German school bans the niqab

As I’ve said before, the “burkini ban” passed (and enforced) by three French towns is ludicrous and counterproductive.  It’s no different from wearing a wetsuit, though of course the motivations differ, and that was what the French, in their misguided way, were addressing. But what about other forms of veiling in Islamic women’s dress?

This issue comes up perennially, and surfaced once again with the recent notice that an 18-year-old Muslim student in Germany will not be allowed to wear the niqab (a full-face veil with an eyeslit; see below) in her school. Suing the school, the Sophie Scholl evening gymnasium (curiously, Sophie Scholl is one of my long-time heroes), the student lost. As The Independent noted:

The court in the north-west of the country rejected the teenager’s appeal when she did not appear in person to make her case following huge media attention. She herself was born and grew up in Germany, according to the Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung.

It is one of the first rulings of its kind in Germany to forbid the face veil in classes, in a clash between the country’s principle that each state may decide educational rules, and the principle of religious freedom. Both principles are signed into constitutional law.

The school had argued that it could not ensure the educational development of its student, who was admitted in April this year, when her face was fully covered. Clearly identifying the student was also a problem, it argued.

When the student suggested that a female teacher lift her face veil to identify her, the school said this measure did not solve the overarching problem of effective communication.

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A niqab

Another Bavarian school has also banned the niqab, and Germany (with Angela Merkel’s support), is now considering banning the burqa, the full-body garment that invariably includes a niqab on the head.

In 2010, France completely banned the niqab from being worn in public, and in 2014 the European Court of Human Rights upheld that ban. Their ruling was based on this: “The court was therefore able to accept that the barrier raised against others by a veil concealing the face was perceived by the respondent State as breaching the right of others to live in a space of socialisation which made living together easier.”

I support the German rules to ban niqabs (though a German teachers’ union doesn’t), but I wouldn’t go so far as the French. My view is that anyone should be prohibited from covering the face in public when viewing the face is necessary. And that means in schools, in banks, in government offices, in hospitals and doctors’ offices, and perhaps in shops (as a protection against robbery).  That, of course, goes along with banning the burqa so long as it covers the face—as it always does.  And this isn’t just true for Islam: insofar as anybody conducts public business, they should be prohibited from covering their faces, whether the motivation be religious or not. Revealing the eyes is not sufficient.

I was heartened to learn that Christopher Hitchens agreed, though I don’t know whether he ever wrote about the hijab (headscarf), which in my view shouldn’t be banned, though it’s not a clearcut case. (I always tell the story about the Muslim women at a Turkish school who told me they were in favor of the existing hijab ban because, if it were allowed, social pressure would devolve on them as “bad Muslims” to wear the scarf, too.)

In 2009, Hitchens wrote an editorial in the Daily News decrying covering of the face. I’ve put a bit of this excerpt in bold, as it brings up the relatively un-discussed question of how much of a “choice” veiling one’s body is—even in Western countries where there are no bans. And I’ve put the last sentence in bold, too, because we often forget (as I learned in Turkey) that allowing religious garments removes an element of choice from women subject to social pressure.

Hitchens:

Of course you would have to be crazy to try to rob a bank while wearing a burka, even if you were a heavily armed man: The whole point of the garment is that it weighs you down, restricts your movements and abolishes your peripheral vision. It’s like being condemned to view the world through the slit of a mailbox.

But that observation – if you will excuse the expression – brings us to another and even more powerful objection to this mode of dress. It is quite plainly designed by men for the subjugation of women. One cannot be absolutely sure that no woman has ever donned it voluntarily, but one can certainly say that, in countries where women can choose not to wear it, then not wearing it is the choice they generally make.

This disposes right away of the phony argument that religious attire is worn as a matter of “right.” It is almost exactly the other way around: The imposition of burkas or even head scarfs on women – just like the compulsory growing of beards for men – is the symbol of a denial of rights and the inflicting of a tyrannical code that obliterates personal liberty.

