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Should the burka be banned in public?

11:13 UK time, Friday, 30 April 2010

Belgium's lower house of parliament has voted for a law banning women from wearing the full Islamic face veil in public. Does the proposal set a dangerous precedent?

The law prohibits the wearing in public any clothing that obscures the identity of the wearer. If passed, it would be the first move of its kind in Europe.

Only around 30 women are said to wear this kind of veil in Belgium. However, the Muslim Executive of Belgium says that the law could lead to them being trapped in their homes.

Should the state be able to control what people wear in the name of security? Do you live in Belgium or other parts of the world where similar bans are being considered?

This debate is now closed. Thank you for your comments.


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  • Comment number 1.

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  • Comment number 2.

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  • Comment number 3.

    No, its pandering to the worst , most paranoid and destructive urges of the paranoid, cowardly right.

    I'm not frightened of a bit of cloth.

  • Comment number 4.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 5.

    Of course it should be banned. Britain should for once follow the example of our European cousins, not just the Belgians but the French too.

    These people come to this country knowing that it is not part of our history or culture and we are expected to accept their wishes or we have a 'Gordon Brown' moment and are branded bigots and racists.

    I am sick of hearing about integration and multiculturism. What the labour party really mean is the entire British population should forego thousands of years of history and tradition for fear of upsetting a handful of incomers.

    It is for the incomers to adapt to our ways, not the other way round! When will we have a government with the guts to say what is so obvious and implement a ban?

  • Comment number 6.

    Are they banning helmets and hoods too?

  • Comment number 7.

    I am opposed to the state presuming to dictate what anyone should or should not wear.

    I'm no fan of the burka (I find them claustrophobic to wear, and prefer to see the person I am conversing with) but any such intrusive law would encourage me to go and get one forthwith!

  • Comment number 8.

    'Only around 30 women are said to wear this kind of veil in Belgium.'

    How is passing a national law that only covers 30 people not persecution?

    Seriously, the more I hear about this, the more it reminds me of the treatment given to Jews in Medieval Europe.

    They'll be putting them in ghettos next...

  • Comment number 9.

    Anyone who thinks the burqa is Islamic might want to trade up to a better imam. One capable of reading the Koran for meaning: the burqa has no basis in scripture.

  • Comment number 10.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 11.

    In one word, YES.

    As this kind of Dressing is far worse that wearing a "Hoodie".

    For lets face fact, anyone could be behind the Vail, therefore if the Police were looking for anyone this Vail is a great way to hide your Face, and also if your wearing the whole body outfit then even your sexual identity is offen unknown, for is it a Man or Woman under all that clothing? Who Knows, for I don't.

  • Comment number 12.

    No it should not. We live in a multi-cultural country, so we should respect people of faiths such as Islam.

    We do not ban the wearing of the christian cross or the flying of the flag of st george so why should we ban the burka.

  • Comment number 13.

    I'm not worried either way, but what I do object to is that we will now get Muslims complaining about dress codes, yet in many Muslim countries female visitors in particular are told what they can and cannot wear. It's the double standards that annoys me - when in Rome.....

  • Comment number 14.

    Will this ban make it an offence to wear a hoodie? Hoodie-wearing youths are a much bigger threat to society than women in Burkhas.

  • Comment number 15.

    Nope, it shouldn't. The burka strikes me as one of the many pillars of what looks like female oppression that inhabit the more extreme end of the muslim faith, but on the face of it (pardon the pun) I don't see how it harms western society in general.

    Burkas on passport photos etc is just stupid, and wearers need to concede that there are circumstances where they will need to identify themselves in a rational way, and not get offended by this.

    By the same token, I think it should be reasonable to wear or display items that display personal faith (including crucifixes). Why not?

    But then of course, the problem here is the almost childish way in which true believers of ALL kinds derive "offence" at every possible juncture. Perhaps my live and let live nature is due to my fairly deep rooted secularism?


  • Comment number 16.

    No, just because something may "help" someone commit a crime doesn't mean that item should be criminalised. If you think about it you could use the security argument for almost anything, it's very easy to come up with a relevant scenario.

    This is just an extension of the old debate between security or freedom. I still think we should have the freedom to wear whatever we want, even if it conceals the face.

  • Comment number 17.

    Yes it should be banned. It degrades women and effectively removes them from our society. If it was only used on religiously specific days that would be ok. However it is used as a disgusting means of subjugation by some insecure men.

  • Comment number 18.

    Yes, I believe it should be banned.
    Not for religious but for cultural reasons. In Europe, the concept of not being able to identify the physical facial features of the people surrounding you is an alien concept. It makes many people feel nervous including myself.
    I have nothing against wearing other religious symbols such as headscarves, crosses, crescents, whatever. What I don't like is sitting next to a fully veiled figure who could be anyone.

