Heads Up: New Dutch Government Contemplating Burqa Ban

October 1, 2010 § 4 Comments

by KATIE E.

Via The Guardian:

“Wilders has won pledges to introduce legislation banning Islamic headgear, joining France, Belgium and Switzerland in a growing campaign across Europe to ban a veil that relatively few Muslim women wear.”

I’m not sure of the accuracy of the statement that “relatively few Muslim wear” the burqa, but, does it matter? Shouldn’t the law protect everyone?

I’m sick of the racist, sexist, Westernized idea that Muslim women don’t have agency and would never choose to wear a religious symbol without being forced by a man. As the article states, this is coming from a conservative government, but how long do you think it will be before this type of Islamophobia is again accepted by many as an aspect of feminism? The last time I checked, feminism was supposed to be about giving all women agency, not just when it’s convenient or when we can’t twist it to make ourselves look superior to another culture.

It can’t be ignored that this is coming from a new conservative, anti-immigration government, though. While many will interpret it this way, I highly doubt they’re doing it in the name of “feminism.” Growing numbers of Muslims do not threaten anyone except for white, usually Christian people who would like to remain a privileged group.  If I were leader of The Netherlands, and I tried to ban all cross necklaces or nun’s habits, can you imagine the outcry in the country and all over the world? I would be told I was taking away religious freedom and agency from the same kind of people who support this legislation.

Putting the rampant racism, Islamophobia, and misogyny seen here for a moment, can I just ask what happened to personal freedom? What gives a country a right to dictate what its citizens should wear, and couldn’t this possibly lead them further down a bad road?

If you live in The Netherlands, please contact the leaders of the nation and voice how oppressive the legislation is. We cannot let this happen in another country.

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§ 4 Responses to Heads Up: New Dutch Government Contemplating Burqa Ban

  • Adamantine says:

    I’m French and I’ve lived most of my life in France in several cities. I now live in Paris and in my whole life (I’m 21) I’ve only seen ONE woman wearing the burqa in France (though I’ve seen many more in London). You could say that in my experience, that’s relatively few Muslim women, compared to the many women wearing the chadri or other types of headscarves. That’s why many people in France thought the French government’s position on the subject of the burqa was really disproportionate, but it didn’t really surprise me, as it’s an easy way to gain support from a majority of people, who see the burqa as a foreign and threatening custom. I can’t say much about the Netherlands, but the fact that they “followed” the French government ‘s position on that subject doesn’t surprise me at all. That’s plain populism, and it works.
    Apart from that, I agree with you that many people are trying to pass for feminist as they talk about banning the burqa, and that most of them are not. A few months ago, I read a French book called “Les Arabes, les femmes, la liberté” (The Arabs, Women and Freedom), by Sophie Bessis, who basically said that whenever a country has colonialist/imperialist intentions, they’re sure to come up at some point with the idea that they’re going to liberate the other people’s women. Which I find very true.

  • Mitsy says:

    The reason they want to ban the burqa isn’t simply because they hate Muslims, it’s so you can identify who is under the veil. There’s a practical reason for the ban, and not just bigotry.

    • Katie E says:

      1. If you’re not going to read the article linked, at least don’t make it obvious that you didn’t.
      2. Why would everyone need to identify everyone who wears the burqa?

      • Adamantine says:

        The way it started in France, as I remember it, was that a government official registering a marriage asked the bride to remove her burqa so that he could see she was really the person she claimed she was (that’s the law: you can’t marry two people if you’re not sure they’re the persons they claim they are), but the woman refused to comply. So there *is* a practical reason. Still, IMO it’s really obvious that the controversy has gone far beyond that specific aspect, and that it has anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant and anti-woman overtones.

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