Pros and cons of banning the burqa

August 11th, 2010 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The debate is fairly absent in NZ, because apart from anything else they are so rare.

My recent visit to London was the first in around three years, so you sometimes see changes as a snapshot, rather than bit by bit. There were tow major changes I noticed.

The first was the huge growth in eastern European waitresses – mainly Polish. They seem to have become to London, what Mexicans are to the US. Interestingly this invasion has not met much resistance – well not from male Londoners :-)

The second was the explosion in burqas. Three years ago, and I wouldn’t see one most days. Certainly would see many Muslims and many head scarves, but few burqas. This time, I was seeing oh probably 20 a day.

What reminded me of this, was this article by Australian Professor Mirko Bagaric in the Herald. He argues against a ban, unless one can link it to oppression:

Burqas should be banned only if the women who wear them do so out of a sense of compulsion.

The stock-in-trade reasons that are given for banning the burqa are demonstrably flawed and are often no more than thinly veiled anti-Muslim rants.

There are no proven cases in Australia (or New Zealand) of criminals using burqas as disguises. Hence it is nonsense to challenge burqas on security grounds.

Facial expressions are important but not essential for meaningful communication. Books, the rise of talk-back radio and email conclusively demonstrate that you don’t need to be staring at someone to understand them.

The fact that some people find the burqa jarring or confronting is not in doubt. But what is beyond doubt is that personal liberty and the right to engage in self-regarding conduct trumps the overly sensitive dispositions of individuals who disagree with the fashion choices of others.

I was against banning gang patches, so I’m certainly not into burqa banning.

However Professor Bagaric continues:

Paternalism is ugly, but uglier still is oppression – under any guise, whether it is religion or culture. Indeed, many Muslim women might say that it is their choice to wear the burqa but this is only the start of the inquiry.

As the Australian High Court noted in the recent decision of The Queen v Tang (the “slavery case”) consent can be consistent, even with slavery. People sometimes choose to sell themselves into slavery but that doesn’t mean that as a community we should tolerate the practice.

To get to the bottom of the burqa debate we need to understand what is driving the choices of the women under the burqa. If their choice turns out to be fully free and informed, society has no basis for imposing its whims on their dress code.

The circumstantial evidence, however, points to oppression as being at least one factor that influences women to wear a burqa.

Any extreme form of human conduct needs to be analysed closely. It is counter-intuitive to think that any free person would chose to erect a physical screen between themselves and the outside world.

The nature of the human condition is to pursue and engage in social contact and intercourse. It enriches life and recent studies show that it is even conducive to longevity.

Secondly, it is telling that 100 per cent of the people wearing burqas are women and that these women all come from a culture that has been shown to represses women.

Indeed.

The proper bounds of liberty were identified about 150 years ago by British philosopher John Stuart Mill.

He said: “The only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilised community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral, is not sufficient warrant.”

Ostensibly, Muslim women choose to wear the burqa. Unless empirically founded evidence is obtained to show that this choice is less then fully free, we need to respect their decisions.

At this stage, the bigger threat to our social cohesion is not the burqa but the calls to ditch it. Once the overblown sensitivities of others start constituting a basis for curtailing our freedoms, liberty in many forms will be lost.

Hear hear.

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59 Responses to “Pros and cons of banning the burqa”

  1. Lucia Maria (2,654 comments) says:

    I agree.

    France has banned it, but then France has a history of religious repression. No surprises there.

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  2. Gooner (919 comments) says:

    Your John Stuart Mill quote is very apt, but sadly is rarely applied by lawmakers in this country.

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  3. Pete George (23,832 comments) says:

    Books, the rise of talk-back radio and email conclusively demonstrate that you don’t need to be staring at someone to understand them.

    I bet a few that stare at your blog post won’t want to understand it.

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  4. Captain Neurotic (203 comments) says:

    The only issue I have is the fact that these women do not have the choice whether or not to wear the burqa – It is forced upon them by male Muslims enforcing the ideology and law of Islam.

    I would completely agree with the wearing of the burqa if women had the choice whether or not they actually wanted to wear them.

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  5. Pete George (23,832 comments) says:

    It is forced upon them by male Muslims enforcing the ideology and law of Islam.

    You can’t know this of all burqa wearing women.

    Some Christian sects “encourage” women to wear of headscarves – is that their choice or male Christian pressure? Should it matter?

    Eyes can be very expressive – should sunglasses be banned in public?

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  6. slightlyrighty (2,098 comments) says:

    Many women choose to wear a burqa rather than face the consequences of not wearing one.