  • Comment number 19.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 20.

    There is no place for such a garment in the modern world, modesty can be preserved with a simple headscarf.

  • Comment number 21.

    Most persons have a common appearance. Parliament requires some degree of nudity when banning religious veils. What's next? Will they require compliance with sexual contact by politicians?

  • Comment number 22.

    We are confusing nation here. On one side we are proud of multicultural multi religious society but on the other hand we want all start wearing, behaving, living same. we just need to make sure no one force them to wear burka if they want them self its a basic freedom. Dr safyan Khan Bristol

  • Comment number 23.

    It increases security (slightly) at the detriment to the religious human rights of women who choose to wear it.

    There are three related items to this;

    #1 How to distinguish between wilful wearers of the burka and women who are forced to wear it.

    #2 There is a precedent for why this is a security issue; 7/7 bomber escaped london using a burka to evade detection at customs (thankfully he was eventually caught anyway)

    #3 There was a similar piece of bylaw passed in the UK, regarding wearing of hoodies & caps in a particular shopping complex - so this is quite similar and I'm certain no muslims complained when it was passed on the grounds of security as opposed to discriminating against certains sections/age groups of society - so they should not be able to complain now.

  • Comment number 24.

    I think that very few people would argue with the premise that the Burkha is oppressive. However, the answer is not to try and legislate it out of existence (after all, the majority of women who wear it would probably say that they do so by their own choice) but rather to provide the necessary education that would allow that choice to be better informed.

    There is something a little distasteful in seeing continental (and some domestic) politicians use this issue as an excuse to indulge in all kinds of narrow-minded rhetoric. I don’t like the Burkha but it affects very few people in this country (or Western Europe) and we need to maintain a sense of proportion. The women who wear it will be no less oppressed if we ban it, they will still be living in the environment that made it acceptable in the first place.

  • Comment number 25.

    no need to be so specific and devisive... just ban anyone from covering their face in public places, many institutions already do not allow the wearing of a motorcycle helmet in their premises, just extend it.

  • Comment number 26.

    A law against ~30 people? Surely Belgium has more pressing matters to attend to?

  • Comment number 27.

    3. At 11:42am on 30 Apr 2010, Osric wrote:
    "No, its pandering to the worst , most paranoid and destructive urges of the paranoid, cowardly right.

    I'm not frightened of a bit of cloth."

    what about what is underneath the cloth, like a male 7/7 suicide bomber escaping capture?

  • Comment number 28.

    the belgian law does not ban burkas as such, just makes it illegal to hide your identity in public places by hiding your face. Makes total sense in these days of terrorism and crime where CCTV is a vital tool to fight aginst these threats. We should do the same.

  • Comment number 29.

    Force a woman to reveal her face when she does not want to?
    Yes, I'm all in favour of that. Great idea. Now, what's next? Are we going to force Western women to reveal a certain amount of thigh or bosom?
    Or what about going the other way? Lots of people find the skimpy things women wear offensive. Will Western women be forced to cover up?

    This law is racist. Muslims are the new Jews. It's okay to pick on them because you know... well... they're... Muslims aren't they?

  • Comment number 30.

    Absolutely not. While I deplore islam as a religion which is responsible for just about all conflicts in the world today, the burka should be allowed to be worn if muslims so wish. Banning it will only inflame resentment and persecution and fuel hatred on both sides.

  • Comment number 31.

    In Europe the burkha should not be allowed. If that does not suit someone, they are free to live in countries in Asia and in the Middle East where it is allowed. But not in Europe. Europe has its own culture, own lifestyle, own values and own charm. Medivial influences from the Islamic culture are therefore unwelcome.

  • Comment number 32.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 33.

    Shopping in a low value food store (aldi/liddle/netto I can't remember) with my snobbish wife a while back she commented on the low prices and good value.

    My response was to suggest 'burka nights' where women (like her) who wouldn't be seen dead in low cost 'chav' shops can wear one and not be noticed by their friends. They can then keep on lieing about shopping in Waitrose/Sainsbury's etc.

    I thought this was dead funny until I read an article which said that a lot of the women seen wearing burkas in London are actually white british women who have had facial cosmetic surgery and are hiding this from everyone!

    I don't mind what women wear, if you compare them to men its no contest, for some men the burka should be complusory.

    What I, like most people reading this story will agree with is that in court, customs, claiming benefits, etc it should be banned. Everywhere else, your on your own.

  • Comment number 34.

    Considering that a lot of women who where these garments are doing it VOLUNTARILY, I would have to say no.

