Belgian Burqa Ban

I just read an article about the vote in Belgium that led to a nationwide ban of wearing burqas in public.

On one hand, I can see where people who are for the ban are coming from. The burqa does have a lot of stigma both within and without Muslim culture. It's one of the more ambiguous Islamic concepts, and it's hotly debated. Some Muslims believe it's mandatory, others believe it's just an option, and others still think it's absurd. Personally I don't think it's a particularly liberating piece of clothing and I don't expect I'll ever wear one.

On the other hand, I don't think this is the way to fix anything. First of all this absolutely screams Islamophobia and xenophobia and will only serve to perpetuate the negative assumptions about the Muslim world. Secondly, it's a serious restriction of personal freedom. I think it's really troubling and I can't help but wonder if there'll be similar action from other countries.

Writing that last sentence it just occurred to me that countries closer to (my) home do things that are really similar. In particular, I'm looking at Saudi Arabia. In case you don't know, it's kind of the opposite there--it's illegal for a woman not to wear a hijab in public. Now, I chose to focus on Saudi Arabia because while other countries with the same sort of policy get talked about a lot (as I'm pretty sure Belgium will be), Saudi Arabia seems to get away with it a more easily. It shouldn't.

But I think that's enough ranting on my behalf. Fbombers, I'm really eager to know what you think about this, so please comment.

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Helen H
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