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Why Do Western Europeans Want to Ban the Burka? Why Do Western Europeans Want to Ban the Burka?

Why Do Western Europeans Want to Ban the Burka?

by Patrick James
March 3, 2010

According to Financial Times's latest Harris Poll, more than half the voters in France favor a law banning women from wearing the burka in public. Similar anti-burka sentiment can be found in the United Kingdom, Italy, Spain, and Germany.
The poll shows some 70 per cent of respondents in France said they supported plans to forbid the wearing of the garment which covers the female body from head to toe. There was similar sentiment in Spain and Italy, where 65 per cent and 63 per cent respectively favoured a ban.The strength of feeling in the UK and Germany may seem particularly surprising. Britain has a strong liberal tradition that respects an individual's right to full expression of religious views. But here, some 57 per cent of people still favoured a ban. In Germany, which is also reluctant to clamp down in minority rights, some 50 per cent favoured a ban.
It's worth noting that if the law were accompanied by bans on wearing the Jewish cappel or the Christian crucifix, only 22 percent of Frenchmen and -women would support it (hypo-crossy?), so what is it about the burka that these Europeans find so threatening?Perhaps it's just that the burka thoroughly alienates its wearer from society (and vice versa). Meanwhile, being able to see each other's faces is a very primal thing, a sort of animal social contract. That someone would opt out of that system seems to bother quite a lot of people.That said, the ban still seems both hypocritical, and absurd to me. Is the burka really so different from what nuns wear?Photo (cc) by Flickr user kamshots
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