The Burqa: To Ban Or Not To Ban?

The Netherlands just banned the burqa. Is this something that should concern us, or is it something to applaud?

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia - November 26, 2010: Local women dressed in a religious burka

By Michael Brown Published on June 30, 2018

The Netherlands has decided to ban the burqa, joining a number of other countries with similar bans in place. Is this something positive, a pushback against encroaching, militant Islam, something that all freedom-loving people should applaud? Is this also a good and necessary move to help preserve a country’s heritage and history? Or is this something that should concern all people of faith and freedom, since it is our practices that could be targeted next?

Let me lay out the main arguments for each position with the goal of provoking discussion rather than coming to a definitive conclusion. (Note that the ban in the Netherlands applies to “‘face-covering clothing’ in public buildings, including hospitals, schools and government offices, as well as on public transportation. Although the ban does not extend to public streets, the law authorizes police to ask individuals to remove face-covering clothing to establish their identity.”)

Arguments in Favor

In favor of banning the burqa we can say: 1) It’s one thing to take in immigrants. It’s another thing for those immigrants to begin to take over your country. People can do what they like in private, but for women to wear burqas in varied public settings is to make a aggressive, bold statement, one that the whole society feels.

2) The burqa is not merely an expression of Islam. It is an expression of militant Islam. And militant Islam wants to control, to subjugate. It does not want to blend in and integrate. It wants to dominate. And just as we shouldn’t allow militant Islamic clerics to import hatred and violence into our countries, we shouldn’t allow militant Muslims to force their practices on their women in our societies.

3) The culture of the burqa is the culture of oppression, of viewing women as second-class citizens. This flies in the face of our Western values and is a direct assault on our heritage and culture. Not only so, but as expressed by Dutch Interior Minister Kajsa Ollongren:

Far from violating fundamental rights, the ban will enable Muslim women “to have access to a wider social life” because if they do not cover the face “they will have more possibilities for contact, communication and opportunities to enter the job market.”

In the words of Dutch political leader Geert Wilders, “People’s faces should not be hidden in society, for it is our faces that give us our identity and our fundamental means of communication with others.”

Arguments Against

Against banning the burqa we can say: 1) If there is to be freedom of religion for one, there must be freedom of religion for all. Otherwise, where do we draw the line? What if Christians were forbidden from wearing a cross? Or Catholic clergy were forbidden from wearing collars? Or religious Jews were forbidden from wearing yarmulkes (the ritual head coverings worn by devout Jewish men) and tzitzit (the ritual fringes that they wear)? Why single out Muslims?

2) Muslim women wear the burqas by choice. It is part of their religion, and for them, it provides safety and covering. And while it may seem extreme to many of us in the West, overall, it’s a good thing. Or do we think it better for our women to dress like prostitutes, walking the streets in skin-tight, flesh-revealing outfits? The West is obsessed with sex and makes women into sexual objects. The burqa declares that women will not be degraded. Rather than oppressing them, it gives them dignity.

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3) This is also a matter of individual freedom. Who appointed the State to tell us how to (and not to) dress? Who appointed the State to be the arbiter of clothing and style? It’s one thing to ban public nudity (for many obvious reasons). It’s another thing entirely to ban a head-to-toe covering.

4) Our countries are strong because they are diverse. Welcoming another culture into our midst helps us rather than hurts us. And we must not give place to fear, as if every Muslim were a terrorist and as if all Muslims wanted to take over our culture. We can preserve our heritage while welcoming Muslims.

I polled my Twitter followers, asking them, “The Netherlands has now approved the burqa ban. Is this a good thing, preserving national identity in the face of encroaching Islam? Or is it a bad thing, attacking religious liberties?”

Twelve hours into the poll, the results were 54 percent saying it was a “Good Thing,” 26 percent saying it was a “Bad Thing,” and 20 percent “Undecided.”

What’s your take and why? To ban or not to ban?

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  • traci94

    I think it should be banned. First, most women do not freely choose to wear the burqa. It is a sign of subjugation and male dominance, and many women have been killed for refusing to wear a burqa or head covering (for disrespecting Islam and/or bringing “shame” to the family – “honor killings” – there have even been a few cases in the US).

