Angela Merkel’s promise to ban the niqab is a mistake – With few exceptions, Muslim women should be allowed to dress as modestly as they like

…. Europe’s fad for such bans is driven chiefly not by principles, but politics. France introduced a burqa ban in 2010; some municipalities even tried to prevent Muslim women from wearing the body-covering “burqini” at the beach last summer. Such measures only invite extremists to paint France as an enemy of Islam.

Last month the Netherlands adopted a ban on face-covering garb in education and health-care establishments, government buildings and public transport. In both cases, the real motive was to fend off the rise of anti-immigrant parties, such as Marine Le Pen’s National Front in France and Geert Wilders’ Party for Freedom in the Netherlands.

If centrists like Mrs Merkel now see burqa bans as minor concessions to hold off populists, they are fooling themselves. Those who want to ban veils are not worried about security but about immigration and integration.

To them, limited bans confirm only that mainstream politicians are too timid to embrace the real thing. Some of them worry legitimately that Muslim immigrants do not share Europe’s liberal norms. But the best way to preserve those freedoms is to let women dress as modestly as they please. [104 comments]

[TOP RATED COMMENT 66 votes] “Such measures only invite extremists to paint France as an enemy of Islam.”

Absolutely correct. France and the West should be an enemy of that extreme sort of Islam. Other, more moderate forms of Islam are acceptable in the West.

The niqab and the burqa are ugly, sinister looking garments that destroy the humanity of those who wear them. They are divisive, sectarian and are a middle finger to female emancipation and equality and Western values. A person who wears them voluntarily should not live in a Western country. It just isn’t the place for them and their mind-set.

One might say that women have a right to dress modestly. But one could also say that one has a right to see your face if we are living in the same society. You can dress modestly by covering your hair or wearing a dress or jumper. There is nothing in the Koran that says you should cover your face. It’s just an extreme, sexist interpretation that oppresses women.

…. I’m glad that Angela Merkel might be starting to realise that she f***ed up last year, and that maybe a lot of these refugees and economic migrants are not going to bring enlightened values with them, and could be a threat to German culture in the future.

The answer is to be more assertive about enforcing Western values and ideals. Values and ideals which have led to the freest, safest, most productive and most prosperous societies in human history. Barbaric and regressive cultural ideas and practices should be banned. And those who cannot abide by this should be given some money and made to leave.

[2ND 56] In my opinion, the view expressed in your article is a sad pseudo-liberal mistake, and it shows that people at The Economist have not yet understood what is happening today in Europe. I fear that your writer lives in a posh surrounding (not many niqabs in St. James) and has no clue.

Showing one’s face in public is for me a non-negotiable part of our way of living together and, yes, of our culture. If that is too immodest for a muslim woman (or the males who pressure her into hiding herself), than she should live somewhere else. Period.

[3RD 47] It pains me that the Economist is so quick to defend the indefensible when it is undertaken in the name of Islam. We should not equivocate in our values irrespective of whether this provides yet another excuse (in a seemingly endless series) for extremism. As an appropriate counterpoint, to argue the full veil is anything but a barbaric symbol of modern day slavery is the sort of mendacity that fuels right wing populism. [The Economist] Read more

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