    Yet there is a security issue so if these are banned then they need to ban wearing all garments in a way that prevent clear identification of the face. Hoodies, helmets (when not riding), scarves etc.

  • Comment number 35.

    yes and if wearing one in a car
    they must give a finger print
    as it is difficult to prove for insurance cliams

  • Comment number 36.

    I'm neither female nor Muslim but I'm considering wearing a burka in public merely to annoy the the type of person that it annoys.

    And "hurrah" for Osric!

  • Comment number 37.

    #10...Surely there's a huge contradiction in your university friends statement..."the evil of women comes out of their eyes",as this is the only bit you can see when women wear these things.
    I also think that the burqa should be made compulsory for some of the overweight women and men of any religion,who seem to buy clothes that are at least two sizes too small for them,that's more of an eyesore than a bird in a burqa!

  • Comment number 38.

    I think, that we should get an inspiration in islamic countries. In many these countries is law that women in burka (of course, all of them must have burka) are not allowed to go on public without their huband, father, or brother.
    So: If you want to wear burka, then only with your huband, father, or brother.
    It is democratic and islamic as well.

  • Comment number 39.

    Get a grip! Whats wrong with a Burka? Why can't a muslim woman choose to hide her face? The only exception I ccan think of would be where the authorities need to check a persons identity, like at passport control.

  • Comment number 40.

    Perhaps the rest of the laws should be applied as well.

    Public floggings, stoning to death, chooping off limbs for thieving. This would be an eye opener for many people who do not beleive this practice still continues today. We gave up this along with burning witches a long long time ago. Forcing women to wear masks is against human rights, but in the eyes of Islam law women come second to the camel and have as much right as them.

  • Comment number 41.

    Surely the burka is of desert environment origin, rather than a requirement of islamic law. As I understand it Islamic law requires that the hair be covered, akin to the type of headress seen in Malaysia and Indonesia. It, the burka seems much more common after 9/11! is it just sticking 2 fingers up to the majority of us here? If muslim women have to be covered in public (by muslim men) in Saudi, then that's their law, but here, no thank you. Shopkeepers, building security, aiports etc should have the right to refuse entry to wearers of burkas, crash helmets and hooded tops--anything that conceals identity.

  • Comment number 42.

    6. At 11:46am on 30 Apr 2010, lilelvis2000 wrote:
    Are they banning helmets and hoods too?

    i think you will find anybody with their face covered will be asked to leave a bank,supermarket,petrol station etc etc .unless of course your wearing veil, so in the interests of equality.........................

  • Comment number 43.

    Who says it’s necessarily a Muslim, or a woman, under there. Quite a good disguise for anyone up to no good. Quite a good disguise for anyone who wants to stalk women.

    In general masks, hoods or other forms on concealment are not allowed in public for a very good reason.

  • Comment number 44.

    Recently, I’ve been hearing: the Koran says nothing about wearing a burqa.
    That's not so.
    This is what the Koran says: the faithful women must keep their gaze focused below, on the ground and cover their sexual organs. They must not put their beauty and their jewelry on display. They must hide their breasts behind Purdah. They must not exhibit their beauty to anybody except their husbands, brothers, nephews, womenfolk, servants, eunuch employees and children. They must not move their legs briskly while walking because then much of their bodies can get exposed." (Sura Al Noor 24:31)
    "Oh prophet, please tell your wives and daughters and faithful women to wear a covering dress on their bodies. That would be good. Then nobody can recognize them and harass them. Allah is merciful and kind." (Sura Al Hijaab 33: 59)
    Even the Hadith -the collection of the words of Prophet Muhammad (his opinions) - speaks extensively of Purdah. Women must cover their body before going out; they should not go before unknown men; they should not go to the mosque to read the namaaz (prayers), and they should not go to any funeral. (Hadith Bukhari Book 026 No. 5397). Koran 33.59 “O Prophet! Tell the wives and daughters, and the believing women, that they should cast their outer garments over their persons: that is most convenient, that they should be known (as such) and not molested.”
    It's my opinion that women should not use Purdah: no veil, no chador, no hijab, no burqa, no headscarf... These articles of clothing are instruments of repression.
    Having so easily said that, what does a Muslim woman do when the law of Belgium (or France) says no burqa, but she knows what the Koran and the Hadiths say, and she also knows if she goes against Koran and the Hadiths, her male relatives may have to restablish their honour.

  • Comment number 45.

    Are they banning helmets and hoods too?

    These are banned in a load of places where it is important to know who is under it. Ever seen the signs at banks saying 'motorcycle helmets must be removed'?

  • Comment number 46.