. . . Thus the two questions – of rights and of security – actually merge into one and dictate that we must insist on seeing people’s faces. It’s an elementary aspect of civilized life: If you want to teach my children or be my doctor or even be the clerk on the other side of the counter at my bank, I demand, as my right, to be able to read your facial expression.

In France, the government already says that when you are in school you leave your religious identity behind. Many young Muslim women support this ban because it gives them legal protection against cruel and illegal pressure to wear items of dress that they have not chosen.

It’s important to remember the two points in bold in every discussion of Muslim women’s attire, discussions that are sure to multiply.

69 Comments

  1. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted August 25, 2016 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for looking up the Hitchens piece, I hadn’t read it. Man, he looks us in the eye and shakes us by our shoulders with his writing, doesn’t he.

  2. jaxkayaker
    Posted August 25, 2016 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

    Subject-verb agreement error in post title.

    I agree completely, people should be compelled to show their faces when necessary for identification purposes. It’s absurd to think a niqab-covered facial photo is acceptable as a driver’s license photo, for example.

  3. geckzilla
    Posted August 25, 2016 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

    I wish there was a solution to this that didn’t end in reinforcing the idea that, see, you women shouldn’t go to school, shouldn’t drive, shouldn’t … etc. It concerns me that these laws will turn some women into virtual shut-ins and deprive them of opportunities in life. In a religious family, this is like asking them to choose not between wearing or not wearing their burka, but whether their allegiance is to their family or to the state. Guess which one almost always wins.

    • Posted August 25, 2016 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

      If you ban the niqab at schools at least the woman will be an adult by the time she has the opportunity to wear it all the time.

      As abhorrent as the niqab is, allowing the state to control what someone wears is over-reach.

      • gravelinspector-Aidan
        Posted August 25, 2016 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

        If you ban the niqab at schools at least the woman will be an adult by the time she has the opportunity to wear it all the time.

        No. She’ll be withdrawn from schooling (a desirable thing in many veiling-using societies), or if complete withdrawal is illegal and the law is enforced, then sham school organisations will be set up to play whack-a-mole with the authorities. (Again, many closed religious communities like this sort of solution too – such as the ultra-Orthodox Jews of London who have been setting up … what’s the Jewish equivalent of a madrassa? … schools in London which fall grossly short of UK education standards.)

      • eric
        Posted August 25, 2016 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

        I think Aidan’s point is valid; assuming German law allows homeschooling the way US law does, the response to such requirements – at least for some portion of the fundamentalist Muslim community – will simply be to home school the girls.

        Assuming there is a reasonable way for the teachers to identify the girls, I’d be inclined to permit it until some bad abuse happens (i.e. kids start using niqabs to avoid being caught doing bad things, etc.). Cross that bridge when we get to it. Until then, don’t fix a non-problem via restricting rights.

        Where it becomes as safety or discipline issue, I have no problem banning it. Those are very valid secular reasons for doing so. But I think large-scale pre-emptive bans probably do more harm than good.

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted August 25, 2016 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

      Those are some of the intended effects of veiling rules.

      • geckzilla
        Posted August 25, 2016 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

        Under a theocratic government, and probably under a family with an authoritarian patriarch, as well. The laws do not punish the men, though, only the women. And it is likely the men who are the largest culprits enforcing these strict dress rules upon the women in their families. They are not held accountable for any of this. I don’t see how any of this helps anyone. Tell the men that they are not allowed to do anything their wives are not allowed to do, and maybe we will see a change in behavior.

        • Posted August 25, 2016 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

          Some Iranian men post photos of themselves with headscarves to protest the law that imposes headscarves on women.

          • geckzilla
            Posted August 25, 2016 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

            I saw that a little while back. Kudos to them. One hopes it’s part of a broader change for Iran.

          • Craw
            Posted August 26, 2016 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

            Cross-dressing is a capital offence in sharia.

            • Posted August 26, 2016 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

              I hope that they will not suffer repercussions.

        • gravelinspector-Aidan
          Posted August 25, 2016 at 8:03 pm | Permalink

          “How do you like that Gander Sauce, Goosie?”

