Saturday, January 09, 2010

Don’t ban the burka

We would love to get your opinion on this editorial from today’s National Post on this highly controversial subject.  Please leave your comment below, remembering that they need to be moderated before they will be posted

woman-with-burka_64 French legislators are considering a measure that would impose a fine of more than $1,000 on women who wear a burka, a garment that covers Muslim women from head to foot, with a thin, gauzy slit for the eyes.

The government maintains the ban would be a statement in support of “French values,” which, as appears to be endlessly the case in France, are the subject of much public debate. Burkas have been denounced as “a walking coffin” and “a prison for women.” President Nicolas Sarkozy last year declared the burka a “sign of subservience and debasement.”

We share this abhorrence for such clothing: The burka signifies the notion that a woman is a piece of male property, which must be packaged and caged. Contrary to received wisdom, the use of burkas has no “traditional” basis in Islam. It is a vestige of primitive tribal practices from certain parts of the Middle East and Asia, where honour killings are common, and female sexuality is a subject of phobic paranoia.

Still, banning burkas is not the right way to battle the sexist ideas that burkas symbolize. In our society, women have a right to wear what they want, assuming they choose to do so of their own free will.

If women are being forced to wear the burka, that is unacceptable, of course. But even in such cases, the crime lies in the coercion, not the clothing. If radical Muslims forced their wives to memorize the Koran on pain of beating, we wouldn’t ban the Koran — we’d throw the husbands in jail. The same principle should hold with burkas.

Western liberalism means, among other things, the right to dress, eat, pray, and speak as we please. And so the government’s role in the burka debate should be to educate all immigrant cultures, including those that are Muslim, that women have every right to behave as they wish, whether or not it pleases their fathers, brothers or imams.

If a woman understands this fact, and still chooses to go around in a burka, well, so be it. Being free means having the right to make bad decisions.


Anonymous said...

No burka, no turban, no braids, no beards, no Quran, no cross, no Bible. Is that the society we want? Muslims are as much citizens of Canada as anyone else and should have the same rights as anyone else. In Canada, we hear it said that if they don't like it they can go home. Shouldn't we say the same thing to European Christians? Just because they've been here a little longer doesn't give them more rights. Perhaps you should take the cross which has been seen by native Canadians as a symbol of bondage and abuse and take it home to Europe. If not, then practice Christian charity to all people, including Muslims.

Arla M. said...

I agree with the writer. No one should have the right to force these women to divert from their culture. Many people are uncomfortable with the opposite approach, where very little is worn by a woman. The French government should allow for freedom of choice, and conscience. The burka will be a clear sign for Christians to see, to pray for the salvation of the woman wearing it, and her family, and maybe, if possible, befriend her and show her a more excellent way. God loves everyone, and sees the heart of the one wearing the burka.

Anonymous said...

I'm a Christian female and would very willingly wear at least a full head covering and long dress in a Muslim area, whether that's a country or an area of a city that has a high Muslim population. That's especially true if I were called on to interact with them. They have the view that Christians have low morals, perhaps in many cases with good reason.

Dorothy said...

I have always had a very emotional conflict with the burka. I see them both as a help and a hindrance. France has had a very troubling history of non-racial intolerance; they have had riots in their country for the way they treated non-nationalized citizens. I see France's example as a blow to personal freedoms and personal responsibilities to a minority group which is already persecuted in the country.
I personally do not like the burka as I believe it denies women their identiy of self and puts them under the thumb of male domination.

Dorothy King
Calgary, AB

Anonymous said...

i agree to the ban of wearing a Burka, because it has no basis to cloth the woman in that manner. its just a show off of Islamic hypocrisy for woman. if they really love and protect woman why do they treat them like animals and killed them brutally and mercilessly. yet they want them to cover their whole body.