax that was applied to non-Muslims in later Mughal India in order to coerce them into converting to Islam.

    3. I think that the line of logic behind some of this thread’s commentators — and indeed that of the suggested ban on burkhas/hijabs — is inverted. Rather than banning these items of clothing outright, it may well be a more constructive course of action to instead legally ban any coercion of Muslim women into wearing these clothes against their will.

    Just some ideas, anyway.

  • 66. Old Pickler  |  October 16th, 2005 at 9:16 pm

    have to strongly disagree with the proposal of cutting Muslim women’s state benefits if they continue to wear burkhas — it’s like the historical “jizya” tax that was applied to non-Muslims in later Mughal India in order to coerce them into converting to Islam.

    You are not serious. The jizya tax was a tax, paid by people who were…wait for it ….working. State benefits are …wait for it…benefits paid by those who are working to those who are not working.

    Jesus!

  • 67. Mokum  |  October 16th, 2005 at 9:28 pm

    Jai, you are far too fair for the real world!

    On 1) I think you and Mevrouw Verdonk could reach an easy and amicable agreement, provided the guru’s first and most important point does come, well, first

    On 2) later Mughal India is not quite Holland 2005. Trust me on that one.

    On 3) think of the implementation and how difficult it would be! So liberals go for symbols in airports.

    Gurus, we aren’t. Practical we are. And we do have it in for false modesty, like the best of the gurus.

    Wish us luck :-)

  • 68. peter  |  October 16th, 2005 at 9:34 pm

    By killing Van Gogh and terrorising politicans whom they disagree with, Islamists in Holland have created a hostile environment that has woken up many new Verdonks and Fortuyns. Into this climate comes the burqa - garb that is ideologically (not to mention physically) ugly as well as aggressive and isolationist. Small wonder it’s not going down well in the current climate.
    It’s also interesting that the threat of withdrawing state benefits is being used, as these benefits are surely the reason why so many Islamists are in the country that they seek to antagonise. Withdraw the entitlement, and you’ll take away the (unearned) sense of entitlement. I applaud Verdonk.

  • 69. Ahmad  |  October 16th, 2005 at 11:44 pm

    “By killing Van Gogh and terrorising politicans whom they disagree with, Islamists in Holland have created a hostile environment that has woken up many new Verdonks and Fortuyns. Into this climate comes the burqa - garb that is ideologically (not to mention physically) ugly as well as aggressive and isolationist.”

    Van Gogh was killed because of intolerance, are you not expressing the same ideas of what you are accusing the Islamists? They didn’t agree with Van Gogh and you don’t agree with the Burqa. They went the next step by killing the man because of his views and his freedom of speech. Yet if a Burqa wearer is attacked by extremists, does that mean she has it coming to her because she dresses in a way which is isolationist?

    That’s just daft talk! If we live in a society were we have youth walking around with hoods up, Punk rockers and Goths wearing the most bizarre of garms, why should we have an exclusive pot shot at the Burqa wearer? To the Burqa wearer that is there Identity, just like the identity of all other cultural or subcultural groups that we accept in our societies.

  • 70. Mokum  |  October 16th, 2005 at 11:50 pm

    Yet if a Burqa wearer is attacked by extremists, does that mean she has it coming to her

    NEE. That means no. As in NO.

    Counting the Dutch government amongst the dangerous extremists wil take some doing, even in the current horrid climate.

    The hooded yoof are not the burqa story.

  • 71. Old Pickler  |  October 16th, 2005 at 11:52 pm

    Ahmad - are you quite mad?

    Banning something is the same as killing somebody?

    Get a grip man.

  • 72. Kulvinder  |  October 17th, 2005 at 12:54 am

    However, it makes no practical difference.

    Oh, but it does. You’re using the concept of a ‘Citizen’ without distinction from that of ‘citizenship’ the latter is an illdefined piece of new labour rhetoric and almost certainly what you were referring to.

    The entire govermental and judicial makeup of this country is based around us being subjects. The common law system of this land would make it near on impossible to impose the kind of hijab ban they have in France.

  • 73. Old Pickler  |  October 17th, 2005 at 12:57 am

    Tell me more. I’m interested. An American made a similar point, so I know you’re not just spouting the usual PC nonsense.

  • 74. peter  |  October 17th, 2005 at 9:13 am

    Ahmad: “Yet if a Burqa wearer is attacked by extremists, does that mean she has it coming to her because she dresses in a way which is isolationist?”