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  7. RRM (10,104 comments) says:

    Non-Muslim mate had a job teaching in a Muslim school in Australia a year or two ago. Burqa was her compulsory uniform, so that the little dears would learn from a young age that a woman should be heard and not seen. She mentioned that driving up the motorway to work in the morning in her Ninja uniform and the looks that she got for doing so were a pretty bloody surreal experience for a kiwi girl.

    I’m pretty peace and love and religious tolerance normally, but IMHO it’s appropriate for western countries to seriously discuss whether we want to tolerate these things in our countries. Sure the Burqa is a tradition, but IMHO it’s a hideous tradition. We wouldn’t tolerate female circumcision or Chinese foot-binding in NZ in 2010, and we wouldn’t tolerate Muslim honour killings. Therefore I don’t think it’s obvious that we should tolerate the Burqa. This isn’t Saudi, we may want to choose to set our own different standards here.

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  8. beautox (409 comments) says:

    Generally it’s not the Muslim women that are the problem, it’s the sexually repressed Muslim men that are with their adolescent ideas of virgins in heaven.

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  9. slightlyrighty (2,098 comments) says:

    The burqa is particularly evil when used as part of Purdah, which is the complete segregation of men and women.

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  10. Pete George (23,832 comments) says:

    Many Western women remove virtually all expression from their faces by having toxins injected.
    I find that more off-putting than scarves and burqas.

    A problem with banning burqas is how specific or generalised do you get? Just ban Muslim face coverings? Or any face coverings. What sort of face coverings would be allowed and which banned?

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  11. MT_Tinman (3,322 comments) says:

    I don’t care whether or not this abomination is banned, no one wears one in my cab – nor of course do they wear hoodies, masks (except medical-type) or other disguises.

    When employed as a getaway car (as I have been) I expect the criminal to be able to be seen.

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  12. Redbaiter (11,880 comments) says:

    “Many Western women remove virtually all expression from their faces by having toxins injected.
    I find that more off-putting than scarves and burqas. A problem with banning burqas is how specific or generalised do you get? Just ban Muslim face coverings? Or any face coverings. What sort of face coverings would be allowed and which banned?”

    6304 posts of utterly worthless crap. What the hell is the point of posting something so utterly nowhere?? The insane assertion that botox is equal to burqas followed by a series of arse covering questions. Why don’t you just be honest for once about the anti-western hate that consumes you?

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  13. malcolm (1,952 comments) says:

    They’re horrible but we have plenty of laws already to protect people from others and we have police, so ultimately if a women is being forced to wear it then she needs to take charge of her life.

    But hand-in-hand with that, shops, banks etc shouldn’t be forced by some silly Race Relations Clown to accommodate these people. So I hope to see “No helmets, No hoods and No burqas” signs at the bank.

    The burqa is only part of the problem. These women avoid eye-contact. Try to get on a bus and kindly offer to manoeuvre a pushchair into the appropriate place, all without eye contact. Bloody frustrating. Still, I suppose if she looked me in the eye then I’d be compelled to rape her and then we’d need to get married.

    DPF, take the D3 bus route if you have time. Goes through South London, the City, Wapping, Whitechapel, Docklands and Isle of Dogs. The contrast is mind-blowing.

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  14. James (1,299 comments) says:

    Just respect and enforce the private property rights of everyone else to disriminate as they choose re the wearing of burqas etc and this sort of issue sorts itself out in the market with no need of state regulation and conflict.

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  15. davidp (3,585 comments) says:

    If wearing a burqa is important to you then NZ is probably the wrong country to have emmigrated to. You’ll find that there will be hundreds of NZ cultural practices and values that offend you and you won’t be happy here. NZers walk dogs, eat bacon, allow woman to drive cars, hold hands, wear bikinis, kiss on the street, don’t execute homosexuals, often mock god and religious people, allow our teenage daughters to talk to boys, and like a night out on the town drinking and dancing. We’re not going to change, and you’d probably find some other countries better to your taste.

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  16. Redbaiter (11,880 comments) says:

    Gee Davidp, what about the Progressive’s sacred cow of diversity????

    You know, that thing that’s always so ‘VIBRANT’.

    You just have no shame.

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  17. Jack5 (5,286 comments) says:

    What do libertarians think about banning full-face crash helmets from banks then? What about lunatics like the KKK to parade around in their robes that similarly hide faces. Is that fine, too?

    Just to clarify things for me DPF: we’re talking about burquas including the plus hijab head-covering and the niqab face-veil. Am I right and thinking of the a garment where really only the eyes are visible to other people?

