Argument: Banning full veil is act of discrimination and racism

Issue Report: Ban on Muslim burqa and niqab


Sandeep Gopalan. “Behind the burqa.” New York Times Op-Ed. January 27, 2010: “Why the French obsession with the burqa? After all, as the French government itself has conceded, only about 1,900 women wear the full-body covering. So why are over half of the respondents in recent public opinion polls in favor of a ban on it?

The answer is simple. This is not about a fashion faux pas or women’s rights, but about sending a message to Muslims. Concerned with increasingly visible numbers of Muslims openly practicing their way of life while enjoying the privileges of life in the West, French citizens and politicians alike feel that they need to restore “Frenchness” to their streets.”

Muslim celebrities as an act of racism. Jamel Debbouze, a popular comic and actor, said that the push for a law was xenophobic: “People going down this street are racists. It disgusts me that they are laying down who are good French and bad French. France has a new face which strangely resembles my own and they had better get that into their heads.”[1]

Abdallah Bin Eifan. “Ban on niqab and West’s bias.” Arab News. May 17, 2010: “We have seen the countries that claim to be civilized practicing double standard when it comes to Muslims. Many Muslims are discriminated against at their workplace. Muslims are looked down upon for wearing dress of their choice.

These countries allow complete freedom for same-sex marriage and sexual perversions, but they impose restrictions on Muslims concerning their practices and rituals.”

“What’s threatening about European attacks on Muslim veils.” Washington Post Editorial. May 1, 2010: “BELGIUM’S PARLIAMENT is so polarized along linguistic lines that it has been unable to agree on a government for much of the past three years. At the moment it is ruled by a caretaker coalition. But the deputies managed to achieve near-unanimity this week on one pressing issue: discriminating against Muslims. A law passed by the lower house would ban the wearing of full Islamic face veils in any public place — and exacerbate what is becoming an ugly European trend.

Like many of its neighbors, Belgium has a significant minority Muslim population — about 3 percent of a population of 10 million. Like those neighbors, it has done a poor job of integrating Muslim immigrants, and many cluster in ghettos that can be breeding grounds for extremism. This is a serious and complex problem. But too often the response of governments has been bigotry directed at immigrants or Muslims as a whole — which serves only to further alienate even non-devout members of the community.

Belgium’s burqa ban is a good example. The law prohibits any full facial covering, with a punishment for violators of a week in jail or a fine of up to $34. Some supporters claim it is an anti-crime measure, but its chief sponsor, Daniel Bacquelaine, hasn’t hesitated to describe it as an act of cultural warfare. ‘The burqa,’ he was quoted by Reuters as saying, ‘is the affirmation of a number of values that are contrary to fundamental values and universal values.'”