    Why should women have to completely cover themselves up, I wonder, when men don't have to? That's what irks me. Of course the burka should be banned. it's quite out of place in the 21st century for a women to only be allowed out in public if she covers herself up completely in a piece of cloth. It must feel claustrophobic, hot and scary inside. Not least a feeling of isolation from fellow humans. Those who advocate wearing a burka should wear one themselves. And some will say that women should have the right to decide but I bet the blokes won't let them !

  • Comment number 47.

    Nothing specific about the Burqa. I would rather see a banning of all clothing and accessories that are worn in a way as to conceal the identity of the person wearing it. This applies as much to hoodies, crash helmets when not riding a bike or police wearing balaclavas when not actually necessary for operational reasons.

  • Comment number 48.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 49.

    "The law prohibits the wearing in public any clothing that obscures the identity of the wearer."

    If this is the case, this is not a law banning just the Burka, it will ban lots of other things - like motorcycle helmets (remember, it bans them in public so it wont be possible to ride a motorcycle wearing a helmet on the public road!) Sun Glasses will have to be banned as well so any celebs trying to hide their identity wont be able to. Probably hoodies as well if these obscure any of the face.

    How will "obscure" be measured? From a straight on facial view or by a CCTV camera overlooking a public area? From the side? That would rule out hoodies. Sounds like it needs re-wording.

  • Comment number 50.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 51.

    Yes, in the arab world they have restrictions on what people (including foreigners) can and cannot wear and people are respectful of these rules and adhere to them. Similarly, we in Britan should be shown the same respect and courtesy, Burkhas are not part of our custom or heritage and many find them oppressive.

  • Comment number 52.

    Absolutely. There is no excuse for not being identifiable in public. It is inexcusable in modern Britain . Wear a veil yes but not the niqab or burka.

  • Comment number 53.

    6. At 11:46am on 30 Apr 2010, lilelvis2000 wrote:
    Are they banning helmets and hoods too?

    What like in this country you mean? I was told to take my cycle helmet off in a shop run by muslims even though there were women with burka's in the shop.

  • Comment number 54.

    Whilst white, I am sensitive to racism. I have written letters on behalf of muslims when articles have appeared racist, and have been to Auschwitz.
    That said, I believe the burkha should be banned immediately, and this has nothing to do with wishing to subject Muslims to unfair restriction.
    I simply ask the question - do I want a society where black male adolescents can roam the streets in balaclavas, or where white males can roam in Klu Klux Klan outfits? My answer is an absolute and unequivocal no, and therefore I can find no justification for allowing Arab women.
    Indeed, to allow Arab women to dress like that, whilst not wishing black or white males to, would be racist and sexist, surely?
    So I ask those who would allow the Burkha - how about your thoughts on young males, black or white, walking streets in similar outfits?
    If you think like me, it puts a different slant on it, does it not?

  • Comment number 55.

    Yes, they should be banned, because when a woman wears one of these things, they are effectively removing themselves from society, and moving around in their own, sterile, bubble. One knows that when one comes accross one of these women (there are quite a few in Cardiff Bay) there is no hope whatsoever of any sort of interaction with them. They don't want to converse with anyone at all, and this self imposed 'exile', or should that be imposed exile by the men in their commumity, is absolutely unacceptable. So, yes, ban the burka, a stone age symbol of oppression and servitude that should not exist in modern 21st century Europe.

  • Comment number 56.

    Yes the burka should be banned.

    Are muslim women second class citizens? No and no one should ask them to cover their faces and act as if they are.

    How do we know that it is actually a muslim woman under that veil? It could be anyone, a terrorist, a mugger how are we suppose to know.

    When I bought my car second hand I was stopped by VOSA and told that the privacy glass on the front door windows was too dark. When I asked how come they told me that other drivers would find it intimidating because the cannot see my face when I am driving. If that is the case then muslim women should uncover their faces. One as to ask are they ashamed too? because they most certainly should not be? But I for one find it intimidating and worrying when I see someone wearing the burka and my children most certainly do. I had to have my privacy glass lightened and for the same reason they should have to remove the veil. This is the 21st century and we are a western country. I do not mind what religion people follow, but I do feel that there should be some understanding that this is a christian country and if they want to wear full burka they can do that in their country of origin. If we go to their country we have to abide by their dress code so as not to offend and the same should be said about our country. You are welcome to come and live here but you must accept that this is the way our society lives and these are our rules and where as you have a dress code so do we.

  • Comment number 57.