    This dress raises security problems. If the London bombers had slipped into this garb, with submachine guns and bombs under their clothing, could they have been tracked by British security cameras. Burquas give far greater potential for disguise than sun glasses. With the flowing gown, they also provide great cover for arms, and also allow males to disguise as women.

    The face covering garb will be accepted in Western countries only until the first time terrorists use it to massacre local citizens. Then burquas with full face cover will be judged in the same way as Mill would have regarded everyone wearing swords or carrying pistols in holsters. Or does his libertarianism allow that?

    Also in court, what about our ancient right to face our accusers. If someone is accusing us of something small or large, are we not going to be allowed to see the faces if they are burqua clad? What about the right of juries and counsel to judge the expression faces of witnesses? How will people be sure that a witness or accuser is the person they purport to be? How will a police patrol establish that the person in a licence is the driver? Will Muslims be exempt from having face photographs on driving licences and passports.

    As for Lucia Maria at 11.07:

    …France has a history of religious repression

    You are talking of the Huguenot suppression 400 years ago. Britain has a bit of that tradition, too. It expelled the Jews in 1290 and much more recently oppressed Scots Presbyterians (the Coventanters) and Irish Catholics.

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  18. Captain Neurotic (203 comments) says:

    “Many women choose to wear a burqa rather than face the consequences of not wearing one”.

    SR – I’m not sure if you are trying to bait or not, I will assume that you are!

    The choice between a bash or not mmmm… not sure if that meets the definition of ‘free choice’ :-p

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  19. RRM (10,104 comments) says:

    And 10,852 posts of mostly unreadable raging and cursing from you Baiter.

    Much of it consisting of some variant on “you’re mentally deficient, so I’m not going to waste time answering your points” – the ultimate smackdown, guaranteed to win any argument.

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  20. Redbaiter (11,880 comments) says:

    Yeah that’s right RRM, we all value your totally objective judgment so highly.

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  21. Redbaiter (11,880 comments) says:

    Interesting story here about how a few Muslim refugees in Tennessee now number around 20,000 and are starting to have a major cultural influence in Nashville.

    Nashville- would you believe it? Hank Williams would be spinning.

    http://www.foxnews.com/us/2010/08/09/plans-build-tennessee-islamic-centers/

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  22. Pete George (23,832 comments) says:

    masks (except medical-type)

    What about medical type? They are common face coverings in public in some places.

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  23. thekiwifish (7 comments) says:

    I have no problem with people wearing the burqa on the street but is it any different from wearing a balaclava or ski mask?

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  24. Jack5 (5,286 comments) says:

    Pete George at 11.54 raises comparabillity of the full burqa with face covering to medical masks.

    How do you really think someone in equivalent surgery clothing – a full-length, loose-fitting gown plus surgical face mask – would fare if they marched up the witness box in a courtroom to give evidence in this clobber? Or if they marched into a bank that has been held up from time to time? If a cop stopped the person for speeding and checked the licence wouldn’t the cop legitimately demand the mask be removed for identification? Of course.

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  25. Steve (4,537 comments) says:

    What about paper bags Pete? there are some kinky people out there.

    Trolling? who me? look in the mirror mate

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  26. Put it away (2,872 comments) says:

    Pete – “You can’t know this of all burqa wearing women. ”

    And the reason you can’t know is because the men have forbidden them from telling you. Or even talking with you at all. This is fine with you, I take it?

    Many Western women remove virtually all expression from their faces by having toxins injected.
    I find that more off-putting than scarves and burqas.

    Almost certainly the weakest and most ludicrous “moral equivalence” argument ever produced on this blog. Maybe even the entire Internet. Well done.

    A problem with banning burqas is how specific or generalised do you get? Just ban Muslim face coverings? Or any face coverings. What sort of face coverings would be allowed and which banned?

    Stop pretending to be dumber than you are. Face coverings that are being forced on people should be banned. Style is not particularly relevant.

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  27. MikeE (439 comments) says:

    “What do libertarians think about banning full-face crash helmets from banks then? What about lunatics like the KKK to parade around in their robes that similarly hide faces. Is that fine, too?”

    Libertarians tend to want banks to be private property, and therefore feel its up to said bank to decide who can and cannot enter. If banks wish to trade off risk vs customer base, then thats their choice, not that of the state.

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  28. tom hunter (5,134 comments) says:

    Ostensibly, Muslim women choose to wear the burqa. Unless empirically founded evidence is obtained to show that this choice is less then fully free, we need to respect their decisions.

