Burka ban unlikely in UK


by Rumbold
19th July, 2010 at 10:01 pm    

The private member’s bill introduced by a backbench Tory to ban burkas is even less likely to succeed after two Conservative ministers attacked the proposed ban as ‘unBritish’ (perhaps because the French are now debating one). There are plenty of campaigners for a burka ban who are motivated by a genuine concern for women’s rights, and plenty more who aren’t. But I am glad, for three reasons, that a burka ban is unlikely to come into effect.

Firstly, it is difficult to enforce. Do you arrest or fine everyone who has their face covered? For how long must it be covered? What if you are in fancy dress, or have had your face painted? Serious crimes (crimes against other people) would, cet par, rise, as police and the courts would have this extra law to deal with.

Secondly, it is an attack on civil liberties. People should have the right to wear what they want, providing they are not harming another person (I would back the right of nudes to walk around too). Once the state starts to regulate dress, you are on a very slippery slope.

Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, it doesn’t tackle the root causes of what campaigners like Diana Nammi are trying to stamp out. It doesn’t make women any less oppressed, or make their relatives/in-laws any more liberal. It may in fact lead to greater restrictions on women’s rights as the sort of families who force women to wear burkas are the sort who wouldn’t let a woman go out uncovered.

In order to help the women forced or pressured into wearing the niqab/burka, other measures need to be undertaken. The state needs to ensure that such women have full access to state services, whilst vigorously prosecuting cases of domestic/’honour’-based violence. British society meanwhile must resist bowing to cultural relativism by arguing that pressuring women to wear burkas is okay because it is part of someone else’s culture. It is not okay to oppress women.


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Filed in: 'Honour'-based violence,Civil liberties,Muslim,Sex equality






40 Comments below   |  

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    Blog post:: Burka ban unlikely in UK http://bit.ly/9BcCU7 unfortunately not due to our liberal nature or our defence of civil liberties


  5. blogs of the world

    Burka ban unlikely in UK. by Rumbold on 19th July, 2010 at 10:01 pm. The private member's … http://reduce.li/h65b34 #unlikely




  1. Bill — on 19th July, 2010 at 10:43 pm  

    I rather imagine that of the few women in the UK who wear the burka, those who do so because they are coerced by male relatives are far outnumbered by those who do so freely and with relish, because of attention-seeking and narcissism. Today’s burka is yesterday’s hairy armpits and unwaxed moustache, in fact.

  2. Don — on 19th July, 2010 at 11:09 pm  

    Thanks for letting us know what you rather imagine.

  3. Bill — on 19th July, 2010 at 11:12 pm  

    It’s difficult to get precise information on the motivations of burka-wearers, so extrapolation from some general observations of human nature can be helpful in forming an opinion, Don.

  4. Ralph — on 19th July, 2010 at 11:31 pm  

    Hindu women who have red bindis, Christian women who wear crosses and Jewish women who cover their hair are all forced by their husbands.

  5. Sunny — on 20th July, 2010 at 12:49 am  

    It wasn’t likely before Green’s comments – I believe there are hardly likely to be any private members’ bills passed this parliament. Evan Harris explained this to me but I can’t remember why….

  6. Sunny — on 20th July, 2010 at 12:50 am  

    It was always a big publicity stunt.

    Nadine Dorries will no doubt try one with an attempt to reduce the legal date for abortion. It will also fail.

  7. Sagar — on 20th July, 2010 at 8:19 am  

    Do you know what is the history of the burka and why women wear it?

    It has nothing to do with it being a part of muslim culture. When Muslims started to invade India, the men used to rape and slaughter the hindu women. Hence, the women would cover up there face, so no one could identify them as a women.

    The burka is an idea conceived out of the torture of women, and hence used to opress them even more.

    To ban the burka, in my eyes, is not racist.

    How does a policeman who is above the public, check the public to see who they are. Are the burka’s above the police?

    Those who agree with the burka, do so out of fear of the threatening behaviour of the muslim world who demand there right to be treated above all other religions, based on there misconceived interpretation of the there religion.
    Where in the koran does it say women must wear the burka.

    BAN THE BURKA, AND FREEDOM WILL REIGN FOR ALL WOMEN AND HUMAN EQUALITY.