          • Posted August 26, 2016 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

            I think you mean “How do you like that Goose sauce, Gander?”

            • gravelinspector-Aidan
              Posted August 27, 2016 at 6:55 pm | Permalink

              If that were the case, then the saying would be “What’s sauce from the goose is sauce for the gander”. Which it’s not.

              • Posted August 27, 2016 at 7:29 pm | Permalink

                Well, neither bird is actually eating the sauce, they are being eaten with it, The point is it’s the sauce suitable for goose being applied to the gander. Especially if you’re using it to say men should try what women are doing.

              • gravelinspector-Aidan
                Posted August 28, 2016 at 7:56 pm | Permalink

                That depends on how you want to interpret the saying. I was well into my teens before it the linguistic equivalent of a Neckar Cube and flipped from being giving sauces to the goose and the gander according to their taste, and what you use for cooking the birds. But then I also thought of geese not as food but as Auntie’s guard dogs (apart from the gander, who was a pussycat of a guard dog).

  4. Petrushka
    Posted August 25, 2016 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

    My local school system has had a strict dress code for quite a few years. It was instituted to prevent gangs from identifying themselves through dress, and to prevent “obscene” slogans and pictures, but it would serve here as well.

    Clothing must be solid colors (from a list).

    In this case, religious clothing serves the same tribal purpose as gang colors, and promotes discord.

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted August 25, 2016 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

      What’s wrong with simply dictating the uniform? “Thou shalt wear this, that and the other. If you are not wearing this, that and the other, you WILL be sent home and recorded as having not attended that day.” Usual provisions for truancy, parents failing to ensure the child attends school etc then kick in, including in egregious cases, jail.
      Yes, “buy uniform only here” has been used as a scam from time to time. And scamming schools have rightly been taken to task publicly over it.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted August 25, 2016 at 6:27 pm | Permalink

        Schools here (NZ) are allowed to set their own uniform rules, anything from ‘full uniform’ to ‘anything goes’. The cost of uniform – and in particular excessive prices charged by ‘approved suppliers’ – is a frequently recurring source of complaint or debate.

        (My view – ‘dress code’ is okay, ‘approved supplier only’ is not, just begging for commercial extortion).

        cr

        • gravelinspector-Aidan
          Posted August 25, 2016 at 8:07 pm | Permalink

          Approved supplier is indeed a recipe for corruption.
          Uniforms do mean that you don’t need to waste time wondering what to wear today. Same as yesterday, same as tomorrow. And the blandishments of the fashion industry fall upon stony ground.

      • Posted August 26, 2016 at 11:51 am | Permalink

        I attended a “alternative school” in Quebec for my high school years. This is a public school with some of the supposed “attractions” of private ones (including restricted admissions, elite programs, and … uniforms). I got the impression at the time that the staff and administration spent too much time worrying about the uniform violations than about academics and personal growth of their students (which are legitimate tasks for a school). This would be even more of a timewaster in a school where there were even more discipline and academic problems (as there would be in a school with the power to kick students out based on “lack of effort” etc.)

        I would leave my experience as just that, but for a letter to the editor (after an article about the benefits of alternative and private schools) a few years after my graduation, from one of the vice-principals from my students. He echoed the *exact same* complaint.

        My elementary school had a “dress code” which was, basically, “no jeans”, which is pretty lax and doesn’t do much either way. (Also was allowed to be violated by the teachers and by girls in “jean skirts”, which was a bit odd.)

    • Posted August 25, 2016 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

      I was discussing high school dress codes with some teen-aged friends recently. I graduated from a large high school in California in 1958.
      There were stringent dress codes then: no tennis shoes, no sandals for girls (boys might get too excited over the bare feet!), no gang colors (back then, pink and black), no big crucifixes (also worn by gang members), and boys and girls had to walk at least 12″ apart on the school campus. The vice principals patrolled the school with rulers during breaks and lunch hour to ensure the distance rule was met.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted August 25, 2016 at 6:31 pm | Permalink

        Sounds like prison!

