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  • Technorati: graph / links

    Belgium’s Parliament Makes Wearing A Niqaab or Burqah A Criminal Offence


    by guest
    1st May, 2010 at 10:53 am    

    This is a cross-post from eGov monitor

    In the name of protecting women’s rights, the Beligan lower House of Parliament yesterday banned the wearing of the Burqah or the Islamic veil a criminal offence punishable by prison sentence. The vote was carried without any opposition to the motion althougjh there were two abstentions.

    The bill would require passage through the Senate to become officially the law, and it is expected so sail through the upper house in a month or so, making Belgium the first European country to ban the Burqah.

    Human rights campaigners and others have criticised the move as draconian and argued this law violates human rights and freedom of expression and others have highlighted this as an extreme measure associated with fundamentalists such as the Taliban.

    Isabelle Praille, vice-president of the Executive of Belgian Muslims told Euro news:

    Some Taliban say a woman without a burqa is a woman too many. When I hear our politicians here say the same it’s like two kinds of rival extremes against women and we have to condemn it.

    This is a dangerous precedent says Amnesty International especially since France is also contemplating a ban on wearing veils in public.

    Western liberal democracies are supposed to defend and protect an individual’s freedom of religion and expression yet this bill seems to curtail those rights.


                  Post to del.icio.us


    Filed in: 'Honour'-based violence,Civil liberties






    171 Comments below   |  

    Reactions: Twitter, blogs
    1. sunny hundal

      Blog post:: Belgium's Parliament Makes Wearing A Niqaab or Burqah A Criminal Offence http://bit.ly/aKKpNj


    2. Jane Bradley

      RT @sunny_hundal: Blog post:: Belgium's Parliament Makes Wearing A Niqaab or Burqah A Criminal Offence http://bit.ly/aKKpNj


    3. Alom Shaha

      RT @sunny_hundal: Blog post:: Belgium's Parliament Makes Wearing A Niqaab or Burqah A Criminal Offence http://bit.ly/aKKpNj


    4. Chris Paul

      RT @sunny_hundal: Blog post:: Belgium's Parliament Makes Wearing A Niqaab or Burqah A Criminal Offence http://bit.ly/aKKpNj


    5. Jacquelynn Potter

      What the…? FFS! RT@sunny_hundal Blog post:: Belgium's Parliament Makes Wearing A Niqaab or Burqah A Criminal Offence http://bit.ly/aKKpNj


    6. Nadia

      Disappointing news: RT@ sunny_hundal Blog: Belgium's Parliament Makes Wearing A Niqaab or Burqah A Criminal Offence http://bit.ly/aKKpNj


    7. Nadia

      Disappointing news: RT@sunny_hundal Blog: Belgium's Parliament Makes Wearing A Niqaab or Burqah A Criminal Offence http://bit.ly/aKKpNj


    8. Taz

      RT @sunny_hundal: Blog post:: Belgium's Parliament Makes Wearing A Niqaab or Burqah A Criminal Offence http://bit.ly/aKKpNj


    9. Sonia Ali

      RT @pickledpolitics Pickled Politics » Belgium’s Parliament Makes Wearing A Niqaab or Burqah A Cri.. http://bit.ly/aw20XA




    1. soru — on 1st May, 2010 at 11:20 am  

      Surely Belgium can be taken to the ECHR over this?

    2. Boudicca — on 1st May, 2010 at 11:32 am  

      Good. I hope Britain follows suit. The burka and niqab are not required for religious reasons, it is cultural.

      European culture should prevail in Europe. It is NOT part of our culture for people (male or female) to walk around completely disguised and unidentifiable.

      With Muslim terrorists attacking public areas such as underground trains, it is also a security issue.

      Good for Belgium.

    3. fatima.ahtesham — on 1st May, 2010 at 12:18 pm  

      Burka and niqab are required for religious for Muslim women so its a right for a Muslim women

    4. zohra — on 1st May, 2010 at 12:43 pm  

      Hi Boudicca

      “European culture should prevail in Europe.”

      Thank goodness the women wearing the niqab in Europe are European (by citizenship or habitation) in that case!

    5. Sarah AB — on 1st May, 2010 at 1:42 pm  

      @Boudicca - if this was the real problem then all sorts of other things which make one difficult to identify should be banned too, such as balaclavas. If the UK shopping centres which banned hoodies also banned burqas then that would be consistent at least. But this Belgian law is only targeted at one group of people who conceal their faces. A woman was stopped for driving while wearing a niqab in Belgium recently - KB Player blogged about this - not because it was illegal per se but because it might interfere with her driving - again, it seemed clear that she was being picked on for being Muslim - or one sort of Muslim - as I’m sure other things, like smoking, chatting, maybe even wearing lots of bangles (I don’t drive so maybe this is wrong!) could be just as detrimental to one’s ability to drive well.

    6. boyo — on 1st May, 2010 at 1:58 pm  

      “Western liberal democracies are supposed to defend and protect an individual’s freedom of religion and expression yet this bill seems to curtail those rights.”

      Do you actually understand what that means?

      Western liberal democracies embody specific values, just as all other societies do - it is fundamentally racist and imperialist for the “Left” to presume, say, that Islamic or Buddhist societies possess values and we do not. Of course we do.

      Wether you like it (or realise it) or not, Western societies went through a specific process, beginning with Greece, passing through Rome, loitering at Christianity and being transformed by the Enlightenment. As a result, they embody certain characteristics and define certain “rights” in their own peculiar way. One of these is equality for women.

      Equality does not mean the “choice” for women to cover their faces (even if they are choosing to, and of course many do not have said choice) because in itself it symbolises a blotting-out, a literal de-facing, and certainly a relegation of womanhood. It is a symbolic act of violence against all women, which may indeed be acceptable in certain societies, but not our own.

      I applaud the Belgian ban as an act in defence of all women. The fact that some on the Left are incapable of doing so is perfectly consistent with their support for Islamism in general and all things anti-Western - it is not in defence of women, but rather sacrificing them on the alter of their own narcissistic oppositionalism.

    7. Ravi.Nk — on 1st May, 2010 at 2:26 pm  

      Western liberal democracies are supposed to defend and protect an individual’s freedom of religion and expression yet this bill seems to curtail those rights.

      Yet, we are not allowed to do a whole number of things, for instance exposing ourselves in public - which seems to be the opposite extreme of completely covering up.

      Covering your face - unlike any other part of your body - is a perverse practice to make people invisible, and can only be found in the most backward of cultures, where the practice is compulsory. The worst part, in my view, is enforcing this practice on 2nd gen immigrants who are born and raised in Europe.

      Having said that, I do not think that banning is the right thing to do, because it signals that the government is targeting one community. Furthermore, the side-effect of this law is that women might not be allowed to get out of the house.

    8. KB Player — on 1st May, 2010 at 2:53 pm  

      It’s the same thing as the Swiss referendum to ban minarets. There might be good reasons to oppose planning permission for a minaret in your area on grounds of aesthetics, out of keeping with the look of the place and so on, but a ban makes one, and one only religious group feel under attack. So it is with banning the burqa.

      The “handy disguise for bank robbers/muggers/ suicide bombers” shtick is a scam. When I’ve seen a woman in a burqa, I’ve thought “poor thing, how hot, how uncomfortable, and how horrible if your menfolk insist on this” but I don’t think “Watch out, a mugger in disguise.” I’d have far more unease passing a gang of loutish teenagers.

      I do wonder about the women who won’t go out without wearing one. It must be like going out dressed as a Goth in some parts, where you get hostile attention, even leading to violence. If you wanted to pass around inconspicuously you would be better off in ordinary Western clothes.

    9. Trofim — on 1st May, 2010 at 3:04 pm  

      Ravi.Nk @ 7:

      “Yet, we are not allowed to do a whole number of things, for instance exposing ourselves in public – which seems to be the opposite extreme of completely covering up”.

      A very pertinent remark. Those who propound the view that “anyone should be free to wear what they like” are using a model of the human being in which all parts of the externally visible body have equal “symbolic significance” and logical possibilities in this case extend from being completely covered to completely naked. Yet proponents of the “wear as little or as much as you want” view, almost invariably stop at revealing the genitalia (and breasts). This is because parts of the body are NOT symbolically equal. The genitalia have a particular significance which leads to almost all societies discouraging their open display. The face also has a particular symbolic significance, namely that it is essentially an organ of emotional expression, and thus, covering it makes most people uncomfortable. That said, I hold the view that the choice of covering it should be abrogated only in a public place for reasons of security, or where the owner of a private space is free to stipulate it for their own reasons. This ban is too categorical and heavy handed.

    10. halima — on 1st May, 2010 at 3:49 pm  

      “If you wanted to pass around inconspicuously you would be better off in ordinary Western clothes.”

      I guess it depends on how much you want to live your life according to your principles - I am sure Rosa Parks one day in the American South just got tired and didn’t want to just stand up and let white people take seats on buses - unquestioned, I am sure lots of people stared at Rosa Parks for what she did. Trouble is back then, people probably told Rosa Parks and her likes, well, look for an easy life, just don’t ask to be treated as an equal.

      Isn’t it fantastical to see how short sighted we all can be.

    11. Kulvinder — on 1st May, 2010 at 4:08 pm  

      Surely Belgium can be taken to the ECHR over this?

      Almost certainly, but the politicians concerned already know that, they can make a bullshit populist policy in the knowledge that at some point the CoE will overturn it; they can at once excuse themselves any responsibility and blame the ECHR for ‘interference’

    12. Trofim — on 1st May, 2010 at 4:23 pm  

      halima @ 10:

      “I guess it depends on how much you want to live your life according to your principles”

      Like this bloke:

      http://www.metro.co.uk/weird/812372-naked-rambler-gets-longest-jail-sentence-yet

    13. KB Player — on 1st May, 2010 at 4:46 pm  

      halima - the principle behind Rosa Parks’s action was racial equality. What’s the “principle” behind a woman wearing a burqa? Adherence to a patriarchal religion that regards a woman as male property?

    14. soru — on 1st May, 2010 at 4:48 pm  

      @11: that makes sense. That does seem to be pretty much the inevitable reaction to a strong judiciary - look at how the US used to be a pretty liberal nation.

      Institutionally-powerful political actors with no ability to make their cases publicly pretty much always get outmanoeuvred in that kind of way.

      At the end of the day, if a sufficiently large majority of people want to vote for some bullshit illiberal law, like an Iranian-style public dress code, they should probably be left to do it. Then they can find out for themselves just what a bad idea it is, rather than someone having to play the adult and tell them ‘no’.

    15. Don — on 1st May, 2010 at 5:03 pm  

      I agree with Ravi and Trofim. I can’t think of a positive aspect of full-face covering, but this kind of law is essentially punitive and will probably make life more difficult for women who wear it out of duress.

    16. boyo — on 1st May, 2010 at 5:04 pm  

      @10 Yes, Rosa standing up for her equality with white people was precisely comprable to someone championing their right to be inferior.

      How twisted we have become.

    17. boyo — on 1st May, 2010 at 5:07 pm  

      As it happens I’m not bothered by minarets, unless they happened to interfere with my TV signal. This however is about human rights - yes, the law is a blunt instrument but if that’s what it takes for a society to defend those least able to defend themselves (or even understand what is in their interest, like some victims of abuse) then so be it.

    18. Ravi Naik — on 1st May, 2010 at 5:27 pm  

      On a related note, and if you have 20 minutes to spare, watch this talk given by Sam Harris. It is one of many interesting talks organized by TED.

      Sam Harris argues that science will be able to provide answers to the questions of morality and what constitutes happiness and good life. And he talks about the Burqah as well.

    19. Kisan — on 1st May, 2010 at 5:40 pm  

      Yeah yeah yeah…

      Pickled Politics is all for rights of women to wear niqab as that is a fundamental human right and all.
      I mean why should Muslim women have to show their faces in public and anyway its only a miniscule minority etc etc (where stay in India it happens to be a majority but anyhow).

      Meanwhile the race baiting Sunny keeps mum about poor women in Islamic paradises who have no choice about covering up as that doesn’t fit the race baiting and whinging agenda.

    20. Don — on 1st May, 2010 at 6:31 pm  

      Kisan,

      Have you actually been following these discussions?

      Boyo,

      Too blunt an instrument to do any good. Those who wear the face-covering unwillingly will not be liberated by this law, they just will be even more confined to the home. Those who wear it willingly will (rightly) see themselves as singled out as undesirables.

