Personal tools
 
Views

Debate: Banning Muslim hijab

From Debatepedia

(Difference between revisions)
Jump to: navigation, search
Revision as of 04:52, 5 June 2008 (edit)
Brooks Lindsay (Talk | contribs)
(Yes)
← Previous diff
Revision as of 08:20, 5 June 2008 (edit)
Matthew.graham26 (Talk | contribs)
(Should the Hijab be banned in schools, public buildings or society in general?)
Next diff →
Line 5: Line 5:
|} |}
-This article is based on a [http://www.idebate.org/debatabase/topic_details.php?topicID=300 Debatabase] entry written by [[User:Tara Mounce| Tara Mounce]]. Because this document can be modified by any registered user of this site, its contents should be cited with care. 
{| style="width:100%; height:100px" border="0" align="center" {| style="width:100%; height:100px" border="0" align="center"
Line 14: Line 13:
|- |-
|bgcolor="#f9f9f9" colspan="2" style= "border:1px solid #BAC5FD"| |bgcolor="#f9f9f9" colspan="2" style= "border:1px solid #BAC5FD"|
- 
===Background and Context of Debate:=== ===Background and Context of Debate:===

Revision as of 08:20, 5 June 2008

Should the Hijab be banned in schools, public buildings or society in general?


Contents

Background and Context of Debate:

For many people the Hijab or Muslim head covering symbolises the repressive and extremely regressive character of Islam, for its supporters, it represents a defence of women’s modesty against the assault of modern society. Recently controversy has arisen around France’s plan to ban the Hijab (along with other visible religious symbols) in schools. France’s secular constitution provides the grounds for excluding religion from their schools. However it is not just western countries who have taken this approach. Turkey has for many years suppressed the Hijab in schools, public buildings and among employees of the state. Part of the controversy surrounding France’s plans has come from its timing. In the aftermath of 9/11, many minority Muslim communities in western countries view attacks on the Hijab as part of a wider attack on Islam conducted in tandem with the ‘War on Terror’. Therefore the issue is as much wound up with perceptions of Hijab as the practicalities of the dress itself.

Rights: Does government have a right to ban wearing the hijab?

Yes

  • Religious freedom has limits; head scarves are outside of protections Religious freedom has some obvious limits. Religiously-endorsed death-by-stoning, for instance, does not receive the protection of freedom of religion in secular democracies. Therefore, it need only be determined that head scarves are inappropriate and socially harmful in order for it to be banned. Indeed, head scarves are an oppressive, undemocratic, and socially harmful symbol that should not, therefore, receive the protection of "freedom of religion".
  • Head scarves are not fundamental to Muslims expressing their faith. Head scarves are not an essential element of the Islamic faith and the connection between believers and their God. In fact, the Quran does not explicitly call for the wearing of veils. Veils are, rather, a cultural expression in the Islamic community. A ban on veils, therefore, does not fundamentally restrict the freedom of religion of Muslims.
  • Banning head scarves upholds equal treatment and opportunity Many societies are founded on secular values that do not permit the sponsorship of any religion by the state. In this climate it is important that all citizens of the state are seen as equal. If some dress differently than others, deliberately identifying themselves as members of one religion, this can harm the unity and ethos of the state. This holds particularly true for institutions of the state like schools and government offices.


No

  • Muslim women have a right to religious freedom by wearing head scarves.
  • Wearing the Hijab is consistent with religious freedom protected by the UN charter. The right to freedom of religion is enshrined in the UN charter and considered by many to be a basic human right. Some religions require special diets, others prayer at specific times. Why shouldn’t a religious mode of dress receive as much protection as these other aspects of religious freedom?
  • Public bans on head scarves encourage private bans If the government bans the wearing of head scarves in public places, what can possibly prevent private institutions from doing the exact same? The answer is nothing. Indeed, in France, where public bans have been in effect, many private companies or organizations have implemented bans on the wearing of hijabs. In other words, governments bans have created a slippery slope to widespread discrimination.


Secularism: Is a ban important to preserving secularism?

Yes


No


Symbol? Is the Hijab an oppressive, undemocratic symbol?