    Has a woman wearing a burqa in Holland been killed for doing so? If not, then don’t come in with this false comparison.

  • 75. Jai Singh  |  October 17th, 2005 at 11:09 am

    Mokum, thank you very much for your kind words ;)

    =>”On 3) think of the implementation and how difficult it would be! So liberals go for symbols in airports.”

    I think the implementation follows the same logic as that behind the banning of forced marriages. You are still going to have problems with regards to the women concerned possibly being blackmailed/threatened into not reporting the coercion to the police, but at least making the coercion a criminal offence would hopefully be a step in the right direction and, again like forced marriages, would enable the women to take action if they were willing/able to do so. This is of course more relevant to women who regard burkhas etc as being suppressive, not those who adopt such clothing willingly and/or are wearing it for more ego-related “false modesty” reasons. But at least you’re offering codified, official legal recourse to the women who genuinely want to be liberated from this practice.

    Old Pickler,

    =>”The jizya tax was a tax, paid by people who were…wait for it ….working. State benefits are …wait for it…benefits paid by those who are working to those who are not working.”

    I understand your logic, but with all due respect I think the reasoning is slightly flawed. Whether the woman concerned is working or not should not be relevant with regards to her basic human rights in terms of attire and religious freedom of expression (in the case of the latter, again as long as she is not hurting anyone else or this is not being forced on her). My point was that it is not morally correct for the state to financially penalise someone if they do not give up a certain part of their religious expression, certainly if the said person regards this as being non-negotiable. Of course, we are just talking about clothing in this particular instance — we’re not referring to more extreme religious practices such as sati, wife-beating, untouchability, sacrificing virgins on the altar etc etc.

    (The last one was just a hypothetical example, of course — I’m not referring to either Hinduism or Islam so don’t jump all over me).

  • 76. Old Pickler  |  October 17th, 2005 at 11:25 am

    .Whether the woman concerned is working or not should not be relevant with regards to her basic human rights in terms of attire and religious freedom of expression

    If you’re talking about a headscarf or a turban or a skull cap, fine. However, the niqab or burkha is completely different. Colleagues, customers, patients, whatever, need to be able to see someone’s face.

    If a woman insists on not showing her face, and as a result, is not accepted for a job, then she can’t expect to be supported by taxpayers. We all have to compromise in our jobs. I’d love to come to work in a dressing gown!

  • 77. Jai Singh  |  October 17th, 2005 at 11:45 am

    Old Pickler,

    =>”If a woman insists on not showing her face, and as a result, is not accepted for a job, then she can’t expect to be supported by taxpayers.”

    1. Depends on what the specific job is and where (geographically) she would be working. You can go to any number of areas with a large Asian population and find burkhad/hijabed women cheerfully working behind the counter in customer-facing jobs.

    2. Technically, strictly-practicing Muslim women are only supposed to veil themselves in front of men who are not close relatives. As far as I know, they don’t have to do so in front of women. So (for example), a female Muslim doctor would not be veiled in front of a female patient.

    3. You need to clarify your specific reasons for wanting to ban burkhas/hijabs; is it because you view it as suppressive (which I support), or because you have concerns about its practicality in certain jobs (correct in some situations, incorrect in others), or because you view it as “threatening and un-British” (an opinion I can’t possibly support) ?

  • 78. Old Pickler  |  October 17th, 2005 at 11:59 am

    All three.

    As I have made clear, however, it is not ‘hijabs’ that I want to ban, only the niqab or burkha because these cover the face.

    I don’t consider the headscarf or jilbab at all sinister, though I think that the jilbab has no place in a state school.

  • 79. Jai Singh  |  October 17th, 2005 at 12:19 pm

    =>”only the niqab or burkha because these cover the face.”

    The face wouldn’t be covered in front of other women, both Muslim and non-Muslim.

    Also, your view of this clothing as “sinister” is highly-subjective and quite possibly inappropriately paranoid. What are you afraid of ?

    (This is a genuine and polite question).

    The “Un-British” argument is also dubious — it depends on exactly what you regard as Un-British about it: The foreign origin, or the fact that women covering their faces in front of men has not historically been a British practice ?

  • 80. Old Pickler  |  October 17th, 2005 at 12:29 pm

    It is subjective if you like. Not being able to see someone’s face is very unnerving. You can’t read their expression and you don’t even know who they are. In these days of terrorist attacks, you need to be able to identiry someone on CCTV.

