ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Wed 26 May, 2010 04:19 pm
@ossobuco,
It also might have been a Msolga thread. I'm not in a thread chasing mood, but remember it as interesting.
0 Replies
 
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Wed 26 May, 2010 04:22 pm
@fresco,
Thinking about that. See your point.

0 Replies
 
Irishk
 
  1  
Reply Wed 26 May, 2010 04:33 pm
@roger,
roger wrote:
On the other hand, what is the value of a good picture on a drivers license when it has to be compared to a veil?


Well, of course I should have included the fact that she must show her full face when matters of ID are paramount (airport security, check cashing, etc.).

I just think that we shouldn't 'ban' what someone chooses to wear (especially if they're orthodox). If we offer them general acceptance and choice, it's a win-win situation in my opinion. They seem to tolerate us pretty well...we should return the favor Smile

I'm not sure what France's problem is. I should probably investigate.
0 Replies
 
msolga
 
  1  
Reply Wed 26 May, 2010 07:31 pm
@ossobuco,
I've thought long & hard about this issue, particularly as I live and also work in communities with large Muslim populations. This question has really vexed me, not wishing to impose "western values" on migrant cultures & religions within the Australian community. (Also, until recently, it has not been considered PC to discuss such issues openly here, so as not to be seen as disrespectful toward Muslims within our community.) So I am talking here about the wearing of the burqa in western democracies, no where else.

First, let me say that burqas are rarely seen on the streets here, though the wearing of veils is quite common practice by many Muslim women, from many different cultures. Many of these same women (particularly the younger ones) are also wearing "western" clothing, like jeans - the same as everyone else - increasingly. In fact, the only difference in appearance between many of these young women & there "western" sisters is the wearing of the veil. That's fine by me & just about anyone else I know. No problem.

But the burqa is another matter, altogether, as I see it. The few women you see wearing it are always accompanied by a male, never alone. (And on a stinking hot summer day, that male will be, more often than not, wearing appropriate clothing for the climate, generally very similar clothing to their 'western" counterparts.) My understanding is that the Muslim cultures which require the wearing of the burqa are the most extreme & conservative ones, in their expectations of women. Many Muslims I mix with in everyday life consider these cultures in that way & have little in common with them, though few would enter into a public dialogue about this. Just as the populations of "western" countries contain many shades of different ideologies, attitudes to religions & politics, so it is with Muslim populations in these countries. From extremely conservative fundamentalists to liberal Muslims. Many Muslim women (some who wear no head covering at all) would consider the burqa a throw back to older, fundamentalist cultural teaching, NOT a requirement of their religion at all.

I wish to state openly that I (personally) find the wearing of the burqa offensive, both to the Muslim women who are required to wear them & to women in general in a society such as the one I live in. For those of you who consider it a matter of "choice", consider how much real choice the women in such fundamentalist cultures actually have. Consider what sort of god requires women to reveal only their shoes (& nothing else) in public, & then only while in the company of a male family member. The burqa is a creation of men, not a requirement of god, as just about any educated, liberal Muslim will tell you. Consider what sort of interaction with other fellow human beings a woman wearing a burqa can actually have. What sort of life she can actually have in her community. You cannot properly communicate with a woman behind this tent-like garment. And (according to conservative cultural teachings) she is wearing this oppressive garment to protect men from thoughts of lust & desire. What sorts of men require such protection? What sort of god thinks this is necessary? Where in the Qur'an is it stated?

Consider for a minute why anyone should be required to experience public life in a western democracy garbed like this:

http://images.theage.com.au/2010/05/20/1477145/dyson_2105_main-200x0.jpg

http://static.guim.co.uk/sys-images/Observer/Pix/pictures/2010/3/18/1268936927089/women-burka-sarkozy-debat-001.jpg

Anyway, after much thought on this issue, I've found myself agreeing with more liberal Muslim women (some of whom have been threatened with grave reprisals within their strict fundamentalist communities) that the purpose of the burqa is basically to oppress women. Here's one such women, now living in the west. Egyptian-born columnist and lecturer Mona Eltahawy :

Quote:
I am appalled to hear the defence of the niqab or burka in Europe. A bizarre political correctness has tied the tongues of those who would normally rally to defend women's rights but who are now instead sacrificing those very rights in the name of fighting an increasingly powerful right wing.