Yes

  • Headscarves symbolize and foster the oppression of women This is particularly true in countries such as Saudi Arabia or Afghanistan where it is compulsory. Often Muslim dress rules for women are seen as more severe than those for men. Inequality between men and women is a form of discrimination and liberal societies should fight all forms of discrimination.
  • Muslim head scarves do not foster a respect for the female body If women cover-up, how are men supposed to develop a respect for the female body? How are woman supposed to develop a similar respect? In fact, it is clear that men act more sexually oppressively when they never see a woman's body (because woman are veiled), and then suddenly see a woman without such a veil. Instead of fostering respect, veils foster a deprived lust and disrespect for the female body.
  • The idea that women must wear headscarves to be dignified is offensive The core principle of headscarves is that it protects the modesty and dignity of the woman. This is a nearly universal interpretation of the act. This is an offensive premise. It considers that the physical features of women are inherently offensive in appearance and that men are incapable of containing their sexual impulses upon seeing a woman's natural form. It holds that the only way a woman can be dignified and accepted in society is if she conceals her true identity and form. These are offensive and undemocratic principles and do not belong in a modern democracy.
  • Headscarves falsely presume that men can't contain sexual impulses It would be sad to believe that men are incapable of containing their sexual impulses in the face of a beautiful female form. Are we to believe that men are such vile, primal sexual creatures that they cannot look past a woman's sexual form to her larger self? We would make cave-men of ourselves to believe this.
  • Headscarves make women sexual objects and increase predation If head scarves are mainly about protecting women from the sexual impulses of men, this turns women into mere sexual objects for men. Indeed, by creating this atmosphere, head scarves have appeared to stimulate extreme crudeness and sexual predation among men in Muslim countries.


No

  • Many Muslim women view the veil as a means to protect their modesty and privacy. Just as we would not force any women to be seen in public in her underwear if she did not feel comfortable doing so, why should a woman be forced to show her hair if she does not want to? Modesty is a personal judgement call; some are comfortable in the smallest bikini while others prefer a lot more clothing. No one but the woman herself should make that decision.
  • The Muslim veil liberates women from sexual attention Muslim women often argue that the Hijab liberates them from the sexual gaze of men. Indeed, in many cultures, men act like sexual predators toward any woman that does not conceal herself. They make cat-calls, sexually harass, and sometimes molest unveiled women. A woman has a right to protect herself from such predation with a head scarf. Such protection liberates women to act more freely and expressively, and without fear.


Discrimination: Can a ban help fight discrimination? Or would it hurt it?

Yes

  • Muslims in the West need to embrace culture/head-scarf-ban Labour's Ruairi Quinn said immigrants who come to Ireland need to conform to the culture of this country. - "If people want to come into a western society that is Christian and secular, they need to conform to the rules and regulations of that country. Nobody is formally asking them to come here. In the interests of integration and assimilation, they should embrace our culture."[1]


No

  • Banning head scarves is an attack on Islam Protest French Hijab Ban. Innovative Minds. Retrieved June 3rd, 2008 - "The French President Jacques Chirac has asked the French Parliament to pass a law banning the hijab in France. Hijab is an integral part of Islam, it is derived from Quranic injunctions and its practice is not symbolic or a fashion or cultural statement but rather it is a manifestation of being a Muslim and following the deen of Islam. An attack on hijab is clearly an attack on Islam. To criminalize hijab is to criminalize Islam. This is the intension of this law - to outlaw the practice of Islam."
  • Muslim women often wear head scarves to protest racism If a Muslim (or anybody) is discriminated against, a common response is to tout certain symbols of racial or religious distinction in a form of defiance or such discrimination and/or racism. It is important not to deprive Muslims of a key symbol - the head scarf - used to defy racism and discrimination against Muslims.


Other symbols: Is banning other religious symbols important along-side a head scarf ban?

Yes

  • Banning head scarves is appropriate when along with other religious symbols. France has instituted such a ban on Muslim head scarves, Jewish skullcaps, and large Christian crosses in public schools. This ensures against any concerns of religious discrimination against Muslims.


