06 August 2010
The Burka Debate
Wearing the veil is regrettable. It cuts the wearer off from normal human interactions through which communication, understanding and friendship can grow. But our commitment to the freedom of the individual to do as they wish, as long as it harms nobody else, means we cannot support legislation to bar certain types of clothing. However, there are circumstances where freedom may be circumscribed owing to the need for the individual to undertake particular roles in employment or to satisfy reasonable security requirements for identification and openness. These limitations are best defined by employers, agencies and trading organisations in their particular circumstances.
The courts must be careful to ensure the veil is not recognised as a religious requirement (which could make it unchallengeable) and that the rights of others to withhold jobs, services, passage and participation from veil wearers are protected.
Wearing the veil may demonstrate hostility to Western traditions but it is everybody’s right to demonstrate that. When wearing the veil is forced upon women by relatives or communities the means of combating that must be through education and campaigning and clear support for Muslim women fighting for their rights.
At what point do western societies cease to accept the hostility of those who seek to overthrow our basic freedoms and institute sharia over both muslim and "non-believers"? Where is the line? When we see protesters with signs reading, "Down with freedom", what is to be our response?
But that doesn't address the burka issue, does it? Are you advocating a ban, Anonymous?
Personally I see it more as a clash of Modern with Medieval, Rational with Religious, which stretches across divides and occurs within civilizations.
Of course they are only visitors and I don't know the situation of Western women working say in Saudi or Iran etc.
It is regrettable though, that Western TV reporters always seem to don the scarf when in Muslim countries. Is that a condition of getting permission to broadcast I wonder?