Every time I return to Cairo from New York City, where I now live, I wonder what Hoda Shaarawi, the pioneering Egyptian feminist, would say if she could see how many of her sisters are disappearing behind the face veil. Returning from an international women's conference in Italy in 1923 " yes, we had feminists that early in Egypt " Shaarawi famously removed her face veil at a Cairo train station, declaring it a thing of the past. We might not have burned our bras in Egypt but some have described Shaarawi's gesture as even more incendiary for its time.

And yet here we are, almost a century later, arguing over a woman's "right" to cover her face. What is lost in those arguments is that the ideology that promotes the niqab (the total body covering that leaves just the eyes exposed) and the burka (the garment which covers the eyes with a mesh) does not believe in the concept of women's rights to begin with.

It is an ideology that describes women alternately as candy, a diamond ring or a precious stone that needs to be hidden to prove her "worth". That is not a message Muslims learn in our holy book, the Qur'an, nor is the face veil prescribed by the majority of Muslim scholars.

It is instead a pillar of the ultra-conservative interpretation of Islam known as Salafism. It is associated with Saudi Arabia, where I spent most of my adolescence and where it is clear that women are effectively perpetual children, forbidden as they are from driving, from travelling alone and from even the simplest of surgical procedures without the permission of a male "guardian". I detest the niqab and the burka for their erasure of women and for dangerously equating piety with that disappearance " the less of you I can see, the closer you must be to God. I defend a woman's right to cover her hair if she chooses but the face is central to human interaction and so the ideologues who promote its covering are simply misogynists. ....


http://www.guardian.co.uk/theobserver/2010/mar/21/debate-on-french-burka-ban
Irishk
 
  1  
Reply Wed 26 May, 2010 10:13 pm
I don't think a ban on the burka or headscarves would even be considered here. It wouldn't be legal. For that matter, I don't think it's legal (in a constitutional sense) in France and if they pass such a law, it'll probably cause more problems than remedies.

Dear Government: Stay the heck out of my closet. Thank you.

0 Replies
 
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Wed 26 May, 2010 10:45 pm
@msolga,
Naturally I agree with you, MsO. So, I'm confused re anything about law.
0 Replies
 
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Wed 26 May, 2010 11:26 pm
@msolga,
Thanks for that post, MsO.
Francis
 
  1  
Reply Thu 27 May, 2010 01:03 am
@ossobuco,
Irishk wrote:
it'll probably cause more problems than remedies.

Why people keep uttering such assertions is beyond me.

Everybody can see that, despite previous comments like the above, the interdiction of the hijab in public schools in France, currently enforced, didn't cause any problems..

Coming to individual freedom, why should a person, because she is Muslim, would have the right to go around masked, when I don't have that right?
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Thu 27 May, 2010 01:19 am
@Francis,
(listening to francis)
0 Replies
 
msolga
 
  1  
Reply Thu 27 May, 2010 01:52 am
Video from the AGE newspaper online site: Al varieties of pros & cons to the wearing of burqas. From extreme conservatives (like Dr Fred Nile) to others...:

Quote:
The burqa ban debate
21 May /2010

For and against: Female subjugation or ignoring the rights of women? Reverend Fred Nile and Muslim author and lawyer Randa Abdel-Fattah present their case.


http://www.theage.com.au/multimedia/opinion/the-burqa-ban-debate/20100520-vm3h.html
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Thu 27 May, 2010 02:11 am
@msolga,
How odd.

I had a discussion about this with one of our admin people yesterday!

She thought that "Those Muslims oughtn't to be able to wear those things, they're offensive and un-Australian!"

This after she had (rightly) criticised the Lebanese thugs who tried to enforce their belief that women ought to be covered by harassing women on Australian beaches wearing bathers!

I pointed out this contradiction with some relish.

