I referred a short while back to a good post from Steve Zara on why the burqa should not be banned. Now, Norm draws my attention to an equally good post on the same subject from Kenan Malik. The heart of the matter:
If women are forced to do something against their will, the law already protects them in democratic countries. But what evidence exists, suggests that in Europe most burqa-clad women do not act from a sense of compulsion. According to the DCRI report in France, the majority of women wearing the burqa do so voluntarily, largely as an expression of identity and as an act of provocation. A second French report by the information authority, the SGDI, came to similar conclusions. Burqa wearers, it suggested, sought to ‘provoke society, or one’s family’, and saw it as a ‘badge of militancy’, and of ‘Salafist origins’. The burqa ban will only deepen the sense of alienation out which the desire for such provocation emerges.
The burqa is a symbol of the oppression of women, not its cause. If legislators really want to help Muslim women, they could begin not by banning the burqa, but by challenging the policies and processes that marginalize migrant communities: on the one hand, the racism, social discrimination and police harassment that all too often disfigure migrant lives, and, on the other, the multicultural policies that treat minorities as members of ethnic groups rather than as citizens. Both help sideline migrant communities, aid the standing of conservative ‘community leaders’ and make life more difficult for women and other disadvantaged groups within those communities.
Unfortunately, I suspect that with Wilders in the ascendancy here in the Netherlands, Malik’s common sense will be ignored.