      There are, as has been pointed out, times and places when you need to show your face and that’s fair enough. But where there is no practical and over-riding reason to insist on someone showing their face (and ‘It makes me feel uncomfortable’ is not an over-riding reason)then don’t enforce a dress code by law.

      I quite agree that it symbolises a blotting-out, a literal de-facing but criminalising the women is a regressive step. A prison sentence? Do you really think that you can help women become more free by locking them up until they understand your definition of freedom?

      It is a symptom of something seriously wrong in the relationship between the individual and the society in which they should be living and inter-acting. Aggressive treatment of a symptom leaves the root cause unaddressed and may well exacerbate it.

      Having said that, we need systems which will support anybody (more usually women and youngsters) who are pressured into adhering to religious or cultural constraints against their inclinations. At the moment such systems are thin on the ground and pretty ad hoc. It is a long and difficult process which draconian popularist legislation does not support.

    21. boyo — on 1st May, 2010 at 7:07 pm  

      “Those who wear it willingly will (rightly) see themselves as singled out as undesirables.”

      And your point is?

      If someone wandered around with a sign saying DEATH TO MUSLIMS around their neck, they would rightfully be arrested and convicted. The full face veil is an assault upon women and should be treated as such.

    22. KB Player — on 1st May, 2010 at 7:51 pm  

      Too blunt an instrument to do any good. Those who wear the face-covering unwillingly will not be liberated by this law, they just will be even more confined to the home. Those who wear it willingly will (rightly) see themselves as singled out as undesirables.

      Yeah, and it wouldn’t be an edifying sight for women to be arrested for their dress. I don’t think it’s reasonable to ask the cops to do this - I bet they’d hate it.

      I’d take the J S Mill line that if it doesn’t harm other people, leave them to it, like you’d leave a Goth or a 70s punk rocker to dress as they please. You can’t know whether a woman is dressed like that at the behest of husband/ father/imam or through her own interpretation of her own ideology. It’s only a tiny minority who dress like that anyway.

      The full face veil is an assault upon women and should be treated as such.

      I can’t say I feel “assaulted” by it as I would, say, by people wearing SS uniforms. Annoyed and pissed off, yes.

    23. Shatterface — on 1st May, 2010 at 8:12 pm  

      The fact you might find a *voluntary* practice abhorent is no reason to ban it. Those who wish to subdugate *themselves* or cut *themselves* off from wider society have every right to do so.

      Anyone found to have coerced conformity should, of course, be prosecuted.

    24. Sarah AB — on 1st May, 2010 at 8:31 pm  

      @boyo = Like many others here I don’t care at all for the full face veil. But I don’t think it’s remotely comparable to someone wearing a sign saying ‘Death to all Muslims’. I’m sure that it is worn for a range of reasons by a range of very different people and I dare say, being human, some of them rather like being somewhat provocative or singular, but it’s hardly an assualt or a threat.

    25. Niels Christensen — on 1st May, 2010 at 10:19 pm  

      The ban of the niqab/burkha is not a ban on muslims as such, but a measure to make life difficult for a small annoying religious subculture.
      And the salafist views hiding behind many of the fully veiled women are truly disgusting. They enforce their religion and political views in the public sphere in countries where neutrality is a tradition. What if KKK people wandered around in the streets in full ‘uniform’ ?.

    26. Wibble — on 1st May, 2010 at 10:34 pm  

      “They enforce their religion and political views in the public sphere in countries where neutrality is a tradition.”

      Yeah, ‘cos Mark Steyn and Mel Phillips told you so…

    27. KB Player — on 1st May, 2010 at 10:54 pm  

      What if KKK people wandered around in the streets in full ‘uniform’ ?.

      Everyone would know they were racist shits and ethnic minorities would feel afraid, with reason. KKK have a specific history of attacking and intimidating black people. As Sarah says, the full face-covering is worn by different people for different reasons. I don’t think it’s reasonable to feel intimidated by it. Women dressed like that don’t have a history of terrorising a minority.

    28. KJB — on 1st May, 2010 at 11:09 pm  

      It is a symptom of something seriously wrong in the relationship between the individual and the society in which they should be living and inter-acting. Aggressive treatment of a symptom leaves the root cause unaddressed and may well exacerbate it.

      Having said that, we need systems which will support anybody (more usually women and youngsters) who are pressured into adhering to religious or cultural constraints against their inclinations. At the moment such systems are thin on the ground and pretty ad hoc. It is a long and difficult process which draconian popularist legislation does not support.

      Excellently put. I really wonder what pushes those who are wearing it freely to make that choice, because those women are never really heard. I mean, they can’t be unaware of the fact that it’s a very symbolic act - so why do they choose to do so? Furthermore, who are they? There seems to be a frequent and unspoken assumption that all the women wearing it are non-British and/or recent immigrants - surely this can’t be the case. I wonder if it ties into the general phenomenon of some 2nd-gen Muslim youth being more conservative than their parents - another issue which doesn’t really seem to get addressed properly.

    29. KB Player — on 1st May, 2010 at 11:22 pm  

      I think some younger women who wear it are the 2nd generation of politicised Muslims. There are also those young women who are members of Islamic university societies which practice segregation. They come in by separate entrances and if they have a question or comment have a male speaking for them. Again, that makes my feminist blood boil, but I can’t see any state interference doing any good - they choose to do it. I imagine it’s a phase for some, as with many student radicals, and dropped when they have to find a job.

    30. Lisa — on 2nd May, 2010 at 12:24 am  

      “I don’t think it’s reasonable to feel intimidated by it”

      Why not? Well, I guess you are not a woman. If Islam had its way all women would be wearing it whether they like it or not.

      Never forget that the very word Islam means submit.

      As a woman I am disgusted by its misogyny, as a European I don’t want it in my space and as a human being I am repulsed by its teachings and non-stop acts of violence.

    31. lisa — on 2nd May, 2010 at 12:26 am  

      OK I guessed wrong, you are a woman, so think what will happen to your boiling blood if Islam ever gets in a position to dominate us, and think about how that could happened being as Muslims are the fastest growing group in the UK – 10 times faster then all others.

    32. KB Player — on 2nd May, 2010 at 12:44 am  

      So lisa - is it just the burqa you want banned or do you want the Muslim religion banned?

    33. halima — on 2nd May, 2010 at 2:31 am  

      Amnesty must be wrong on this one?

    34. halima — on 2nd May, 2010 at 2:37 am  

      “Fascists reject and resist autonomy of cultural or ethnic groups who are not considered part of the fascists’ nation and who refuse to assimilate or are unable to be assimilated.[21] They consider attempts to create such autonomy as an affront and threat to the nation.”

      I found this description under Wiki definition of fascism.

    35. lisa — on 2nd May, 2010 at 5:44 am  

      Halima, thanks for that perfect definition of every Islamic state on this planet.

      Let’s just make sure that this medieval superstition doesn’t turn ever Europe the same way.

    36. Naadir Jeewa — on 2nd May, 2010 at 6:11 am  

      A short post by Joshua Keating points out the Belgians curious sense of priorities:

      Belgium’s government is barely functional right now, hampered by a decades long power struggle between Flemish and Wallonian politicians. But the two sides do seem to be able to agree on this…

      Muslims are about 3 percent of the Belgian population so clearly this was a much more pressing issue than the country’s rising unemployment and ballooning national debt.

      He earlier called the Belgian power struggle the “world’s most boring interethnic feud,” so perhaps they just want to spice things up a little, via a third party.

    37. boyo — on 2nd May, 2010 at 8:23 am  

      Amnesty have already made their position clear on women’s rights by favouring a fascist over a feminist. Amnesty no longer exist as a human rights organisation as such.

      The Independent has balanced coverage.

      “The supposed anxiety of politicians in both Belgium and France about the burka “threat” to female dignity and Western values has its cynical side, say critics. But it also points to a Europe-wide shift in fear of Islam away from standard, right-wing race-baiting towards a more middle-class determination to defend liberal values.”

      Presumably in this context, they decided that despite their differences, Western liberal values were more important than road tolls or whatever.

      http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/belgium-passes-europes-first-ban-on-wearing-burka-in-public-1959626.html

    38. Trofim — on 2nd May, 2010 at 8:40 am  

      There’s one silver lining. As I have been reminded recently, a citizen of the EU is free to move anywhere s/he wants. Belgian niqab-wearers can simply relocate somewhere where they feel more comfortable within the EU. Problem solved!

    39. Sarah AB — on 2nd May, 2010 at 8:56 am  

      boyo - I read the article and noted that only .1% of Muslim women in Belgium wear the full veil. I suppose some of these will approve of the bill - but I expect others will feel aggrieved even though they aren’t directly affected. I completely understand why people wish women wouldn’t wear such things but if they don’t reflect ‘western liberal values’ then neither does banning something which doesn’t directly harm others. I didn’t like the attitude of the people - as described in the Independent article - who complained to the policeman that they were ‘really annoyed’ by the veiled women - the policeman then told them to take them off but they wouldn’t. I would be interested in hearing more from the feminist group who supports the ban - again this was something mentioned in the article. However I suspect the ban will help least those whom it is purportedly designed to protect. That is, the students etc who wear it completely freely will either stop wearing it and get on with things or maybe keep on wearing it and suffer (enjoy?) the consequences. Meanwhile the women who really are being compelled to wear it or have most seriously internalised the feeling they should wear it will stay at home.

    40. KB Player — on 2nd May, 2010 at 2:33 pm  

      I read the article too and thought what a lot of small-town small-mindedness from those people who wanted someone to do something about women going about dressed in veils. The women weren’t doing any harm and should have been left alone. “Western liberal values” via J S Mill & 60s tolerance say let people dress as weirdly as they choose without giving them grief. They’re not making you wear a veil, so why whinge about it?

    41. KJB — on 2nd May, 2010 at 3:04 pm  

      Amnesty have already made their position clear on women’s rights by favouring a fascist over a feminist. Amnesty no longer exist as a human rights organisation as such.

      Oh my God - grow up. One feminist does not ‘women’s rights’ make.

      Presumably in this context, they decided that despite their differences, Western liberal values were more important than road tolls or whatever.

      Now, I am as big a fan of Western liberal values as the next atheist feminist. However, bans like this do not show a defence of them (as Sarah AB observes) - they simply show fear of ‘Islamisation.’ Have we so little faith in our values? Are they that fragile that a tiny minority of face-veiled women can somehow overthrow the whole value system? And furthermore, surely a ban is only going to feed into the deluded Islamist narrative of ‘victimisation’?

      Naadir - good spot, I’d heard about that before. It looks to me like the Belgians are cynically trying to give the impression of competence over this, seeing as how it’s something that they can all unite over, before they return to business as usual…

      KB Player - Yes, that’s what I suspect, but the thing is we just don’t know. I mean, I think that women should not be attacked over this issue, but challenged. Western-born Islamists should always be challenged: why do they think they have a right to simultaneously live in a country and hate it enough to advocate violence against its citizens? Instead of obsessive focus on veil-bans, let’s see more support for the Muslims standing up against entryism in Tower Hamlets. Hell, the only coverage of that at all that I have ever seen has been in Private Eye.

    42. Kisan — on 2nd May, 2010 at 3:28 pm  

      Where I live in Bangalore the ‘majority’ of Muslim women go around with a niqab on. This was not the case even 10 years ago. There has been a movement amongst Muslims to bring this about.

      Where I live in Bangalore on the border of a Muslim area there is a large swimming pool. If I want to go swimming with my wife I simply cannot. There are times for men, times for women and children but no timings where men and women can swim together.

      Where I live a woman is likely to be harassed if she walks alone in the street wearing clothing that is extremely conservative. She will be harassed by an army of sexually repressed men.

      This is Muslim culture albeit it in a Hindu/Muslim combined area.

      Living in such an environment is horrible.

    43. KB Player — on 2nd May, 2010 at 3:36 pm  

      let’s see more support for the Muslims standing up against entryism in Tower Hamlets. Hell, the only coverage of that at all that I have ever seen has been in Private Eye.

      Channel 4 did a documentary, which was abused for being “islamophobic” by the usual suspects. Harry’s Place covers these issues (ditto).

    44. KJB — on 2nd May, 2010 at 3:50 pm  

      KB Player - Yes, I know about that, that’s where I saw the local Muslims standing up against entryism. They complained about the lack of support they were receiving, from the Labour Party, but it must be said that the press isn’t exactly helping them either.

