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Quote abuayisha Replybullet Topic: Burqa Ban
    Posted: 18 January 2013 at 9:03am
Burqa bans, minority rights and 'majority sentiments'

          Jogchum Vrielink, postdoctoral researcher and coordinator of the Centre for Discrimination Law (Research Centre on Equality Policies at the University of Leuven, and Belgian lawyer, Jelle Flo, critique the decision by the Belgian Constitutional Court last month to reject cases filed against the country’s burqa ban in an article for Open Democracy.
Appraising the various grounds on which the Court maintained the constitutionality of the burqa ban, passed in 2011, Vrielink and Flo argue that the decision ‘crosses a boundary’ where the rights of minorities are sacrificed to majority sentiments.

On the legality of the ban and the claim of it protecting public safety, Vrielink and Flo observe, “These general statements by the Court however in no way clarify the reach of the burqa ban, and they certainly do not limit the prohibition in any way. As such, it will have to be assumed that all types of partial concealment of one’s face, which impede “recognisability”, regardless of intent, are forbidden in Belgium. It follows that somebody who wears a scarf and a winter hat to protect himself from the cold is punishable. The same goes for cyclists wearing dust masks, human mascots at sports events, veiled brides, and Boy Scout leaders who disguise themselves during a game."

As for the argument of the ban enhancing integration, or strategies for ‘living together’, Vrielink and Flo note, “It is remarkable, to say the least, that the Belgian Constitutional Court would accept that a violation of the freedom of religion would de facto be justified by a violation of the right to privacy. Freedom of religion is, after all, restricted in order to pursue an invasion of people’s privacy, as the State wishes to force people to communicate with each other when in public, with the State deciding how such communication should take place in order to be valuable or ‘democratic’. Would it not be more respectful of democratic values to leave it up to individual citizens to determine whether and when they want contact with their fellow citizens in the streets? Even if one were to consider it a legitimate purpose to promote such contacts, criminal punishment does not seem a fitting means to do so.”

Much research has been carried out on the implications and consequences of the burqa bans on the autonomy, visibility and personal safety of Muslim women in European public spheres. Various human rights advocates have also been at the forefront of criticizing such prohibitions as violations of fundamental rights in European societies.

Vrielink and Flo conclude, “Fundamental rights ultimately exist to protect minorities, unpopular minorities in particular, against the tyranny of the majority. A boundary is crossed when rights of individuals are simply sacrificed to majority sentiments; a boundary which should be protected by institutions such as the Court. In other matters, the Constitutional Court has not hesitated to fulfil this role. In the case of the burqa ban, however, these boundaries seem to have evaporated.”

Edited by abuayisha - 18 January 2013 at 9:05am
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Quote Caringheart Replybullet Posted: 18 January 2013 at 5:11pm
I think a state government has a right to decide how they want their citizens to interract, and if they want immigrants to assimilate they have a right to insist on this, or send them back out of the country.  Would you rather see all those who refuse to assimilate be sent out of the country?   Is that what they would choose?  The burqa is an imported custom of immigrants into the country.  The country has a right to say this is not accepted in their society and culture.

Just some first thoughts.  I am open to replies.
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Quote Matt Browne Replybullet Posted: 10 March 2013 at 9:05am
I support a completely burqa-free and niqab-free world. These garments dehumanize women turning them into faceless walking objects robbed of their individuality.

A religion that's intolerant of other religions can't be the world's best religion --Abdel Samad
Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people--Eleanor Roosevelt
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