The ban of the burqa

“The Dutch government, facing re-election next week, said Friday it plans to draw up legislation “as soon as possible” banning the head-to-toe garment known as burqas and other clothing that covers the entire face in public places.”

I have blogged about this in the past (and Thom did too), and my opinion is that religious clothes must only be banned when they get in the way of performing an action that requires otherwise. For example, girls should not wear long dresses when they are on a gym class and Muslim women should not wear burqas when they are teaching children (eye contact is important) or when working in something as dangerous as chemistry can be. But for all other “normal” uses of religious clothing, when it doesn’t get in the way, people should be free to wear whatever they like. If I want to go shop groceries wearing a burqa, I should be able to do so.

Dutch were always innovative regarding their laws. They usually have laws that other countries get/modify years later. And I believe that this is such a case. This IS a law that is in accordance with the Dutch being ahead of the game. How so, you ask? How is it possible for the always open minded Dutch to create such a restrictive law and still call them “first in the game?” The answer is simple: other countries will follow with similar laws. I see UK being No2, being the king of spying to its citizens. But make no mistake. This law has NOTHING to do with religious bigotry. This law has everything to do with surveillance.

“From a security standpoint, people should always be recognizable and from the standpoint of integration, we think people should be able to communicate with one another,” Minister Rita Verdonk said.

The western world is becoming totalitarian (or “policed”). It will be a mix of totalitarianism and some twisted form of democracy. In the next 100 years people will be less free to do many things that today we take for granted (e.g. smoking on a live TV show was the norm in the ’60s!). It was always like that, but it will become more apparent as the time goes by. Demo-totalitarianism (as I call this bastardized version of democracy) is the only efficient way to survey and keep order in a planet of over 7 billion people. It’s inevitable. Forget democracy the way our forefathers envisioned it. It just doesn’t scale as well.

So, don’t take this Dutch law as “religious bigotry”. Take it as a sign of the things to come. At a western country near you.

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Thom Holwerda wrote on November 17th, 2006 at 11:10 AM PST:

Eugenia, a little understanding about Dutch politics wouldn’t hurt. This law was proposed by a politician who is anti-Islam *in general*. One of his remarks, when he was interviewed on the street and a Muslim woman wearing a headscarf passed by:

“Well, that spoils the view.”

This politician called referred to the Islam as a “tsunami”, as well.

Another politician who supported this law, also anti-Islam, compared the Islam with the Nazi-Germany occupation of our country.

They use the silly surveillance excuse to cover up this religious racist background. If this really was about surveillance, then how come this *only* speaks of burkas, and not i.e. the winter situation I referred to? This has fcuk all to do with surveillance (research has shown there are about 30 (!) people in this country wearing burkas), but everything with religious racism.

I don’t sa this very often, but when it comes to religious tolerance, The Netherlands can learn *a lot* from the US. We Dutch were the first country in the world to have rudimentary religious freedom; now we are one of the first Western countries to take steps back.

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Eugenia wrote on November 17th, 2006 at 11:17 AM PST:

Thom, you are failing to understand one thing: in the parliament, there are hundreds of people voting, not just these two guys. Even if the law was proposed by two assholes, the law must be voted by many in order to pass.

And if this law passes, it won’t be because half the parliament is anti-islamic. It will be because they have “plans” for a more surveillance-oriented country. Don’t let the smokescreen of “a politician who hates muslims” blind you. Look beyond that.

Thom Holwerda wrote on November 17th, 2006 at 11:20 AM PST:

This law has not passed parliament yet. You were saying?

The point is that anti-Islam sentiments are raving through the country. It’s a sure way to get votes.

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Eugenia wrote on November 17th, 2006 at 11:21 AM PST:

>This law has not passed parliament yet.

I said IF.

>anti-Islam sentiments are raving through the country

Maybe your beloved country is not as open minded as you like it to think it is. ;-)

Hugo wrote on November 18th, 2006 at 1:42 AM PST:

Muslim women are required to wear veils or burkas because that’s islamic law. Essentially what they are telling them is that in the Netherlands the only law is Dutch law. I like that, in fact i think that before an immigrant is accepted in a country he or she should sign a declaration stating he accepts that country fundamental values and laws, or else take a hike.

Thom Holwerda wrote on November 18th, 2006 at 4:52 AM PST:

Hugo, the base of an open and democratic society is that you accept people who think differently. If you force people who come here to completely adapt to your way of thinking… How open and tolerant are you? If we force Muslim women not to wear veils, headscarfs, and burkas by law, then how on earth can we sell democracy, openness, and freedom of speech to the Muslim world? I mean, they can now point at us and say, hey, look, the West doesn’t have freedom either!

I find your sentiment to be extremely dangerous. My country is built on tolerance – as said, we were the first to have religious freedom, long before the US even existed – and this new sign o’times goes against everything I as a thoroughbred (euh) Dutchman stand for.

This won’t help integration either. This only creates seperation. If women wearing burkas are no longer allowed to go outside on the streets, they’ll be forced to stay inside completely. Really smart if you want Mulsim women to participate. This law is not only religiously racist, it’s also extremely counterproductive, and therefore utterly, utterly stupid.

And no offense, but if you’re not Dutch, you simply won’t understand the problems we are facing with integration. We have 1 million Muslims here (6.7% of the population) and trying to fcuk them over like this just has written ’stupid’ all over it.

Hugo wrote on November 19th, 2006 at 1:11 AM PST:

You’re missing the point, gurkas aren’t a fad, it’s not some sort of muslim fashion. They are a symbol of submission and opression, shackles muslim women must have.
Btw, isn’t holocaust denial also forbidden in your country? Does your country have blasphemy laws? how does that go with freedom of speech.

Apotheosis wrote on November 20th, 2006 at 10:07 AM PST:

Eugenia, you are right in what you are saying, that there is a larger agenda behind all these changes and laws, everything working towards a more controlled environment, more totalitarian indeed, as you put it. No arguments from me on that.

At the same time, there is also the question of multi-cultural, diverse yet tolerant societies. It is proving unmanageable, mostly because noone is willing to actually integrate. As for the burqas, I have two questions, rather than trying to explain my argument. First, would you feel comfortable, if you were say a shop owner and several people a day came to your shop to buy stuff wearing a black helmet? Just think about it. Second, I am all for tolerance and equality, but as long as it is a two way street. Do you think you are free to express yourself and dress as you please if you visit a highly religious muslim country? Do you actually have the freedom there, as some people are demanding in foreign countries?

I by no means have answers, or even concrete opinions on the subject. But I do believe that there is a storm brewing.

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