No

  • Banning head scarves is worse than banning other religious symbols. While some defend a ban on Muslim head scarves by pointing to bans on other religious symbols, there are important differences between these symbols. The head scarf performs an actual physical function (protecting the dignity of a woman). Crosses and skull-caps do not perform such physical functions. By depriving a woman of a head scarf, you are not merely depriving them of their symbol, but also forcing them to go without a functional religious tool.


Choice: Are individuals pressured in to wear the hijab?

Yes

  • Muslim women are pressured by social conventions to wear the Hijab Pressure comes both socially from wanting to look like other women in their community and religiously from imams and family leaders pressing for observance. This pressure limits the accuracy of the counter-claim that Muslim women have the individual "choice" and freedom to wear the Hijab.
  • "Choosing" to wear head scarves merely internalizes oppression "Banning the hijab". Workers Power. Feb 2004 - "It is true that many Muslim women willingly wear the veil, but even if this is an expression, or assertion of cultural, religious, and racial identity and self-pride, for example, in response to a hostile, racist environment (rigorous research needs to be done as to why exactly Muslim women in the West do this), it is nonetheless tantamount to their internalising their oppression. As such, it is an oppressive response to their oppression."


No

  • Muslim women are not unique in following certain cultural norms. Most people are affected by the societal norms surrounding them. Fashion trends could be seen in exactly the same light as religious traditions, and could also be argued as limiting "choice" in an equivalent manner. Is it possible, subsequently, to accuse the creators of more Western fashion trends of limiting the ability of their followers to "choose" their own fashion statement? How can we isolate wearers of the Hijab as violating freedom of "choice" principles through cultural pressures, if we then allow similar cultural pressures to limit "choices" among more Western cultural expressions.
  • It is impossible to cite the extent of free choice. How can it be ascertained whether a Muslim women wears a Hijab as an act of individual faith, opposed to in reaction to cultural pressures? It may be impossible to isolate the extent or limitation of "free choice" involved in this act, making it impossible to generally claim that the trend of Hijab wearing among Muslim women is culturally imposed, and against free will. It would be wrong, therefore, to attempt to confidently ban Hijab wearing on the basis of this indeterminable point.


School: Is it appropriate to ban head scarves in public schools?

Yes

  • Separation of Church and State demands banning the hijab in public schools "Banning the hijab". Workers Power. Feb 2004 - "My starting point is that secularism is a fundamental pillar of socialist politics and therefore socialist organisations must have this at the heart of their programmes and campaigns. This necessitates the demand for the complete separation of the state from religion, which implies that state education must be rigorously secular (this is not to suggest that there should be a complete absence of religion from the curriculum; on the contrary, aspects of all the world's major religions should be taught - but not dogmatic, religious teaching and rituals, and certainly no privilege accorded to Christianity - as well as critiques of religion and the irreconcilability of religious 'truths' with science)."
  • Head scarves are a barrier to relations with non-Muslim students.


No

  • Separation of Church and State can't prevent individual students from wearing veil Christina Duval. "Against the ban, for secular education". Workers Power. February 2004 - "Rumy correctly emphasises the centrality of secularism for socialists. However, he interpretes the secular call to remove the influence of religion from education in a way which is at odds with the socialist support for freedom of religious expression. Secular education involves the removal of religious symbols from school buildings and the removal of religious indoctrination from the school curriculum. The school, as an institution, must not propagate any religion whatsoever. This does not mean that as individuals, school students should not be allowed to express their religious faith. To do so is to deny their right to religious expression."
  • Banning head scarves in school stigmatizes Muslim communities Dalil Boubakeur, president of the French Council of the Muslim Faith, told Reuters, "A law on religious symbols in the school environment could stigmatize a whole community." The issue is that it gives the appearance that head scarves are, generally, bad. Those that wear head scarves outside school will be seen, to a greater extent, as acting immorally. This will alienate and stigmatize Muslim communities.


Marrying: Do bans on head scarves fully enable Muslim woman to marry?

Yes

No

A head scarf ban can hinder/prevent Muslim women from marrying

Security: Does Hijab wearing undermine security and intelligence efforts?