    Can anybody imagine any way in which such empirically founded evidence could ever be obtained?

    Me neither.

    So if you are a misogynistic Muslim male who wants to keep women in their place, effectively shut away from the horrific secular society in which they live, and if you are part of a similarly minded community, you’re going to get away with it. Moreover, you’re going to get away with it by using the religious tolerance of said secular society. Sweet.

    Having said that….

    It is forced upon them by male Muslims enforcing the ideology and law of Islam.

    Not precisely. Take a look at these photos of Cairo University classes over the decades, in a country that has always been ostensibly Muslim.

    They demonstrate that that this is about the ongoing internal divisions between various sects of Islam. Unfortunately it is clear that the most hardline, oppressive ones (e.g. Wahabbism and the Taleban) are making the most headway, using Islam as a tool to impose across the Islamic world what were (and are) tribalistic and very localised, primitive cultural norms – and doing so in times that long precede the Leftish game of blaming Bush and co.

    The thing to recognise here is that the burqa is not just a religious symbol, as a Catholic’s rosary beads might be. It is a political symbol, as are so many aspects of Islam. Political symbols are important in that they are the physical manifestation of political ideas and Islamists understand this only too well.

    The only real question is whether the secular West will push back as they pushed back against some of the ideas of Protestants, Catholics and Mormons (does anybody have empirical evidence that Mormon woman did not choose to join polygamous marriages?). Only with such resistance will anybody have a hope in hell of getting an Islamic Reformation going, otherwise those Muslims who might try to interpret different parts of the Koran in different ways (or at a minimum highlight some and suppress others) will simply be buried.

    Based on the differing responses of two secular leftists here – RRM and PG – I’d say the chances of Western push back are only 50:50 at best.

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  29. Rex Widerstrom (5,013 comments) says:

    Quick hit-and-run since I’m off out. In WA a woman (Australian born and part Aboriginal) is demanding the right to wear her burkha while testifying in court. The defence want her to lift it.

    Local Imams have confirmed that Islamic law requires the face be shown when giving evidence in court (even, apparently, Sharia courts) as it recognises that we discern a lot of truth and deceit through body language.

    However this young woman maintains that she would feel afraid because “men would be looking at her”. Furthermore, the defendant (also a Muslim) has been physically attacked for “encouraging women not to wear the veil”.

    It’s hard not to conclude from this that strict adherence to wearing the burkha on every conceivable occasion has nothing to do with Islamic law and everything to do with Islamic contemporary culture, which views women as chattels and men as rulers, able to take whatever they desire; with no moral obligation to control their own desires and behaviour, and who thus must have temptation covered frm head to toe at all times. A view which accords with Shiek Hilaly’s famour “uncovered meat” reference to Australian women.

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  30. Murray (8,803 comments) says:

    “Books, the rise of talk-back radio and email conclusively demonstrate that you don’t need to be staring at someone to understand them.

    I bet a few that stare at your blog post won’t want to understand it.”

    Is it your assertion that women in such atire should be confined to these mediums of communication only?

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  31. kowtow (8,945 comments) says:

    This is a huge issue and far from simple.
    Europe is uneasy about this for many reasons.
    Historically The spread of Islam has been a major threat to European freedom,heritage and way of life.
    Now this threat re emerges in the manifestation of outrages such as the September attacks on the US, Bali,Madrid,various outrages in the UK as well as a host of thwarted attacks.
    Another problem is mass migration from Muslim countries,and the apparent unwillingness of so many immigrants to INTEGRATE and accept western values.This is a major concern in Britain.
    The Germans are amazed at this as their early Muslim migrants tended to the secular and came to work and earn,while the 2 nd and 3rd generation of these migrants ,the German born ones are the ones donning the scarves and getting involved in radical activity!
    Varios Muslim leaders from North Africa have made inflamatory statements about overcoming Europe with the power of their wombs and larger populations,why wouldn’t Europeans be worried?
    The freedoms and values that Europe currently espouses ,equality ,multiculturalim ,human rights etc are the freedoms that are being abused and twisted tol destroy Europe.Those freedoms should be for Europeans who believe in them,not for immigrants to use as a means to destroy them.True European values such as democracy ,parliamentary representation,freedom of expression,equality before the law ,justice , are ancient and were hard fought for.
    Where you find Muslims in large numbers you find calls for Sharia. The burqa is perhaps the most overt symbol of that,until the minarets start to go up! Ask the Swiss about that.
    These issues are dealt with in detail on the website jihadwatch,keep abreast of issues. It’s not simply freedom to wear what you like.
    And aethiests out there who may want to defend the burqa brigade ,yours could be the first throats to be cut.History tells us that.