  8. Roger Thornhill — on 20th July, 2010 at 8:36 am  

    I agree with you, Sunny.

    A law to control what women wear so as to stop people controlling what women wear is irrational.

    If men are coercing their women, deal with THEM, DON”T punish everyone in some collectivisation. Each person’s situation is unique.

    One matter you left out – if women want to dress in such a fashion, then others should be free to decide how they (non violently) react, including making their own decisions on engagement, security or identity and not answerable to the State unless the State is their employer.

    p.s. @Sagar “How does a policeman who is above the public,” FAIL.

  9. DavidMWW — on 20th July, 2010 at 8:57 am  

    A burka ban would be illiberal and counter-productive. Although it may be true that the garment, when word voluntarily, is an outward symbol of rejection and refusal to integrate, it should be welcomed as part of our rich multi-cultural landscape.

    That is why, when I see a burka in the street, I give it a smile and a big friendly wink. It helps the integration process. ;)

  10. Sagar — on 20th July, 2010 at 9:46 am  

    A bruka is not omnly opressive, it says to them they can walk about carefree, without any law to know who they are.

    Police fail, because who can check there drivers license, id in a police parade.

    Wake up out of this pro-muslim love you have., and realise that I say this for humanity as a whole. christians not allowed to wear a cross, but Muslims can wear burka, Jewish chefs can carry knives abroad and sikhs can carry knives to school becuase it says so in there religion.

    is that democracy, or priveleges for the few?

    oh, and how does this help integration? Eye-to-eye contact is great, but I like to know who I spoke to, especially if there is more than one burka

  11. Roger Thornhill — on 20th July, 2010 at 10:16 am  

    @Sagar

    “is that democracy, or priveleges for the few?”

    I agree, so let lawful people carry knives. Knives do not kill, people do. A knife carried does no harm, but a knife used might. Mandatory sentences for knife possession is irrational and criminalises the law-abiding who can only “escape” if the State “permits it”, which is obscene.

    As for the other points about interrogation and checks, the solution is simple – women police. We have them now, you know.

  12. Dan — on 20th July, 2010 at 10:17 am  

    I have to agree with the post Sunny. A general ban would be unworkable, and undesirable. The burka should be defeated by education and dealing with the root causes of it.

    I wouldn’t mind a ban for people driving though. A couple of times when I’ve been in Leicester, I’ve almost been knocked down by burka clad drivers who patently can’t see where they’re going.

    Tho I guess it’s a possibility that it’s always the same one who is actually trying to run me over….

  13. bananabrain — on 20th July, 2010 at 10:30 am  

    i would agree that a general ban would be unworkable and undesirable, but i do feel that face covering (not just niqabs/burkas but anything else, e.g. balaclavas, motorcycle helmets) can be restricted to appropriate domains. in other words, if you want to veil yourself in a mosque or islamic community centre, go nuts. but in a public space, this should be discouraged. having had a lengthy dialogue about this with a niqabi friend, my position on why these things are worn by women (as opposed to forced on them by men, which also happens and should be resisted) has come to recognised that the underlying thinking is basically about creating a separation barrier between US and THEM in a way that non-face-covering dress (e.g. hijab) isn’t. it is the idea that We Must Put Up A Wall Between The Forces Of Impurity And Impiety And The Community Of The Pure And Pious that i object to in all communities. so, no “burka ban”, but it should be made as socially unacceptable as smoking in an enclosed space – if you want to do it, do it at home or in a mosque, but not in a school, a shop, a workplace or operating any kind of hazardous machinery like a car. i’m not happy about them in the streets either, but i can’t work out how to ban them effectively without being inappropriately illiberal. we’re not france and we don’t have “secularism” as a state religion. i think the only thing that would work, frankly, is social disapproval.

    b’shalom

    bananabrain

  14. joe90 — on 20th July, 2010 at 12:50 pm  

    This flogging a dead horse subject is hear again, yawn if women want to wear the burkha i support them and their choice end of.

    I couldn’t care less what the racists think they are the real problem in society.

  15. Shatterface — on 20th July, 2010 at 8:25 pm  

    ‘oh, and how does this help integration? Eye-to-eye contact is great, but I like to know who I spoke to, especially if there is more than one burka’

    I like to see who I’m talking to as well – I just don’t think my ‘wants’ in this regard should be legally enforceable.