    The “Un-British” argument is also dubious — it depends on exactly what you regard as Un-British about it: The foreign origin, or the fact that women covering their faces in front of men has not historically been a British practice ?

    The fact that women covering their face in front of men has not historically been a British practice. Nor should it be. It is a primitive, backward form of behaviour. We should not allow it here, any more than we should allow polygamy, child marriage, FGM and all sorts of other practices that they allow in less advanced cultures.

    The British have a perfect right to determine the limits of tolerance. Britain is the most tolerant country in the world. Muslims living here really have nothing at all to complain about, but complain they certainly do.

  • 81. Jai Singh  |  October 17th, 2005 at 12:46 pm

    =>”you don’t even know who they are. ”

    This is only a problem if you’re a man, in which case you’re not really supposed to know who the woman is anyway and your interaction with her is supposed to be limited without a third-party chaperone.

    =>”In these days of terrorist attacks, you need to be able to identiry someone on CCTV.”

    Absolutely correct but this is only a problem if niqabed/burkhad woman start becoming suicide bombers here in the UK or undertake other terrorist-related activities, or if male terrorists start disguising themselves by wearing these garments.

    =>”The British have a perfect right to determine the limits of tolerance.”

    Also correct but remember that as UK-citizens, the people you’re talking about are British too. Unless you’re referring only to indigenous white Brits having a right to dictate what non-indigenous British citizens should and should not wear.

    Throughout this discussion, bear in mind that I do not support the rationale behind burkhas/niqabs either — the question is the right of the individual concerned to practice her religion in this fashion, as long as she is not deliberately hurting someone else by it (and another person’s paranoia due to “not being able to see their expression” does not count) and, more pertinently, does not try to force the wearing of such attire on anyone else, either Muslim or non-Muslim (ie. the rest of the population).

  • 82. Mokum  |  October 17th, 2005 at 12:55 pm

    Jai, you’re most welcome.

    I think the concerns you raise in #75 are already covered by Dutch social services. People suffering abuse at home can get help, lots of it. In fact, with so many offers of social assistance of all sorts, you start to feel that surely, somewhere, you must have a problem too! Big Nanny, Dutch style. This is a funny country.

    Banning burqas is more of a political signal issue. It’s risky, because if the country does make this move, it is certain to be willfully misinterpreted by idiots on every side as open season on Islam, all of it, and Muslims, all of them.

    Yet I’m not worried. My neighbourhood is packed with churches and synagogues founded centuries ago by people fleeing terrible religious persecution in other countries. The country is in a grumpy mood, no doubt about that, but its good nature abides.

    Hopefully some of you will come see for yourselves. We won’t force any herrings on you, we promise!

  • 83. Old Pickler  |  October 17th, 2005 at 1:01 pm

    This is only a problem if you’re a man, in which case you’re not really supposed to know who the woman is anyway and your interaction with her is supposed to be limited without a third-party chaperone.

    So what? Non-Muslim men may need to know who a woman is. Why should we pander to this ludicrous, primitive, backward nonsense?

    Presumably, logically, we should accept polygamy and other primitive crap.

    So these people are UK citizens too? About time they behaved like UK citizens.

  • 84. Old Pickler  |  October 17th, 2005 at 1:02 pm

    another person’s paranoia due to “not being able to see their expression” does not count)

    Yes, actually it does count.

  • 85. Jai Singh  |  October 17th, 2005 at 3:28 pm

    =>”Non-Muslim men may need to know who a woman is.”

    In what situation ?

    =>”Why should we pander to this ludicrous, primitive, backward nonsense?”

    You may not agree with it (neither do I), but you still haven’t given a concrete, watertight reason as to why you should NOT tolerate it.

    =>”Presumably, logically, we should accept polygamy and other primitive crap.”

    There is no “logic” behind your own statement. Myself and several other participants on this blog have already stated repeatedly that there is a substantial difference between wearing a niqab and other practices such as polygamy etc. The former is certainly not on the same scale as the latter. This particular line of reasoning and justification has to stop.

    =>”So these people are UK citizens too? About time they behaved like UK citizens.”

    In what way ? Please expand on what you mean by this statement.

