The Burqa Dilemma

This afternoon I stood behind a woman wearing a hijab in Walmart. It reminded me of this piece, titled France bans the veil - culture war in Europe, by Micha J. Stone. In the short article he frames the debate over whether women in France should be allowed to wear a full-face Islamic veil like this:
The issue is fascinating, and poses a true dilemma. On one hand the government should not be telling people what to wear. Dress is a potent expression of personal identity, it is very much like speech. To prohibit or restrict such expression is repugnant to anyone who values liberty.

Yet on the other hand it is hard to see covering of the face as anything but a tool of sexual repression hiding behind religion. Indeed, the burqa is a most obnoxious display of religious oppression, and it speaks to the ugly misogyny embedded in so much of middle eastern culture. Or so say the heart and mind of an American.

Is the repulsion and disgust with the veil merely Western prejudice? Or is it a rational response to the unacceptable dehumanization of the female? It is a question worth considering.
I am not sure where the above photo was taken or who believes that a burqa liberates a woman. This debate intrigues me but mostly I agree with the Western perspective that sees it as a form of repression hiding behind religion. In a more practical vein I think that a person should always show their face for things like drivers licenses.

What do you think of the French law? Should burqas be outlawed? What is your reasoning?

4 comments:

  1. Just wanted to say I really like your blog - keep up the great work!

    Steve
    Common Cents
    http://www.commoncts.blogspot.com

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  2. Is it legal for the KKK to do their grocery shopping in white sheets that cover their faces? If it is, then there's probably nothing we can do about it, but I would think that anything that covers the face and thus hides the identity would be frowned upon. How do we know they're not concealing weapons that could be used in an armed robbery?

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