  16. MaidMarian — on 20th July, 2010 at 8:44 pm  

    Ok Rumbold – I will tell you what your problem is here.

    You are right, on each of your points there can likely be little dissent.

    However, for all that there is something about burkas that leaves a lot of people with a bad taste in the mouth. To suggest otherwise is rather to hold reality in contempt. To be honest, I can’t really reconcile that in my head right now.

    Society is not obligated to bend its knee before every cultural taboo and masks like this do cause a problem. My mum works in a nursery, is she to let children go home with someone she can’t identify? But it is not just the practical. Burkas are, intentionally or not a statement of separatism.

    Just another reason to get rid of identity politics.

  17. Slalom — on 20th July, 2010 at 9:55 pm  

    “A burka ban would be illiberal and counter-productive.”

    I agree.

    “Although it may be true that the garment, when word voluntarily, is an outward symbol of rejection and refusal to integrate, it should be welcomed as part of our rich multi-cultural landscape.”

    I don’t agree. It doesn’t enrich our society, it is a snub to everyone else, treating other people as either unworthy or licentiousness. It does not help community relations at all and is fodder for those who want to treat ALL muslims as if they are alien to general society. The burka is an emphatic affirmation of such an alienness. It effaces the humanity of those wearing it and shuns those not wearing it.

    Cultural tolerance is a two way street, and someone covering their face in public, unless for safety or festival reasons, is insulting the culture of myself and most people in this country. It is a very un-British custom. But it would also be un-British to ban it.

    If one were to treat all Muslim women wearing burkas as Joe90 wishes, i.e. as if they are dressing like that out of their own free will, then those women deserve contempt for their rudeness. Even were they all doing it willingly, I would support their right to do so.

    I suspect, though, that a good number are not doing so out of free will – though Joe90 and others will prefer to ignore that probability – and that is another reason why they should not be punished as a group, because that would indeed be punishing the victim. I don’t think a law banning it can fix this problem, weit is indeed best to address the factors behind the odious mentality behind this custom.

    In the meantime, I will always be polite to a woman who covers her face, but I’m never going to enthuse about it, or consider it a valid mark of diversity. I consider it grotesque, inhuman and socially divisive.

  18. Sagoo — on 20th July, 2010 at 10:35 pm  

    Do you know what is the history of the bindi and why women wear it?

    It has nothing to do with it being a part of Hindu culture. When Hindu started to invade India, the men used to rape and slaughter the Dalit women. This would make the Hindu men very thirsty. Thus they developed the system of the bindi so their wives could tell them “coffee’s ready”.

  19. Sagoo — on 20th July, 2010 at 10:38 pm  

    Do you know what is the history of the dastar/pagri (turban) and why men wear it?

    It has nothing to do with it being a part of Sikh culture. When British started to invade India, their soldiers used to have gay sex with Sikh men because of their long hair, thinking they were women. Hence, the Sikhs would cover up their heads with turbans, so no one could identify them as a women.

  20. persephone — on 20th July, 2010 at 11:16 pm  

    “Did you know what is the history of the dastar/pagri (turban) and why men wear it? It has nothing to do with it being a part of Sikh culture.”

    Yep I do know the history. It was one of the commands of God to Moses was to wear a turban as the symbol of prophet hood, holiness and divine power: “They made the tunic of fine lines, woven work for Aaron and his sons, the turban of fine linen, the tall head dress and their bands all of fine linen, the drawers of finely woven linen, the sash of woven linen, as the Lord had commanded Moses.” (Exodus 39,27)

    How does that fit in with your little ditty?

  21. persephone — on 20th July, 2010 at 11:17 pm  

    Did you know that the best type of satire has an element of the truth. But not knowing that Sikhs originated in the 1400’s whereas the first arrival of the East India Company in india did not happen until the 1600’s you may not know that either.

  22. Sunny — on 20th July, 2010 at 11:45 pm  

    Folks – Rumbold wrote the post, not me :)

  23. Bill — on 21st July, 2010 at 12:41 am  
  24. Golam Murtaza — on 21st July, 2010 at 7:03 am  

    Cheers for that Bill, I did actually find that an interesting read. I was slightly put off by the sneering tone of the article, but I tried to look at the positives. Which include the fact that even someone like Theodore Dalrymple is happy to acknowledge that plenty of young British Muslims are boringly normal.

