Thursday, 2 July 2009

Should we ban the burka?

President Sarkozy has recently raised awareness of the burka by saying that this garment that covers Muslim women from head to toe reduced them to servitude and undermined their dignity. That is his opinion but I don't think he would find many women who wear the burka agreeing with him. His reply would be of course they wouldn't agree because they live a life of servitude. How do we know who is right? The simple answer is we don't. We can also say that we don't truly know anyone's full motives in doing anything. The question is 'is it any of our business?' When a husband or wife does anything at the request of the other is it a life of servitude?

President Sarkozy is looking at whether burkas should be banned. This would be outrageous to the Muslim women because they are wearing them to maintain their modesty. My concern is that beautiful people should not be judged by their looks but by their actions and these clothes pander to superficial rules of attraction. Some may consider that the person under the burka is fairly ugly. Some may be attracted by their wonderfully beautiful eyes seen even when they wear the burka.

Much more important is the separation that this clothing causes from society. People who wear these clothes are saying I want nothing to do with the rest of society. I know there are lots of people who have nothing to do with me anyway, but they don't go round with banners saying that.

Ultimately it is the decision of individuals what they want to wear and how they want to participate in society. I support full participation but this opinion is superceded by the wish for individuals to wear what they want in public. There is one caveat. If you are on private property then you have to comply with the rules of being there. Security officers may want to see faces. Passport controllers have to see faces. Doctors and nurses may need to care for the face, and people who work in schools may have to communicate facial expressions.

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