    Although I do no like muslim women wearing burka, it is none of the State's business to ban wearing of burka in public. Burka has centuries old cultural roots that cannot be uprooted by the stroke of a pen in a jiffy. Modesty is a great virtue and needs to be respected by society. However, it should be incumbent upon muslim woman to remove the veil for the sake of establishing identity on entering any law precinct or security portals.

    Tomorrow, Belgium may ask of muslim women to wear bikini or hot pants in public as what behoves its culture.

  • Comment number 58.

    Yes, I would support a ban, but it should not be necessary.

    These face coverings are not religious but rather are cultural in nature. Muslim immigrants come to western europe because their own culture has failed them, through wars, failed economies, oppression or any number of other reasons. So why, when fleeing your own culture, would you seek to bring it with you to a new land?

  • Comment number 59.

    Yes they should ban it, and if the women are then "trapped in their homes" they should prefer criminal charges against the people "trapping" or rather "restraining" the women in their homes. Simple really, who has time for the rather medieval practices still being enforced by Muslims? Not me.

  • Comment number 60.

    If a woman wants to cover her face for religious purposes, why are people so bothered by it when its not affecting them.

    Women that do cover their faces do it from their own choice and not because they are "2nd class citizens".

    And instead of questioning regarding why they do it and why dont men I believe we are an educated society with the world of information at our fingertips. Why not just research yourselves.

    Its strange that we live in a society where rights for nudists are given which is FAR more uncomfortable for me to look at than someone thats covered their face.

    Finally, the other thing I dont get is why are all the anti-burqa people so frightened over a piece of cloth. I think its time certain people in the society used their time to be more productive than to scrutinise others.

  • Comment number 61.

    Personally, I wouldn't ban it but as others have said, educate the women who wear them that they're a sign of oppression which, as far as I knew, wasn't tolerated in this country. Don't the gvt keep bleating on about equal rights and opportunities?

  • Comment number 62.

    Good grief! Get a life.

    What next? Ban beards, mustaches and long hair because they can obscure someone's identity.

    This is the nanny state gone mad!

  • Comment number 63.

    I'm against any clothing which discriminates against people in any way. You don't get people protesting that they can't wear a swastika and most uniforms (unfortunately not all but getting there) allow woman to wear trousers. I don't see the difference when it comes to banning the burka. The whole point of it is to stifle the women, no matter what a lot of Muslims claim, it is to hide the women from the world, while they can still go about household chores which such grocery shopping. Women can't work with the veil (before anyone says they can, use your common sense)! All pictures I've seen of working woman in Sandi have their faces exposed. It's not the women's choice, they have to wear the veil in order to stay with their families and husbands, otherwise they'll get disowned and maybe even killed.

    Also people also shouldn't be forced to wear something that is a serious danger to their health. For the first time in this country people are suffering from rickets because they are not exposed to enough sunlight to produce sufficient vitamin D, due to be completely covered up.

    This is not about enforcing British culture onto other ethnicities. No one complains about the way religious Jews are dressed. Every time I see a woman in a burka I get a shock and feel disgusted. Firstly, because it’s crazy seeing a person walk about covered up like a black ghost, particularly the face, the most important feature for recognition. And then as a woman, I find it sexist and by allowing it in this country it’s enforced onto me.

  • Comment number 64.

    6. At 11:46am on 30 Apr 2010, lilelvis2000 wrote:

    Are they banning helmets and hoods too?


    They'll be banning freedom of thought next.

  • Comment number 65.

    Hmmm. This issue is a tough one. My instant emotional reaction is to say yes, this is a tool used to oppress women so banning it must be a good thing. But what are we actually hoping to achieve? A greater level of intergration between communities? Or increased hostilty from a group which is already seen by a portion of the population as "the enemy within"?
    Islam can be used by highly intolerant people to control and direct a lot of the Muslim community, however the same was once true of Christianity. How did the Christians become more tolerant? I personally believe it was when science took precedence over religion in terms of education (this happend as science was used to prove that a lot of the old testemant is not true e.g. the earth only being 6000 years old). So I think that a more sensible approach would be for tighter controls on what religious schools are allowed to teach. I am not saying take over these institutions, just ban them from promoting certain view points e.g. that anyone who isnt part of the religion is a heretic or kaffir. Those that refuse to obey these laws must be made to realise that their interpretation of the religion is simply not compatible with the British way of life. I am sure this would cause problems but more importantly it would allow us to see once and for all those who are willing to intergrate but are afraid to disobey their religious teachings and those who promote such views as the truth. This is especially true of Islam as it can be interpreted in a variety of different ways e.g. Wahabism (this is the school of thought that most would take offence to, think of the evangelicals in America and you get the idea)
    When we know those who are unwilling to change or discuss their views we simply deport them to a country more in tune with their beliefs or if this is not possible we place them under house arrest outside of the community they are involved in.
    This not a perfect solution by anyones standard but its the best I can come up with. Any better ideas?

