Saturday, April 3, 2010

Banning the Niqab

Is it appropriate for the US, France, Belgium and other countries to ban the niqab (the face vail)? YES it is. Behavior in public spaces is not left up to the individual. Even I, a rabid supporter of individual rights, do not claim that. (How interesting though that some leftists / progressives claim differently. We'll leave that contradiction for another post.)

Public property is property held in common. Therefore the public, either through referendums or through the legislature, can - AND DO - determine what is and what is not acceptable behavior and attire.

Furthermore the claim of religious liberty is not applicable. Religious liberty is not an absolute which allows any and all behavior -- especially on public lands.

The burqa and niquab are displays of public behavior. Women need not wear them in private spaces. As such they are legitimate targets of legislation. The only question now is should we? I answer yes to the niqab and no to the burka. Wearing a burka has aspects of political statement as well as religious but that is not a reason to prohibit is. I, after all, consider wearing swastikas, sickle and hammers, che guevara t-shirts to be political statements that are legally, if not morally, acceptable.

The niqab is not acceptable because it covers the face and hides the identity of the individual. Would we accept this behavior for any other reason? No. Therefore should we allow the niqab? No.

To those who make the argument that the niuab is worn solely for religious purposes and for that reason alone we ought to allow women to wear the niqab, I respectfully disagree. One the dispute over whether the niqab is fard (religiously required) or not has been going on among Islamic scholars since the earliest centuries of Islam. Second, as mentioned earlier, religious / cultural norms, while important to take under consideration, are not mandates upon society as a large.

See the article It Makes No Sense To Ban the Burqa


Mary Stack said...

"The burqa and niquab are displays of public behavior. Women need not wear them in private spaces. As such they are legitimate targets of legislation. The only question now is should we? I answer yes to the niqab and no to the burka." Women or men are not required to wear clothing in their homes either. Can a nudist use your argument for their choice? Nonsense, of course but it makes just as much sense when you claim the use of one piece of clothing is legitimate over another. I am not interested in dictating what these women should wear, how teens wear their pants or the g-string look (I think that one is over). I am under the impression that Muslim women get plenty of that crap from their families and religious leaders. The only legitimate exception to this argument is the use of public spaces that require security to trump privacy.

The Classical Liberal said...

Maybe I wasn't clear because I think we agree on this point. My primary point is the separation between private and public space. I think that the public, either through their elected representatives or through referendums, can legitimately outlaw the niqab.

People oppose the niqab for a variety of reasons – some find it to be oppressive and demeaning, a hateful political symbol; and others oppose it for security reasons. I oppose it for both but wish to prevent its use solely for security reasons.

Mary Stack said...

I am the one who did not make my point clearly. I am referring to public places in which we all need to pass through security and require facial identification (airports, secure buildings or public events). I don't care what women or men wear to any other place and that includes walking down our public streets. The problem with legislating clothing is that I may be next. If I am too lazy to change out of my tennis clothes, tough.

The Classical Liberal said...

I think we’re in general agreement here. While *I* have moral / cultural problems with a woman wearing the niqab that, in and of itself, doesn’t mean the government can make laws to prevent the wearing of the niqab. I do think the government can make laws regarding public dress and behavior and think that it would be just and equitable that a law is passed requiring women to remove the niqab in all places where IDs are required to enter.

I think this question is best decided by referendum.

Mary Stack said...

"general agreement". Rats, no fun! I'll keep perusing your blog. It is always interesting to read another POV.

The Classical Liberal said...

Keep reading. I'm sure we'll find someplace to disagree.

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