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Human Rights Group Condemns European Burqa Bans

Human Rights Group Condemns European Burqa Bans

A new report from Amnesty International, an influential human rights group, condemned European countries for denying Muslim women jobs and education by banning full-face veils or neglecting to enforce anti-discrimination laws. In addition to bans on the burqa (traditional Muslim robes that cover women’s faces and bodies) in France and BelgiumAmnesty alleged that other countries like Switzerland and the Netherlands were failing to take action against employers who discriminate against women wearing traditional religious dress. Schoolchildren have also been prevented from wearing religious or cultural clothing in the classroom. This report follows a long trend showing that these types of bans on religious clothing are deeply harmful to Muslim women.

“Women should be able to wear whatever they prefer…States have focused so much in recent years [on] the wearing of full-face veils as if this practice were the most widespread and compelling form of inequality that women have to face,” the report explained.

If anything, Amnesty International argued, France’s ban on full veils has only increased hostility toward Muslim women, rather than protecting them, which the legislation is (ostensibly) intended to do. Even those who choose to wear hijab, the traditional Muslim headscarf that covers the hair but leaves the face exposed, rather than the full face veil, have reported higher levels of suspicion towards them since the ban went into effect.

The report encouraged European countries to avoid implementing bans on religious dress at colleges and universities. At the beginning of 2011, a similar ban implemented by Turkey, a secular country, quietly expired after many Muslim women simply chose to forgo higher education, rather than attending school without a headscarf.

According to the Amnesty International report, these laws, in addition to a widespread failure to enforce anti-discrimination laws against employers who will not hire women wearing Islamic ritual attire, represent a culture of anti-Muslim extremism that politicians choose to feed, rather than quench.

In this rhetorical and political war, burqa bans are not the only line of attack. Other European leaders like Marine Le Pen, the right-wing candidate who garnered 18% of the vote in the first round of the recent French election, have spoken out against halal butchery, the Muslim ritual slaughter of animals. The Dutch stirred controversy last year when several politicians proposed a law that would effectively ban halal and kosher (Jewish ritual) slaughter. There are also restrictions on Muslim places of worship. Minarets, for example, are banned in Switzerland.

As the report argues, Muslims in Europe do not constitute a homogenous group. But when certain forms of Muslim religious expression are illegal, it makes the entire religion seem foreign, rather than a part of European culture, further isolating all Muslim sects and thereby doing the opposite of what these restrictions are meant to do.

Read more:

Belgium Bans Burqas Starting Next Week

Italy Approves Draft Bill to Ban Burqas

French Senate Overwhelmingly Approves Burqa Ban

Read more: , , , , , , ,

Photo Credit: Antoine Taveneaux

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328 comments

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6:01AM PDT on May 2, 2013

One question, I watched an interview a few years back about the covering of the head for Muslim woman, the interview was by a womanand she said that the head and or body covering was not in their religious koran that the book says about it being a man's need to look away if a woman would be enticing to him that the head covering was added by men not the religious teachings so woman feeling host that they can't wear it are they aware that it's their men that made the rule, sounds to much like most religions, let's just add what we want and blame the book

5:31AM PDT on Apr 30, 2013

Countries like France, Switzerland, and other European nations have certain standards for slaughter in that the animal must be unconscious before cutting them apart. Kosher and Halal religious ritualistic slaughter demands that the animal be conscious. From videos I have seen of Muslim slaughterhouses where men, its always men, take their little boys to see the slaughter. The animals are fully conscious when they get their throats cut, so deep in fact that their tracheae are ripped out if their throats and the blood spurts everywhere, the animals jerk and struggle and their eyes tell of the agonizing pain they endure, I've seen a video where the cow was disembodied while still very much alive and conscious. Personally I would like to see all slaughter stopped, however for religious groups to be allowed to torture animals in the name of religion is wrong and it certainly should be outlawed in any country which does not prescribe these practices outside if religious tenets. As far as the burqa is concerned, there are places where it is law to wear them. If a person leaves that country to go to another where this is not the custom, then the laws and customs of that country should be respected and people should assimilate. Why leave a repressive country only to bring repressive customs to that country which they are escaping to get away from this repression? No more than I would feel comfortable with people wearing ski masks hiding their identity would I feel comfortable with peo