    =>”another person’s paranoia due to “not being able to see their expression” does not count)

    Yes, actually it does count. ”

    I beg to differ. It would be a different matter if one’s concerns were based on valid reasons, eg. if the veiled individual really was intending to harm you in some way. However, if such concerns are unfounded — and indeed, if there is no current or prior basis for such a fear — then that is certainly not reasonable grounds to wish to initiate a change in the country’s legal jurisprudence system. In fact, beyond a certain point, unfounded paranoia in this manner is indicative of a clinical neurosis and indeed a psychiatric illness. In either case, one cannot externalise one’s own unfounded concerns & inappropriate reactions by asking or expecting the other person to alter some facet of their appearance or behaviour if the actual issue is internal within oneself. This applies to any situation in life.

  • 86. Old Pickler  |  October 17th, 2005 at 4:03 pm

    Nonsense. There are genuine security risks regarding identification. Muslim women have certainly aided and abetted terrorists, for example the British suicide bombers who went to Mike’s place. There is no reason why women should not be involved in suicide bombing, as in Palestine. This is the basis on which a law would be most likely to be passed. The other advantages of the burkha ban are in fact more important to me, but are more open to challenge by reactionary apologists such as many posting here.

    Personally I find the Burkha intimidating and hostile as well as primitive. However, perhaps I’m the only person in Britain to think that? I doubt it. I don’t want to have to explain to a small child, frightened by the sight of a black ghost or dalek, that that is really a person, just a person whose identity has been erased by an oppressive, reactionary ideology.

    We have a democratically elected government here. If it chooses to pass such a law against the wishes of a tiny, poorly integrated and hostile minority, tough.

    We will never agree on this one. People posting here put religious and cultural factors above women’s rights every time and fail to look into the communities in which men dominate, imagining that such a repressive garb is a free choice. Some things are and always will be unacceptable in Britain. Much of sharia law falls into this category.

    There is no logic to accepting the burkha and not accepting polygamy. Such women as wear the burkha may ‘freely’ accept their husband’s koranic right to take another wife, or to beat them for disobedience. To interfere with one and not the other is illogical.

  • 87. Al-Hack  |  October 17th, 2005 at 4:12 pm

    Just because you find it offensive doesn’t mean we have to bow down to your will Old Pickler.As British citizens, others have rights too. Who is to say your rights triumph over theirs?

  • 88. Old Pickler  |  October 17th, 2005 at 4:28 pm

    Then we should put it to the vote, perhaps on a local basis.

    I bet they’d get banned. Why should the rights of a tiny, poorly integrated minority take precedence over the rights of the majority?

    On the issue of a non-Muslim man being able to identify a Muslim woman, there are any number of ordinary situations, in banks, shops, schools (picking up a child) etc where this may be necessary.

    I know a primary school teacher who gets seriously pissed off with unidentified women coming to the school. Muslim women in that area never used to cover their faces - as I said before, unlike other religions, elements of the Muslim community are regressing rather than progressing.

  • 89. Sunny  |  October 17th, 2005 at 4:32 pm

    Except democracy isn’t generally about the majority forcing their rules down the throats of minorities. It is about rules that apply fairly and equally to everyone. I’d like to see how this gets past the legislation on freedom of expression of religion.

  • 90. Old Pickler  |  October 17th, 2005 at 6:18 pm

    Except face covering isn’t in the religion. It is purely and simply a form of oppression or a way of putting two fingers up at the West.

  • 91. Jai Singh  |  October 17th, 2005 at 6:53 pm

    The interesting — and perhaps ironic — thing is that there is actually a significant precedent for this situation. India has hundreds of millions of Muslims within its borders, and there have been internal tensions with the majority population that have spilled over into massacres and riots at various intervals. We also all know about the situation in Kashmir in recent decades.

    Yet, as far as I know, nobody over there has ever realistically suggested actually banning female Muslim Indian citizens from wearing niqabs etc.

    Something for everyone to ponder, perhaps.

  • 92. Jai Singh  |  October 17th, 2005 at 7:04 pm

    Mokum,

    =>”Banning burqas is more of a political signal issue. It’s risky, because if the country does make this move, it is certain to be willfully misinterpreted by idiots on every side as open season on Islam, all of it, and Muslims, all of them.”