Yes

  • Veil-wearing can make it very hard to identify individuals. In the current security climate this poses a problem for many potential terrorist targets like banks, government offices etc. Faces are hard to check against ID photos and CCTV systems are rendered ineffective.
  • The Hijab disguises key features of an individual more than hats. These forms of decoration do not render impossible identification techniques, whereas a head scarf has this potential. The degree of the disguise is the important characteristic.

No

  • Non-Muslim items of clothing conceal features of identity too. Many other things, like motorbike helmets, baseball caps and beards can also make identification difficult, yet they are not banned. Almost all Muslim women would be happy to remove their head coverings for female security officers in a private side room. All these difficulties can be overcome relatively easily if a little consideration is shown.


In schools: Is it a good idea to ban the Hijab in Schools?

Yes

  • The Hijab causes problems in schools, such as division and alienation. It is potentially divisive in the classroom, marking some children out as different from the others and above the rules that the school enforces for everyone else. This may lead to alienation and bullying. Full headscarves may also be impractical or dangerous in some lessons, for example PE, swimming, or in technology and science lessons where machinery is being operated.


No

  • Schools make up problems about the hijab as an excuse for intolerance of Muslims. In a multicultural society, students should be aware of the different religious practices and cultural traditions of their classmates, and be taught to understand and respect these. Without such respect, Muslims and other groups with distinctive dress, such as Orthodox Jews and Sikhs, will be driven out of mainstream education and forced to educate their children separately, which will really create divisions and alienation. As for the so-called safety issues, most classroom accidents occur when loose, long hair gets caught in machinery or in a flame - not a problem when hair is held in place under a headscarf!


Fundamentalism: Does banning the Hijab help discourage religious fundamentalism?

Yes

  • Approving of the Hijab approves its fundamentalist principles. Approving of Muslim head coverings in society erroneously cements the Hijab as an essential tenet of Islam in the minds of non-Muslims as well as believers. However many different schools of Islam exist and as on other issues, they often disagree how to interpret the Koran’s dress prescriptions. Moderate interpretations accept modest forms of modern dress while severe interpretations require full covering with the Burka or similar veil. Banning the veil furthers the cause of moderate interpretations and prevents the entrenchment of severe interpretations.

No

  • Banning head coverings provokes greater extremes of fundamentalism. Framing laws to ban only Islamic forms of dress could be considered an attack on one religion. Feeling under attack could cause the Islamic community to close off into itself. They could set up religious schools where their children can dress as they want them to and not mix with children from other faiths. These effects could never be good for the integration of society and would further the influence of extremists. Internationally, the perceived attack on Islamic values would inflame wider Muslim opinion, feed conspiracy theories and add to the dangerous feeling that there is a clash of civilisations.


Public opinion: Is there public support for banning head scarves?

Yes

  • The French strongly support banning Muslim head scarves. A 2003 poll in France showed 69 percent favor a law banning the wearing of head scarves and other religious symbols.[3]

No

Backlash: Can banning head scarves avoid Muslim-community backlash?

Yes

  • Banning Muslim head scarves will not cause fundamentalist backlashes "Banning the hijab". Workers Power. Feb 2004 - "The third major argument against the ban is that there will be an Islamic backlash as this will drive Muslims into the arms of the religious right. Again, no evidence is ever provided for this assertion. The reality is that within the Muslim ghettos, their grip is already powerful - and it is precisely because of the threat to their influence that they have protested so vehemently over the issue. They know that a secular education is a major threat to their power and control, especially control over ideas. Their indoctrination starts very early - about three years of age - as they systematically try and break children from critical thinking."


No

Pro/con resources

Yes


No

Pro/con organizations

Yes

No

  • French Council of the Muslim Faith
  • The International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights

References:

Motions:

  • This House would take off the veil
  • This House would ban the Hijab
  • This House would ban Muslim dress in schools
  • This House would ban the Hijab at work
  • This House believes in secular education

In legislation, policy, and the real world:

See also on Debatepedia:

Debate:Ban on Muslim veils in France

External links and resources:

Books:

Problem with the site? 

Tweet a bug on bugtwits
.