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Banning the Niqab

Reader comment on item: Ban the Burqa - and the Niqab Too

Submitted by The Classical Liberal (United States), Apr 3, 2010 at 19:15

Is it appropriate for the US, France, Belgium and other countries to ban the niqab (the face veil)? YES it is. Behavior in public spaces is not left up to the individual. Even I, a rabid supporter of individual rights, do not claim that. (How interesting though that some leftists / progressives claim differently. We'll leave that contradiction for another post.)

Public property is property held in common. Therefore the public, either through referendums or through the legislature, can - AND DO - determine what is and what is not acceptable behavior and attire.

Furthermore the claim of religious liberty is not applicable. Religious liberty is not an absolute which allows any and all behavior -- especially on public lands.

The burqa and niquab are displays of public behavior. Women need not wear them in private spaces. As such they are legitimate targets of legislation. The only question now is should we? I answer yes to the niqab and no to the burka. Wearing a burka has aspects of political statement as well as religious but that is not a reason to prohibit is. I, after all, consider wearing swastikas, sickle and hammers, che guevara t-shirts to be political statements that are legally, if not morally, acceptable.

The niquab is not acceptable because it covers the face and hides the identity of the individual. Would we accept this behavior for any other reason? No. Therefore should we allow the niquab? No.

To those who make the argument that the niquab is worn solely for religious purposes and for that reason alone we ought to allow women to wear the niqab, I respectfully disagree. One the dispute over whether the niqab is fard (religiously required) or not has been going on among Islamic scholars since the earliest centuries of Islam. Second, as mentioned earlier, religious / cultural norms, while important to take under consideration, are not mandates upon society as a large.

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