    I agree completely. I’ve said a number of times on Sepia Mutiny (my usual neighbourhood) that the fundies are making a huge mistake with their reactionary and trouble-stirring actions — especially the anti-Western stance that some of them have taken — because, instead of just keeping their heads down and living their lives quietly like the rest of us, they’re going to precipitate a retaliatory response from everyone else. Most of the majority population in the UK were generally happy to maintain a “live & let live” attitude until the rise in fundamentalism in recent years (and especially until 9/11 and 7/7) — the actions of the extremists are potentially suicidal, because both well-meaning and malicious groups (those with an axe to grind) will end up metaphorically tearing Islamic scriptures, tenets, and history to pieces; the former group if provoked enough, the latter if given a sufficient excuse. A large number of people will be motivated by revenge, of course.

    As I’ve also said on SM, the local British (or whatever European country one happens to reside in) Muslim religious authorities, and the immigrant (and immigrant-descended, ie. 2nd/3rd generation) Muslim population as a whole needs to deal with the problem of the extremists internally and effectively, otherwise other people will try to solve the problem for them.

    The burkha/niqab issue is one example of this.

  • 93. Jai Singh  |  October 17th, 2005 at 9:07 pm

    Okay, let me wrap up my final thoughts on the topic.

    I would support a ban on burkhas/niqabs on humanitarian grounds, due to the aforementioned reason of these garments being a way to suppress women. As detailed in my first post, there is actually a precedent for this, during at least the first 200 years of Sikh history, if not even longer.

    However, I do not agree with the idea of banning such attire on the grounds of them “looking sinister/threatening”, “un-British”, or any of the other non-humanitarian reasons which have been listed by some other participants on this thread.

    So the controversial point isn’t necessarily banning these garments per se but one’s specific reasons for wishing to do so.

  • 94. Mokum  |  October 17th, 2005 at 9:48 pm

    a “live & let live” attitude until the rise in fundamentalism in recent years

    I miss those l&l times in the UK, having lived them well before going Dutch.

    Then again, one flip side of Dutch tolerance and its British cousins can be ignorance. When you start to dig, under pressure, in terrain you don’t know, all sorts of surprises are unearthed, and the ground you thought was solid under your feet starts to shake {or flood, if you’re Dutch}. So you lash out.

    I think that’s a fair approximation of a lot of feelings everywhere since 9/11 and 7/7.

    What’s worse, here on the Continent, we are have our own “identity politics” mess. The sordid history is known. But sixty years of identity purdah are enough. People are opening up again, thinking and speaking for themselves, shedding taboos. Sometimes, it’s ugly.

    Combine with radical Islamism for combustion…

    Oldham Online is the way. Blogs are the best ASBOs ever.

    Good luck to you Jai :-)

  • 95. Old Pickler  |  October 17th, 2005 at 11:11 pm

    I would support a ban on burkhas/niqabs on humanitarian grounds, due to the aforementioned reason of these garments being a way to suppress women. ……However, I do not agree with the idea of banning such attire on the grounds of them “looking sinister/threatening”, “un-British”, or any of the other non-humanitarian reasons which have been listed by some other participants on this thread.

    The thing is, you cannot separate the two. Oppression of women makes me angry. Very angry. As angry as racism makes you. (Actually real racism makes me angry too, but that’s another issue.)

    Here in the UK women have gained rights. Rights to be treated as equals. Rights to be seen and heard. Rights not to be ashamed. Even when women had far fewer rights, here in the UK we could at least show our faces. I do not like to see those rights undermined by a philospophy/ religion/ culture that has yet to catch up.

    The burkha is oppressive to women. And it is un-British. And to me, as a woman, profoundly offensive.

  • 96. Jai Singh  |  October 18th, 2005 at 12:01 pm

    Old Pickler,

    You are correct and morally right in the arguments stated in your last post, except for the part about such matters being “Un-British”. The emphasis should be on universal human rights, not concepts which can be misconstrued as excessively nationalistic (and are open to both abuse and a wide range of definitions).

    Focus your rationale on fundamental human rights for women irrespective of their geographical location, nationality, or ethnic/religious affilication, and you’ll be on more stable ground.

    Mokum,

    I miss those “live and let live” times too, along with the whole (reasonably) cosy “South Asian unity” mindset. Terrible how things change.

    Very best of luck to you too.

  • 97. Old Pickler  |  October 18th, 2005 at 12:46 pm

    Jai Singh - of course these are universal human rights and of course they should be applied regardless of religion or ethnic origin. Ideally they would apply all over the world. In practice, however, women’s equality is the sole preserve of Western countries, for example the UK, the US, Holland etc, though even these countries are not perfect.

