Argument: Burqa is individual commitment to modesty, not oppression

Issue Report: Ban on Muslim burqa and niqab


“Is France right to ban wearing the burka in public? NO:” Stephanie Street on Guardian. March 21, 2010: “I wonder how many niqab-wearing French citizens Nicolas Sarkozy has sat with and talked to. I imagine not many. Because if he had, he could not with a clear conscience say that ‘the burka is not a religious sign (but) a sign of subservience, of debasement’. He is right to assume that there are significant problems with the status of women in certain Muslim communities. This, however, is not oppression on religious grounds but rather, cultural. To whatever extent a Muslim woman chooses to practise it, modesty is a central concern within the religion (for men as well, although this is often ignored). Everyone I spoke to who wore Islamic dress did so because this issue of modesty is sacrosanct, and they felt liberated not being judged on their appearance. And those who choose to wear the niqab are doing that to an extreme.”

Joan Scott, a historian at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey, and author of the 2007 book The Politics of the Veil: “There are women who wear burqas who are not being forced by anyone, who think that form of modesty is appropriate for who they want to be in the world.”[1]