  • Comment number 66.

    I don't know enough about the reasons why ladies wear burkas to comment on that but....

    Since when is it right for the state to regulate what people wear???

    If anyone has a problem, then its those who wish to force others to dress in a particular way.

    I mean if the basis of banning the burka is that it's threatening - what about hoodies, or in the past those awful shell suits? Perhaps they should arrest everyone on Saturday's near a football ground wearing "colours", or take on anyone who dresses like a "goth", perhaps they should force skinheads to wear woolly hats?

    Where would this nonsense end??

  • Comment number 67.

    Yes, there are concerns about the 'burka' quite rightly for security when men and some women use them for crime?

    It's purpose for educated and intelligent women who don't believe a recent cleric's opinion that 'women cause earthquakes' - apparently due to female 'immodesty'?

    However, female doctors in female health will acknowledge that any women 'of colour' wearing burka, while outside the home may experience particular health problems in the future? Why?

    If you are of medium/dark skinned, as a women - genetically you are more protected by UV/UVA/UVB but, more vulnerable to osteoporosis if you constantly cover your skin while living in countries with low and poor sunlight due to lack of natural vitamin D production?

    By all means adhere to what you believe as a women - but simply look at the science - that Islam contributed to, among other conquerors/ancient civilisations, throughout ancient history?

    Women, universally and throughout history have contributed so much ladies - but rarely acknowledged? Whatever your religious or political persuasion - just keep in touch with all the contradictions and keep healthy - physically, emotionally and intellectually?

  • Comment number 68.

    I have read the Quran and no where does it say women are evil so your Tunisian friend is an illiterate studying at a University! I find it offensive when people attribute such baseless statements to Islam without opening any books themselves.

    I would like to point out that wearing a Burka is a sign of illiteracy in the first place as Islam or the Quran does not anywhere even permit it, leave alone enforce it. Islam opposes oppression and in my eyes this is oppression. On the other hand I support allowing people to dress in whatever way they so choose, as is the point of freedom and independence.

    I think allowing women to wear less and less is bordering towards extremism rather than banning the Burka. So why is there no talk of moderation and banning over-exposure?

    I do not see anyone enforcing laws that effect the way nuns dress? They wear a veil as well. I wonder why that has continued to exist without any objections?

    The world by and large is turning anti-religious. As a religious person myself, I do not waste my time passing judgments on irreligious individuals or preaching to uninterested parties. I believe tolerance is the only route to a peaceful society. But, I have lived in this world long enough to know every creed, caste and religion has deep-rooted fascist/racist feelings towards anything different.

    Live and let live!

  • Comment number 69.

    No, the burka should not be banned in public. Definitely not. People should be, are, free to wear whatever they like, so long as they don't 'offend public decency' (whatever that is). That's part, just a small part, of what the UK being a free country means.

    However, in important communication and identity situations, faces should not be covered. Identity is obvious (banks, airports, benefit offices, etc.).

    Communication is about the whole body. Yes, the words and gestures are fundamental, but so are facial expressions. No publically funded teacher, for example, should be allowed to teach a class of pupils with his or her face masked.

  • Comment number 70.


    I agree 100% with no 58. TheyCallMeTheWonderer

    [...These face coverings are not religious but rather are cultural in nature. Muslim immigrants come to western europe because their own culture has failed them, through wars, failed economies, oppression or any number of other reasons. So why, when fleeing your own culture, would you seek to bring it with you to a new land?]

  • Comment number 71.

    Yes it should.

    It's a revolting symbol of the subjagation of women.

  • Comment number 72.

    37. At 12:42pm on 30 Apr 2010, slightlyallthetime wrote:

    Yes, many contradictions. In addition to saying that all women were liars and could not be trusted in a court of law as a witness, he said that if several women said the same thing it would be accepted as true. Not very logical that.

    Regarding the evil of the eyes what he said was that an ordinary veil which allowed the eyes to be shown was no good. It had to cover the eyes. That's why the burkas have cloth grills so the women can breathe and see enough of the outside world to move about.

    A similar row broke out in France in 1989 when a headmaster of a school sent a girl home because she wore a headscarf. His argument was that French education was secular and the wearing of the headscarf or foulard was contravening the secular nature of the school.

    He was accused of being a racist of course until it was revealed that he was an immigrant from one of the French overseas Dominions himself.

    When the father of the girl was interviewed by the press it was discovered that all the girls and women of the house were kept locked in rooms at the back of the house and only allowed out when necessary. This was all to protect their modesty and keep them faithful to their religion and not be polluted by French customs.