Lol! I despise burkhas, but I will fight for your right to wear one of the horrible things!
msolga
 
  1  
Reply Thu 27 May, 2010 02:14 am
@dlowan,
Discussing the issue is a potential mine field, Deb. So many different "progressive" positions & so many varied "conservative" arguments. Sometimes progressive & conservatives arguing to the same outcome from radically different perspectives!
msolga
 
  1  
Reply Thu 27 May, 2010 02:43 am
@msolga,
Here's Virginia Haussegger's take, from last week's AGE. Readers' responses to her article (in the link below) were pretty interesting, too! :

Quote:
The burqa is a war on women
VIRGINIA HAUSSEGGER
May 21, 2010/the Age

http://images.theage.com.au/2010/05/20/1475060/Article-lead-burqa-420x0.jpg

A bizarre form of political correctness is preventing us from an open discussion about what is, in fact, female subjugation.

It would seem there are some things in Australia we are not allowed to discuss. A ban on the burqa is clearly one of them. But the time has come to get over our fears and cultural fragilities - and grow up. The call to ban the burqa is receiving serious consideration in European parliaments. And it should here, too.


    http://images.theage.com.au/2010/05/20/1477145/dyson_2105_main-200x0.jpg
Illustration: Dyson

Belgian legislators voted last month to outlaw the burqa in public places. On Wednesday, a bipartisan resolution passed by the French parliament deploring the burqa - on the grounds of "dignity" and "equality of men and women" - was presented to the French cabinet, and a ban is expected later this year. Italy, Switzerland, the Netherlands and Canada are also grappling with the issue.

But in Australia, in a sign of cultural timidity and intellectual weakness, we seem intent on shunning any meaningful debate about the burqa and its place in a liberal democracy. At one level this is understandable, given the issue has become a confusing tussle between feminists and well-meaning liberals; nervous libertarians and right-wing ideologues; and the usual smattering of racists and dog-whistling shock-jocks.

Unfortunately for Muslim women, the burqa is not just a garment. It has become a weapon in a war of ideology: a war in which women are the battleground and their rights and freedoms are at stake.

Here's the problem. Those who are critical of calls to ban the burqa perceive it to be an attack on personal freedoms. They view the burqa as an individual choice - which is arguable - and a religious requirement, which it is not. They look straight past the woman hidden from public view under heavy cloth, and instead applaud our multicultural tolerance. This is a mistake. The burqa has nothing to do with ethnic diversity and everything to do with a war against women. Those who wear it, and those who insist it be worn, subscribe to an ideology in which women are inferior sexual temptresses, whose female form is a problem and must be covered. This is based on the contradictory proposition that men are both superior and yet unable to control their sexual urges if they see women in their natural human state. If this wasn't deadly serious, it would be funny.

Award-winning Muslim journalist Mona Eltahawy says she is appalled to hear Europeans defend the burqa and niqab. "A bizarre political correctness has tied the tongues of those who would normally rally to defend women's rights," she says. Yet, to argue directly with Islamic fundamentalists about gender equality is fruitless. According to Eltahawy, "the ideology that promotes the niqab and burqa does not believe in the concept of women's rights to begin with".

The burqa and the niqab shroud the full body, covering every part of a woman except her feet. The niqab includes a slit for the eyes, whereas the burqa has mesh netting. Malalai Joya, an Afghan MP and a devout Muslim, hates wearing it. "It's not only oppressive," she says, "but it's more difficult than you might think. You have no peripheral vision. And it's hot and suffocating under there."

When visiting Australia recently, Joya didn't pack her burqa. She is one of the many millions of Muslim women around the world who choose not to wear it - when they don't have to. Numerous Islamic scholars, men and women, argue that there is not a single reference in the Koran that mandates women must cover their face and bodies and hide themselves from public view. The Koran does call for modesty, which some interpret as an obligation to wear the headscarf. But even that is widely questioned by progressive Muslims scholars such as Tarek Fatah, founder of the Muslim Canadian Congress. Furious at Islamic extremists for their "gender apartheid", Fatah insists that even the hijab is being used by fundamentalists as a "political tool" who have turned it into "the central pillar of Islam".

Outside Australia, there are plenty of Muslim women who despise the burqa and niqab as much as I do, and are prepared to say so. British journalist Yasmin Alibhai-Brown is a Shiite Muslim who pulls no punches. "I abhor the burqa," she wrote in The Independent, saying that she was "offended" by the presumption that women who wear it "are more pious and true" than her.

