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Dutch government moves closer to banning the niqab and burqa

By Aabeda Masra, Communications Intern

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In a controversial legal step taken by the Dutch Parliament, the Cabinet has proposed to pass legislation that bans the traditional Muslim garments, the niqab and burqa, by 2013.

The burqa, also known as abaya, is an overall covering of the body similar to a gown, and the niqab covers the whole face but the eyes.  There are very few women who also opt for veiling their eyes.

As many European countries move to pass anti-Islamic laws in the name of assimilation, the fear among Muslim-Americans is that if such a law is taken into consideration by the U.S. Congress, Muslim women will not only be outcasted, but also denied their rights of freedom of religion and expression.

The government of Netherland, like Belgium, claims that this law is significant for security reasons.  Plus, the authorities say the ban is important to maintain public order and to let people “fully participate in society”.

According to the Deputy Prime Minister Maxime Verhagen, “People must be able to look one another in the eye.”

Verhagen discounts the fact that niqab covers the face but not the eyes.  As for the concern of societal participation, it must be noted that in Japanese culture, eye contact is avoided due to politeness.  Their society is arguably just as functional and orderly as the West.

Furthermore, the official statement said, “Having to wear a burqa or niqab in public goes against the equality of men and women.”

Many European countries have made it their political agenda to attack Muslims and Islam to garner public support for political elections.  Last year, France banned the niqab despite protests from French Muslim females who stated it goes against their personal beliefs and religious rights.

Under the guise of national security and gender equality, nations all over the world are blatantly stripping Muslims’ rights despite the protests of women who wear burqa and niqab with pride.  Their argument is not taken into account that veiling empowers them and makes them equal to men without having the need to sexually objectify themselves.

Many Muslim women who choose to cover themselves with burqa and niqab believe that a woman should not be judged on her physical appearance but on her intelligence, etiquette, and other aspects of personality.

The fear of Islamophobia has permeated so deeply into the Western culture that European nations fail to acknowledge such laws goes against the democratic principles in which their societies are based on.

Laws such as these are a plausible concern for Muslim-Americans especially with legislation such as National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) which contradict the U.S. Constitution. Legislation such as this makes it important to defend the civil liberties that allow U.S. citizens to express themselves and freely practice their religions.

For more on this issue, visit: http://www.islamophobiatoday.com/2012/01/30/dutch-government-moves-step-closer-to-banning-veil/

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