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Should burkas be banned in the UK? Show more Show less

Boris Johnson MP recently divided opinion - drawing condemnation from the Prime Minister and provoking a disciplinary investigation by his Conservative Party - for controversial remarks about Muslim women who wear burkas/burqas. Though he did not advocate a ban, his comments have reignited the debate following bans on the full-face-and-body coverings becoming law in countries including France, Belgium, and Denmark. Should similar prohibitions should be introduced in the UK? This question operates on the basis that women are making a free choice when wearing burkas, and are not forced to be doing so - something which all parties would reject.

Burkas should not be banned in the UK Show more Show less

A ban would infringe civil liberties, inflame tensions and would be impractical to enforce.
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Personal liberty should be prioritised

A burka ban would infringe Muslim women's rights to religious freedom and civil liberties.

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Context

In some places, including the Spanish town of Lleida, attempts to ban the burka have been overturned in national courts over concerns that it restricts religious liberties.[1]

The Argument

For those who interpret Islam's teachings as requiring them to wear a burka for their faith, they should be free to do so in the same way as anyone else who chooses religious clothing. While the UK does not have a written constitution which heralds individual liberty in the same way the USA does - primary legislation including the Human Rights Act protects freedom of speech and religion. Under this legislation, the wearing of religious attire, including crosses, kippahs and Islamic veils, is protected as a civil right.

Counter arguments

The Burka is Not a Religious Freedom The burka is not an essential part of the Islamic faith. It is a personal choice. Therefore, banning the burka is not a violation of someone's religious freedoms. They are still free to practice the Islamic faith and are able to do so, free from restriction, harassment or hindrance. [2]

Premises

[P1] Freedom of expression and religion is a civil right. [P2] A burka ban would infringe that right. [P3] Therefore, burkas should not be banned.

Rejecting the premises

[Rejecting P2] A burka ban would not infringe that right because wearing a burka is not an essential facet of Islam.

References

  1. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-13038095
  2. http://law.emory.edu/eilr/content/volume-25/issue-3/comments/burqa-ban-limitation-religious-freedom-restriction.html

Proponents

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This page was last edited on Tuesday, 7 May 2019 at 15:55 UTC