/ /

Dilemma: Should We Ban The Burkha?

In my opinion, yes.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy has raised an interesting debate within France, and the rest of Europe. Should the burkha be banned? In an address to Parliament he said, “It will not be welcome on French soil. We cannot accept in our country, women imprisoned by mesh, cut off from society, deprived of all identity. That is not the French republic’s idea of women’s dignity.”

The concept of secularism is sacred in France — the separation of church and state is guarded by everyone from school teachers to ministers. But it’s not the first time the issue of Islamic dress has come up. Five years ago “conspicuous” signs of religion — including headscarves — were banned from schools in France — it caused huge uproar then, but is now law.

I’m not a Muslim myself, but some of my closest friends are… And when some of them became devout Muslim it was a huge learning curve for me. I could no longer meet my good friend Mohammed for coffee without someone else being there, and we could no longer hug when we met or said goodbye. My friend Hannah began covering up and wearing a hijab (headscarf) when we were out and about. I respect them both for their choices, and incredibly proud that they were able to make such hard decisions. Especially seen as they were both my regular raving partners back in the day.

But having also talked to other young British Muslims women about the issue of the burkha — they appear to be mostly in agreement. It’s not something they would ever choose to wear, and women who do wear them tend to have had the idea of it pushed upon them by the men in their lives.

Having previously read the Koran, I’m not aware of it stating that a woman’s face and body must be covered in a layer of thick black cloth. Instead Muslim women should dress modestly, covering their arms and legs. The issue of the burkha seems to be a Saudi Arabian tradition, which has arrived in our society — and could be a sign of creeping radicalisation.

I have Muslim friends who work in Pakistan – and even they see the idea of the burkha as regressive, oppressive and potentially dangerous.  Women who wear burkhas tend to claim that they choose to wear it. But I’m not sure it is. When you have girls as young as four wearing the hijab to school, you have to ask yourself at what point in their short four years did that then become their choice?

My friends who have become fully emersed their Muslim faith have done so in adulthood. Their parents made them aware of their faith, but did not force it upon them. When they became old enough to make their own decisions, they chose their own paths… But for my female Muslim friends, it was not a path that made them lose their identity.

As hard as it is for me to say… I agree with a ban on the burkhas. Yes we are a modern and culturally diverse nation here in the UK, but we also believe in equal rights for both men and women. And we also believe that it’s wrong to have radicalised men who love to control women.

What do you think?

Miss London is an original Parlourista reppin London to the fullest. Catch up with her here.

Last 5 posts by Miss London

  • Fatimah

    As a Muslim woman living in Canada I often think of what the Burkha symbolizes to my community and to the outside world. I chose not to wear it because I believe that my place as a Muslim woman in the west is to invite people to understand the religion, and a Burkha would definitely prevent that. I do wear the hijab though. However, it angers me that a state should have the power to tell women what they can and cannot wear, and that is the issue for me. It is a choice, and contrary to the idea that this is a matter of women’s rights freedoms, some women do choose to wear burkhas. So what is the difference between a man (be it her husband or father) telling her to wear it or the state telling her she cannot? Both are taking away the woman’s right to choose and both are wrong. I also am growing tired of people’s preoccupation with Muslim women’s rights as a hot button topic, it’s a centuries old debate that we are dealing with internally and indidviduals like Sarkozy who do not seem to know the fullness of the issue are making it way to simple. It’s never as simple as we think.

  • Dom

    Coming from an American non-muslim perpective, I have to say this issue has absolutely no bearing on my life. But I do not agree that the gov’t has a right to enforce rules of dress on anyone, so long as the clothing is not lewd and indecent. I dont understand how a country can claim to support democracy and freedom of speech yet regulate its citizens to the very clothes on their backs.

    It seems Pres. Sarkozy is making a decision that will further enflame relations btwn French people, and I fear this will make Muslims even more of a target. I’ve heard ther is a large anti-muslim climate in France.