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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 be banned in the UK Show more Show less

Burkas are a tool of repression and a threat to national security.
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Islam does not require a burka

Face-veiling is customary, not religious. Both the burqa and other types of face veiling have been verified since pre-Islamic times. Because of this, most Islamic scholars, both past and present, have not regarded the burqa or other face veils as a religious requirement.
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Context

The Quran tells women that they must dress modestly. However, this is open to interpretation. There is nothing in the Islamic faith that makes wearing a burka obligatory and many opt not to, instead wearing a niqab (which leaves the eyes visible), a chador or a hijab.[1]

The Argument

If it is not obligatory to wear a burka, then there is nothing wrong with banning the burka. It would be akin to banning cannabis or riding a motorcycle without a helmet. It is an optional custom that some people choose to engage in which can have a detrimental effect on integration, gender equality and national security. Women who wear the burka can wear a niqab, hijab, chador, shayla, al-Amira or khimar instead. There would be minimal disruption to their lives and it would not hinder their freedom to practice their religion in accordance with their sacred scripture.

Counter arguments

The burden of proof lies on the proponents to demonstrate why the burka should be banned, not why it can be banned. Wearing a crucifix around your neck is not an obligatory part of the Catholic faith but the government is not considering banning crucifixes. The burden of proof is on the ban's proponents to demonstrate 'why', not 'why not'. A burka ban may not directly infringe a Muslim's freedom of religion but it undoubtedly infringes their freedom of expression and their right to wear whatever clothes they want to. Whether the burka is an integral part of the religion or not, it is irrelevant. On a civil level, the ban dictates what a woman can and cannot wear. This is an infringement of civil liberties and promotes the repression of women.

Framing

Premises

[P1] The burka is not a religious requirement, it is customary. [P2] Therefore, a ban would not infringe a Muslim's freedom to practice their religion. [P3] Therefore, there is no reason why it shouldn't be banned.

Rejecting the premises

[Rejecting P3] It may not infringe a Muslim's freedom to practice their religion, but it infringes a woman's right to wear the clothes she feels most comfortable in.

Proponents

Further Reading

References

  1. https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-45112792

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This page was last edited on Wednesday, 10 Jun 2020 at 23:05 UTC