Joe’s Crow Country

TWO women were arrested in France at the weekend after they were spotted in public wearing a burka.

France, the nation of liberte, egalite and fraternite, banned the Muslim veil from Saturday. As a punishment for being seen in a burka in public, a fine of �133 is dished out.

According to reports, the ban is popular with the French public, but does it liberate or repress a lifestyle choice? Depending on interpretation of the Islamic holy book the Qur’an, women, and in some cases men, should be covered in public.

I don’t happen to agree that a religious system should suggest what clothing its followers should wear. I am indifferent to it.

But equally, if a religion shouldn’t be able to enforce this then a government legislative shouldn’t either.

Does a law thought up over the course of a few years have more right than a religious text written in the year 610? Maybe it does in a country were burkas have never been commonplace, but surely a ban as sudden as this is an infringement on rights.

I have heard the burka described as intimidating and scary, but I find it astonishing that a nation of 65 million people should be intimidated by a vast minority of women choosing to wear a cloth.

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And if a burka is frightening, does that mean a scarf and a bobble hat worn by an English bloke on a cold day is too? Why not ban that?

Another argument I have heard against the burka is that it’s difficult to hold a conversation or forge a connection with someone whilst they are wearing one. I don’t think this can be argued with.

But this doesn’t bother me, as so far in my life I have never needed to speak to a burka clad woman, though obviously this is a problem for some people. If I did find myself in that situation, I would try my hardest to get round it, not start protesting for a ban.

Some people have claimed the burka makes them feel uncomfortable, but they should rise above their inherent fear caused by the moral panic of Islamophobia and realise that this is a religious choice and not an intentional attempt at intimidation, or a stand against Christianity.

I must reiterate, I don’t agree with the burka in principle and certainly wouldn’t say I encouraged it.

But it doesn’t have to be as simple as being for or against something. There is a huge gap between wanting it outlawed or encouraging it.

I would place myself somewhere in this category. I’m never going to be protesting either way, but its fine by me if people choose to wear them.

My attitude towards the burka, as the French would say, is laissez-faire.