        (When I said to Aidan that IMO dress code is ‘okay’, I meant a loose dress code, not an authoritarian one like that!)

        cr

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted August 25, 2016 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

        The cognitive load of studying in such dictatorships had to be distracting from learning. I remember when I was in high school in the 80s in an old building with no air conditioning, girls were allowed to wear dresses but not shorts (we were told it was too distracting that the boys could see our legs) and the boys weren’t allowed to wear shorts so they baked to death in the heat.

        The irony was the girls’ uniform for phys ed. was ridiculously short. Really short shorts.

    • eric
      Posted August 25, 2016 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

      I went to a school with a strict dress code. You had to buy your uniform from the school store, and men basically had a summer and winter suit (with tie). Girls had maybe a couple more choices.

      I have no problem with that if it’s pre-existing; I don’t think in that case a Muslim family or student should get an exception. However, if the dress code is enacted in response to some incoming Muslim student, where there isn’t a secular problem that would justify it (i.e. no gang activity or whatever), then I would view that pretty suspiciously as religious bigotry. That sort of action would be somewhat analogous to conservative areas in the US that create new zoning laws after the building application for a Mosque comes in.

    • Posted August 25, 2016 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

      When I was in high-school, there was a nation-wide school uniform (and an extremely ugly one to boot), and we hated it. But in retrospect, I think we were far less harmed by this uniform than we would be if forced to attend school together with girls with burqas. The lesser of two evils!

      • Posted August 26, 2016 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

        How would you have been harmed “if forced to attend school together with girls with burqas”, sorry?

        • Posted August 27, 2016 at 1:36 am | Permalink

          I would start to think of myself as a second-rate person, the way many Westerners do.

          • somer
            Posted August 28, 2016 at 5:06 am | Permalink

            +1 Burquas are inherently insulting to women – and at a public girls school send the message that women are subordinate

            • somer
              Posted August 28, 2016 at 5:07 am | Permalink

              Niqab are almost as bad – both should not be allowed at schools

    • Posted August 25, 2016 at 8:38 pm | Permalink

      Gang colors? Perhaps that’s a small piece of the pie. The rest of the pie is establishing male dominance and ownership.

  5. Posted August 25, 2016 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

    It’s important to remember the two points in bold in every discussion of Muslim women’s attire, …

    Rather tangentially, reading both points in bold I can’t help noticing how central compatibilist notions of “choice” are to discussions of human interactions.

  6. Posted August 25, 2016 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

    sub

  7. Somite
    Posted August 25, 2016 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

    But why parse what is appropriate to cover? If we agree that the reason women wear burkinis are the same reason they wear any other form of veiling then it should be banned too.

    In a pinch, any head covering can be used to conceal identity.

    • Posted August 25, 2016 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

      When I was in school, no head coverings (i.e. hats) were allowed.

  8. Posted August 25, 2016 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

    I find the French concept of Laicitie (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/La%C3%AFcit%C3%A9) pretty intriguing. To some degree, the idea is that a valid interpretation of the separation of church and state is that the public space should be enforced as secular, and religious protections will be enforced in the private spaces of the religious.

    This is a very different interpretation than we have in the U.S., but I must say that I find it very attractive. Especially considering that the numbers of the religiously indifferent or the “nones” is now the largest single religious denomination.

    This idea came up about a year or so ago in my town, when an aggressive and obstreperous Catholic minister replaced his church carillon (actual bells) with a powerful electronic speaker system, and was blasting church bell hymns at random and frequent times during waking hours. A lot of people found this very offensive for different reasons. I found it curious that a religionist would not be allowed to wander through the residential neighborhood shouting religious proselytization through a megaphone, but somehow highly amplified Catholic hymn bells might have been grandfathered in despite the fact that it bothered a lot of people’s religious and Enlightenment values.