      Harry’s Place is generally Islamophobic, so I’m not going to comment on that, but neither PE’s coverage nor C4′s was, particularly. If anything, ignoring the issue is Islamophobic, as it makes out that corruption among Muslims is somehow excusable, when corruption is always something to be faced down whoever’s engaging in it. It also leaves those Muslims speaking out in the lurch - though I think maybe the reason this issue hasn’t got much press attention is because it doesn’t fit the current narrative of ‘MUSLIMS = ISLAMIST!’.

    45. Sarah AB — on 2nd May, 2010 at 4:33 pm  

      KJB - I think your views seem very much in line with those expressed in the posts (and at least some of the comments) on HP. I don’t think you’d find the coverage of this affair on HP any more Islamophobic than the programme itself. (I didn’t think the programme was Islamophobic but thought it could have benefited from a couple of tweaks, such as *opening* with the Muslims who were opposed to what was going on, to avoid the Islamophobia charge still more clearly.)

    46. KB Player — on 2nd May, 2010 at 6:10 pm  

      KJB - the posts at Harry’s Place are not Islamophobic, though certainly too many of the commenters there should hang out at Jihadi Watch.

      Re media coverage in general - I agree it is scandalously bad. There are those like the Guardian which doesn’t cover that kind of thing for fear of seeming Islamophobic - not to mention opening its opinion columns to Islamists. There are others like the Daily Telegraph, which runs all sorts of scare stories and gives far too much space to fringe nutters like Anjem Choudary. I don’t think it’s clear in the media and public’s head the difference between “Muslim”, “devout Muslim”, “Islamist” and “violent jihadist”. The hysteria which greeted Choudary’s statement that he and his 10 followers were thinking of turning up in Wooton Bassett was a disgrace, and would be funny if it didn’t feed into BNP propaganda.

    47. Shamit — on 2nd May, 2010 at 9:54 pm  

      This is bloody hilarious. No wonder most people do not view themselves as “right” or “left” anymore.

      Boyo -

      I would have thought this is one of those issues where true conservatives ie right (going by the definition of the latte drinking media elite) and the liberal left would agree upon.

      The true conservative would find this as an imposition on individual rights which does not directly or indirectly impose on the rights of the others - provides the burqah or the niqab is worn by an individual based upon her free choice.

      This does not by any means allow someone to wear a face covering in the bank or airport etc etc.

      This law does violate the rights of an individual by state action where the individual has not committed any crime but just expressing her personal wishes.

      Funny, the bigots on both ends seem to agree with this law such as Faux News and Yasmin Ali.

      In the US, a conservative supreme court would find this law unconstitutional as would a liberal supreme court albeit for different reasons.

      Funnily, only the biggest hypocrities and idiots such as Rush Limabaugh ((the annoying all knowing radio talk show host worshiped by the idiotic so called conservatives)and Yasmin Ali (the annoying all knowing Independent commentator worshiped by the latte drinking so called liberal left)agree on opposition to the burqah. If these two extremists hate the idea - it is a good thing to oppose such a law.

      And by the way, I am probably voting Tories this election because I think they have the most progressive agenda

      Ravi -

      “The worst part, in my view, is enforcing this practice on 2nd gen immigrants who are born and raised in Europe.”

      I would agree with you on that unequivocally. However, one who is born and raised in Europe is not an immigrant and hopefully, going to school and university they would become aware of their rights and society and state should have infrastructures in place who are forced to wear a particular piece of clothing and support them to defy it. If we cannot it is a social and state failure not much different from so called honour killing.

      However, on the other hand, if someone is forced to not wear a piece of clothing by the state that is completely against the very values of the liberal democracy that we practice and preach others.

      Boudicca

      “With Muslim terrorists attacking public areas such as underground trains, it is also a security issue. ”

      Some of the wanna be terrorists who have been arrested are blonde & american - and so any western white women could be a terrorist. So we stop anyone who is white getting on a train.

      If you look at history of suicide bombings, most of those atrocities were committed by those who seemed to fit in with society at large not by those who are conspicuous about their religious affiliation.

      So see your logic is a bit stupid on that front - and you want security - put scanners in all tube stations and train stations - hows’ that sound?

      Now, I would like to address the wider point that the post did not discuss because it was not relevant. At eGov monitor, all of us here and in other parts of the world, firmly believe that we are facing a struggle against extremist ideologies and terrorism is a real threat to our security.

      However, most nutters who support these kind of bans fail to realise that if we change our life and curtail the civil liberties and rights of our citizens - the terrorists have won. And, racial and religious profiling does nothing but cause insult and alienation of our fellow Europeans who happen to be Muslims - now if we don’t see that as a breeding ground for extremist behaviour for youth who are damned anyways then I think we are living in utopia.

      Our actions must demonstrate our values of a democratic and liberal Europe (and I am not pro Brussels) or Britain and this action by Brussels should be seen as something from the darkest pages of our history - Nazi Germany. Where people of one faith were persecuted by the state and it started with small things.

      Again, as I said, if there were real conservatives and real lefties and real progressives - they would all agree that this ban is sad and stupid and dangerous.

      But this is bloody funny as I said before.

    48. Dalbir — on 2nd May, 2010 at 11:16 pm  

      I can’t recall feeling this much ambivalence on a topic for a long time.

      Whereas a part of me is strongly in favour of non interference with ‘external’ expressions of faith. Especially as members of my own family do wear overtly religious Sikh symbols. Another side finds it hard to muster much enthusiasm towards to niqab. I don’t have any problem with a headscarf and I don’t think I am being Islamophobic myself, at least not consciously. I see women wearing a niqab walking around all the time and it doesn’t fill me with any emotion.

      Maybe its one of those knotty issues one is better off staying out of? God knows?

      That being said, as well meaning as the ban may be, that issue of the potential start of a snowball which leads to more grotesque scenarios seems very pertinent…..yes, it is hard to find that balance between hawkishness and circumspection in these matters.

    49. boyo — on 3rd May, 2010 at 7:48 am  

      I’m afraid your comment KJB sums up the complacent racism of your section of the Left - it’s not about fear of Islam but equality of women, regardless of their culture or colour. It’s actually about believing in something, not simply whatever is most convenient for your sense of well-being at any given moment.

      Shamit, I’d love to hear your definition of progressive. ;-)

    50. sofia — on 3rd May, 2010 at 11:18 am  

      post 3- burka and niqab ARE NOT A REQUIREMENT..and it’s people like you who put it into the mindset of muslim women that to be faithful to God they HAVE to wear this.

    51. sofia — on 3rd May, 2010 at 11:19 am  

      and boudicca, i don’t think belgium is doing this for ‘national security’ reasons.

    52. sofia — on 3rd May, 2010 at 11:23 am  

      Ravi - I don’t think that covering your face is a perverse practice if this is what women feel they want to do without the pressure of people like Fatima saying that they have to. It was a practice that goes back to the wives of the prophet and if some woman wants to do as they did then that is up to them. Again this goes back to lack of debate within muslim circles about how necessary women today think it is to completely cover their faces. What I hate is the state telling me that covering up is against the law. They going to stick these women into prison if they break the law? or they going to fine these women when they aren’t actually doing anything.

    53. Naadir Jeewa — on 3rd May, 2010 at 1:23 pm  

      It’s odd, that in some ways, these bans end up breaking secularist rules of church-state separation, since they end up wading into theological interpretation.

    54. boyo — on 3rd May, 2010 at 1:40 pm  

      Wade in I say. Religion is the opium of the masses, and i say that as someone who is religious, so i should know what i mean!

      Also, death to bloody relativism! It’s the rocky road to thinking feminism is about someone walking around covered by a sheet, even if they want to Sophia.

      People do lots of things against their interests because they want to, like smoking and voting Tory ;-) Well it shouldn’t be allowed.

      Western liberalism DOES NOT seek equality with Islam (although to be fair to Islam, this is a cultural thing) or any other belief system that does not agree with it, just as Islam does not seek equality with it. It thinks it is WAY BETTER just as Islam, presumably, thinks the same. Ergo, when people who practice Islam live in Western liberal societies they should respect that culture as Western liberals are obliged to respect Islam in Islamic countries.

      To be fair however, the mistake is largely not the sheet-wearers but the kind of relativists who inhabit these pages and prefer to forget they live in a peculiar society and not some cultural vacuum where anything goes.

      I wonder why they do?

    55. Naadir Jeewa — on 3rd May, 2010 at 1:49 pm  

      Fair enough.

      Though I disagree that either liberalism or Islam is quite as monolithic as you make it out to be.

    56. KJB — on 3rd May, 2010 at 5:00 pm  

      I’m afraid your comment KJB sums up the complacent racism of your section of the Left – it’s not about fear of Islam but equality of women, regardless of their culture or colour. It’s actually about believing in something, not simply whatever is most convenient for your sense of well-being at any given moment.

      And I’m afraid most of what you’ve said sums your own complacent idiocy. As an Asian woman who has been vilified by her own family because of her atheism, I am as paid-up a subscriber to Western liberal values as can be. So don’t try patronising me, and furthermore you don’t know what ‘section of the Left’ I belong to.

      I have many misgivings about political Islam, but I want to see the practice of wearing niqab and the kind of thinking that leads to it stop, not become harder to spot and therefore, challenge. People like you prating on at women who have internalised a sense of their own inferiority make no difference to anything. Could you explain how exactly the ban is going to magically bring about equality, and make these women more prepared to challenge their faith?

      You might want to take your own advice:

      It’s actually about believing in something, not simply whatever is most convenient for your sense of well-being at any given moment

      because whether or not the ban makes you feel all nice and warm right now, history shows that banning things makes them more popular, and harder to regulate or interact with, in the long term.

    57. Sarah AB — on 3rd May, 2010 at 5:38 pm  

      I agree KJB - I believe in people being able to do what they like as far as possible - that includes things (up to a point) which interfere with other people’s sense of well-being. I don’t think this is relativism. Relativism might mean, say, condoning Iran’s own laws about female dress and behaviour. But banning women wearing the niqab seems like the mirror image of what Iran does - just as the minaret ban seemed like an echo of the way other countries limit building/repair of churches - a fairly faint echo admittedly I should add, so as not to be relativist!

    58. boyo — on 3rd May, 2010 at 6:09 pm  

      I don’t give a toss what your “identity” is KJB, it’s still racist to judge one group differently from another.

      I don’t expect banning the niqab will make everything magically alright overnight but it would send a strong message about what kind of society we are - one which will not tolerate this kind of gender abuse.

      What history are you talking about by the way? The veil ban in French schools appears to have worked rather well. Fancy that - a generation of young French girls have been able to go to school without having to sport a symbol of their second class status. Why? Because in the eyes of the State - THEIR State - they are equal.

    59. KJB — on 3rd May, 2010 at 7:43 pm  

      I don’t give a toss what your “identity” is KJB, it’s still racist to judge one group differently from another.

      Oh please, don’t even try and tell me what racism is. I’m really bored of white men trying to tell me what forms of oppression they’ve never experienced feel like. You’re the one trying to portray Muslim women in face-veils as the definitive threat to Western liberal democracy. I have not at any point tried to ‘judge one group differently from another,’ unlike you. I could in all fairness argue against the ban on the basis that it could be extended to things like Sikh turbans, but that would be dishonest.

      If we want to be a society that ‘doesn’t tolerate this kind of gender abuse,’ we should pour much more money into combating HBV and forced marriages, giving support to Muslims who speak out against Islamisation and not demonising all Muslims as if they are the same. You are not a feminist, do not fucking try and tell feminists what to do.

      The veil ban in French schools appears to have worked rather well.

      Proof? Banning something in a school environment is different - children and parents from ethnic minority backgrounds often value education enough that they would not necessarily stop their children from going to school because of a veil ban. You have no evidence whatsoever that it’s going to be the same in England - people will probably just move their kids into Islamic schools if they’re hell-bent on them wearing veils. In terms of history, banning religion in the Soviet Union’s imposition of Communism did nothing to discourage Roman Catholicism and may even have encouraged it. Sephardic Jews carried on Jewish practice despite an outward show of Christianity.

      Bingo time, I think! Still, whilst self-important blowhards like Boyo bore on, here are some links for anyone who genuinely does want to help fight gender-based oppression against ethnic minority women, Muslim and otherwise, this is a good charity to donate to, as is IKWRO, which did much to publicise the Banaz Mahmod case. Finally, off the top of my head, is Southall Black Sisters, who, as documented here in Feb, won the National Secular Society’s Secularist of the Year Award. Oh, and finally, the campaign against faith schools - really wish I could donate right away.

