Would a burqa ban really be un-British?

November 24, 2016 22:56

A burqa ban would be un-British

By Ed West Religion : July 1st, 2010

Tory MP Phillip Hollobone has introduced a private member’s bill that will attempt to ban the burqa and the niqab in Britain.
His Face Coverings (Regulation) Bill will ban those two extreme forms of face covering, although, as he points out, not the hijab, khimar or chador. I’ll say one thing about multiculturalism – it’s certainly taught us a lot about women’s fashion.
Below are some excerpts of a speech he made to the House in March about the issue, which appears on ConservativeHome.
In my view and that of my constituents, the niqab and the burqa are oppressive dress codes that are regressive as regards the advancement of women in our society.
As I was sitting on the bench in the playground watching my children play on the slides, I thought to myself, “Here I am, in the middle of Kettering in the middle of England – a country that has been involved for centuries with spreading freedom and democracy throughout the world – and here’s a woman who, through her dress, is effectively saying that she does not want to have any normal human dialogue or interaction with anyone else. By covering her entire face, she is effectively saying that our society is so objectionable, even in the friendly, happy environment of a children’s playground, that we are not even allowed to cast a glance on her.” I find that offensive and I think it is time that the country did something about it…
The problem with that (preventing others from seeing a person’s face) is that it goes against the British way of life. Part of the joy of living in our country is that we pass people every day in the street, exchange a friendly greeting, wave, smile and say hello.
Of course, many of these women are forced to wear the burqa by their husband or their family. The resulting lack of interaction with everyone else means that many are unable to speak or learn English and so will never have any chance of becoming integrated into the British way of life.
Many of my constituents have contacted me to say that when they visit Muslim countries they respect the dress codes in those countries and wear appropriate headgear. The phrase that has been given to me time and again is, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.” This is Britain; we are not a Muslim country. Covering one’s face in public is strange, and to many people it is intimidating and offensive. I seriously think that a ban on wearing the niqab or the burqa in public should be considered.
I doubt many people in this neck of the internet woods will disagree with his analysis. In European culture the wearing of masks in everyday life is considered threatening and provocative, facial expressions and eye contact being so central to interaction.
And if the offended brigade reply that this is “aimed at one community”, it is because only one community adopt this extreme form of dress – and not even “one community”, but a small section of it. Most Muslim women would never consider wearing such clothes, and many Muslim countries ban them, as well as far less extreme forms of clothing.
But in England the peoples’ clothing has never been considered the state’s business before. London is a smorgasbord of offensively-clothed individuals, from obese clubbers in boob tubes to hoodies wearing those ridiculous caps with the tag still on, not to mention the various tribes of crusties who congregate around Camden Town.
Burqa-wearers seem essentially harmless in comparison. Many people find the excess show of flesh more offensive than the fashion for extreme prudery – and feel that the ubiquity of flesh and sex in the atmosphere doesn’t help Muslim men encourage their daughters to integrate.
So, as much as the sight of these outfits depress me, the law would be alien to us as a nation. Whatever we feel about the burqa, it’s none of the state’s business to dictate how a woman dresses, even if there are legitimate fears that she may have been pressured into it.

November 24, 2016 22:56

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