    Well, seeing women forced to live in outright or symbolic bags by the religious patriarchy really really offends me. I reluctantly acknowledge the religious rights of Muslims, but I do not see why we must accept such debasement in public. Indeed, I think we must insist it not be allowed. At least, it seems an idea to be discussed.

    Keep it behind closed doors, thank you. Just like the religious have insisted we do with nudity and pornography for the past couple of hundred years.

  9. Posted August 25, 2016 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

    My view of wearing the niqab is the same as my view on smoking. It’s a nasty habit not to be encouraged.

    Don’t do it at work, or at someone else’s place of work.

    Don’t do it in the house of someone who might object.

    And don’t make your kids do it.

    But if you want to do it in a park, or in the street, or on the beach, go ahead, but don’t complain if you get a few disapproving looks.

    • Craw
      Posted August 26, 2016 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

      A man comes into a playground wearing a ski mask. Comfortable? How about a bank, a post office, the DMV? Hanging around a school?

  10. Mike Cracraft
    Posted August 25, 2016 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

    Why not have a picture of her face pinned on a badge at the bottom of the veil or would this cause a volcanic eruption of lust on the part of men ?

  11. gravelinspector-Aidan
    Posted August 25, 2016 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

    And this isn’t just true for Islam: insofar as anybody conducts public business, they should be prohibited from covering their faces, whether the motivation be religious or not.

    Including people who are grossly disfigured – e.g. by cancer or burns? (I remember a friend when I was at university, who would make me wince whenever I saw his burned back eyelids. And he knew it. I bumped into his Flickr account recently – small world.) They’d lose the right to choose for themselves how they appear?
    To quote some judge, “hard cases make bad laws”.

    • Posted August 25, 2016 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

      Medical/disability exceptions and accommodations are another matter. They may create inconveniences and problems for other people and this is OK, but I do not see a reason to let everyone create the same inconveniences because of his superstitions or mere whims. Service d*gs of disabled people are allowed in many places, yet I do not think than everyone should be allowed to bring his best friend (large carnivore) in all of these places.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted August 25, 2016 at 6:39 pm | Permalink

        I absolutely agree. Whatever the rule, exceptions for special cases (and by that I mean e.g. physical disability) are in order.
        That does NOT mean that anyone can claim the exemption on a whim (“my beliefs demand that my dog comes with me on the plane”).

        cr

  12. chris moffatt
    Posted August 25, 2016 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

    “Of course you would have to be crazy to try to rob a bank while wearing a burka, even if you were a heavily armed man:”

    Hitchens wasn’t right about everything. Just do a search on:

    “robbed bank while wearing Burkhas”

    you’ll get plenty of hits London, Toronto, Philadelphia, San Diego…

  13. Siaj
    Posted August 25, 2016 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

    The worst part is that these women that have been living in a free society for years haven’t been able to free themselves from this cultural-religious prison that keeps them from enjoying life like regular females.

    Also, if there’s no difference between wetsuits and burkinis why won’t they just wear wetsuits? The burkini is a symbol of their religion, they are screaming to the world ‘Look at me I’m muslim’.

    As a woman I find these symbols of opression (burkinis, veil, etc..) quite disgusting.

    • eric
      Posted August 25, 2016 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

      Out of the water, wetsuits are really hot and somewhat uncomfortable. They usually consist of one or two layers of thick, rubber-like plastic. Keeping you hot by not letting the surroundings suck away your body heat is, after all, the entire point. 🙂

      • Posted August 25, 2016 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

        I suppose that, on the beach, burkini is too heating while dry, an obstacle for swimming in the water, and feels terribly cold after swimming.

        • eric
          Posted August 26, 2016 at 7:00 am | Permalink

          I wear a cotton shirt going into the water. Its typically none of those things. It certainly doesn’t even compare to wearing a wetsuit. But this is something of an aside. A Muslim’s freedom of expression is not treated equally by telling them ‘if you want to cover up, wear a wetsuit.’ France /= US, of course, but whether the rule is legally acceptable under Laicite, I think in principle such bans are a bad idea.