    No mention of him being sexist or racist of course.

  • Comment number 73.

    If a country decides to Ban the wearing of Burkas then this law, like all the others in that country should be observed by all. Burka wearers will tell you of their rights to wear what they please and it is a self expression of their faith... what if my self expression was wearing only Speedos? would I be allowed to wear them in the high street of a strict Muslim country? No there is laws against it... there is the correct answer.

  • Comment number 74.

    Islam, after all, means "submission" (NOT "Peace, as Muslims claim). The Burka a a symbol of enforced submission for women.
    This should be unacceptable in a civilized country.

  • Comment number 75.

    Any woman has a right to wear anything she wants. Whether it is a string bikini (which is demeaning to women according to some, turning women into little more than sex objects) or a very butch outfit indistinguishable from male clothing (which is demeaning to women according to others, turning women into poor imitations of men when they could be so much more) or a burqa (which is demeaning to women according to yet others, turning them into second class citizens according to this lot). I can decide to wear rags or smell nasty or go around dressed like a half-naked tarty streetwalker if I want to. Why can I not wear a burqa?

  • Comment number 76.

    The wearing of a Burkha (or similar Garment) as far as I can make out seems to be based around “Islamic Religion”. Therefore if this is the case, then why are non-Islamic women (including foreigners) whom live or visit Islamic Countries are forced to comply with a Religious doctrine that has nothing to do with there beliefs (Religious or any)!

    If it because this is the custom of these countries then what is good for the “goose” must of course be good for the “gander”, i.e. If Islamic Women visit of live in non-Islamic Counties (Christian or other wise) the irrespective of their Religious beliefs they must adhere to the customs of those counties.

  • Comment number 77.

    Hoods have been banned from certain areas for years, so why shouldn't burkas be?

  • Comment number 78.

    Those law makers have simply nothing to do.
    Narrow minded dictate, projection of the power of darkness and bigotry.
    Is FKK banned there as well?

  • Comment number 79.

    All women's dresses, in every age and country, are merely variations on the eternal struggle between the admitted desire to dress and the unadmitted desire to undress.

  • Comment number 80.

    So next thing would be to ask everyone who has facial hair to remove it for easier recognition?!

    @ pzero - you don't expect everyone who comes to live in your country to accept your culture/views?? People should stick to their customs, not to adopt new one.

  • Comment number 81.

    Yes, the Burka should be banned. People should realise
    that this is the U.K. and if they don't like our customs
    they have a choice of other countries !!

  • Comment number 82.

    Burka's should be banned. I have witnessed a woman wearing a burka serving someone at a post office checkout. Was it even a woman? if it was, was it even the woman they employed and not someone taking their place for the day? It's rude, it's intimadating. They should respect our culture if they wish to live here. Wear the burkas in their own home but not in public.
    I might turn up to work in a balaclava, see what the reaction would be. I'm pretty sure i'd get disaplined...maybe I could say "it's part of my religion".
    As if! Have some respect for OUR christian based country!!!

  • Comment number 83.

    Yes,the Burkha should be totally banned in public! It's totally a form of oppression and women shouldn't be subjected to this! We are living in a modern society not the dark ages! Women are equal in all ways. In certain countries Muslim women aren't even allowed to gain an education or even drive a car!What's the reasoning behind that??

  • Comment number 84.

    Is it not de-humanising to wear this type of clothing?
    As soon as your face is obscured you become a non-individual, a non-entity.
    Maybe that is the whole point and purpsose?

  • Comment number 85.

    Female circumcision is also justified by some religious fanatics. Neither this nor the burqa is appropriate, Degrading or harming women in any form should be outlawed no matter how 'religious' the basis is.

  • Comment number 86.

    No - Once you start letting the law tell you what you can and can't wear you enter a slippery slope that lets them tell you what you can and can't do, believe etc. If we allow this then the old poem 'First they came' can be updated to:
    First they came for the burka, but I did not speak up as I did not wear one.

  • Comment number 87.

    While we are at it, why don't we ban the ridiculous wigs that barristers wear. It is the ultimate insult to a man to have to wear that ridiculous wig as some Neanderthal display of a symbol of wisdom.

  • Comment number 88.

    Each country should be able to enact it's own laws. If the Belgians wish to ban the burqa, then who are we to argue with it. If those people who feel that they will be impacted negatively by this ban, then simply find somewhere else to live. If you can't live within the law of a land, then you have no place in's that simple.
    Personally, I think anything that hides your features is going to breed suspicion. If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear...

  • Comment number 89.

    Burkas nad niqabs are a much lesser problem than mediaval Islamist fanatics who want to creat a global Sharia-based caliphat.

