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With respect, a Strong Dissent

Reader comment on item: Ban the Burqa, Allow the Burkini

Submitted by Ron Thompson (United States), Aug 23, 2016 at 22:15

The most relevant fact about the various head, body, and face coverings of Muslim women would seem to be that HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS of them in majority-Muslim countries, lack the freedom to choose to not wear these coverings.
I am always amazed that this 'detail' gets overlooked in any discussion of Muslim dress codes for women.
Do not these mandatory coverings, the violation of which is subject to harsh and even lethal penalties, constitute, by numbers, the largest Civil Rights abuse on the planet? (if one ignores the basic freedoms that all Muslims, male and female, lack in Muslim-majority countries)
Is the conclusion too harsh that any Muslim woman who chooses to wear a burkina or a burqa, or even a mere head covering, is either Ignorant or Indifferent to the state of non-freedom with regard to dress and human individuality that HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS of her 'sister' Muslims must live with?
I never see a head-covered Muslim woman without thinking that I am not looking at a personal fashion choice or an act of piety, still less an expression of 'modesty', but at a political statement - a statement moreover that is harshly uncomplimentary to women in general if one remembers the underlying brutal, even pathological rationales in Islam for why women's bodies, hair and even faces must be covered.
I therefore fully support and compliment the French for their ban on the burkina as well as
the veil. Nor do I see much difference between the tent-like burqa and the full-body burkina -
both deny female individuality and self-expression.
Finally, when Dr Pipes regards the burkina ban as a trivial matter this seems inconsistent with his immediately following article in support of the Brat bill, which bill I applaud and agree with.
What precisely is the difference between demanding respect for religious reciprocity, and calling, in effect, for reciprocity regarding female choice in matters of dress?
You won't allow churches or synagogues in your country. We won't allow the political statement involved in sartorial unfreedom for women in our country (even if individual Muslim women in the West may be exercising a choice - whose absence for women in Muslim majority countries they care nothing about).
Incidentally, I feel the same way when I see Muslim men praying in military formation. If
churches and synagogues (and buddhist temples, etc) are not allowed in Saudi Arabia, Saudis,
and Muslims from other countries without religious freedom, should not be allowed to pray in public in military formation. Such formations, besides the embarrassing posture, seem far more intended
to intimidate than to express humility or piety.

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