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  32. Pete George (23,832 comments) says:

    Face coverings that are being forced on people should be banned.

    That’s quite different to banning a form of clothing, it’s banning a form of coercion. Would it apply to adults only? And to face coverings only?

    The point I’m trying to make is that it isn’t as simple as some seem to think. “Yeah, let’s ban burqas” seems to be quite a popular sentiment. But if it is going to become law then it takes a bit more thinking.

    Ban Muslim women from wearing burqas only if coercion is proven?
    Ban Muslim women from wearing burqas?
    Ban Muslim women from wearing face coverings?
    Ban religious women from wearing face coverings?
    Ban all women from wearing face coverings?
    Ban all females from wearing face coverings?
    Ban all females from wearing religious head coverings?
    Ban all people from wearing face coverings?
    Ban all females from wearing face coverings unless there is a good medical reason?
    Ban all clothing worn under coercion? Except uniforms?
    What if a parent forces their teenage daughter to wear a longer skirt?
    How do you define “face covering”.

    There are a lot of complications, unless it’s just a form of “other religion bashing”.

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  33. ByterNZ (26 comments) says:

    The burqa with the veil is a symbolic barrier that stops muslim women from breeding with someone outside of their culture. It is a declaration of war against other cultures, and should not be tolerated. Refual to allow females within your culture to interbreed with someone outside their culture, and coercing women within your culture to be married and impregnated is incompatible with western society. The consequences of this inferior and barbaric culture can be seen within the nations that spawned and/or were taken over by that culture. There’s no reason why we should have to allow the same outcome in western nations.

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  34. PaulL (5,449 comments) says:

    Agree Pete, it isn’t clear. And if we start second guessing whether women are coerced to wear the burkha, maybe there are a lot of other things we could second guess too. That way lies nanny state.

    I note that there aren’t a lot of complaints about nuns habits. Which look a lot like a burkha if they’re wearing the full clobber. Is that not as confronting as a burkha?

    Really, to me this comes down to the best of two evils. I’d rather that women didn’t wear a burkha, I think it’s a bit insane. But I don’t have that choice. The choice is between:
    1. let them wear it, and accept that at least some of them are wearing it because they’re culturally brain washed or otherwise coerced into it
    2. force them not to wear it, and further increase radicalism and the belief in some quarters that western society has an axe to grind against Islam

    I’m with option 1. They aren’t hurting anyone by wearing it, and even if some of them are coerced into it, it isn’t like it is physically harming in the way that foot binding or female circumcision is.

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  35. Yvette (2,763 comments) says:

    From Rex Widerstrom’s comments “… strict adherence to wearing the burkha on every conceivable occasion has nothing to do with Islamic law and everything to do with Islamic contemporary culture, which views women as chattels and men as rulers, able to take whatever they desire; with no moral obligation to control their own desires and behaviour, and who thus must have temptation covered from head to toe at all times. A view which accords with Shiek Hilaly’s famous “uncovered meat” reference to Australian women.”

    I would suggest this is nearer the core of the issue.
    That the wearing of the burkha is basically for the benefit of the male who is not then so tempted by what he sees, and implicit in that is that he either can not easily control his own lust, or can’t be bothered doing so. In a society where males appear dominant, it is indeed an indication they are less moral and have less self constraint.

    This must therefore raise questions, in the New Zealand context, regarding all other women. Are they looked on with undue lust, contempt or other negative views by Islamic men?

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  36. PaulL (5,449 comments) says:

    Yvette, the trial of what, 5 young men was it, in Sydney a couple years back for raping a young woman suggested that they did, in fact, consider other women with undue lust. And also, according to their understanding of their religion, that that young woman was in fact “asking for it”.

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  37. RRM (10,104 comments) says:

    PaulL – could I, similarly, make perfectly valid assumptions about what you as a white Mofo (??) must be like by considering the trials of high-profile white NZ criminals?

    Dunno if I like the idea of taking a society’s criminals ans indicative of the whole race.

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  38. Kris K (3,570 comments) says:

    RRM 11:19 am,

    I’m pretty peace and love and religious tolerance normally, but IMHO it’s appropriate for western countries to seriously discuss whether we want to tolerate these things in our countries. Sure the Burqa is a tradition, but IMHO it’s a hideous tradition. We wouldn’t tolerate female circumcision or Chinese foot-binding in NZ in 2010, and we wouldn’t tolerate Muslim honour killings. Therefore I don’t think it’s obvious that we should tolerate the Burqa. This isn’t Saudi, we may want to choose to set our own different standards here.

