not wanted

This story is making rounds in the Brass Crescent:

Dutch Immigration Minister Rita Verdonk has proposed a ban on the wearing of Muslim burkas - full-length veils covering the face - in certain public places, to prevent people avoiding identification.

Alarm about Islamist terror has increased in the Netherlands since the Van Gogh murder.

A Dutch MP who campaigned with him against radical Islam, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, defended Mrs Verdonk's plans in a BBC interview.

She told the World Today programme that CCTV cameras, used to help track down terrorists, must continue to reveal suspects' faces.

The CCTV operators "need to see their faces and if you cover your face you cannot be identified".

The jafi angle is certainly there; after all, the argument about CCTV cameras is so specious as to be laughable. However, as always with burka issues, this is more than a simple case of Islamophobia.

The murder of Theo van Gogh was a raw and tragic event that ripped off the Dutch veneer of tolerance (thin in most of Europe to begin with) and replaced it with fear. Ayaan Hirsi Ali has been marked for death by the fanatics so it is no surprise to see her endorsement of any measure which in some way "strikes back" (even though this measure does not, actually, strike back). The Dutch are human beings like the rest of us. And their soecity is uniquely vulnerable for its very openness. Perhaps to preserve their culture, they need to limit their own tolerance.

However, what it comes down to is that the Dutch are about to force some women (not all, but some) to wear less clothing than their personal sense of modesty demands. And they impose this burden upon innocent women out of fear of male islamist fanatics. Truly, the terrorists have won.

UPDATE: This is becoming a textbook case of "radicalizing" :

Few Dutch Muslims wear a burqa, though the issue could prove explosive if Muslim radicals encourage their women to wear it in defiance of a ban.

"encourage" sounds pretty shameful to me. What is happenning is that the muslim women in the Netherlands have become pawns between a tiny minority of male muslim extremists and a tiny minority of hard-line Dutch politicians. Can't muslim women be allowed to wear - or not wear - what they want based on their personal sense of modesty? Both sides are oppressing the muslim women here. It's shameful.


Steven Den Beste said...

I strongly disagree. You're entirely missing the point.

The real message of this proposal is this: "If you want to live in our nation, to live among us, then you need to accept our ways and assimilate into our society. You don't have to become exactly like us, and you don't have to abandon everything from your previous culture, but you have to give way on the things we think are most important."

"If you want to maintain your traditional ways, and to stay separate, and to refuse to assimilate into our society, then you shouldn't be here. It's time for you to prove your commitment to this country."

Why target the burqa? It's symbolic. Certainly no one thinks that Muslim women are terrorists or that elimination of the burqa will reduce terrorist attacks, at least in the short run. But banning the burqa will force Muslim woman and Muslim men to prove that they are committed to integrating themselves into Dutch society and to living by the norms of the Dutch people.

Aziz, your wife is a doctor; I assume she often deals with and touches strange men because her practice doesn't permit her to confine herself to treating only women. To millions of Muslims out there, that's totally unacceptable. I bet you don't even force your wife to wear a veil.

I'm not trying to mock you; I'm trying to make a point. You and your wife have integrated with American culture in all the ways which matter most, and I'm glad you're here.

Symbols matter. The burqa may not be important, but what it symbolizes is fundamental and critical. The Dutch are saying that enough is enough, and the Muslims who live in the Netherlands must integrate into Dutch culture. It's about time for toleration to run both ways, and for the Muslims in the Netherlands to do more of the tolerating.

That's what this message is really about.

...what it comes down to is that the Dutch are about to force some women (not all, but some) to wear less clothing than their personal sense of modesty demands. Exactly so. Because it's time for the Muslim women -- and Muslim men -- of the Netherlands to begin to adapt their "sense of modesty" to the prevailing standard of the Dutch people. That's part of the process of assimilation.

The burqa is a symbol. It represents a refusal to integrate. That's why the Dutch have decided that it has to go. Banning the burqa is a message: we're not going to put up with Muslims living in our nation without becoming part of our nation. If you want to live among us, you have to become part of us. You can't have it both ways.

I consider this to be a completely valid and justified proposal on the part of the Dutch, and I hope they carry through with it. I'd like to see a lot more of it elsewhere in Europe.

Tequila said...

"It represents a refusal to integrate."

Only to Dutch jafis. To some Muslim women, it represents the modesty necessary for them to go out in public. As long as it is their choice, the Dutch state has no right to impose its standards upon them.

MM said...

The dutch state has what seems to me to be a legitimate security concern here. There's nothing wrong with the burqua, but there's also nothing wrong with saying "you can't wear one and be in our country". I've long been of hte opinion that if the Saudis or other arab nations want to require Western women to veil, even though that is deeply emotionally upsetting to many women, and violates closely held beliefs about the appropriate treatment of women, they have a perfect right to. I don't see how the Dutch case is any different.