  25. sofia — on 21st July, 2010 at 10:55 am  

    Erm…the french don’t like hijab let alone niqabs…they have issues with laicite which we all know.
    I’ve never met a muslim woman who wears niqab who has been ‘forced’ to and I know plenty. In fact many of them are doing so against their family’s/husband’s wishes. I’m sure there are plenty of women who are forced to wear it, but why not tackle that instead of having a blanket ban? You’re just going to have these women being more marginalised than before.

  26. Rumbold — on 21st July, 2010 at 11:14 am  

    MaidMarian:

    I don’t deny that the burka makes people feel uncomfortable, as I said in the piece above we need to work on social pressure to ensure women aren’t forced into wearing it. And I have no problewm with firms/gov departments insisting it be removed for an appointment. But I feel it is important to contniue to defend the right to wear it.

  27. clancy jones — on 21st July, 2010 at 11:14 am  

    Why is it that it is alaways the converts and particularly the BLACK converts that take things to extreme!!! These people seem to be bored and are looking for anything to get attention; it is like they are looking for their 5 minute fame. It seems that to many Black converts Islam has become a way of opposing racism and it is very sad that they have to do that. They have their African roots and do not need to follow Arab idiology. Do they think that Arabs have a higher status than Africans because they are associated with Oil and wealth? It is easy for these girls go around in their full Islamic clothing while living in the heart of europe! they want to have the best of both words: getting hand-outs from both cultures! We can not see these women and do not know what they are up to; is this a way of not recognising them when they go clubbing or pole dancing to selling themselves to prostitution!? We just don’t know. And then there are another group that think now that they are in full so-called Islamic covering, they are holier than the “HOLY” and better than anyone else

  28. Kismet Hardy — on 21st July, 2010 at 11:51 am  

    No one should be banned from wearing anything, but then no one should be forced to wear anything either.

    Set up a service for women who wear burqas to discreetly inform a sympathetic body whether they are wearing the garb through choice or forced into it. If they’re being forced into it, send some ex-M15 thugs to break the legs of the man forcing her.

  29. Rumbold — on 21st July, 2010 at 11:55 am  

    That sounds like a good idea.

  30. MaidMarian — on 21st July, 2010 at 12:04 pm  

    Rumbold – In short, yes.

    I think I have mentioned on here previously that legislating for motive is a mug’s game and a recipe for failure.

    No to a blanket ban, but I believe it is reasonable to get a bit more assertive about it being taken off in certain circumstances where motivation is not a factor. And that might mean stepping on some seneitive toes.

  31. hermes123 — on 21st July, 2010 at 12:09 pm  

    Hi, this has nothing to do with the subject but can someone please tell me how to create an embedded hyperlink in my blog – where one or two words leads to another web page? Please point me to a easy idiot guide that I can use. Thank you.

  32. muslim — on 21st July, 2010 at 12:09 pm  

    clancy jones
    “They have their African roots and do not need to follow Arab idiology. Do they think that Arabs have a higher status than Africans because they are associated with Oil and wealth?”

    Or maybe they know that in his last sermon the Prophet Muhammed said:

    All mankind is from Adam and Eve, an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a white has no superiority over black nor a black has any superiority over white except by piety and good action

  33. sofia — on 21st July, 2010 at 12:15 pm  

    Clancy you obviously have an issue with black converts..I didn’t know that all muslims in europe actually had a choice in picking what culture or religion they wanted to follow and how they wanted to do it…

  34. me — on 21st July, 2010 at 12:45 pm  

    bananabrain

    “i’m not happy about them in the streets either, but i can’t work out how to ban them effectively without being inappropriately illiberal. we’re not france and we don’t have “secularism” as a state religion. i think the only thing that would work, frankly, is social disapproval.”

    likewise with the freakish religious orthodox jews and their black mafia hats and dress , hindu women and their misogynistic bindis and sikhs impersonating Bin Laden with their turbans.

  35. Carioca — on 21st July, 2010 at 11:01 pm  

    The difference with the burka is that it covers the face and thus conceals the identity. None of the other examples you give do this.

    I’m opposed to banning it, but it doesn’t help to use obviously fallacious comparisons in defence of it.

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