    Spot on, RRM.
    ********

    tom hunter 12:18 pm,

    The thing to recognise here is that the burqa is not just a religious symbol, as a Catholic’s rosary beads might be. It is a political symbol, as are so many aspects of Islam. Political symbols are important in that they are the physical manifestation of political ideas and Islamists understand this only too well.

    Exactly right, Tom – it’s what the burqa symbolises; it’s a political/religious symbol, just as Islam is a political/religious system of belief.
    ********

    kowtow 12:27 pm,

    Another problem is mass migration from Muslim countries,and the apparent unwillingness of so many immigrants to INTEGRATE and accept western values.This is a major concern in Britain.

    […]

    Where you find Muslims in large numbers you find calls for Sharia. The burqa is perhaps the most overt symbol of that, until the minarets start to go up! Ask the Swiss about that.

    Also right on the money, Kowtow.
    I believe the burqa is just ONE method by which Islam says, “We refuse to integrate and respect your laws and customs”. Especially when you couple that with, as you said, the push for Sharia law to be accepted once Islam becomes a reasonable minority in its host nation. And lets not kid ourselves – minarets will be the next ‘push’ if we roll over and ‘normalise’ the wearing of the burqa by Muslim women within our society.

    To sit back and say and do nothing is BEYOND naive!

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  39. Put it away (2,872 comments) says:

    Pete, does it ever occur to you that if you are advancing a position you can only defend by pretending to be an idiot, that there might just possibly be something wrong with your position ?

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  40. Kris K (3,570 comments) says:

    Yvette 12:55 pm,

    This must therefore raise questions, in the New Zealand context, regarding all other women. Are they looked on with undue lust, contempt or other negative views by Islamic men?

    As Rex mentioned earlier, Muslim men view Western women as little more than “uncovered meat” – fair and willing game. I don’t have it at my finger tips, but it is a well established fact that a large proportion of Western ‘white’ women, where Islam becomes a large minority of the population base in Western countries, are raped disproportionately by Muslim men. Muslim men, in fact, specifically target Western women, and leave their own womenfolk alone.

    Another good reason why we should curtail Islamic immigration into our country – the safety of our women and girls.

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  41. Pete George (23,832 comments) says:

    that young woman was in fact “asking for it”.

    That excuse for rape is far from limited to Muslim offenders.

    Put it away, to prove you’re not an idiot what is your position?

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  42. Mickmac (3,233 comments) says:

    http://www.facebook.com/pages/Queen-Noor/80746496993

    Seems it’s more political/ideology than religious to me, this is the Facebook page of one of the most respected wives of an Islamic/Arab leader and dowager of Jordan.

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  43. tom hunter (5,134 comments) says:

    force them not to wear it, and further increase radicalism and the belief in some quarters that western society has an axe to grind against Islam

    There are a number of good, solid, arguments against the idea to force them not to wear it, and we can see them in the post that DPF made.

    However, this is not one of them. Given that secular Western society has some built-in aspects that are in direct conflict with Islamic beliefs it will never, ever be possible to avoid the belief in some quarters that western society has an axe to grind against Islam.

    Those beliefs are not going to go away or be watered down by Westerners adopting some sort of cringing posture designed with the objective of not causing offence or making Islamists feel “threatened”. They are threatened by such things – that’s the whole point on both sides of the argument. It is the existence of such secular beliefs and laws that causes the “offence” – not the act of speaking or acting in defence of them.

    Paradoxically it’s very dangerous to indulge in such appeasing nonsense, because it will lead those so offended to conclude that the forces that oppose them are weak, divided and useless, and therefore likely to collapse if pressure is maintained or increased.

    There is a further paradox in that the failure to push back is done with the thought that moderate Muslims will thereby not feel threatened and will be enjoined to become partners against Islamists. But the actual result will be that such Muslims will feel that they have been abandoned by the West. After all, if the West is not willing to stand up against Islamist ideas with practical efforts as well as words, then what is the point of moderate Muslims doing so. Why sacrifice yourself.

    Or as Glenn Reynolds once said:

    When the Western world was strong and self-confident about its values, they wanted to Westernize.

    Now, not so much.

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  44. Kris K (3,570 comments) says:

    Pete G[e]orge 1:43 pm,

    Put it away, to prove you’re not an idiot what is your position?

