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Islam Under Scrutiny

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Banning the Burka

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Burqa Bandits Banning the Burka
An issue of Basic Human Decency

It is bound to come up as an issue now and in the future in western countries – the wearing of burkas and hijabs. There has been a call from Australian retailers for a ban on the wearing of the full-faced burka for the practical reason that it is harder to identify individual faces when thefts take place.

Brisbane-based radio shock jock Michael Smith reignited national debate about the Muslim wear yesterday, adding a ban should also be placed on the full-faced burqa. His calls were backed by the Retailers Association which said the ban should be in line with riders being forced to remove their helmets when entering a store or bank. (source)

Of course, as one might expect, there has already been a reflex ‘victimology’ response from The Muslim Parrot:  

Michael SmithIslamic Friendship Association of Australia president Keysar Trad slammed the move and said it was sexual harassment to ask a Muslim woman to remove her hijab."It is like asking any woman to remove an item of clothing," Mr Trad said."It's a slur on Muslim women. They try to be outstanding citizens, they know they are under the spotlight, and they try to be a positive, constructive presence in society but they are subject to harassment and abuse like this." (source)
Just think of it – it is surely not possible for a woman wearing a burka to have a driver’s licence photo with her face covered. Is this an insult Mr Trad? And she would have to show that photo to any policeman who asked for it, if her happened to stop her car on the road, as happens with other ordinary citizens. Is that now to be forbidden too – different rules for Muslim women? And she would have to show her face on a passport photo – for surely the Australian Passport office has not reached such depths of lunacy yet, as to include faces of covered women in the section for such photos? So where is the consistency – insistence of the face shown in some situations, and not in others? 

 In the matter of dealing with people in shops and in other public transactions, it is customary in most cultures to have some facial interaction between the two people. It is well known in social psychology that the nonverbal cues, given facially are as important in everyday transactions as verbal ones. A slight nod and smile, facing the person in front, is a sign of good will, and smoothes the path for Cash Pleasewhatever needs to be done. However, the effect of a covered face emits a message which is very different. It is saying that the person does not want to engage in that fundamental human gesture of a face to face greeting – and this of course begs the question as to why this is so. The answer given is ‘culture’ and ‘modesty’ but then – an implicit judgement is made about those showing their faces and hair – the majority, after all. The judgement is hostile – implying that showing the face and hair is somehow immodest and undesirable – an insult to non-Muslims, also to women generally and ironically to Muslim men. For, as we know, in Islamic thinking, men are supposed to be uncontrollable beasts if they are turned on by the sight of a woman’s face and the hair on her head, so they have to be protected from themselves by women eliminating their faces from social existence. 

Recently a friend of mine went for a walk at La Perouse where some women in burkas and men walked by her. Then men looked at her and made sneering remarks as if to rubbish her, and she could not mistake the tone. Evidently the contrast of my friend in T-shirt and slacks was too much for them, alongside the burka-clad  slave-women beside them. My friend was shocked at this blatant rudeness and arrogant behaviour.

It would be interesting to find out if Muslim teachers in Muslim schools in Australia wear the burka in class. And if they do not, why not? I suspect they do not, and the reason is, that they can communicate much more effectively in studentsSgt Liczbinski, if they do not look like an inhuman ninja, and can reveal their communication through facial gestures. Non verbal communication is of essential importance to the development of social communication in a child. It is only for autistic people that facial gestures have little or no meaning- and this is regarded as a fundamental social impairment of such magnitude that such autistic people have to have remedial training to teach them the meaning of facial cues.

If it is a question of veils for nuns, or if Muslim women want to wear a hijab, I would let that pass, but not the burka, the wearing of which is an action which is an affront to the western respect for women [the principle is there and it is enacted in practice, even if not always so]. The burka states  principles antithetical to the heart of western values – that women and men are equal in dignity [showing the face does not impede this in any way] and that as human being we have free will and can choose to behave with decency and are not subject to fits of uncontrollable behaviour, just because a face is shown. These principles of human dignity and free will have long been a part of western thinking and should not be discarded lightly, just because some group has a hissy fit about dressing up.. Muslim migrants should adapt to the west, whose hospitality they enjoy [welfare, public housing, free public schooling, healthcare etc etc] and some basic human decency in face to face gestures and communication should be insisted upon.



Vote on this issue [at bottom of page of following link].

 


Editor's Notes:

 

Recent cases of Burqa robberies and acts of terrorism:

 

Last Updated on Friday, 16 January 2009 05:26  

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