          Back on topic, I have no problem with pre-existing school uniform/dress codes. I also have no problem with intelligently adjusting dress codes in response to bad behavior etc. You get gangs? By all means restrict color and style. You get hijab-wearing vandals? By all means restrict the hijab. A smart, secular, adaptability is not the same as hypocrisy. But to me this looks like a religiously biased prior restraint – i.e. a very narrow restriction, targeting one religious group, when there is no evidence of bad behavior or disruption that would rationally justify the new restriction. So I think its probably a bad idea.

          • Posted August 26, 2016 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

            “You get hijab-wearing vandals? By all means restrict the hijab. A smart, secular, adaptability is not the same as hypocrisy. But to me this looks like a religiously biased prior restraint – i.e. a very narrow restriction, targeting one religious group, when there is no evidence of bad behavior or disruption that would rationally justify the new restriction.”

            You nail the problem. Islamists play the good cop, bad cop game. Women in headscarves, burqas, burkini in the West are the “good cops”. The wrapping “virtuous” female garment functions not only to indicate the position of the woman within the Muslim community, but also to intimidate those outside the community. But if you even disapprove this garment, you look and feel bad. Charlie Hebdo had a nice article on this (can find it if you or someone else is interested).

    • HaggisForBrains
      Posted August 26, 2016 at 4:07 am | Permalink

      French bikers protest against burkini ban!

  14. Mehul Shah
    Posted August 25, 2016 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

    KQED Forum had a discussion on this today …

    https://ww2.kqed.org/forum/2016/08/24/burkini-ban-fuels-debate-over-feminism-islamophobia-and-religious-freedom/

  15. Randall Schenck
    Posted August 25, 2016 at 3:45 pm | Permalink

    I can’t get past wondering about the parents who would send their daughter to a western school dressed like this. An example of religion overriding everything, including common sense.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted August 25, 2016 at 6:47 pm | Permalink

      Of course they are doubtless relying on school rules to stop the other kids from taunting her unmercifully. The same rules a subset of which she (or her parents) challenged in court.

      cr

    • eric
      Posted August 26, 2016 at 7:09 am | Permalink

      I can’t get past wondering about the parents who would send their daughter to a western school dressed like this.

      Take out “a western”, and that’s a phrase that is probably stated by every 60 year old towards thirtysomething and fortysomethnig parents of teens. 🙂

  16. Ken Kukec
    Posted August 25, 2016 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

    I agree there’s a meaningful distinction between this case and the French burkini ban. The Germans have set out a legitimate governmental interest (or at least a facially valid one) to support requiring students’ faces to remain uncovered; the French have shown no similar legitimate interest in requiring women to expose their flesh at a beach.

    Unless the aggrieved German student can show that the asserted governmental interest is pretextual (by showing, say, that the it was enacted for the sole purpose of disadvantaging Muslims, or that it is being enforced discriminatorily), the face-covering ban should stand.

    • Rachael
      Posted August 25, 2016 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

      Aren’t head coverings against most school dresscodes? I know in yhe US that is a big point in most school dresscodes. No head coverings of any kind. While the offenses are hats, hoods, even bandanas, a head dress/scarf, or veil would also violate that rule. No need to make special rules when one already exists.

  17. Hempenstein
    Posted August 25, 2016 at 8:42 pm | Permalink

    Re. (I always tell the story about the Muslim women at a Turkish school who told me they were in favor of the existing hijab ban because, if it were allowed, social pressure would devolve on them as “bad Muslims” to wear the scarf, too.)

    Why wouldn’t the same think happen with burkinis, or worse – underground fashion police from the Muslim community patrolling French beaches? All these special dress things – underwear, 13th Century hats, etc serve to drive the religious minorities into remaining within their enclaves.

    The world needs less balkanization.