    60. boyo — on 3rd May, 2010 at 9:24 pm  

      Heh. So no actual proof then - as I think Sonia pointed out, a full face veil is not consistent with Islam, so your example vis religion is not relevant.

      For what it’s worth, I was responding to the post, which concerned Belgium (and possibly France), though would welcome it here too, alongside banning faith schools, obviously, and lots of other things.

      Aren’t your feminist credentials impressive!

    61. sonia — on 3rd May, 2010 at 10:13 pm  

      Sofia not Sonia.

      What a discussion. ANyway its pretty clear whatever we may or not think about the requirement to veil being a religious edict, and what we think of people who choose to follow such edicts, nevertheless, we’re not in an Islamic country now. the whole point of liberal values (western or not, who cares) is that it needs to be about individual liberty, otherwise its sod all. Imposing group culture whether islamic or european - its the same thing. Individuals need to be left free to make choices about clothes they wear - yes we have societal limits, and we can choose to set them where we think encroaches least on personal freedom with dress.

      there are much smarter ways to deal with the ridiculous levels of so-called modesty ( i prefer to call it dangerous levels of self-effacement)for women required by [many] orthodox interpretations of Islam. And it is necessary - to address these issues - because they go hand in hand with denial of agency of females. And its the worst way to deal with it, because it will only strengthen the determination of the niqabis and their belief that they are being attacked and thus need to ‘defend’ themselves and ‘shield’ themselves, and plays straight into the hands of the likes of Hizb Ut Tahrir who then portray ‘their women’ in danger and rally around jihadis.

      So precisely the sort of stuff - we don’t want happening.

    62. sonia — on 3rd May, 2010 at 11:10 pm  

      Anyway there is a point about the niqab that is always overlooked. it’s a great disguise! and the reason why the women who wear it do so - is clearly because if they were seen to be out and about (and remember veiling is more than just whacking a great big of material over you, its about staying hidden and inside, behind ‘purdah’, really in those strict households, the women even going out I am sure is a BIG DEAL!) and people knew who they were, they would gossip about how such and such’s wife went here and there and looked and so and so. So really it helps these women to ‘come out’ and wander about a bit. One step up.

      So restricting their access to the outside world, is a very silly thing really. You can’t ‘un-oppress’ someone, they have to want to change their lives for themselves and take agency. It isn’t going to happen through this mechanism - which is a highly illiberal mechanism (and Boyo, just so you note this) just the sort of thing that the Islamic patriarchs would do.

      Let’s not follow their example and make Europe an illiberal place, please people.

    63. KJB — on 3rd May, 2010 at 11:59 pm  

      As usual sonia, you get it 100% right.

      Heh. So no actual proof then – as I think Sonia pointed out, a full face veil is not consistent with Islam, so your example vis religion is not relevant.

      Look Boyo, I know you want to see Islamofascists everywhere, but sadly I’m not one. Get that through your brain. I asked you for proof that the veil ban has made French Muslim women more secularised, you’d better stump up. If you don’t, then I stop here.

      Aren’t your feminist credentials impressive!

      Evidently not as impressive as yours… I’m only backed up by pretty much all the women on the thread.

    64. Dalbir — on 4th May, 2010 at 2:05 am  

      Is this the beginning of the criminalisation of religion by secularists?

    65. lisa — on 4th May, 2010 at 3:56 am  

      I think, Dalbir, the whole point is these garments are not a religious requirement, but a requirement of men.

    66. Lisa — on 4th May, 2010 at 3:59 am  

      Dalbir, I think, that the whole point is that these garments are not a religious requirement, but the requirement of men.

    67. Dalbir — on 4th May, 2010 at 7:10 am  

      I don’t know enough about Islam theologically to be able to draw that conclusion myself Lisa.

      Now I think about it, I’ve never minded the niqab because I’ve always thought of it as a reaction (albeit an extreme one) to the western/white man’s predilection to mainly view or value women in terms of their physical attractiveness or sexuality. That’s another type of feminine abuse that gets craftily looked over.

    68. Sarah AB — on 4th May, 2010 at 7:35 am  

      I think that’s a bit tough on western/white men Dalbir! And *insisting* on modesty (as in Iran or indeed Afghanistan) is simply another way of obsessing about the looks/sexuality of women.

      Boyo - if you are so keen on saving women from their anti-feminist choices - do you also want to ban lap- and poledancing?

    69. Dalbir — on 4th May, 2010 at 7:39 am  

      That may be the point Sarah, ironically the West and Islam are essentially representing opposite ends of the same scale.

    70. Sarah AB — on 4th May, 2010 at 7:45 am  

      Dalbir - if I go out on the street not wearing makeup and high heels I’m not going to get hassle from the police!

    71. Dalbir — on 4th May, 2010 at 7:55 am  

      I know, but you looking ‘scraggy’ will effect your career opportunities and devalue you in this society in some weird way. (Not that you wouldn’t look great without the slap etc.)

      What am I expected to choose from anyway? Belgian police forcing women to take the niqab off or the Taliban forcing them to keep it on? Seems like male domination one way or another to me?

    72. Ravi Naik — on 4th May, 2010 at 8:46 am  

      Now I think about it, I’ve never minded the niqab because I’ve always thought of it as a reaction (albeit an extreme one) to the western/white man’s predilection to mainly view or value women in terms of their physical attractiveness or sexuality. That’s another type of feminine abuse that gets craftily looked over.

      Actually that would be true if the niqab originated in the West as a reaction to what you are saying, and most Western women felt compelled to use it. But we know that’s not the case.

    73. Ravi.Nk — on 4th May, 2010 at 11:20 am  

      I know, but you looking ’scraggy’ will effect your career opportunities and devalue you in this society in some weird way.

      I don’t think that’s true.

    74. Sarah AB — on 4th May, 2010 at 11:53 am  

      Dalbir - I agree that the Belgian ban is a (milder but unwelcome) ‘mirror image’ of restrictions in some Islamic countries. But I think you exaggerate the pressures on women to dress nicely etc in the West, although obviously there’s some truth in it. And men also have to look smart - shave for example.

    75. Ravi.Nk — on 4th May, 2010 at 12:37 pm  

      I’m really bored of white men trying to tell me what forms of oppression…

      I think people’s arguments should stand by themselves. I do not think it is right to use race, religion or gender of people you disagree with to discredit them. Nor does being a feminist or atheist give you a particular authority or insight on this matter over others.

    76. Dalbir — on 4th May, 2010 at 1:18 pm  

      Sarah@72

      And you can’t see the irony of each group dictating what is preferable in terms of the visual appearance of others? I mean, why are beards ‘not smart’?

      I agree that the western method of ‘encouraging’ conformity may not be as dramatic or brutal as some others, but it exists nonetheless in more subtle forms.

    77. Sarah AB — on 4th May, 2010 at 1:35 pm  

      Oh - beards are fine - but they also have to be tended to, I believe - i.e. I wasn’t implying that men were discouraged from having beards, just that (if you don’t have a beard) you will probably be expected to shave regularly. I know men who shave once a week, which is sensible but wouldn’t be approved in all professions.

    78. Dalbir — on 4th May, 2010 at 1:44 pm  

      Again this indicates a fixation on how others look. No?

    79. Ravi.Nk — on 4th May, 2010 at 2:29 pm  

      Again this indicates a fixation on how others look. No?

      Surely this is not just a Western fixation. All cultures and societies have some form of dress code, and within that context, the way you present yourself in public provides a message about who you are.

    80. Dalbir — on 4th May, 2010 at 2:42 pm  

      Ravi

      Okay, but I don’t see Sikhs (for example) trying to push others to adopt their dress code, nor Jews. So, there is a big difference between having dress codes for yourselves and pushing these on others, one way or another.

    81. Kisan — on 4th May, 2010 at 3:26 pm  

      Dalbir, I see Sikhs pushing their dress code on their children. Do you see that?

      Sikhism came about as a reaction to Islam and the dress-code is a part of it. It’s medieval bullshit in my humble opinion but only one of many medieval bullshits around and not as bad as Islam which is much more bullshit on steroids and Hinduism which has plenty of cow-shit too not to mention some other crap around like Christianity etc.

      Wearing your religious clothing all the time is a bit much in this day and age. It leads to sectarian hatred.

      But niqab goes beyond that in obscuring the persons identity totally. This makes all kinds of crimes possible and is way too much. That recent French creep whose wife got busted for driving with it has 4 wives and plenty to hide and is an abusive man. Niqab is the perfect tool to help that kind of thing. Bruise your wifes face, no problem send her out in the niqab. Have a few wives you want to keep quiet about, perfect the niqab. Want to obscure your identity for a crime and have a man dress in it, just bung on a niqab.

      Niqab must be crossing the line of unacceptability.

    82. Dalbir — on 4th May, 2010 at 5:06 pm  

      Dalbir, I see Sikhs pushing their dress code on their children. Do you see that?

      I see that, I also see a lot that don’t. Besides, there is a big difference between families promoting/ imparting their own culture/values/way of life within their own ‘space’ and people foisting their own beliefs/practices on other outsiders.

      There is no difference between a Sikh family doing what you mention and say a middle class white family, imparting their own values/dress codes on their children. But ‘muscular-secularists’ view one side with hostility and the other as perfectly acceptable. Something isn’t quite right there.

      Your assertion that Sikhism is solely some sort of reaction to Islam is bull by the way. Whilst you are perfectly entitled to your opinion on things, I don’t think a tad bit of sensitivity and civility towards a people who have probably done you and yours no harm would go a miss here?

      Thing with your other argument is that plenty of non ‘niqabed’ women get abused and mistreated, so turning on the niqab for this reason seems motivated by other reasons?

      Hang on… I don’t know what the hell I’m doing arguing for the niqab anyway? But this shit better not be the start of some negative bollocks towards all and sundry perceived to be engaging in ‘alien’ cultural practices. Where does this end?

    83. kisan — on 4th May, 2010 at 6:10 pm  

      Their is a bit of a difference between the non-dress code of a middle class family and the long hair in a turban on an 8 year old boy.

      If you think its all one and the same I’d say you have a bit of a blind spot happening.

      Niqab helps in the abuse process as it covers up the persons identity cutting them off from society.

      Niqab is way too far for a religion to go and it’s time some people had the balls to say so.

      The formation of Sikhism certainly had a lot to do with Islam (who said solely?).

    84. KJB — on 4th May, 2010 at 9:20 pm  

      I think people’s arguments should stand by themselves. I do not think it is right to use race, religion or gender of people you disagree with to discredit them. Nor does being a feminist or atheist give you a particular authority or insight on this matter over others.

      And I will thank you to stop telling me what to do, as I don’t really care what you think in this instance. This is not about ‘discrediting’ someone’s argument, it is about white men (and women) constantly trying to tell me what feminism is, and accusing me of racism and cultural relativism when I claim - quite legitimately - that my experiences count, and are closer to those of Muslim women, than ‘Boyo’s’ are. Whiteness seems to make a lot of people believe that they are somehow racially neutral and morally superior, and that is utter nonsense which is not going to go unchallenged.

      I don’t go round telling you what to do Ravi, so please don’t address me over things that are none of your business. I point out that there are other dimensions to things that people might not have considered, and if you choose to read that in the way you have above, that’s your problem not mine. You’ve already jumped to conclusions about things I’ve said on a previous thread - if you genuinely don’t understand where I’m coming from, you can always visit my blog and email with any Qs you might have.

    85. Dalbir — on 4th May, 2010 at 9:40 pm  

      Kisan

      No one said the praxis was the same. But it does go back to judgmental interfering again. Something the west just can’t seem to stop doing at macro and micro levels. This will ultimately lead to more grief for them. Knock yourselves out.

      Ultimately communities need to have the space to define themselves without an upturned nose being poked into their affairs. A moral police, whether Islamic or Whiteist isn’t good for anyone who doesn’t subscribe to the world views associated with these positions.

      Anyway, the similarity I was referring to earlier was one where a family chooses to impart and transmit its own values/culture regardless of whether they come from religion or more secular sources and the differences in belief. See it’s already started, now we are questioning teh right of Sikh families to raise their kids Sikh. The audacious bastards huh! How dare they!