There is no doubt that women who don this ostentatious costume in the West are proud of their piety. One such woman told me, "the niqab is submission and servitude to my Almighty Creator" and that I had no right to question her choice to wear it. Well, I do. What God demands men roam free while women wear a sackcloth that restricts their movement and dehumanises them? What God wants to punish women in this way? What God hates women so much that he restricts her right to be man's equal?

The answer is obvious. No God. This is the work of men - who claim a direct link to the divine - and wish to keep women subordinate and under their control. It's that simple.


Virginia Haussegger is a Canberra-based ABC news presenter.


http://www.theage.com.au/opinion/society-and-culture/the-burqa-is-a-war-on-women-20100520-vnp3.html
fresco
 
  1  
Reply Thu 27 May, 2010 06:04 am
I am somewhat bemused by those who see this issue as "complicated".

As I see it, humans are animals with common sexual instincts such as male arousal by female forms. But humans are also "saddled with" cognitive processes which weave the exercise of such instincts into to complex webs of social interactions involving rights, responsibilities and power structures. The format of such webs is arbitrary but what they have in common is that they condition their members into particular forms of "rationality" some of which are backed by the concept of a "divine authority". Those with differing rationalities will consequently argue for different concepts of "freedom" etc in order to maintain their "self integrity".

IMO, if other animals could appreciate the mental convolutions which humans indulge in over their instincts, they would shake their heads in disbelief !
0 Replies
 
Irishk
 
  1  
Reply Thu 27 May, 2010 07:50 am
@Francis,
Francis wrote:
Coming to individual freedom, why should a person, because she is Muslim, would have the right to go around masked, when I don't have that right?


When I looked up the French headscarf ban in Wiki, this photo was displayed:

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/1/1c/Mannequin_head_with_black_headscarf.jpg/220px-Mannequin_head_with_black_headscarf.jpg

Is it only full-face covering veils that are banned?



Francis
 
  1  
Reply Thu 27 May, 2010 09:45 am
@Irishk,
This (the headscarf) is what is currently banned in public schools for everybody and in official buildings for civil servants. As a consequence, the burqa is banned too in those places.

A bill is under scrutiny at the parliament in order to promulgate a law banning the burqa everywhere...
Irishk
 
  1  
Reply Thu 27 May, 2010 10:56 am
@Francis,
Thanks, Francis. Muslim women here are allowed to wear head scarves freely pretty much anywhere. Civil Service employees aren't discriminated against (I've seen at least one TSA employee wearing the hijab) and the private workplace has provisions via the Civil Rights Act, apparently. The full-face covered burqa is more rare, I think, and of course women would be required to unveil in instances where facial identification is needed.

While I can understand both sides of the issue in France, it still seems like a slippery slope when government involves itself in dictating what people can and can't wear. Except in cases where safety in the workplace might be the issue, I still lean toward giving people the freedom to choose. JMHO.
0 Replies
 
Francis
 
  1  
Reply Thu 27 May, 2010 11:17 am
Irishk wrote:
I still lean toward giving people the freedom to choose.

It would be simple if it was a choice for the women.

Many of us, in France, think it's slavery and a prison for women to wear the burqa.

In addition, there's no reciprocity, in Muslim countries western women need to wear at least a headscarf. Why aren't they free to wear what they want?

So, it's a matter of human rights...
Irishk
 
  1  
Reply Thu 27 May, 2010 11:44 am
@Francis,
I see your point, but in some countries they are told what they must wear, only to move to a liberal democracy and be told what they cannot wear.

As a non-Muslim, I would wear a head scarf when traveling to any country in the Middle East...just as a matter of respect for their customs. OTOH, I wouldn't expect a Muslim visiting here to forego it and certainly wouldn't want to see it banned. Even little girls here, very young Muslim children, wear head scarves.
0 Replies
 
Eva
 
  1  
Reply Thu 27 May, 2010 02:21 pm
Interesting.

My first reaction was negative...that such a law would violate the concept of personal choice, and everyone should be free to choose their own dress code, especially when it reflects their religious views. In a way, it violates both freedom of expression and freedom of religion.

However, the more I think about it, the more I agree with Francis.
0 Replies
 
 

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