    Outside the West, particularly in the Middle East and Africa, particularly, though by no means exclusively, in Islamic countries, the situation of women is abominable. It is absolutely not racist to say this. I would like for these people the same equality that I enjoy as a British woman. Unfortunately a number of aspects of their culture, and their religion, prevent them from enjoying these rights. When people from these places come to live in Britain, they should leave the more oppressive aspects of their culture behind them.

  • 98. Jai Singh  |  October 18th, 2005 at 3:29 pm

    Old Pickler,

    =>”In practice, however, women’s equality is the sole preserve of Western countries, for example the UK, the US, Holland etc, though even these countries are not perfect.”

    I understand what you’re saying (although I believe things are changing in certain quarters back in India these days, along with some other parts of the non-Western world), but in order to avoid unnecessary controversy and especially to avoid nit-picking counterarguments that would undermine your position, it would still be better to leave the phrase “un-British” completely out of the equation.

    =>”Outside the West, particularly in the Middle East and Africa, particularly, though by no means exclusively, in Islamic countries, the situation of women is abominable. It is absolutely not racist to say this.”

    Correct and also correct that it’s not a racist statement (although I’m sure that you would acknowledge that there are individuals & groups out there — not yourself, of course — who WOULD have a racist agenda/mindset behind such opinions). You are just stating a categorical fact, and I agree with your statement. Anyone looking at the situation objectively would also support this, unless they have a misguided or misogynistic attitude themselves.

    =>”Unfortunately a number of aspects of their culture, and their religion, prevent them from enjoying these rights.”

    True but the problem is that some of the people concerned (not all, by any means) regard these aspects of their religion and culture as being non-negotiable and superceding both the culture of the ‘foreign’ country they reside in (or have immigrated to, in the case of 1st-generation people) and, more worryingly, possibly the rights accorded to EVERYONE by the local legal system too. Hence problems such as forced marriages, honour-killings, etc etc, and of course some women being coerced into covering themselves up more than they would otherwise normally do (niqabs, burkhas and so on).

    =>”When people from these places come to live in Britain, they should leave the more oppressive aspects of their culture behind them.”

    Yes but again, the problem is that a) these aspects may be viewed as non-negotiable, and b) the perpetrator and/or the recipient may not necessarily view these aspects as being “oppressive”, even if they obviously are from the perspective of the majority population and indeed anyone from a different background looking at the situation objectively. I personally think that, if this is the case and there is a stubborn unwillingness to compromise, it would be a more practical course of action — and certainly better common sense — to migrate to a country where there is not such a clash with one’s own customs, values etc, especially if the original migration by the 1st-Generation was purely or predominantly for financial reasons. There are other parts of the world outside the West where one can have a very good standard of living but where the local customs are still comparatively conservative. People are often quite financially desperate, and anyone with a sense of decenty, compassion, and empathy can understand how difficult and indeed traumatic it can be for such individuals to migrate thousands of miles around the world, potentially to countries alien in culture and possibly quite hostile; however, to some extent it does display a lack of proper long-term strategic thinking to migrate to a country where you may fundamentally disagree with some of its basic values and customs.

    The situation is complicated for 2nd-generation people who were actually born here, of course, and to some extent I can personally understand the culture-clash issues and confusion that often arises (as the son of Indian immigrants myself); however, nobody is forcing anyone to stay here, and if one percieves there to be too much of a clash with local customs and morals — especially if it turns into an inability to function effectively within the society as a whole — then there are plenty of other countries one can migrate to.

    We are talking about more serious and extreme practices, of course, and not matters such as Sikhs wearing turbans etc which I believe to be a perfectly acceptable human right and not one which hurts anyone else (or the wearer).

  • 99. Old Pickler  |  October 18th, 2005 at 3:36 pm

    Thank you for such a balanced explanation, which has helped clarify my own thoughts.

  • 100. Jai Singh  |  October 18th, 2005 at 3:38 pm

    I should quickly add that I absolutely don’t believe in concepts such as “repatriation” — it’s occurred to me that some of my statements above could be abused by more unscrupulous individuals/groups to support such a view.

    I am simply saying that a) if you’re going to migrate to a foreign country [especially one in the West, as the whole world knows about its more liberal customs, especially in relation to women] then you should be aware beforehand of exactly what you’re letting yourself in for, and b) one should also not have unrealistic expectations of one’s female relatives/spouses or indeed people in general from one’s own community necessarily sticking to customs from one’s original country and religion if they view those beliefs and practices as being oppressive and/or unfair. It’s just a matter of being realistic about these things.