      And, I don’t agree with your simplistic assessment of the relationship between Islam and the formation of Sikhi. Instead of such a broad analysis, it would be probably be more accurate to describe the entity you are referring to as ‘Islam’ as ‘some Moghuls and their state apparatus’ in this case. You could perhaps add soem Persian and Afghan hordes to this. Just explaining things in terms of Sikhs and Islam is plain dumb. But that is a total other matter not for this thread. Jai has provided a more balance appraisal of the situation elsewhere (even if I don’t agree with all of it). I suggest you look it up. Besides teh coming of the Anglo-Saxon in teh long run of things has led to a disaterous situation for Sikh sovereignity/indepedence, so Muslims aren’t the only ones who fit the ‘boogie man’ role in Sikh history. Anyway, stop digressing, thsi isn’t about Sikhs - yet anyway.

      Niqab helps in the abuse process as it covers up the persons identity cutting them off from society.

      How do you know they are not perfectly happy in their own society? There are plenty of whites who do not mix with nonwhite society and this means cutting themselves off from their neighbours keeping to their ‘own’, what we going to do about them then?

    86. Dalbir — on 4th May, 2010 at 9:45 pm  

      KJB

      On another thread I was pointing out the importance of women of colour forming and developing their own unique ‘womenist’ movements instead of jumping on the mainstream white feminist one which, it is argued, is blind to some of the subtle differences in experiences between women of different cultures.

      It would be interesting to hear your views on this, if you ever get the inclination.

    87. KJB — on 4th May, 2010 at 10:03 pm  

      Dalbir:

      I addressed that, and said that I am somewhere between womanism and feminism.

    88. Boyo — on 5th May, 2010 at 6:45 am  

      It’s funny KJB assumes I am a white male, although i agree that’s not got much to do with it. It’s about the argument innit. Going personal is always a sign that you’re losing it.

      Anyway, enough. This is all very diverting, but a bit like fiddling while Rome burns - we are sleepwalking in to Torydom. I can’t quite believe that so few here - on a supposedly “progressive” site, appreciate the consequences.

      Ho-hum.

    89. sonia — on 5th May, 2010 at 7:09 am  

      Thanks KJB :-)

      the french example is a silly one to use in this country’s political discussions simply because we all know we’re glad we’re not in France! and the english are always slagging off the French. i don’t believe it for a minute that a ban like that would work anyway - as Sarkozy has realised, and as people have pointed out, how on earth do you police it, and what about visiting women from Saudi Arabia for example, and all the English visitors who will start dressing up as ninjas to annoy the french police :-)

      ain’t going to happen, and it shouldn’t. The Tory establishment may not have liked what punk stood for but they knew better to ban punk gear! every society has a minority of members within it which do not conform to the prevailing dress code, and it is a major fundamental liberty to be able to do so! for whatever reason.

      Conformity exists in all societies, that is fashion is ALL about, however that is the point, trying to enforce social norms around dress by legislating, is a step that is quite extreme.

      and its not about male domination anyway in this case, i don’t think - in terms of demanding a niqab ban, clearly there are women in french society who support this - it seems much more of a statement about not acepting another group’sculture. its a clash of culture that we’re seeing, and that’s not a legitimate battle.

      and again, yes i do believe requiring one half of the population to cover their face is not a good social practice to follow, but you can’t “undo” social conditioning like that with a snap of your fingers. Plus its worth remembering that the history of veiling is linked with ‘protecting’ these [privileged] women from the view of the rif raf on the street, and also to delineate the difference between the “pure” veiled women and the slaves, street women etc. So culturally, they’re seeing it as a protective thing for themselves. Forcing people to change something - doesn’t work. Forced conversions don’t work, religion doesn’t work when its forced, we have seen this in history. Just cos we don’t like something, doesn’t mean to have to bloody ban the thing.

    90. sonia — on 5th May, 2010 at 7:12 am  

      And if we really think adult human beings are being shoved into sacks against their will, well then why just stop the intervention at whipping the burqa/niqab off. If we think they are such abused people who cannot be expected to take responsibility for themselves, well we should remove them from their Families and hand them over to the French state/whoever else for re-culturalising/’re-conditioning. Why not go the whole hog while we’re at it.

    91. sonia — on 5th May, 2010 at 7:26 am  

      re: womanist movements, what’s that. the whole point of gender equality is precisely that : it has to work both ways, the whole point is freedom for an individual, regardless of their sex, to be as free as possible from gendered roles and stereotypes, and rulings that bracket them into one or the other.

      actually i think its time to take the feminine out of feminism, to be perfectly honest with you all. it just seems to turn into gender wars plus it makes it much harder to see how women influence the systems they participate in. in the same way we all contribute to the system we are in, the constraints and opportunities afforded to us as individuals, which constrain our agency, we do this as men and women. It isn’t just about saying oh its the men, it really isn’t. It sets up a false problem to solve. yes the male role is designated as the powerful one. But both men and women continue to hold this up, and men are constrained by this role just as much and socially conditioned to their gender stereotypes as much as females are for theirs. In India, the mother-son nexus is incredibly powerful, and that’s why women want sons, they experience their pwer and agency through that vehicle, rather than through themselves. the symbols of power we worship, are masculine, and we invest power in men. But we do that collectively, we have to remember that.

      so that’s why its hard to talk about ‘oppressed’ women, because really, women in history, and in these societies, have always wielded power. but they had to do it in manipulative ways, through a man. And the older generation, manipulate the younger generation.

      We all know this. So its time to come together, and realise that none of us, want pre-defined roles, we want to create our own.

    92. Sarah AB — on 5th May, 2010 at 8:14 am  

      Sonia - I agree with most of what you say (not the France bit - I like France/the French!)and, although I would describe myself as a feminist, think that the (moderate) gender inequalities in the West don’t always work against women. Sometimes they work against men - men are much more likely to be homeless and there seems to be more of an emphasis on female than on male health issues - and there are some issues - such as the assumption that women are the primary caregivers - which perhaps work against both men and women - in different ways.

    93. Dalbir — on 5th May, 2010 at 11:56 am  

      Sarah

      Is that your way of admitting that gender inequality works both ways in the west?

      Many of us have always suspected that many white men view female women of colour as victims (or exotic sexual objects) and would give them preferable treatment over males.

    94. Ravi.Nk — on 5th May, 2010 at 12:27 pm  

      Many of us have always suspected that many white men view female women of colour as victims (or exotic sexual objects) and would give them preferable treatment over males.

      Is this a case of jealousy? :-) Are you against women dating outside their community?

    95. Sarah AB — on 5th May, 2010 at 12:33 pm  

      I made my point quite openly so I don’t see the force of your first question.

      I’m probably not the best person to comment on your second point. Who’s ‘us’?! *Some* people - not men particularly - probably express faux sympathy with women in places like Iran - also with gays - as a way of justifying a political point of view. But I don’t think that fact should be used to dismiss the worries felt by people of both sexes, and all races and religions, about the oppression of anyone, anywhere. Some women of colour *are* victims - hence Southall Black Sisters etc.

    96. Dalbir — on 5th May, 2010 at 1:44 pm  

      Fair point Sarah, but somehow in all the concerns about oppression, the softer more devious type as practiced by whiteists seems to be curiously negated most of the time. Meanwhile the swarthy oppressive ethnic male stereotype gets bandied about with full fervor.

      Then it appears as if ‘liberalism’ is used as some sort of tool to to attack/demean cultural practices deemed to be ‘backward’ in its eyes.

      Is it just another manifestation of the ‘interfering’ characteristic of the west?

      We get the fact that many people from that quarter feel we are backward, uncivilised savages but can’t those white people restrain themselves from acting on these feelings?

    97. Dalbir — on 5th May, 2010 at 1:44 pm  

      Is this a case of jealousy? Are you against women dating outside their community?

      It isn’t and no I am not.

    98. Ravi.Nk — on 5th May, 2010 at 2:19 pm  

      Then it appears as if ‘liberalism’ is used as some sort of tool to to attack/demean cultural practices deemed to be ‘backward’ in its eyes.

      I am not sure why you are hijacking this thread with your borderline racist comments against a particular group of people. If you have issues to sort out, I suggest you get in touch with your ethnonationalist friends IAAE and DanDare who are still commenting in this blog with fake moustaches, but it is easy to figure out who they are.

    99. Dalbir — on 5th May, 2010 at 2:30 pm  

      Ravi

      I’m not sure why you have to keep telling everyone how to think. You’ve already been told to stop this by KJB, but you still persist.

      But seeing as your family conversion to Christianity pretty much falls into the scope of being convinced about the inferiority of your prior heritage by white people, I’m not too surprised of your defensive position.

      In anycase, neo-nazis like DD and IAAE have more to worry about from guys like me than people like you. If we ever got to the position that we were all of a passive inclination like yourself, then I think the fight against neo-nazism would be in REAL trouble. Hopefully that will never come to pass.

      I have as much right to push my opinion as you - deal with it.

    100. RaviNaik — on 5th May, 2010 at 3:06 pm  

      But seeing as your family conversion to Christianity pretty much falls into the scope of being convinced about the inferiority of your prior heritage by white people

      Great - bring my family and religion to the argument. So you consider Christianity a “white” religion and that if people of Indian origin follow it, they must have inferiority issues. I guess it is difficult for a sectarian mind like yours to grasp that Christianity stems from the Middle East, and that has been around in India for more than a millennia.

      In anycase, neo-nazis like DD and IAAE have more to worry about from guys like me than people like you

      Don’t kid yourself. In fact, DD has said that a lot of what you say he agrees on. For instance, when Persephone said she felt that England was her homeland and she felt English, IAAE immediately said she wasn’t because she was “non-indigenous”. And you said she had self-esteem problems for pretty much the same reason. See how little minds think alike? You use the same divisive and polarising language against the “other”.

      I have as much right to push my opinion as you

      Yes you have. But I will treat you the same way I treat IAE or DD. Perhaps a bit harder, because I would think you should know better.

    101. RavN — on 5th May, 2010 at 3:07 pm  

      But seeing as your family conversion to Christianity pretty much falls into the scope of being convinced about the inferiority of your prior heritage by white people

      Great - bring my family and religion to the argument. So you consider Christianity a “white” religion and that if people of Indian origin follow it, they must have inferiority issues. I guess it is difficult for a sectarian mind like yours to grasp that Christianity stems from the Middle East, and that has been around in India for more than a millennia.

      In anycase, neo-nazis like DD and IAAE have more to worry about from guys like me than people like you

      Don’t kid yourself. In fact, DD has said that a lot of what you say he agrees on. For instance, when Persephone said she felt that England was her homeland and she felt English, IAAE immediately said she wasn’t because she was “non-indigenous”. And you said she had self-esteem problems for pretty much the same reason. See how little minds think alike? You use the same divisive and polarising language against the “other”.

      I have as much right to push my opinion as you

      Yes you have. But I will treat you the same way I treat IAE or DD. Perhaps a bit harder, because I would think you should know better.

    102. Sarah AB — on 5th May, 2010 at 3:12 pm  

      Dalbir - but I do think some cultural practices are backwards - not only ones associated with non-white peoples - don’t you? Why do you criticise Ravi for being a Christian? - it’s like me telling a white Muslim I’m acquainted with that she’s selling out *her* heritage.

    103. KJB — on 5th May, 2010 at 3:14 pm  

      It’s funny KJB assumes I am a white male, although i agree that’s not got much to do with it. It’s about the argument innit. Going personal is always a sign that you’re losing it.

      Whether you’re a white male or a non-white male, I don’t think your experiences are going to be closer to those of Muslim women than mine have been, though I would never claim to speak *for* them, only with them. As for losing - well, you can tell us all about that, can’t you? When chided over your ridiculous melodrama, you said the following:

      I’m afraid your comment KJB sums up the complacent racism of your section of the Left

      You don’t know me, or my beliefs. I reiterate: grow up.

    104. Dalbir — on 5th May, 2010 at 3:35 pm  

      Sarah, I think many cultural practices are backwards but once you start actively trying to stop another community doing them you go down a very slippery path. Where do you stop? It starts going down that cultural imperialism path. What is next, going to aboriginal communities and taking their children away to save them from a ‘backward’ future?

      This is very dodgy ground to tred.

      Regarding converts. I’m of the opinion that recent converts frequently go that extra mile in defending and justifying the actions of their wider group. I think Ravi may fall into this category. For me, Christianity, well most strains of it, is mainly aligned with white Eurocentricism. Powerful exceptions do exist however, like African-American Christianity which has evolved into a completely separate entity centred on the experiences and spiritual/political needs of the people involved.