  18. Pierre Masson
    Posted August 25, 2016 at 8:53 pm | Permalink

    This is what I would have bolded :
    It is quite plainly designed by men for the subjugation of women.
    This is plain sexism – it should be challenged in court as it violates the human rights charters of many countries. The Catholic Church is just as guilty by refusing priesthood to women.
    Let’s call a spade a spade. And bravo to Hitchens for doing so.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted August 25, 2016 at 9:12 pm | Permalink

      “The Catholic Church is just as guilty by refusing priesthood to women.”

      That is undoubtedly discrimination, but somehow I find it hard to take it seriously. As if, for example, the government of North Korea had refused my application for a residence visa.

      cr

  19. John Kiefer
    Posted August 25, 2016 at 10:24 pm | Permalink

    Some Muslim women feel social pressure to cover their face along with a he rest of their bodies. And we have a problem with that. We can even rationalize away the similarities between a burkini and a wet suit. But as I sit here writing this, I feel strong social pressure, and ultimately legal pressure to cover certain parts of my (male) body. And all your rationalizations for why that social pressure is a good thing are totally irrational. Not far from Nice in France is a resort community where thousands of people are totally nude, with no problem.

  20. Tom
    Posted August 26, 2016 at 1:04 am | Permalink

    So called “traditional” dress is just another statement, “you must integrate with me, cos’ I aint going to integrate with you”

  21. Michiel
    Posted August 26, 2016 at 3:01 am | Permalink

    I must say I’m torn about the various burka/burkini bans. Certainly I support the bans when it comes to people in public office, doctor’s etc, and probably in schools and universities too.
    Banning it in general on the streets and beaches is another thing. One the one hand it does go against liberal values that say everyone should be able to say (and wear) what they want. On the other hand, Jerry’s story about the Turkish women saying “if it were allowed, social pressure would devolve on them as “bad Muslims” to wear the scarf, too” is also an argument that must be considered. As well as how many women really “want” to wear the veil as opposed to being forced to wear it.

    How much freedom should a society permit to an ideology that is at best reluctantly a part of modern western society, and at worst actively working to undermine the very freedoms that we stand for. You can of course argue what kind of danger those few veiled women pose to western society but there are enough countries in the world to serve as examples for what happens when Islamic ideas and corresponding dress-codes start to take hold.

    We’ve seen the pictures of women in Egypt, Iran, Afghanistan before radical Islamic ideas took hold. When women had the choice, many chose not to wear veils and scarves.

    The thing is that banning the veil, I think, is taking on the problem from the wrong side. It’s not the women that are the “problem”, it’s the social culture being led by the men and the imams and the political leaders (like Erdogan).

  22. Nicholas Arand
    Posted August 26, 2016 at 5:07 am | Permalink

    It’s a tough call, and although you can have better arguments for a specific ban than for an other, I still think that by targeting only the manifestation of the problem, you are not only not solving the problem but you could be making it worst.
    Liberal society must understand that being a liberal society means accepting diversity, and within diversity you may find opposition to liberal values. What government should focus on is ensuring the mechanisms to support and protect the people who wants to run away from oppression, and make sure that all values and ideas are completely nu-protected from scrutiny.

  23. Glandu
    Posted August 26, 2016 at 6:36 am | Permalink

    Isnt’t it once again men telling women how to dress?

  24. Posted August 26, 2016 at 11:57 am | Permalink

    Since schools are part of this discussion, I wonder about the corner case of certain sorts of (important) school activities. Many places (and many places need better) have physical education requirements. People *claim* that the safety concern over niqab in such a context is minimal, but do we know this?

    Add that to chemistry and other classes with use of open flame …

  25. Josephine A. North
    Posted August 26, 2016 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

    If Burqua’s can be worn in schools etc. then Western girls can also wear the Burqua. BUT, they are not Muslims. Well, they are thinking of converting to Islam but want to know how it feels to wear a Burqua before doing so.

  26. Posted August 26, 2016 at 3:45 pm | Permalink

    I’m currently working on a PhD in (political) philosophy, and my thesis topic is: ‘Should a liberal state ban the burqa?’ Would Jerry object if I posted a short section here (about 5000 words) on what the liberal state’s response should be to face-covering in general?


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