Argument: Burqa can be criticized, but ban is excessive

Issue Report: Ban on Muslim burqa and niqab


“Don’t ban the burqa, question it.” Nikhat Kazmi. The Times of India. June 23rd, 2009: “Should Mr Sarkozy ban the burqa from France? Definitely not. Because bans are undemocratic and an unqualified attack on individual freedom. Should we however use this opportunity to question the efficacy of the burqa, the chador, the veil or what you will? Definitely yes. Specially since the burqa isn’t just another piece of cloth but has a lot of ideological and cultural connotations to it. The French President himself has termed it a symbol of subservience which has no place in a secular state.

While we would not like to take such a strident position against it, specially when it comes from free will, we would like to wonder why it is important for women to hide themselves when it is possible to dress decently, behave modestly, maintain chastity and be righteous without the veil too. Moreover, in societies — and circumstances — where women feel it is easier for them to maintain chastity more than the men, isn’t it time to abandon the veil even more. For any prevention against crimes against women does not lie in hiding women from untrustworthy men. The cure lies in moving towards a more gender sensitive society which is only possible if men stop looking at women as objects of gratification. A burqa is no guarantee for that. A healthier intermingling of the sexes and a more open society are the only surefire way of ensuring both modesty and equality.

But bans surely are not the way out Mr Sarkozy. Specially not in a democratic society.”

Alex Whilhem. “Don’t Ban the Burqa, Just Shun Its Use.” Huffington Post. May 12, 2010: “That is not to say that we cannot react to the burqa, even if we have to stand against its banning. There are ways of small personal protest that can be employed. Individuals are allowed to express their views in the ways they see fit. While those might have some impact, the secular tool against cultural abhorrences such as the burqa will be what is always has been, education. No normal woman wants to be discriminated against, and given time and proper schooling they can and will change their situation. We should be there to help them. If not, shame on us.

Sexism is a pernicious cultural sin. We cannot let it exist without protest.”

Sandeep Gopalan. “Behind the burqa.” New York Times Op-Ed. January 27, 2010: “Instead, France should invest in persuading the Muslim community to discard the veil voluntarily. A combination of compulsory education, incentives and access to equal opportunities is a better way forward. Bans only breed resentment and discord.”

Thomas Hammarberg. “Europe must not ban the burka.” Guardian. March 8th, 2010: “No doubt, the status of women is an acute problem within some religious communities. This needs to be discussed, but prohibiting symptoms such as clothing is not the way to do it, especially as these may not always be the reflection of religious beliefs, but of broader cultural aspects. Rightly, we react strongly against any regime ruling that women must wear these garments. This is absolutely repressive and should not be accepted. However, this is not remedied by banning the same clothing in other countries.”