      Converts are often (not always) blind to the negative actions of the group they belong to. Probably through over zealousness. Plus they are probably also trying really hard to ‘fit in’. In this context, Ravi’s comments sound like someone trying really hard to defend the worldview of the system he now belongs to.

    105. RaviNaik — on 5th May, 2010 at 3:43 pm  

      I’m of the opinion that recent converts frequently go that extra mile in defending and justifying the actions of their wider group. I think Ravi may fall into this category. For me, Christianity, well most strains of it, is mainly aligned with white Eurocentricism.

      Dalbir, are you aware that Christianity has been around in India for more than a millenia? Long before Europeans brought their own version. I do not see the wider group as Christian, but as secular.

    106. douglas clark — on 5th May, 2010 at 3:54 pm  

      Could I refer everyone to this thread?

      The burkha should not be banned

      Frankly the whole arguement, one way or another is spelled out there.

      I’d admit I started that thread on a basically Belgian basis and was persuaded otherwise. That is what is good about this place.

    107. Don — on 5th May, 2010 at 4:11 pm  

      Dalbir,

      Are there any cultural practices you think it would be legitimate to interfere with/prevent? Or would any action against a cultural practice always be cultural imperialism?

    108. RaviNaik — on 5th May, 2010 at 4:22 pm  

      lus they are probably also trying really hard to ‘fit in’. In this context, Ravi’s comments sound like someone trying really hard to defend the worldview of the system he now belongs to.

      The fact that I deeply disagree with your polarising and divisive language, and your ugly and broad generalisations (including against Christians of Asian origin and Asians who consider England as their homeland), only means I am giving you the same treatment as IAAE or DD - with the caveat that I would think you should know better.

    109. Dalbir — on 5th May, 2010 at 5:00 pm  

      Are there any cultural practices you think it would be legitimate to interfere with/prevent? Or would any action against a cultural practice always be cultural imperialism?

      That is a knotty one Don. Going to the heart of the matter, we need to consider which mandate gives us the right to interfere. Some collective sense of indignation and disgust at other practices just doesn’t cut it. Nor does some religious excuse.

      What is at the core of this anyway? Are we trying to mould/shape the world according to our preferred aesthetic/cultural tastes? I can’t imagine a world where things don’t go on that make me raise an eyebrow. And if we ever got there, the world would be a poorer, sterile boring place for it. Besides - underlying all of this are supremacist ideals in one permutation or another.

      That being said, interference could perhaps be justified, if some practice essentially resulted in liberty taking by one or more communities against another minding its own business. And bear in mind, by that token, there are plenty of countries/communities who would be justified in attacking ‘British culture’ or British centres of power for their actions abroad. It does seem that western (especially Anglo) culture has developed a penchant for taking liberties in other lands/communities over the last few centuries. It’s like a filthy habit that they can’t seem to stop now.

      Does it simply boil down to stomaching practices in other communities that you don’t particularly like - maybe. Should anyone try to foist their shite on another, a robust reaction is justified. But anyone with a brain knows how people in power (and not) are prone to exaggerate and even manufacture threats to justify their own own unwarranted aggression. That path of good intentions has many pitfalls. What happened to minding your own business? Look at Britain today anyway, people should have been focusing on improving things here instead of prancing around the globe ‘righting wrongs’ like pillocks.

    110. Ravi Naik — on 5th May, 2010 at 5:09 pm  

      That is a knotty one Don. Going to the heart of the matter, we need to consider which mandate gives us the right to interfere. Some collective sense of indignation and disgust at other practices just doesn’t cut it. Nor does some religious excuse.

      What do you feel about practices like forced marriages and female circumcision in regards to the right to interfere and making campaigns against those practices?

    111. Dalbir — on 5th May, 2010 at 5:13 pm  

      Ravi

      #101

      Was that before Europeans turned up down south and curiously turned half of these Christians into ‘De Souzas’? I know there is a theory that some disciple may have landed in India, but the coming of the whites essentially twisted any previously existing Christian movement into one that served their own purposes. Don’t lose heart though, they did the same with Sikhs for a while too.

      #104

      Your sycophantic style just doesn’t suit me Ravi. You are too dumb to realise that neo-nazis actually want men of colour to push that weak hippy shite you do. You can take that PC shite and stick it up your arse. I couldn’t give a monkeys about your opinion, you are just a token mouthpiece for Eurocentrism to me (whether you recognise it or not)…and I’m not buying what you are selling.

    112. Sarah AB — on 5th May, 2010 at 5:44 pm  

      Dalbir - would you give the same reply to Ravi @106 as you do @104? I’m not saying *military intervention* is always the right answer but, at the very least, I refuse to accept that something like female circumcision is simply a cultural thing, and none of one’s business if one isn’t from that culture.

    113. I AM DUFFY — on 5th May, 2010 at 6:00 pm  

      How about male circumcision Sarah, are you OK with that? Or is one form of genital mutilation of children acceptable while the other is not, depending on the gender of the victim?

    114. I AM DUFFY — on 5th May, 2010 at 6:03 pm  

      Dalbir @105

      Do you believe that the efforts that the British made to eliminate suttee and thuggism in India were examples of their ‘penchant for taking liberties”?

    115. douglas clark — on 5th May, 2010 at 6:05 pm  

      I am duffy @ 109,

      Obviously not.

    116. Dalbir — on 5th May, 2010 at 6:30 pm  

      Sarah I would say the same thing said by Duffy in #109 regarding your point about circumcision. Again, I ask whether it is yet another example of how the white west dehumanises nonwhite men, but views the women as poor, victims to be saved.

      Do you believe that the efforts that the British made to eliminate suttee and thuggism in India were examples of their ‘penchant for taking liberties”?

      Yes. And you should be careful of taking exaggerated, sensationalist, exoticised Victorian accounts of India at face value. What was thuggism? Some criminal, murderous thieves. Like Britain never had these…..Read some Charles Dickens and see if poor Britain was some paragon of civility around the same time.

      As for suttee, funny how killing and dehumanising brown men who objected to the white domination was perfectly okay, but the murder of women through suttee is played up. In anycase, I can’t answer for every ‘Indian’ but I know that suttee was very rare in the part of India my family hail from. What is your point anyway - are you saying Brits came to what is now known as India to prevent Indians from engaging in backwards practices instead of sucking the place dry for financial purposes?

    117. Sarah AB — on 5th May, 2010 at 6:35 pm  

      I am sure male circumcision is a legitimate subject for discussion - though I do think it is *much* less damaging than the various kinds of female circumcision. Unfortunately it tends to get taken up by people with other agendas.

    118. I AM DUFFY — on 5th May, 2010 at 6:48 pm  

      So I take then that you would take the view that male circumcision is none of our business while female circumcision definitely is, on the grounds that one is much less ‘damaging’ than the other.

      The fact that the young victim has no say in the matter being more or less irrelevant?

      By the way, were you aware that male circumcision in countries like the United States is by no means limited to members of one particular particular ethnic group? In fact, it might even be characterised as ‘routine’.

    119. Dalbir — on 5th May, 2010 at 6:50 pm  

      I am sure female circumcision is a legitimate subject for discussion – Unfortunately it tends to get taken up by people with other agendas too.

      Same with burqas/niqabs.

    120. I AM DUFFY — on 5th May, 2010 at 6:58 pm  

      Dalbir @177

      There was certainly a ‘missionary’ element to the colonial project, the White Man’s Burden and all that. It’s unclear how much lasting effect it had though.

    121. Ravi Naik — on 5th May, 2010 at 7:04 pm  

      Was that before Europeans turned up down south and curiously turned half of these Christians into ‘De Souzas’? I know there is a theory that some disciple may have landed in India..

      Dalbir, we are all products of History - at around the same time in India, some became De Souza and others became Singh. Some became Catholic and others became Sikhs. To claim that millions of modern day Christians in India are “sellouts” shows pretty much your mindset. When Sarah made the point about whether her white Muslim friend was a sellout, I immediately thought that’s something a BNP core supporter would say. But there you go Dalbir, great minds think alike.

      Sarah I would say the same thing said by Duffy in #109 regarding your point about circumcision.

      Actually it is not the same thing. I should have used the term “genital mutilation”. The goal is to remove the clitoris and other parts of female genitalia so that they don’t receive any sexual pleasure when they are older. A practice that is prevalent in some African and Asian communities.

      I will ask again, and taking into account what you said about (1) cultural imperialism, (2) stomaching practices in other communities that one doesn’t particularly like, (3) minding your business…

      What do you feel about interfering and creating campaigns against practices like forced marriages and female mutilation?

      Let me know if this direct approach is too eurocentric for you.

    122. Dalbir — on 5th May, 2010 at 7:24 pm  

      Dalbir, we are all products of History – at around the same time in India, some became De Souza and others became Singh.

      There is a big difference. One was the result of internal organisation, inspiration and effort. The other the result of brainwash merchants from another country(s). Who, despite their sanctimony, were frequently in league with a bunch of self serving colonialists who were engaged in much ‘asset stripping’.

      I’m not an expert on female (or male) circumcision. But I would practice the old ‘mind your own business’ policy here.

      By the way, you are sounding like nothing but a mouthpiece for whitemen and their vision. Why not shut up and let me talk to your masters direct? I don’t subscribe to the notion of gallivanting around the globe righting wrongs. The best policy in my eyes is creating a model society yourself and letting people see it like a beacon. Hopefully this will inspire positive change in others. But seeing as ‘Broken Britain’ has so much shite it needs to sort out within its own borders right now, we are far from that.

    123. douglas clark — on 5th May, 2010 at 7:26 pm  

      Sarah AB @ 116,

      I am sure male circumcision is a legitimate subject for discussion – though I do think it is *much* less damaging than the various kinds of female circumcision. Unfortunately it tends to get taken up by people with other agendas.

      Probably true, but it confirms a mind set that is disgusting.

      I agree with Ravi Naik @ 120.

      This is not about eurocentricity, it is about no-one having these rights over you.

      Especially cultural luddites.

    124. douglas clark — on 5th May, 2010 at 7:29 pm  

      Dalbir @ 121,

      Are you in favour of us shutting our mouths about female circumcision because you want it swept under the carpet, or what?

      Are we supposed to accept disgusting practices as reasonable. or what?

      Get a grip.

    125. Sarah AB — on 5th May, 2010 at 7:43 pm  

      I can confirm that, as Ravi suggests, I had the whole span of female genital mutilation in mind. Dalbir - you should approve of my reticence about voicing too much opposition to male circumcision. I am concerned that this *comparatively* harmless procedure is used as a way of targetting the cultural practices of Jews and Muslims - although I’m aware that it has been routine in other groups/times too. I think if one looked at a) numbers of men and women who have these procedures b) numbers of complaints and c) relative ease experienced in voicing these complaints by those involved - the conclusion would be that fgm was substantially more serious.

    126. douglas clark — on 5th May, 2010 at 8:02 pm  

      Sarah AB,

      It is pretty obvious that the extent of the intrusion into women by fgm is a major issue. But it is the principle that ought to be the subject of debate, is it not?

      Would you agree with me that it should be outlawed completely, everywhere?

    127. Dalbir — on 5th May, 2010 at 8:07 pm  

      I’ll leave you guys to continue talking about genital mutilation. I’m hoping to eat dinner in a bit and don’t want to be ‘grossed off’.

      Ironically, I probably would share the same disgust with many of you in regard to some ‘backward’ cultural practices but sorry, I just can’t justify a policy of ‘moral policemanship’ as I know damn well that it will be abused and I see strong parallels between this and what went on in colonial times. Hell, it is just another crafty way of continuing that policy in my eyes, inspite of the well intentioned.

      And Doug, instead of fretting about clits for the time being, why not focus on the issues of crime, poverty, alcoholism, violence and poor health etc. etc. that afflicts Scotland, especially the youth. I mean this seriously, not in any arsy way. Why try and save others when we haven’t exactly saved ourselves yet?

    128. Ravi.Nk — on 5th May, 2010 at 8:09 pm  

      I’m not an expert on female (or male) circumcision. But I would practice the old ‘mind your own business’ policy here.

      Just so that we are clear, are you saying that we should mind our business on issues like female mutilation and forced marriages practiced by some communities in this country because otherwise it’s cultural imperialism?

      Honestly, I am quite stunned that someone would admit to that.

      By the way, you are sounding like nothing but a mouthpiece for whitemen and their vision. Why not shut up and let me talk to your masters direct?