5:18AM PDT on Apr 30, 2013

Countries like France, Switzerland, and other European nations have certain standards for slaughter in that the animal must be unconscious before cutting them apart. Kosher and Halal religious ritualistic slaughter demands that the animal be conscious. From videos I have seen of Muslim slaughterhouses where men, its always men, take their little boys to see the slaughter. The animals are fully conscious when they get their throats cut, so deep in fact that their tracheae are ripped out if their throats and the blood spurts everywhere, the animals jerk and struggle and their eyes tell of the agonizing pain they endure, I've seen a video where the cow was disembodied while still very much alive and conscious. Personally I would like to see all slaughter stopped, however for religious groups to be allowed to torture animals in the name of religion is wrong and it certainly should be outlawed in any country which does not prescribe these practices outside if religious tenets. As far as the burqa is concerned, there are places where it is law to wear them. If a person leaves that country to go to another where this is not the custom, then the laws and customs of that country should be respected and people should assimilate. Why leave a repressive country only to bring repressive customs to that country which they are escaping to get away from this repression? No more than I would feel comfortable with people wearing ski masks hiding their identity would I feel comfortable with peo

11:39AM PDT on Sep 13, 2012

oh common, why do you torment yourselves to reveal your beauties, whats the kick in it for you? Does this happen out of the blues?

11:30AM PDT on Aug 26, 2012

"But when certain forms of Muslim religious expression are illegal, it makes the entire religion seem foreign, rather than a part of European culture..."

Islam is NOT a part of European culture. Period. Every country taken over by islam has evolved (or rather the opposite) into feudalistic theocracies where women have little or no rights at all, where literacy are non-existant and oppression of anyone not conforming runs sky high.
I read a lot of articles and blogs written by do-gooders and liberals believing they are helping women and supporting immigrants against racism when they fight to keep muslim women covered in black cloth. They are so wrong! What they do is playing right into the agenda of islam to infiltrate the westerns countries and slowly but surely take over. Why in h**l should Switzerland allow minarets in their country? There are no islamic tradition in their country? Why should France, Belgium and Quebec allow women to enter classes and jobs where their attires poses a health risk? Burqhas and hijabs are mainly patriarchal traditions that are there to keep women as property. If I ever (not going to happen!) move to an islamic country I would be forced to cover my head and/or body in cloth to be allowed out in the streets. Some islamic countries won't allow me to work. Do you really think you're helping islamic women by forcing them to stay in that symbol of male dominance?
I say as I always do: When in Rome.....

8:57PM PDT on Jul 10, 2012

Is Amnesty International also going to condemn countries which impose restrictive dress codes on women that don't believe in them? Works both ways.

5:24PM PDT on Jul 10, 2012

In your homeland do as you wish or as your customs dictate but when traveling to other countries and wanting to work there and blend into their everyday life, you should respect their customs and dress.
I say "jeans and a t-shirt for everyone!" :0)

7:51AM PDT on Jul 10, 2012

Once again, "when in Rome"...if you choose to travel to another country then you must respect the laws of the land! It is not difficult to do. Otherwise, do not travel to these countries!

7:51AM PDT on Jul 10, 2012

Once again, "when in Rome"...if you choose to travel to another country then you must respect the laws of the land! It is not difficult to do. Otherwise, do not travel to these countries!

5:43PM PDT on May 15, 2012

John: On top of just spreading misinformation and certainly would have been good little Germans during WWII, the gruesome duo also show absolutely no respect for anyone or anything.

It is absolutely ridiculous and childish to have people make comments about the picture featured here and whether the wearer of the burka is a man or a woman, Patricia's comment about breasts which has nothing to do with expressing one's point of view, but is disrespectful, hateful and childish. I have a ten year old that wouldn't dare to behave like this. The reason Patricia mocks others is because she has nothing intelligent to contribute to the conversation. This hasn't changed in the two years I have been on Care 2. Flip commentary given in a condescending manner is what Patricia is know for. She is certainly not known for contributing anything though provoking.

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