Opinion: Burqas

POSTED: 01/31/12 12:49 PM

Are burqas a symbol of oppression? It’s possible. The Dutch government decided last week to impose a burqa-ban. Women are no longer allowed to wear it in public.
That seems to be an infringement on freedom of religion, but there is of course ore to the story. Our credo – freedom stops where it intrudes upon the freedom of others – does not provide a clear answer for the burqa-situation.
If it is so that women are forced to wear a burqa for whatever reason, it constitutes an intrusion upon their freedom. But what if some of these women actually like to cover their faces with it? In that case the government intrudes upon their freedom to wear what they want.
An alderman in the province of Groningen (who is actually a woman) twittered this week that all women ought to buy a burqa if the ban on wearing it becomes effective. That’s Karin Dekker’s way of protesting the burqa-ban.
Does it make sense? We’re not sure, but we do find that the ban is a lot of hogwash designed to pacify Geert Wilders and his Freedom Party. At last count there were around 200 women in the Netherlands wearing a burqa. Two hundred! The country has 16,737,118 inhabitants, so there is one burqa-wearing woman for every 83,685 people. The policeman who manages to find one of these women and issue a fine ought to get a medal as a reward for his eagle eyesight.
Karin Dekker in the meantime, got herself in hot water with her tweet. The Freedom Party blasted her as a representative of a party that promotes emancipation and who now suddenly calls on women to wear “a degrading burqa.”
Other parties wondered how an alderman could possibly chose a position that implies she does not want to abide by the law, while others indicated that Dekker has lost her bearings.
All this stuff, and it really is about a non-existing problem.

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