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Against a Ban: Grace Brown

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Text Preview The burqa debate is a microcosm of the broader issue of Islamaphobia. At the radical end of the Islamaphobic scale, Pastor Jones attempted to hold a “Burn a Koran Day” in Florida last September 11; at the conservative end, Switzerland prohibited minarets. This year, France’s Senate voted 246 to 1 in favour of banning the burqa and the niqab, which leaves eyes uncovered. Yet targeting the symbols of Islam will not improve national security; it will unhinge it, by alienating Muslims domestically and reaffirming the belief of extremists worldwide that Islam and the West are inherently incompatible. This fuels terrorists’ fire; already, al-Qaida has threatened “dreadful revenge” if France’s ban is enforced. The security rationales for a burqa ban may conceal anti-Islamic sentiments towards the growing visibility of Islam in secular backyards. If security is the objective, why not ban gun licenses? Instead, the French multi-party panel that recommended the ban also suggested that France refuse residence cards and citizenship to anyone with “visible signs” of “radical religious practice”. Although there are Islamic states that would not allow non-Muslims to dress freely, extremes exist on both sides and two wrongs cannot make a right: merely a lowest common denominator. The media have stirred the phobia, exaggerating the extent of ‘Islamisation’ as a sovereignty threat. One morning show in Australia sensationalised a story about “why Victorians are forced to cover up”. In fact, as Jackie Frank, Marie Claire’s Editor-in-Chief, correctly noted, it was a request, not a requirement, and limited to a Muslim sports event in wintry August. Conversely, the original journalistic inaccuracy may have generalised a controversial expectation across an entire group. Some legislators argue that a ban will liberate Muslim women from ‘subjugation’; but the extent to which Sharia law or community dress coercion exists in secular societies is limited. Many migrant women argue that they... Show More

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