    Make no mistake about it.

  • Comment number 90.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 91.

    I love the fact that a lot of people try to use the argument that women should not have their choice of clothes dictated to them as an argument to bring in laws that would dictate what women could wear.

    I honestly couldn't care less what people wear, by all means ensure that all people are required to uncover their faces when required to do so for identification purposes but other than that let people wear whatever they want whenever they want other than when they're at work or school and are required to wear a specific uniform or other appropriate clothing as set out in the school/company rules.

  • Comment number 92.

    @ Stuart - and who is enforcing Burka?? Just recently 2 young female started covering their heads after getting deeper into Islam and Quran. No one enforced them, and they both have collage education. How do you explain that??

  • Comment number 93.

    We should have banned the late Michael Jackson's concerts because he frequently wore face coverings and dark shades. That was not in the culture of Britain.

  • Comment number 94.

    The burka should be banned in public. The faces of people should be on display so that the c.c.c.t.v. cameras will be able to identify the wearer of that face.Other people are constantly being recorded and in view of these cameras. ALL muslims should be subjected to the same laws.

  • Comment number 95.

    It's true. Muslims are the new Jews. They are being persecuted because they are different and have different beliefs, not because they have done anything wrong.

    I keep hearing people saying how Muslim women are being oppressed by the Burka. this couldn't be further from the truth. Many Muslim women WANT to wear it and feel liberated by it. It provides them with great freedom. You don't have to believe me, in fact many of you won't but it's true.

    The Burka provides anonymity and freedom form many of the pressures of Western life. People can't tell if you're wearing designer labels, or last years stores own brand clothes underneath (or even what you're wearing underneath). They can't see if you're wearing makeup or if you're dyed your hair. People have to get really close to see if you're fat or skinny, or old or young. You could have a million pound in diamonds and pearls on underneath, or cheap costume jewelry, or none at all, and nobody would know.

    This is freedom. Freedom from being ogled and judged on your appearance by men and women alike.

    Taking the Burka away would be like stripping you naked and exposing you to the world to be judged based on your appearance.

    First the Burka, then what? The headscarf? Trousers?

    If the West wants to free Muslim women from oppression, then Muslim women need to be free to be Muslim Women. Taking the the Burka away is taking Muslim women's freedom away.

  • Comment number 96.

    It's not a governments, or society's, job to preach to people what they can or cannot wear, after all ultimately the burka is just a piece material. The reasoning behind banning the burkha may be sane (women's rights,equality e.t.c) but it is not ours to dictate how someone may dress. Instead of banning it educate muslim women, allow them freedom of expression, and let them decide what they wear and the reasons why. Whats next - banning youths wearing baseball hats or hoodies. Maybe lets even make certain religions wear certain symbols on their arms so we know who they are, and look what happened when someone had that idea 70 years ago. This is just european nannyism and paranoia gone mad.

  • Comment number 97.

    @ #58
    Where did you get that piece of information from? Most people came here to work or I should say they were brought here to work, to rebuild this country after the two wars. The British ruled over the sub-continent and divided it in to two! And you are here complaining about something that does not effect you in any way, shape or form!

    This anti-Islamic behavior has got to stop. This is exactly what promotes hatred towards Britain and the US among illiterate masses in third world countries.

  • Comment number 98.

    This law is an outrage in any modern, democratic country. First of all, it is a violation of human rights, limitation of freedom of religion, freedom of expression and just plain personal freedom. Secondly, it rather obvious targeting those that subscribe to Muslim faith which is clearly wrong. Lastly, while the creators of this law are trying to hide the practice of targeting muslim women with the argument of safety, this argument is completely without merit. How many crimes or terrorist attacks were carried-out in the Western countries by women wearing burkas? A BIG FAT "zero"! With the introduction of this facist law I feel ashamed to be European!

  • Comment number 99.

    Yes, I think the Burka should be banned.
    It's intimidating to see someone with their face obscured.

    Also, for these women to feel the need to completely cover
    their faces there must be some unreasonable demands being made
    by their husbands / family.

    A professor of Islamic Studies was talking on BBC the other day
    and said there is nowhere in the Koran that it says a woman has
    to cover her face, only that she should dress conservatively.

  • Comment number 100.

    Anyone who thinks the answer is yes is an ignorant, islamaphobic fool.

    There is no rational argument to ban the burkha, only paranoid racism can attempt to justify it.

    If you look at the attempts of those endorsing a ban to post on this forum, then you'll notice repeated grammatical errors, as well as spelling mistakes.

    So in conclusion, if you disagree with me then you are a disgrace. Bye


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