      You are a gift that keeps on giving. :-)

    129. douglas clark — on 5th May, 2010 at 8:14 pm  

      Dalbir,

      And Doug, instead of fretting about clits for the time being, why not focus on the issues of crime, poverty, alcoholism, violence and poor health etc. etc. that afflicts Scotland, especially the youth. I mean this seriously, not in any arsy way. Why try and save others when we haven’t exactly saved ourselves yet?

      Sure.

      But it wasn’t the subject at hand, was it?

      Your horizon may be limited to what happens in your own, immediate, community. On that basis the Royal Navy shouldn’t have concerned itself one iota about ending the slave trade after it was abolished in the UK.

      You have a point of view, and so do I.

      We are very unlikely to ever agree ;-)

      Maybe you’d like to answer the question I put to Sarah AB @ 125.

      Do you stand for anything other than cultural relativism?

    130. I AM DUFFY — on 5th May, 2010 at 8:16 pm  

      Would you agree with me that it should be outlawed completely, everywhere?

      If by that you refer to the genital mutilation of *any* innocent children, infants even, in compliance with medieval superstition, then you would certainly have my complete agreement Douglas.

      But Sarah however seems to want to prevaricate, and to premise any judgment on the morality of such practices on who is doing it, as well as on a frankly sexist interpretation of the rights of the victim.

      What is your stance on ritual slaughter btw Douglas? Is it something that should be condoned in a civilised society? As you may be aware it is banned in some European countries on animal welfare grounds. What is the SNP’s policy stance on the matter?

    131. Don — on 5th May, 2010 at 8:24 pm  

      Dalbir,

      Going to the heart of the matter, we need to consider which mandate gives us the right to interfere. Some collective sense of indignation and disgust at other practices just doesn’t cut it. Nor does some religious excuse.

      I don’t believe that that is the heart of the matter. Do I need a mandate to intervene if it comes to my knowledge that a child is being abused? Should I curb my indignation, reflect on the iniquities of Empire and mind my own business. Should I just accept that although such practices are offensive to me I must hold my hand because I have no ‘mandate’?

      And I wasn’t referring to going about the world imposing liberal democracy by force of arms but rather to contemporary practices within the UK. It seems you can’t discuss the latter without re-directing the discussion the former.

      The best policy in my eyes is creating a model society yourself and letting people see it like a beacon.

      When you have done that, let us know. In the meantime there are a lot of people who are directly suffering and dying from frankly (to my subjective whitey mind) toxic cultural practices. You seem to be suggesting that to seek to intervene in the case of (subjectively) abhorrent practices by people within my own community* is necessarily imperialistic, paternalistic, manipulative, ‘othering’ orientalism. I would suggest that not to act is a particular form of moral cowardice.

      *My definition of community is probably a lot wider than yours. It includes you, whether you like it or not.

      BTW, this beacon of a model society of yours. Apparently it includes some pretty unpleasant abuse of other people’s religious beliefs. Nice beacon you got there. Hell, I’m one of those strident atheists and I’d draw the line well before the insolence you have shown to Ravi.

    132. douglas clark — on 5th May, 2010 at 8:29 pm  

      I am duffy @ 129,

      What is your stance on ritual slaughter btw Douglas?

      What are you talking about?

      Correct me if I am wrong but I am quite comfortable in having no position whatsoever on ritual slaughter. Just for the sake of my education, what is the difference between killing animals in abattoirs and ritual slaughter? Is there some significant difference?

      They end up dead meat, as far as I understand it.

    133. douglas clark — on 5th May, 2010 at 8:36 pm  

      Don @ 130,

      It really annoys me intensely how bloody good your posts are!

      You should be obligated to post one-eyed, frothing rubbish for the sake of fairness and equality.

      I expect Dalbir would agree :-)

    134. Lydon — on 5th May, 2010 at 8:39 pm  

      Is there any subject where Dalbir doesn’t blame whitey?

      If anyone else had said the same about Brownie(Not the poster) or Blackie they would rightfully be banned as having a racist agenda.

      Yet Sunny lets it slide…

    135. Sarah AB — on 5th May, 2010 at 8:45 pm  

      I think outlawing fgm sounds good Douglas - I am also quite ready to accept that being completely opposed to all circumcision of children on non-medical grounds is a very fair position to take on ethical grounds. But the introduction of ritual slaugher @129 is a timely reminder of why I hesitate about the issue of male circumcision. I think an opposition to ritual slaughter is often the sign of a lot of other dodgy views - although, as with male circumcision, I respect those who have a principled and consistent opposition to all kinds of cruelty to animals and who oppose factory farming etc with the same zealousness as they oppose a practice which just happens to be practiced by … Jews and Muslims.

    136. I AM DUFFY — on 5th May, 2010 at 8:50 pm  

      Douglas - In your neck of the woods animals who are slaughtered in normal abbatoirs are killed in accordance with the Slaughter of Animals (Scotland) Act 1980, which require that animals first be stunned. Similar legislation applies elsewhere in the UK.

      Certain religious groups have been exempted from this requirement, a situation which has been condemned by the government’s own advisory body on the subject, the Farm Animal Welfare Council as leading to cruel and inhumane treatment.

      Do you condone unnecessary animal cruelty Douglas?

    137. I AM DUFFY — on 5th May, 2010 at 8:54 pm  

      Sarah @134

      Are you aware that ritual slaughter is banned in Norway, Sweden, Iceland and Switzerland, and severely restricted in several other European countries? Do you see that as a sign that other ‘dodgy views’ prevail in such countries, which I should have thought have thought was inimical to these generally extremely liberal societies?

    138. douglas clark — on 5th May, 2010 at 8:56 pm  

      Sarah AB,

      Well..

      I respect those who have a principled and consistent opposition to all kinds of cruelty to animals and who oppose factory farming etc with the same zealousness as they oppose a practice which just happens to be practiced by … Jews and Muslims.

      Yes.

      Obviously people have agendas.

      It does not seem to me to be one and the same. I (really) have no position whatsoever on ritual slaughter. I have a very strong position on fgm. Less so on male circumcision, mainly on the grounds that it seems to reduce the incidence of cancer, but that may well be completely out of date.

      The reason that we should attempt to disentangle these topics is because one is a human rights issue and the other is an animal welfare issue.

      And in my world, one not shared by Dalbir apparently, human rights are universal. Least they ought to be, and not caught up in pathetic exceptionalism.

      Just saying.

    139. Sarah AB — on 5th May, 2010 at 9:08 pm  

      As I eat foie gras very happily I think it would be hypocritical to express much anxiety about ritual slaughter. Though I’d rather eat an animal which had been ritually slaughtered but otherwise well cared for than an animal who had been kept in dreadful conditions all its life and stunned or whatever.

      Like Douglas I’m much more concerned with human rights.

    140. douglas clark — on 5th May, 2010 at 9:10 pm  

      I am duffy @ 135,

      And we still let folk wander the hills with guns to disable or kill ptarmigan or grouse and nice wee deer, don’t we?

      Where is the humanity in that? Same goes for game fishing.

      Anyway I am a carnivore, so please don’t expect me to pretend that killing animals any which way is ‘nice’. It isn’t.

    141. I AM DUFFY — on 5th May, 2010 at 9:24 pm  

      No of course Douglas, there is no moral equivalence between killing animals for ‘sport’ and raising and killing animals for food. I should have that all civilised folk could agree on that.

      But you really haven’t grasped the nettle and neither has Sarah. You are both re-swinging your moral compass in an effort to claim that male circumcision should be condoned on the grounds that it is ‘not as bad’ as female, and that some animals may be wilfully subjected to cruel and inhumane treatment because that is a requirement of certain medieval superstitions arising in the Middle East. Even though neither position is representative of the society and culture from which you both derive.

      This is moral (and cultural) relativism of the first order.

    142. douglas clark — on 5th May, 2010 at 10:19 pm  

      I am duffy @ 140,

      I am not saying that male circumcision should be ‘condoned’ on anything other than an evidence based platform. I frankly don’t have an up to date opinion to offer.

      And it is you that is trying to claim that there is moral high ground in our treatment of animals as food. I was merely pointing out the cultural relativism of denying what are, as far as I can see, fairly barbaric practices within the White, Anglo-Saxon Protestant culture.

      I am not defending it, I am merely bringing your attention to it.

    143. Ravi Naik — on 5th May, 2010 at 10:29 pm  

      It really annoys me intensely how bloody good your posts are!

      I totally agree. :)

      cruel and inhumane treatment because that is a requirement of certain medieval superstitions arising in the Middle East. Even though neither position is representative of the society and culture from which you both derive. This is moral (and cultural) relativism of the first order.

      Dan Dare: it is pretty clear why you brought up male circumcision and ritual slaughter. I understand that’s what you do, you are simply following the memo… but you could simply say you dislike Jews and Muslims living in this country.

      1) Male circumcision is not equivalent to fgm - you need to do a bit more research about both practices.

      2) There is no proof that animals suffer more with ritual slaughter. If properly done, the animals are killed instantly. In fact, stunning the animals before killing them can produce more pain.

      3) I assume you probably think that the West is pretty civilized when dealing with animals it consumes. I think you are in for a shock.

    144. I AM DUFFY — on 5th May, 2010 at 10:40 pm  

      Ravi appears to be better informed in these matters than the government’s own independent advisory council. As for animal welfare generally, there is certainly much further to go before anyone can claim the high moral ground, but in my view there is simply no rational case that can be made for exempting religious groups from the regulations that already exist. As noted, a number of our European neighbours have separately reached that same conclusion and acted accordingly.

      And I have not claimed that male circumcision is equivalent to female; they are clearly different. What I am saying is that subjecting innocent children to either in the cause of compliance to medieval superstition is abhorrent. Clearly you disagree, which is your right.

    145. Ravi Naik — on 5th May, 2010 at 11:04 pm  

      As noted, a number of our European neighbours have separately reached that same conclusion and acted accordingly.

      If these countries believe that stunning the animal before the cut ends their suffering, what about stunning the animal right after the cut? Wouldn’t that satisfy both requirements?

      they are clearly different. What I am saying is that subjecting innocent children to either

      Does your memo say anything about children’s ears being pierced?

    146. I AM DUFFY — on 5th May, 2010 at 11:21 pm  

      Wouldn’t that satisfy both requirements?

      Not according to the Farm Animal Welfare Council or the RSPCA.

      Subjecting children to piercings or any other form of physical mutilation should be illegal. What they choose to do to themselves on reaching adulthood is entirely up to themselves, as long as they are informed as to the likely consequences.

    147. persephone — on 5th May, 2010 at 11:23 pm  

      @103 “ recent converts frequently go that extra mile in defending and justifying the actions of their wider group”

      You mean like Sikhs?

      In that Sikhs are relatively new religious converts compared to Christianity & islam for example. Did you equally think that Sikhs sold out to their hindu, muslim heritage? Did the sikh gurus sell out to their hindu heritage?

      And what do you make of a non brown sikh?

      By that same logic Sikhs, as recent converts, cannot have as valid a view as more ‘mature’ converts.

      Fuzzy logic can turn around and bite you back.

    148. Ravi Naik — on 5th May, 2010 at 11:56 pm  

      Not according to the Farm Animal Welfare Council or the RSPCA.

      I wonder why.

      Subjecting children to piercings or any other form of physical mutilation should be illegal.

      My point being that we do have our own forms of benign physical mutilation and we are far from treating animals humanly specially while they are living - which makes your initial selective outrage against Jewish/Islamic practices all the more suspicious.

    149. I AM DUFFY — on 6th May, 2010 at 12:03 am  

      @147

      Perhaps its because both organisations have the welfare of animals at heart rather than dogmatic insistence on the observance of medieval superstition.

      As a matter of fact I’m as opposed to cruel practices like veal crates and foie gras as I am to ritual slaughter, so you’re going to have to find some other angle if you want to continue to defend your position.