  • 101. lost  |  October 18th, 2005 at 8:08 pm

    It always amazes me that we are very loud to speak of culture and customs here in the west. But, ignore what is happening in your country of origin. Deviating from the subject of Burka, I like to take your attention to the private educational system in India, namely, the convent schools still run by nuns. There, whether you are Hindu or a Muslim you will abide by their dress code, Christian disciplines or don’t enrol there. It is as simple as that. As the educational standard is so high religious sentiments are put aside. So, the moral of the story is, we are very much stricken by our desires rather than moral or ethical sentiments.

    Religion, today, is becoming more & more problematic, due to the fact that we are confused about ethics & morality as prescribed by religious dogma’s over our materialistic & capitalist desires.

    We want every piece of cake and no compromise.

    I agree with Jay.

  • 102. Ahmad  |  October 18th, 2005 at 8:29 pm

    Maybe my point was extreme, but intolerance is intolerance and double standards is double standards.

    Nobody has been killed (not that i’m aware of) because of wearing a Burqa but women have been attacked for wearing Burqa’s and Hijaabs.

    So are you telling me that is tolerance?

  • 103. Don  |  October 18th, 2005 at 9:09 pm

    I too agree with Jay and I’m glad that we seem to have arrived at a civilized and humane conclusion.

    So I almost feel like apologising for throwing this into the mix;

    http://www.expatica.com/source/site_article.asp?subchannel_id=1&story_id=24539&name=Teacher+and+Muslim+school+clash+over+headscarf

    via B&W.

  • 104. Old Pickler  |  October 18th, 2005 at 10:42 pm

    Jai Singh - I’d like to add, too, that the idea of repatriation is abhorrent to me, and it is a diversion from the argument to say that all those who are in favour of assimilation, or even those who believe that the host culture is superior, are in favour of this measure.

    Accusations of racism are too freely thrown around and shut down an important debate about how different cultures are to mix and co-exist.

    Regarding your link, Don, strangely enough, I think that if the woman has chosen to teach in a Muslim school and that is the ‘uniform’ for Muslim teachers, then she should accept it or teach in a different school. Significantly, the headscarf is not required for non-Muslim women teaching in the same school. More significantly, the headscarf is not the same as the burkha.

  • 105. Mokum  |  October 18th, 2005 at 10:48 pm

    O no! Don, not a whole new circle in a thread!

    “If Miss Haddad was to declare she is not a Muslim then she could, in principle, could come and work with us,” a member of the school board said.

    On traditional grounds, and not knowing all the ins and outs of this story, the school has an Islamic point.

    But in my view it is overly harsh and others too disagree:

    Tunisian-born Haddad argued before the commission that she is not accustomed to wearing a headscarf in public. She said she had not encountered any difficulty when she completed an internship at an Islamic school in Rotterdam.

    In another “which way up is my culture” episode, interpreted this time by Muslims, gritty and industrial Rotterdam is more progressive then Amsterdam, the liberal haven…

    Good Arabic teachers are a godsend to our times. If Samira Haddad is one of them, there is a college in Amsterdam which should look up itjihad.

  • 106. Don  |  October 18th, 2005 at 11:25 pm

    Sorry, Jai, not Jay.

  • 107. Jai Singh  |  October 19th, 2005 at 9:03 pm

    Don, no problem about accidentally mispelling my name — I know that there’s another “Jay Singh” who regularly posts on this blog, but it’s not me ;)

  • 108. G. Popov  |  November 30th, 2005 at 8:05 pm

    Well, Verdonk and Ayan Hirsi Ali will go away. The Liberals are already desperately trying to find them face-saving exits from politics. Their whole attitude towards islam is untenable.

    I will be much obliged if you could point to sources where I can find biographical data on Hirsi Ali before 2002. Where did she live? Where did she go to school? Where are her father and mother? Was she sold or promissed to marry somebody in Canada? How did she get the Canadian visa? Where If she lied to get the visa - is it possible that she may just as well lie now.

Leave a Comment

Required

Required, hidden

Some HTML allowed:
<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>

Trackback this post  |  Subscribe to the comments via RSS Feed


Pickled Politics


     More info

Latest comments

Categories

Links

Posts by Month




Support World AIDS Day