“Burqa bans”: First France, then the Netherlands – who’s next?

October 1, 2010

veil 1First the French banned Muslim face veils, now the Dutch have decided to follow suit. With debates about outlawing burqas and niqabs spreading across Europe, a third ban — perhaps even more — may not be far behind.

(Photo: A Muslim woman protests against France’s banning of full face veils outside the French Embassy in London September 25, 2010/Luke MacGregor)

Only a small minority of Muslim women in Europe cover their faces, but their veils have become ominous symbols for Europeans troubled by problems such as the economic crisis, immigration and Muslim integration.

With Europe’s political mood moving to the right, low-cost, high-symbolism measures such as veil bans have become a rallying cry for far-right parties knocking at the door of power. Their appeal also resonates with those worried by possible security threats from masked people or offended by the blow to gender equality they see when a covered woman walks by.

veil 2Raffaele Simone, whose book “The Meek Monster: why the West is not going left” has aroused debate in Italy and France, said the rightward drift fits an individualistic and globalized consumer society that Europe’s left-wing failed to understand. “In aging European populations, modernity has generated a worrying and chaotic jumble of threats and fears only the right and the far right seem able to respond to now,” Simone, a Rome university linguistics professor, told the Paris newspaper Le Monde.

(Photo: Supporters of Dutch MP Geert Wilders outside the Amsterdam court where he was charged with inciting hatred against Muslims January 20, 2010. REUTERS/Toussaint Kluiters)

Calls for a “burqa ban” are now heard across Europe, with local politics influencing how close it gets to becoming law.  Read the full story here.

Follow FaithWorld on Twitter at RTRFaithWorld


We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/

Assimilation is the key word here, if Muslims want the benefits of a liberal western society they must also be prepared to sacrifice their own non-traditional garb. The Niqab and Burqa are not necessary forms of dress even in Muslim, societies. I am with the Dutch and although I never believed I would say it, the French too, they have the courage of their convictions.

Posted by David201145 | Report as abusive

I Can only think … why now in the uk do muslims feel that this is the dress code they must follow , I live in an area that has had many immigrants that have joined our community & mixed in well , now I see clad women head to toe …. pure barriers … plain & simple

Posted by caolilawell | Report as abusive

There is little doubt that the burqa and niqab is a symbol of gender inequality,the tyranny of men over women.It conjures up stories of “honor killings,” and female genital mutilation.The most despicable of human vices is,in my opinion,the desire of one human being to have control of another,justified more often than not by some perversion of an ideal,usually religious.I congratulate the Dutch,a continuous beacon of reason for centuries.My own family hid Jews from the Nazis in Holland during the occupation,another form of the same dreadful evil.

Posted by jongbloet | Report as abusive