Thursday, June 30 2016

Prohibiting burqa does not liberate women

The Commissioner for Human Rights at the Council of Europe, Thomas Hammarberg stated in a press release yesterday that bans on full-face veils may alienate women rather than liberate them,

“It is more likely that such laws – so obviously targeting the adherents of one religious faith – would further stigmatise these women and lead to their alienation from the majority society. Banning women dressed in the burqa/niqab from public institutions like hospitals or government offices may only result in them avoiding such places entirely. This is not liberation.”

The press release cited an Open Society Foundations report which found that of 32 women interviewed, all of whom wore the face-veil in France, 30 had been verbally abused and some also physically assaulted. Such experiences mean that the women prefer now to limit time spent outside of their homes. This demonstrates how such legislation risks isolating elements of the Muslim community rather than integrating them.

Hammarberg highlighted that debates on relatively trivial matters such as the niqab have sidetracked the debate away from more important issues,

“The way the dress of a small number of women has been portrayed as a key problem requiring urgent discussion and legislation is a sad capitulation to the prejudices of the xenophobes.

“Much deeper problems of intercultural tensions and gaps have been sidetracked by the burqa and niqab discussions. Instead of encouraging this unfortunate discourse, political leaders and governments should take more resolute action against hate crimes and discrimination against minorities.”

In earlier comments in 2010, he stated that bans on the niqab and burqa may be an invasion of individual privacy and contravene the European Convention of Human Rights,

“Two rights in the Convention are particularly relevant. One is the right to respect for one’s private life and personal identity (Article 8). The other is the freedom to manifest one’s religion or belief “in worship, teaching, practice and observance” (Article 9).

He stated that limitations on such legislation may be implemented “in the interests of public safety, for the protection of public order, health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.” However, those arguing for bans on the burqa and niqab have not managed to demonstrate any of these, and the fact that very small numbers of women wear such attire makes arguments for bans very unconvincing.

He also argued that there is no way to prove that women who wear it are any more oppressed than other women, and that “Those who have been interviewed in the media have presented a diversity of religious, political and personal arguments for their decision to dress themselves as they do”.

Hammarberg argued that many arguments for bans on the niqab and burqa are “clearly Islamophobic” because they focus on what is perceived as Muslim dress. He emphasises the need to discuss these issues openly, “However, attempts should be made to broaden the discourse to cover essential matters, including how to promote understanding of different religions, cultures and customs. Pluralism and multiculturalism are essential European values and should so remain.”

Hammarberg’s comments come as Belgium prepares to enforce a ban on the burqa from this Saturday the 23rd July. Individuals contravening the ban will face a €137.50 fine and up to 7 days in prison. It is estimated that just 270 people wear a full-face veil in Belgium.

Belgium will be the second European country to enforce such legislation after France, who enforced its ban from 11 April 2011.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 31 August 2011 17:43


0 #2 this man is on marklamia 2011-07-23 09:32
may allah guide you to islam
you're a good, polite and just person
yes,, banning woman from her favourite dresses is very silly work
thank you may Allah guide you and support your good steps to save islam and muslims
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0 #1 BurqaIftikhar Ahmad 2011-07-22 17:54
Dr. Mehmood Khalid, Spokesperson and Deputy Chief of Advocacy Unit of International Imam Organization called upon the Government of Belgium about the shocking news Ban on Burqa for women in public places.

Dr. Mehmood highlighted the government about the importance of Burqa in Islam. Burqa represents the ideology of Muslim's worldwide. But by imposing a ban on it, is not only distressing but disgraceful for the Islamic community residing in the country as well as outside. Everyone has right to follow their religious values. He urged the Government of Belgium to re-consider their decision as well as also consider the Islamic Organizations like Islamic Cultural Centre for advice on how to adjust with such sanctions.

The government of Belgium should also take a public opinion before establishing such laws. Instead of taking such measures the Government should launch programs for integration of Muslims into belgium and implement open door policy so that all religion get to keep their idea. In fact the Government should fight for the ideological struggle, as it is undemocratic and against the freedom of an individual.

Muslim Women maintains the dignity and sanctity of their religion sentiments. So why is the Government of Belgium then forcing the muslim women not wear burqa. These measures or legislations will only create more tension between Islam and the West. We all should work together and increase the brotherhood and parity between Islam and other faiths instead of barging out with such legal sanction. This is the time too create harmony and peace and to welcome all religions with open arms.
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