Why are they doing this?
Dutch consider burqa ban to Muslim dismay
Tue Mar 7, 2006 8:14 AM ET
By Alexandra Hudson
AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - If the Netherlands becomes the first European country to ban the burqa and other Muslim face veils this month, Hope says she'll resort to wearing a surgical mask to dress in accordance with her religious beliefs.
"I'll wear one of those things they wore during the SARS epidemic if I have to," said the Dutch-born Muslim, one of about 50 women in the Netherlands who wear the head-to-toe burqa or the niqab, a face veil that conceals everything but the eyes.
"I'm very practical," the 22-year-old added.
Last December, parliament voted to forbid women from wearing the burqa or any Muslim face coverings in public, justifying the move in part as a security measure.
The cabinet is awaiting the results of a study into the legality of such a ban under European human rights laws, before making its final decision. The results are expected in the second half of this month.
"This is an enormous victory for traditional Dutch decency," said Geert Wilders, the populist member of parliament who first proposed the burqa ban, after hearing parliament had backed it.
"The burqa is hostile to women, and medieval. For a woman to walk around on the streets completely covered is an insult to everyone who believes in equal rights."
The Dutch may have been among the first to legalize cannabis, prostitution and euthanasia -- earning them a reputation for tolerance -- but they are now in the process of imposing some of Europe's toughest entry and integration laws.
Famile Arslan, a Dutch-Muslim lawyer, believes a ban would only reinforce today's polarized climate, and prompt more women to wear the niqab as a form of protest.
"We are very scared that what starts with a ban on the burqa will end with a ban on the hijab," she said, referring to the Muslim headscarf worn by thousands in the Netherlands.
"A country once known for its tolerance is now becoming known for its ignorance," she added, stressing public opinion of the Netherlands' 1 million Muslims had hit an all-time low.
About a third of the country's Muslims have Moroccan ancestry, while Dutch-Turks form another sizable community.
The Netherlands would be the first European state to impose a countrywide ban on Islamic face coverings, though other countries have already outlawed them in specific places.
In 2004, France controversially banned overt religious symbols such as Muslim headscarves, large Christian crosses and Jewish skullcaps from schools, arguing they were contrary to its separation of church and state.
"It is not acceptable for people to completely cover themselves on the street. It threatens public order and security. Plus it is a terrifying sight and only increases the cleft between natives and foreigners," he wrote in his Web-log.
Hope says Wilders and his supporters do not understand and their comments upset and offend her.
The fact that the potential new law is consistently spoken of as a "burqa ban" also spreads confusion and reveals ignorance about Muslim customs, she believes.
"I think the niqab and the burqa are a little bit extreme and can I understand why people want to see a woman's face," said 16-year-old Kaoutar Yakubi, who chooses headscarves ranging from bright pink to black depending on her mood.
"But I don't think there should be laws governing how a person dresses -- it is their choice."
As an American, I'm absolutely dismayed.
Under US law, such a bill would be a violation of the First Amendment. It couldn't even be considered.
On one hand, the Dutch want to intergrate Muslims into society and on the other, they want to disrespect their customs.
Are they planning to ban Catholic nuns from wearing habits, to force Orthodox Jews to wear different colored suits and shave? Would Protestants have to give up their cruifixes?
How does this help a Muslim feel more Dutch?
When the French did this a couple of years ago, they applied it to everybody. Which allowed the Muslim community, 10 percent of the French population, to accept it.
Given the open hostility this represents, how many Muslims can actually get good jobs in offices and in government?
When you walk into an office in the US, you can see Orthodox Jews and hijab wearing Muslims next to Hindus and Lutherans, You can't say, on one hand, be more like us, and then on the other, say "you're different and scary"
All of this is fear of the other. As I said before, the cartoons were just a hint of the contempt many Europeans had for Muslims, the people they invited to do their dirty work, but still refuse to respect as equals. They wanted their labor, but refuse to offer then equal and full citizenship.
Of course, fundie Imans love this, because they can say "look at the law, they don't respect you or your faith." It's like handing them a recruiting tool on a fucking silver platter.
Even worse, this directly attacks Muslim women in an area of great sensitivity.
Laws based in ignorance often end in disaster.
posted by Steve @ 7:40:00 PM