Feminism | Posted by Helen H on 05/20/2010

Belgian Burqa Ban

A French Muslim in Belgium - no longer allowed to wear her niqab

A French Muslim in Belgium - no longer allowed to wear her niqab

I just read an article about the vote in Belgium that led to a nationwide ban of wearing burqas in public.

On one hand, I can see where people who are for the ban are coming from. The burqa does have a lot of stigma both within and without Muslim culture. It’s one of the more ambiguous Islamic concepts, and it’s hotly debated. Some Muslims believe it’s mandatory, others believe it’s just an option, and others still think it’s absurd. Personally I don’t think it’s a particularly liberating piece of clothing and I don’t expect I’ll ever wear one.

On the other hand, I don’t think this is the way to fix anything. First of all this absolutely screams Islamophobia and xenophobia and will only serve to perpetuate the negative assumptions about the Muslim world. Secondly, it’s a serious restriction of personal freedom. I think it’s really troubling and I can’t help but wonder if there’ll be similar action from other countries.

Writing that last sentence it just occurred to me that countries closer to (my) home do things that are really similar. In particular, I’m looking at Saudi Arabia. In case you don’t know, it’s kind of the opposite there–it’s illegal for a woman not to wear a hijab in public. Now, I chose to focus on Saudi Arabia because while other countries with the same sort of policy get talked about a lot (as I’m pretty sure Belgium will be), Saudi Arabia seems to get away with it a more easily. It shouldn’t.

But I think that’s enough ranting on my behalf. Fbombers, I’m really eager to know what you think about this, so please comment.

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  • typhonatemybaby @ at 11:36 am, May 20th, 2010

    i take it youve heard about the saudi woman who beat up that member of the religious police? the stroy broke a few days ago. i saw it on jezebel (highly respected feminist blog)

  • Zoe Y. @ at 12:39 pm, May 20th, 2010

    I have trouble offering an opinion on the burqua because it is not something I’ve dealt with in my life. I guess the simplest thing I can say is that I don’t believe there should be any laws regarding it, whether they ban or enforce wearing it. Women should be able to choose according to their own religious beliefs, customs or preferences.

  • Katherine C. @ at 8:41 pm, May 20th, 2010

    I agree with Zoe- wearing the burqua or related clothing should be a personal choice, not something mandated by the state.

  • jaded16 @ at 8:52 pm, May 20th, 2010

    What’s funny is how the Belgian as well as the French government is touting the ban on the burqua as “the best interest of democracy” when it’s being just as totalitarian as Saudi Arabia.

    The hijab should be a choice. As we all know, more often; it’s not. But banning the hijab shouldn’t be the norm either.

  • KS @ at 11:18 am, May 21st, 2010

    It does not matter whether the government agrees or disagrees with the burqua. This is a reflection on xenophobia–seriously unfortunate considering how “global” everyone says we’ve become…

    My only problem with the burqua is that it rarely seems to be women’s decision. I don’t know a lot about the culture (so please correct me if I’m wrong) but I get the feeling that this tradition of burqua–which I believe is not even doctrinal in the Quran–is often imposed on women.

    Goddamn it, why is so hard to choose?


  • Holly @ at 2:21 am, May 25th, 2010

    Regardless of whether there are women being forced to wear a garment or not, the larger issue is that women need the CHOICE overall to wear what they choose. Women being forced to wear a hijab falls under the umbrella of abuse, not personal freedoms, and is thus a separate argument.

  • Nadia Duke @ at 7:13 am, May 25th, 2010

    As a Muslim that doesn’t wear hijab or niqab, I totally see where you are coming from. I think the niqab is really silly (I don’t see it anywhere in the Quran…), but if a woman wants to wear because it brings it closer to God, then do it! But when people try to force it (hijabs) on Muslim women (Saudi Arabia I’m looking at you! I live there and I know a big percentage of these women do NOT choose to wear niqab or hijab).

    But I don’t think it should be BANNED, everyone should choose… but if I saw someone wearing a burqa or niqab in America I would think she was crazy… It’s just me. Its a veeerry confusing topic.

  • QuranReciter @ at 8:29 am, August 7th, 2011

    Very cool site! Thank you so much for your time in writting this.

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