    Second, it is a matter of public safety and security, for reasons that should be plainly obvious. Sure, most who wear it are NOT going to be a terrorist in disguise, but still…Additionally, we are required to show identification for many different reasons, such as cashing a check or being stopped for a traffic violation…are these women going to be exempt from that kind of thing? I recently read an article of some women in NY who sued because they had to take their face covering off for a mug shot; the rest of us would have to take of hats or sun glasses to have a mug shot (as we should), that really should be non-negotiable.

    • Jacob Miller

      >> First, most women do not freely choose to wear the burqa.

      How many Muslim women have to asked about this? Or do you just assume it?

      It was my assumption, as well, until I talked to several Muslim women about this. I’m not so sure now.

  • Mamox69

    For me, the strongest argument is the second in favour of the ban, namely that burqa is the sign of militant Islam. It’s not a long and widely followed tradition. Another comment to the 1st argument against: in Europe many countries ban the wearing or showing of certain symbols, basically those from the Nazi and the communist eras. So banning the burqa belongs to this chapter and not something singular specifically against immigrants or a certain faith group.

  • Lisa

    How do we know it’s a woman under there and not a terrorist? I know I feel nervous when seeing them, remembering the Middle Ages when Muslims were conquering the Middle East and the West. Just 17 years ago, we were attacked on 9/11 by radical Islam, and this clothing is a reminder that they still want Jihad.

    Good for Europe. Hope this pushback isn’t too little, too late.

  • Nathan James

    The arguments in favor of a ban rightly refer to the wearing of burqas as “a bold, aggressive statement,” and “an expression of militant Islam.” The question is a matter of free speech as well as freedom to practice one’s own religion. The fact that the religion in question is detestable should not be the determining factor of banning its expression. There’s no sense in banning the burqa unless you’re going to ban speech expressing similar content. It is the IDEA that we object to. The clothing itself is harmless.

    • Jacob Miller

      >> “an expression of militant Islam.”

      But is it really? I don’t think Dr. Brown makes his case on that claim.

      Conservative Islam maybe, but militant? That’s a big claim that deserves some proof.

  • tz1

    Should the hoods the KKK wear be banned? They are in several areas.
    We also have a problem occasionally with driver’s licenses here where muslim women want to be wearing the burkah so no ID is possible (get ready for mark of the beast RFID chipping if we approve of that religious freedom).

    The US has anti-mask laws in many areas. Why should the burkah be exempt?

    Also, these are mainly refugees, not citizens. If a Muslim or Jew invited me to his house, should I bring a ham sandwich can claim religious freedom? Tolerance is good, but there is taking advantage and acting like a bad guest.

    But the Burka is just one thing. What about Female Genital Mutilation? Halal slaughter? You have to draw the line.

    • Jacob Miller

      >> But the Burka is just one thing. What about Female Genital Mutilation? Halal slaughter? You have to draw the line.

      I think there a reasonable line that can be drawn to allow scarves but forbid murder and mutilation.

  • Jacob Miller

    This is not the worst article Dr Brown has even written but he still gets this in:

    >> It’s one thing to take in immigrants. It’s another thing for those immigrants to begin to take over your country. </i.

    Best I can tell, Dr. Brown is a land-based, territorial Christian. He denies being a Christian nationalist or "Dominionist" and I'm inclined to believe him. It's probably not that thought-out for him.

    It's more of a gut world view, as in "The Muslims are taking over our country!"

    As a New Testament Christian, I believe this land-based religion removes a powerful and revolutionary message of Jesus — that the Kingdom of God is within us. We are not a territorial religion, defending borders, territory or countries.

    That's a great freedom in Christ!

    And, it's a teaching of Jesus Dr. Brown doesn't seem to have internalized.

  • Andy6M

    I am not in favor of a ban on the burqa, however, I believe that for situations where identity must be established, ie drivers license, court rooms, voting, etc, there must be accommodation made for the laws of the land by those wearing them.

  • Irene Neuner

    Burkas on Halloween only!!!

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