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A Burka is Not for Spring Break

by
Posted on April 14 2010 9:00 am
Ben-Peter Terpstra is an Australian satirist and polemicist. His works have been posted on numerous sites from The Daily Caller (Washington D.C.) to Quadrant Online (Sydney, Australia). He blogs at Positively Churchillian.

Picture me on the Eurostar, in Brussels, Belgium. The year is 2004. There’s a veil-wearing lady sitting behind me with her friend. Like most women of a certain age, they’re chattering their heads off. Later, however, the loud conversation takes a sharp turn, when the Muslim lady pontificates about the superiority of Islam and the evils of paganism. But, if I had been sharing my Protestant beliefs?

From a theological perspective, there’s nothing wrong with Muslims or Christians peacefully evangelizing. I am a friend of free speech. But the subject of clothing politics (for want of a better term) is more complex. Why? Well, for starters, there’s a world of difference between a lady sharing her faith and wearing it in public. Are identity-covering clothes from the full-face niqab to the burka signs of oppression or freedom?

Obviously I wasn’t alone on that train. From the Telegraph (UK):

Belgium is on course to become the first European country to ban the burka after a parliamentary committee backed proposals to make it illegal on the grounds of national security and women’s rights.

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The ban comes amid controversy over the wearing of Muslim religious symbols in public places and as a high-profile trial of nine alleged al-Queda terrorists takes place in Brussels.

Belgium has been alarmed by the case of Malika El Aroud, a veiled Islamist radical and Belgian national, charged with leading the recruitment of young Brussels Muslims for suicide bombing missions. She was required to remove her burka in court when her trial opened earlier this month.

She has been given until the middle of next week to return, unveiled, to her Charleroi school or to lose her job.

National debate has also raged over a protracted legal battle by Muslim mathematics teacher who demanded the right to wear a veil while teaching in her classroom.

Now I’m aware that there are Muslim-only libertarians who believe in a woman’s right to wear a burka supersedes my right to a relaxing train ride. But this is based on many wild assumptions. And, by the way, why are so many part-time multiculturalists so quick to defend loud veils as opposed to quiet crosses in Muslim-majority countries?

Here, in Australia, I don’t accept that healthy individuals cloak themselves in black, from head to toe, in the middle of a hot tropical summer, without external pressures. Indeed, it is an open secret that many Vitamin-D deficient Muslim women are a burden on our suffocating public healthcare system. What the West’s chattering classes also overlook is the basic fact that many Islamists don’t want to integrate, they want to dominate. Just like the woman on the train.

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