First 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.
Raffaele 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.