On the surface of it, you might argue that women should be allowed to wear what they want. But, in times that are ever more sensitive to security matters, it may not always be possible to be so tolerant of this alien cultural bin bag that some Muslim women choose to wear and some Muslim men insist be worn by their womenfolk.
The arguments for banning it, though, seem to be saying that it’s not necessary from a religious point of view; that there’s nothing in the Koran that says a burqa should be worn.
But, if there are objections to the burqa, would those objections be overruled if religion did insist on it? You get that impression.
Yet if those objections are genuine – whether from a security point or out of a feeling of discomfort and sheer impracticality during the normal exchanges of busy life in the public square – then they should trump religion, not the other way round.
The question has to be asked, of course, whether the matter could even be discussed here in the UK? Probably not, because our politicians – when not busy dipping their hands into the till to fiddle their expenses – are far too ready to cuddle up to religious demands.
But, anyway, this is what Agnès Poirer has to say on the subject in today’s (London) Times:
That such a debate is taking place again reveals the sturdy health of secularism in France, a tradition that doesn’t shy away from being confrontational even in a country with the largest Muslim and Jewish communities in Europe.
Similar debates seem impossible in Britain. When Jack Straw dared to state the obvious in 2006 by saying that the burka and the niqab were “visible statements of separation and of difference” before asking politely that women visiting his constituency surgery consider removing them, it provoked angry protests from Islamic associations and the British liberal-Left, always inclined, it seems, to defend the rights of liberty’s enemies.
Anyway, the women would look a lot sexier without it. Er, am I missing something there?