December 12, 2016
The Burqa is a type of veil that covers the entire body with an opening in the eyes to see out of. It is typically worn by women as a form of modesty, and is most often associated with, but not exclusive to, Islam. Although the burqa is widely associate with Islam, there is no mention of it within the Muslim holy book the Qu’ran. Like the Bible, the Qu’ran contains passages within it that are to be entirely left up to interpretation. Within the Qu’ran, there is no specific mention of any specific article of clothing that is suppose to be worn by a woman. Instead, it says “They (women) shall not reveal any parts of their bodies, except that which is necessary.” (24:30). Due to the differences in interpretation and culture across the world of Islam, the dress code of women is different. This is why there are different types of dress besides the burqa, like the more common Hijab that is only meant to cover the hair and neck while exposing the face. The interpretation of such passages is vastly different as evident by differences in the type of dress from country to country. In more lenient interpretation countries like Turkey, you would typically see more women wearing Hijabs as compared to a less lenient interpretation country like Saudi Arabia or Afghanistan. But besides the differences in types of dress, they all symbolize the same thing: modesty.
The past twenty years of global affairs has been filled with global terrorist attacks, both in the West as well as the Middle East, at the hands of Islamic extremist groups like ISIS and Al Queda. These attacks have killed numerous peoples of many different faiths such as Christians, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, and especially many Muslims. Matter of fact Muslims make up the majority of terror related fatalities at nearly 83% according to the U.S National Counterterrorism Center. Although being the largest fatality group, Muslims are still sometimes blamed as a whole for these recent terrorist attacks. The governments of both Europe and the Americas have struggled to come up with effective ways to combat these terrorist groups and keep them quelled. To make matters even worse, the crises occurring in Middle Eastern countries such as Syria and Iraq have led to waves of refugees attempting to flee their home countries to the West in search of safety. As a result, there has been overcrowding in refugee camps across the EU, leading to increases in such issues like crime. With the overall rise of tensions already causing trouble in Europe, there have been cries of Islamaphobia against European lawmakers. Several European countries, even before the refugee crisis, have put forth legislation limiting traditional muslim cultural garbs like the Burqa from being worn in public.
There have been an increasing amount of countries passing both national and local legislation concerning the wearing of the Burqa as well as its bathing suite counterpart the Burquini. Countries such as France, Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and even Egypt have passed laws outlawing the modest muslim dress. So why are countries moving to ban this item of clothing? For French mayor Ange-Pierre Vivoni, “It is to bring calm to the commune,” and “for unity of people.” (CNN). By this I’m sure he means that the more alike and dressed people look, the less afraid they will be of foreigners or muslim immigrants. While there is some validity to that, some politicians like Germany’s interior minister are more forthcoming with their opinion. Having banned the burqa, he said it was because the burqa does not fit into modern German society, and that “it does not fit in with our view of women.”(CNN). Other government leaders like those in Belgium claim that they chose to ban the Burqa for both moral and security reasons, being that it contributes to the idea that women are sexual objects that must be covered up because men cannot help themselves and that the ban is to help women that are forced to wear the Burqa. Along with that, for security reasons people should have to show their face.
Besides the arguments for the burqa and burquini bans, there are also arguments that it hurts innocent muslims as well. Not allowing people to dress how they view their religion tells them to do so can be seen as being unfair. Some people see this as a way to drive muslims away towards extremist groups, with the extremist groups arguing that the West hates Islam and that the two can never coexist in the same environment.
In the end, neither side is wrong about their points. It really isn’t wrong to demand that people show their faces and embrace the culture of the country they’re living in. With the recent attacks throughout Belgium, France, and Germany, people will be nervous. These countries are letting in many refugees and helping them the best they can while still being attacked by terror groups. While it certainly isn’t wrong for the refugees and immigrants to want to live by their old customs, culture, and religion, they also do have to accept that they’re in a different country with different rules and customs. Both sides have genuine points to their arguments, but naturally in order for things to work out there will have to be compromise between the two groups.
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Washington’s Blog. (2016). Muslims Are the VICTIMS of “Between 82 and 97%
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Britton, B. (2016, August 19). Why are the burqa and burkini being banned?