The BBC reports that Morocco has banned the sale, import, and production of burqas, the garment that veils the entire body and face. While this may seem odd for a Muslim country, the report adds that burqas aren’t common in that country, and the hijab is seen far more often. The BBC says this:
Letters announcing the ban were sent out on Monday, giving businesses 48 hours to get rid of their stock, the reports stated.
There was no official announcement from the government, but unnamed officials told outlets the decision was made due to “security concerns”.
It is unclear if Morocco is now intending to ban the garment outright.
A high-ranking interior ministry official confirmed the ban to the Le360 news site, adding that “bandits have repeatedly used this garment to perpetrate their crimes”.
The decision has split opinion in the North African kingdom, led by King Mohammed VI, who favours a moderate version of Islam.
The Torygraph adds this:
King Mohammed VI, who oversees the Moroccan government, has said that he favours a moderate version of Islam and has vowed to crack down on homegrown terrorism.
“Those who engage in terrorism, in the name of Islam, are not Muslims,” he said in a speech last August. “Their only link to Islam is the pretexts they use to justify their crimes and their folly.
“They have strayed from the right path, and their fate is to dwell forever in hell.”
Well, I agree with a ban of the burqa in certain places like banks and government offices, where faces should be seen, but disagree with the King’s assessment that terrorist Muslims are not Muslims. If terrorist Muslims aren’t Muslims, then young-earth creationist Christians aren’t Christians, for although they don’t perpetuate murder, they perpetuate lies and follies.
Frankly, I’m tired of moderate Muslims calling more extremists “not true Muslims.” They should just own up and say that terrorists embrace a more extreme version of the faith, just as extremist Mormons embrace the custom of taking multiple underage wives.
Here’s another report, this time from the New York Times, along the same lines. In a fracas that started eight years ago, officials in Basel, Switzerland, ordered Muslim parents to make their daughters attend mixed-sex swimming classes, although the school allowed the girls to wear burkinis. The parents sued in 2010, arguing that the Swiss had violated the students’ freedoms of “thought, conscience, and religion.”
Last Tuesday the European Court of Human Rights ruled for the schools (you can download the full decision here).
“The public interest in following the full school curriculum should prevail over the applicants’ private interest in obtaining an exemption from mixed swimming lessons for their daughters,” the court found.
As the article notes, this could set an important precedent—after all, it is the Court of Human Rights—about the inevitable and increasing clashes between Muslim religious custom and European secularism. While I can see arguments on both sides, it seems to me that if parents choose to send their children to secular schools, they must accept that they have to follow the school curriculum. They can, after all, send their children to Muslim schools, assuming there are such things in Switzerland.
The decision, by a chamber of seven judges, did not dispute that the denial of the parents’ request interfered with their religious freedom, but it emphasized that the need for social cohesion and integration trumped the family’s wishes. The court also noted that schools play “a special role in the process of social integration, particularly where children of foreign origin were concerned,” and that, as such, ensuring the girls’ “successful social integration according to local customs and mores” took precedence over religious concerns.
The parents have three months to appeal the court’s decision. Representatives of the family could not be reached for comment on Tuesday.
In Switzerland, politicians and civic groups across the political spectrum welcomed the ruling, calling it an important validation of the supremacy of secularism and the rule of law, even as some Muslims complained that it reflected growing intolerance for religious minorities.
In the end, what swayed me to support the school’s decision is that these children have been brainwashed in a way they can’t control and in a way that sets them apart from their fellow citizens. More and more I am coming to agree with Richard Dawkins that such religious indoctrination constitutes “child abuse”.
If I could make one rule for the world, it would be that no religious indoctrination would be given to children at all by their parents. Then, at about age 16 or so, they could investigate different faiths and choose their own—or none. I suspect this would dramatically increase the proportion of unbelievers in the world, but of course such a rule could never fly—anywhere.
Feel free to express your agreement or disagreement with either of these decisions below.