    150. sonia — on 6th May, 2010 at 2:40 am  

      23. what shatterface said.

      its not about a practice is ‘perverse’ or not. these women aren’t going around in cloaks to be ‘perverse’ cos they KNOW we don’t want them to wear a burqa. (its not my business anyway in the same way its not a mullah’s business if i am NOT wearing a burqa.) they’re doing it because its the only ‘correct’ way in their socio-cultural interpretation of religion, to be dressed when they’re out. and even if they are being ‘perverse’ so what.
      (My mother always said i wore non-matching socks on purpose, to be ‘perverse’. I always said, so what? :-) And actually i wasn’t, it was just more convenient)

      All that said, (and Sofia hopefully you can see this too) there is clearly an unpleasant aspect to any religion if it should require the covering of a whole face (nostrils: no oxygen) in order for piety to be observed: it is just ludicrous. ANd quite patently a difficult one to live up to, and seclusion IS a big part of veiling/purdah. And the interpretation that sees niqab as necessary also thinks those women shouldn’t even be leaving the house, in the first place, unless it is absolutely necessary. We are reminded of this time and time again through stern fatwas from the Mullahs, women shouldn’t be roaming around freely!

      so there is a lot to resist here, which isn’t about (and shouldn’t be about) one individual woman’s choice to wear the niqab or not - its about the lot of female-dom, in Islam, and within Islamic culture/communities. the rhetoric may be all that it is but the reality is quite another thing. and again, legislating specifically on head-gear, isn’t very useful.

      that is the real thing, which no one ever focuses on .the perceived lack of rights to free movement, even, never mind open participation in society. instead we focus on the fact that they ARE conforming, to these strict codes, when they are moving around - but actually, as i said before, that movement is a plus!

      It is restrictive, these women have basically been taught it is NOT OK TO SHOW YOUR FACE and that is pretty fundamental. Now mind it is not up to us to whip it off this covering plus people are entitled to wear what they like, but it should be important to flag up that it is not a good thing to encourage people to hide their god-given faces, in order to be pious and religion-abiding.

      this is a matter of religious reform of course, not legislating individual personal dress choices.

      by legislating, we are forcing them to have to make a choice in a way that it is almost impossible for them to make. So what’s the point of making the actual covering a battle-ground. the battle-ground is elsewhere, in the wider belief system.

    151. sonia — on 6th May, 2010 at 2:49 am  

      Why do we want nanny states anyway? Everyone is always on about minimal government interference then we have stuff like this happening. Of course the Europeans are a bunch of old conservatives.

      Liberty, its all about liberty. And you know what, these days, i’m thinking, at some point, you gotta develop your own agency. If people want to go ahead and shove themselves into black cloaks and not escape from that life when they can (ok it is a hard set of choices) ultimately it is their decision, they’re adults. And if they don’t, well its kind of their problem. Does this mean they should be given a criminal offence for their garb - no well, that is going too far.

    152. sonia — on 6th May, 2010 at 3:03 am  

      re: discussions on ritual slaughter circumcision etc. A couple of thoughts:

      - slaughter: yep obviously meat-eaters talking about what hurts animals more or not is always an “interesting discussion”, (particularly to vegetarians!) at the end of the day, most people are comfortable with the fact that they eat meat, it is a dead animal and they’re not too concerned really about the ins and the outs, as long as they don’t have to see the evidence. (not many people like hanging out in abattoirs do they? If they did, they’d become vegetarian) I do think it is important to care about animals while they are living, its not about human vs. animals {that’s so Man and His Dominion} its about recognising living creatures are all in an eco-system. Hence the real question is about the mass meat industry and how is it sustainable, it’s not. The huge amount of meat that is being consumed, is just..mindblowing. the scale of slaughter is what should bring up comment, not some butchering technique debate on how to sharpen your knife or your stun gun (yeah sorry, but its just gross, i’m so glad i’ve turned my back on my carnivorous ways)

      Re: circumcision: whether male or female: if it is done to a child who is conscious (not a baby therefore) and over 3 years old, and isn’t being given anaesthetic, I don’t really care what the benefit of the incision/operation is or isn’t, it is just something that should not be allowed. A lot of people who ‘sympathise’ with the horror of female circumcision carried out on 8 year old girls, seem to think the same sympathy shouldn’t be lavished on an 8 year old Muslim boy who’s just been circumcised (yes i know people always like to claim its done to baby boys but where I come from, when i was a kid, i know what was done, i have male cousins) Just cos of cleanliness/cancer/whatever the hell/its more accepted, i don’t give a toss. Doing it that way - is just inhumane.

      I don’t really know why male circumcision is considered ok while female isn’t, i don’t want to know the science particularly, it is an area which is up to parents to decide for their kid, as long as they don’t subject him to torture, and have it done as a baby.

    153. sonia — on 6th May, 2010 at 3:10 am  

      and seeing as no one seems to be interested in ‘little boy’ rights..but just ‘oh the Poor Girls’ i think we need a bit of equality this time around.

      just out of curiosity though :-) How many of you blokes would like a sharp scalpel coming your way when you were about 8+..? (God himself could have popped out and said Chop! Chop) would it be any less traumatising?

    154. sonia — on 6th May, 2010 at 3:34 am  

      Anyhow back to our favourite topic: muslim women and what they are wearing!!

      Stop Telling Muslim Women How to Dress

      Brilliantly written.

      “We need to stop obsessing over the way Muslim women dress because it continues to lead to many problems that exists in our communities today: awkward and often hypersexualized gender interactions/relations, stigmatization of non-hijaab Muslim women, sexism and misogyny, and even problems in relationships/marriage, among many other things. If we really care about God’s Love and Compassion, then why make others in our community — people we are supposed to consider our spiritual sisters and brothers — feel like “bad” or “deviant” Muslims just because they don’t dress the way *we* want them to?

    155. Boyo — on 6th May, 2010 at 7:32 am  

      Male circumcision is about hygiene. FMGM is about denying women sexual pleasure. It is an extreme version of the veil - sexualising women and imposing control over them.

      That I, “a white male”, should have to point this out is quite surreal, but it is the dominant dialectic. It is an interesting example of how being part of the bourgeois meme is a stronger impulse than self-interest, like working class people voting Tory. There’s a lot of it about ;-)

    156. Arif — on 6th May, 2010 at 10:50 am  

      While I agree with Dalbir that there should be a presumption against imposing one set of cultural standards on another, I do think there is middle ground which either exists or can be constructed for dialogue and mutual change.

      Human rights offer a potential construction, and the main problems it suffers from would hit any attempt at common ground - selectivity in attention, application and how it is implemented. Another problem is who is allowed to participate in its construction. But still, it is there as a resource that is cross cultural and developing, offering a perspective for self-criticism as well as mutual critique.

      And I’d focus particularly here on economic, social and cultural rights, which have been slightly overshadowed by individual human rights in western societies, but is also part of the current global construction of human rights.

      In this context I’d say that a woman who is denied by the State a right to wear a burkha, which she believes is a religious requirement or even only a marker of cultural identity, is having a human right denied, as is a woman who is forced to wear one by the State or others.

      FGM on the other hand has been constructed as an abuse of human rights, however, I think the discourse would still make it something which a woman could insist on having for herself, claiming it as an individual human right.

      Male circumcision has not been constructed in the same way - and for it to be so would require a discussion led by people who have been subjected to it, explaining its impacts on them and/or their communities and making a case through campaigns. There is nothing structural within the human rights movement which would stop such a discussion starting.

      If we put our discussions into a human rights context, listening to people’s diverse experiences and needs to expand our empathy, rather than a context where cultures and communities are being singled out for judgment and censure, then I think we would find ourselves closer to sonia’s position - where the Belgian government would have to show that the context of the individual woman’s choice to wear a niqab undermined her human rights, and then - rather than prosecute the victim, to prosecute whoever is forcing her to wear it against her will.

      I know this doesn’t solve all the issues, but a respectful approach makes it possible to do so without creating more conflicts and enmity - and few things undermine a community’s capacity for self-critical change as fear of a common enemy.

    157. Trofim — on 6th May, 2010 at 11:20 am  

      I hesitate to declare it, but I was circumcised in 1947, aged a few days or weeks - my mum can’t remember exactly - on the kitchen table by our then GP, because at that time it was regarded as good practice in the UK, hygenic, you know. Whether any of my average number of character defects, or positive traits can be attributed to it, or whether it has affected my life adversely or positively, there is really no way of saying. I have no memory of having it done.

    158. Sarah AB — on 6th May, 2010 at 11:47 am  

      Arif - the points you raise are very interesting - re adult elective female circumcision - would a doctor not face the same ethical dilemma as s/he would if asked to cut off a healthy limb though? There’s also the coercion issue - obviously that’s invoked with the veil too but you can always take that off whereas fgm is irreversible. I instinctively completely agreed with your final point - particularly in the context of reflecting on what kind of people seem most worked up about male circumcision/ritual slaughter. But I don’t think your caution should stop people feeling they might intervene - or approve of others intervening - to help people within a culture who clearly don’t want to take part in a cultural practice - such as forced marriage.

    159. Arif — on 6th May, 2010 at 7:58 pm  

      SarahAB - medical ethics are also contestable, I guess, and where lines are drawn are - in my view - at least partly arbitrary/conventional/cultural. Rights based language is part of the contest (eg rights of mother v rights of the unborn child).

      But more relevantly, what is medical and non-medical is also partly conventional - is cosmetic surgery medical because it is preferred that this is undertaken by people who are medically trained? Or is it cosmetic, because it does not respond to a health need?

      I agree the conscience of the doctor comes into play - but that is a matter of their own rights, not necessarily a challenge to the rights of the patient. On what basis would that right be taken away? Harm to others may be one basis. Mental capacity may be another. And in the case of FGM, the issue in most people’s minds is whether it is freely chosen or not. And if it is freely chosen, perhaps the responsibility of the medical profession should be similar to that to someone who wants a sex-change operation, and ensuring through counselling that the person is aware of the consequences of their decision.

      When you refer in your last sentence to people who clearly do not want to take part in a cultural practice - the issue is who decides this and how? To avoid projection of one person’s preferences on another, the first thing is to ask them if they want this. If not, then to ask why others want to force them, and then engage with those views.

      Even in such a respectful framework, the reality of power differences means that a more powerful group can stop the minorities’ activity while engaging with them on their values, and a less powerful group cannot do the same in questioning the values of the powerful - so there isn’t perfect mutuality in this situation. It is easier for one group to assert their own view as common sense and enforce it, thereby reproducing the dynamic that they are claiming to challenge - where cultural practices are imposed on social groups within that culture using mechanisms of power which are hard to pinpoint, but are nonetheless real

    160. Dalbir — on 6th May, 2010 at 9:57 pm  

      Even in such a respectful framework, the reality of power differences means that a more powerful group can stop the minorities’ activity while engaging with them on their values, and a less powerful group cannot do the same in questioning the values of the powerful – so there isn’t perfect mutuality in this situation. It is easier for one group to assert their own view as common sense and enforce it, thereby reproducing the dynamic that they are claiming to challenge – where cultural practices are imposed on social groups within that culture using mechanisms of power which are hard to pinpoint, but are nonetheless real

      Damn you Arif. If only I could express myself in written form like that!

    161. Sarah AB — on 6th May, 2010 at 10:19 pm  

      Thanks Arif - you bring in many interesting and challenging points of comparison there!

    162. Ravi Naik — on 7th May, 2010 at 11:49 am  

      When you refer in your last sentence to people who clearly do not want to take part in a cultural practice – the issue is who decides this and how? To avoid projection of one person’s preferences on another, the first thing is to ask them if they want this. If not, then to ask why others want to force them, and then engage with those views.

      Arif, I believe any liberal society must adhere to the sort of dynamics you describe.

      However, there are differences that cannot be resolved by dialogue because people have different moral core values. Hence, any argument that derives from those values leads to irreconcilable differences. I am not saying that there shouldn’t be a dialogue, as often happens we tend to misunderstand and mischaracterise the other position, and it doesn’t help when we start using polarising language that only widens the gap of understanding.

      For instance, racists (and ethnicists) believe in separation because they want to preserve what they call their identity. That’s their core belief, and for that reason, they will call anyone that doesn’t see those lines as a sellout or a traitor.

      So, now you have two opposing and irreconcilable views, and you can ask, what right do we have to impose our liberal and secular values on this minority comprised of racists, ethnicists and other fundamentalists that live among us? (That’s a question, by the way, that they ask all the time)

      We also have to ask what sort of values lead women to want to perform FGM on themselves or their daughters, or cover their faces or telling their daughters to cover their faces when in public. If you teach young women that males (or white males) cannot be trusted because they are lustful and natural born rapists then question of willingness is secondary - there is a dissonance of values that will alienate part of our society.

      While I don’t think banning is the solution, I certainly think that we should challenge attitudes we deem incompatible with our moral values - this is how we shape our society: racist attitudes of the 70s were certainly challenged to the point that now, even the BNP has to admit they are not racist.

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