13 April 2011

Banishment Of The Burqa: A Violation Or A Victory For Human Rights?

France officially banned Muslim women from wearing the burqa on Monday. Today the first Muslim woman has been fined for wearing her burqa in public. She was arrested in the Paris suburb of Mureaux. A woman wearing a full-face veil can be stopped by police in the street and given an on the spot €150 (£133) fine. 

Campaigners state that by disallowing women to wear their full-face veils, the French Government are violating women's human rights. Surely a nation or religion that states that a woman must wear a veil, or she risks being beaten, harassed and punished, strips a woman of her human rights even more so? 

When referring to Islam, the Qu'ran urges both men and women to dress modestly but no where does the Qu'ran state specifically such confining clothes or a burqa. Today, Muslims base the need to wear burqas on the Hadith - but the Hadith describes 7th century Arabian life which is very different from life today.

The main issue for the west regarding burqas is identification. If a woman refuses to lift her burqa, who knows who that woman really is. There is only so much identification that your eyes can provide. There have been instances of terrorists and criminals wearing a burqa to conceal their faces from the police.

I can't work out whether or not I agree with the ban. When people from the west go to the middle east, mostly we behave appropriately and cover parts of our body that at home would not be seen to be offensive. Maybe if burqa wearers had had followed the same principle and uncovered their face in countries where burqas are not common, then the law wouldn't have been put in place. I don't think that anyone should have the right to remain anonymous in our day and age and that is what the burqa provides. However, I also don't feel like anyone should be stripped of wearing what they wish to. In the case of burqas, it is sometimes not the woman's choice, but her husband or fathers. In those cases, France will be doing the Muslim women, who are kept under strict control, a world of good. As for the rest, I'm going to sit back and see what happens next.   
Mike Stout said...

This is really good Millie, well open minded opinion.

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