Argument: Very few wear burqa; impact too small to justify ban

Issue Report: Ban on Muslim burqa and niqab


“What’s threatening about European attacks on Muslim veils.” Washington Post Editorial. May 1, 2010: “The anti-burqa cause is sweeping Europe. In addition to Belgium and France, Italy and the Netherlands are considering bans. Yet the targets of these measures are virtually nonexistent. Mr. Bacquelaine estimates that a couple of hundred women in Belgium wear a full veil. In France, one study estimated that there are 1,900 burqa wearers in a Muslim population of 5 million. […] The idea that this poses a criminal or cultural threat is ludicrous.”

“What’s behind France’s proposed burqa ban?” Christian Science Monitor. January 27, 2009: “French authorities say that only about 1,900 women wear the burqa or the niqab, two versions of the full covering with a mesh or slit for the eyes. That’s .038 percent of France’s Muslim population of about 5 million that’s now deemed a threat to the French Republic and its values.”

The Mayor of Amsterdam, Job Cohen: “But actually hardly anybody wears one… The fuss is much bigger than the number of people concerned.”[1]

“The Taliban Would Applaud.” New York Times Editorial. January 26th, 2010: “France has more than five million Muslim residents, the most of any Western European country. Fewer than 2,000 are said to wear full-body veils, posing no obvious threat to French identity or security. But because they are so few, they make a temptingly cheap electoral target.”

Sandeep Gopalan. “Behind the burqa.” New York Times Op-Ed. January 27, 2010: “The commission’s report said “the wearing of the full veil is a challenge to our republic. This is unacceptable. We must condemn this excess.” If fewer than 2,000 Muslim women are capable of mounting a challenge to the republic, France must be built on weak foundations.”

Steve Chapman. “A free society requires mutual tolerance.” Boston Globe. May 23, 2010: “faceless women are not exactly rampant in the West. The Belgium Muslim Council says that of the country’s 500,000 Muslims, only two dozen or so keep their faces covered. Among France’s 5 million Muslims, those in veils number just 2,000.”