    Isn’t that oxymoronic, Pete – you (an obvious idiot) asking someone else to prove they are not an idiot?

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  45. backster (2,196 comments) says:

    I agree with the dissenters for reasons already covered….I have no doubt that in due course the Croat Academic will publish an equally compelling argument for Sharia Law for Islamists.

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  46. Yvette (2,763 comments) says:

    So, if the burqa protects Islamic women from the lust of Islamic men, what protects New Zealand women from the same danger or disrespect, or animal status?
    [I admit being provocative]

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  47. Nefarious (533 comments) says:

    So, if the burqa protects Islamic women from the lust of Islamic men, what protects New Zealand women from the same danger or disrespect, or animal status?

    In my experience their sideburns, fat arses and shitty attitudes.

    Mind you, the sideburns could be a turn on for some..

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  48. The Wanderer (5 comments) says:

    Complete misdescription – France has not banned the burha, which is the large, all enveloping and usually black coverall used by some muslim women – they have banned what is called the niqab, which is the scarf that covers the face.

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  49. noskire (835 comments) says:

    Consider the fact that some sections of the Islamic community still think that it is perfectly reasonable to serve justice by burying people in the ground and then throwing stones at them until they die.

    And Islam is now the 2nd most widely practiced religion in France, which has a population of about 65 million.

    Islam is the greatest threat to Western society as we know it – full stop.

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  50. Pete George (23,832 comments) says:

    Western society may be a bigger threat to Western society. We damage ourselves far more than Islam does.

    There may be a bit of Muslim money propping up the West but they don’t make us spend too much, eat too much, drink too much, smoke too much.

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  51. krazykiwi (8,040 comments) says:

    Walked into a bank today. A sign reminded motorcyclists that they must remove their helmets, presumably so as to be visible and identifiable to security cameras. Balaclava’s must also be removed. What about burqa’s? How is this situation dealt with today?

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  52. Pete George (23,832 comments) says:

    A couple of burqa wearing men held up a French bank/post office in February so I suppose that justifies all countries in the world banning them in banks forever. Along with all the other disguises and tools that have been ever used to rob banks.

    Jihadists must have a ball thinking up ways of causing worldwide overreactions.

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  53. krazykiwi (8,040 comments) says:

    You didn’t answer the question pete. What happens today? If it’s fine for burqa’s to be worn into banks then why not motor cycle helmets? (btw, I was asked by bank staff to remove a cycle helmet once. No different to a hat, no obscuring of my face)

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  54. tristanb (1,127 comments) says:

    Walked into a bank today. A sign reminded motorcyclists that they must remove their helmets… …What about burqa’s?… What happens today?

    Well, it’s quite simple. Just don’t allow women to have access to banks. Controlling finances is a well-known tactic for good domestic abuse. (Not as good as enforcing the social isolation of your wife, but every bit helps).

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  55. tom hunter (5,134 comments) says:

    We damage ourselves far more than Islam does.

    Indeed – but not in the manner suggested.

    Islam is actually quite weak in terms of physical or economic capability. The suicide bomber is a symbol of that weakness, of a culture so comprehensively failed that people are disposable items rather than being its greatest resource.

    But Islam is ideologically confident, and when you’re battling a culture like ours that’s filled with guilt and recriminations about its past, self-doubt about it’s present, and a determination among many to sabotage its future, you actually end up looking fairly strong.

    Look at Nada Farooq, a Canadian student. Several years ago she started an Internet forum for Muslim teenagers in her area. During her trial (she and sixteen others had plans to blow up the Toronto Stock Exchange, seize Parliament and even kidnap and decapitate the PM) this material was obtained and there was one thread where a poster thought it would be fun to to discuss what made Canada unique. Nada dumped on that quick smart: Who cares? We hate Canada

    You can’t blame her parents. Her dad was a pharmacist at a military base in Canada and said that he supports the Canadian forces in Afghanistan. After her terror cell was exposed, Mohammed Umer Farooq told the media that his daughter’s views – hating Canada, in favour of shipping gays off to Saudi Arabia to be executed – were news to him. But he did say that she had always been “100 percent religious”, whereas he was only 30%.

    There’s a solid minority in that category throughout the West: “moderate Muslim” parents with kids raised in the West who become ferociously Islamist. Nada did not just give her natural Pakistani heritage and identity the boot, she rejected her thin, watery “multicultural”, apologetic-about-its-past Canadian identity too. She chose Islam, which transcends nationality, does not apologise about it’s past, and is confident about its future, even if that confidence seems hilariously misplaced to most Western secularists.

    By contrast a large chunk of the West celebrates a cringing, self-absorbed, weak-willed culture that applauds turning it’s back and focusing on “the real threats” and insists that we’re the problem. The sort of culture that produces people who actually believe that botox and Big Macs are the biggest problems.

    A suicide bomber may be a fairly useless weapon, but not when it’s used against a suicidal culture.

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  56. tom hunter (5,134 comments) says:

    I’d forgotten that good old NZ has had some input into this debate – DPF’s comments about the lack of Burqa’s here notwithstanding – in that there was a news story several years ago about how our Police have apparently taken Islamic lobby groups at their word that the burqa is a requirement of these women’s faith and must be worn while driving.

    However, Greg O’Connor, the NZ Police Association president, added a rather pointed remark that “If one’s belief system was so strong that you didn’t want to show one’s face then perhaps that belief system should not extend to driving”

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  57. kowtow (8,945 comments) says:

    Tom Hunter’s guilt reference put me in mind of this item at Arts and Letters Daily on leftist white guilt.
    http://www.prospectmagazine.co.uk/2010/07/self-serving-white-guilt/

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  58. Sarkozygroupie (209 comments) says:

    Yvette said:

    So, if the burqa protects Islamic women from the lust of Islamic men, what protects New Zealand women from the same danger or disrespect, or animal status?

    Here’s my story. I am a NZ woman who has travelled in Iran for work (and other ME countries). On the plane before landing I had to get redressed – covered from head to toe, including being swathed in a long loose coat courtesy of the Iranians on arrival. I was subjected to stalking by one man for the duration of my visit. On the first night this man came to my room twice and I sent him away, then he tried to enter my hotel room and I had to block his entrance and shut the door on him, after he demanded I kiss him. He would call me on my room phone every morning on some work pretext or other. He would be waiting for me at the hotel door having volunteered to be my driver each day. The Australian and New Zealand men would accompany everywhere as much as they could to protect me.

    I was followed by other Iranian men on the street on the way to the souk on various ocassions. They would stop and stare at me as I walked past. Some would stop their vehicles in the middle of the expressway. Every morning I had to be dressed and veiled by 5:3Oam because my breakfast would turn up anytime even when I requested it at a certain time. All the hotel workers were men. They would come into my room with my breakfast tray and cajole me to take off my headwear, which I wouldn’t do because even though they were in my private room I would have been breaking the law to be unveiled in front of them. Even my bathrobe had a hood on it in case they turned up without being asked and I was caught out – this happened on my first morning.

    Undoubtedly some of this interest was because I have light skin, blue eyes and blond hair – a rare sight to see in Tehran etc. I am sure much of it was because they were trying it on with a what they preceived to be a wicked western woman. These same men acted demurely and with respect around Iranian woman at the hotel. On the plane to Dubai I had a Lebanese man ask me within a few minutes if he could touch me. I said no, unfazed he started talking about his wife and children. He had just thrown out the coach of his soccer team from the seat next to me so he could sit there. I had two others breathing down my neck and the ones across the aisle staring intently at me. Even before we had left Tehran they were trying to get me to take off my headwear.

    However, after two weeks of this kind of intimidatory and predatory behaviour in Iran I was used to it and could bat off the entire soccer team. After two weeks I had become very attached to my headwear and long coat as it afforded me a bit of psychological protection, especially when I was on my own at times, and I didn’t want to take it off. Neither did the Australian woman I was travelling with. I don’t know if moslem women feel like this also in the ME (the headwear giving them protection), or perhaps it was just because I was a western curiosity.

    I didn’t like the fact that even though I wasn’t moslem, I was forced to cover up and obey sharia law. Pretty interesting for a Jewish girl! Let’s see how that would work if a moslem girl entered a hareidi (ultra orthodox) suburb and had to abide by the dress code, which is strict too.

    I don’t agree with wearing the burqa or hijab or a veil in western countries though – it is unnecessary in a religious sense, and it doesn’t afford protection, rather it is the curiosity that attracts unwanted staring, looks etc.

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  59. Dazzaman (1,082 comments) says:

    Many women choose to wear a burqa rather than face the consequences of not wearing one.

    That’s about the size of it! Oppression it is. I’d be pulled up quick as anything if I had my full face balaclava on in the street, it’s happened to me before. It should happen to these burka-whatever wearing women too.

    Bah, Islam’s a waste of time and effort, it’s offered nothing but good demolition tips and how to keep the girls under the thumb…BAN it!!!

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