An honest and thoughtful take on the burqa from Brandon Robshaw.

It’s rare – because politically incorrect – for academics to admit that burqas pose a real problem in intellectual settings. Instead they end up saying the most moronic shit about the glories of teaching silent invisible women. So bravo Robshaw for stating the obvious but still socially unacceptable: Burqas make teaching pretty much impossible. Good on Robshaw, too, for disposing of the whole Islamophobe thing.

If someone offers arguments why the burqa should be banned, you can call them an Islamophobe if you like – you might even be right – but you haven’t engaged with their arguments. Even if the arguments are advanced without sincerity, they still need to be judged on their merits. Someone else who decidedly wasn’t an Islamophobe could come along and advance the same arguments, and then what could you say?

We’re getting there, folks.

Although she opts for the conventional bookending approach, Jillian Kestler-D’Amours nonetheless demonstrates how far we’ve come in press coverage of the international, ongoing, burqa-banning story.

Yes, in covering the ban in Quebec, the writer begins and ends with the difficulties one Muslim woman there has had because she veils. UD looks forward to the day when at least a few writers covering burqa and/or hijab bans will bookend their articles with arguments that some forms of veiling represent “an affront to Muslim women.” Or begin by noting the women of Iran and Saudi Arabia who are organizing, at great personal risk, to rid themselves of veils. Or how about bookending articles with comments from Frenchwomen who used to veil and now don’t (because it’s illegal), and who report feeling as if they have been freed from prison.

But this is only a quibble. UD is actually thrilled by this article, because it’s yet another indication that under the pressure of rapidly globalizing burqa bans in Muslim and non-Muslim countries, more and more journalists are finally approaching the subject with a sense of balance. Kestler-D’Amours acknowledges up front the popularity of veiling bans in Quebec; she quotes generously from government officials making the case for integration, and at no point calls anyone in favor of bans islamophobic. She is, in short, even-handed; like most rational people reporting on the subject, she has surveyed the spectacular majorities for banning in most countries of the world (here’s an example, from one of Europe’s holdouts), and, whatever her personal views, has accepted this as a reality to be taken seriously.


Indeed it’s time opponents of veil bans (which means virtually all journalists) grew up and stopped with the nahnahnah islamophobe business. The numbers (over 80% of the French supported the ban; over 70% of Germans would support one) and the laws are against them; it’s getting worse every day; and the only sensible route, it seems to ol’ UD, is for people writing about bans to make an effort to put themselves inside the heads not merely of people who want to wear veils, but also of people who object to them. In the immortal words of the immortal: You know something’s happening but you don’t know what it is. Do you, Mr. Jones?

‘Chris Melzer, a spokesman at the Berlin office of UNHCR, said German attitudes toward the hijab do not necessarily emanate out of Islamophobia. “Many in Germany think that headscarves display inequality, and women’s equality is very important in Germany,” he said. Other than Islamophobes, a section of German intellectuals see the hijab as a symbol of oppression, a misogynous tradition.’

Again, hurray. More and more often, as UD has been noting here, articles about various forms of resistance to women who veil dedicate at least a few sentences to the possibility that this resistance is not islamophobic.


The term Islamophobia is … used to silence discussion on issues like the niqab – despite the fact that its use is hotly debated by Muslims around the world. Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria have all passed various laws opposing the wearing of garments like the burqa and niqab. These bans are often motivated by security concerns, but they also make it clear that face-covering is not a central practice in Islam. These nations see the niqab as deeply divisive, not only in Western societies, but in their own Muslim-majority societies too.

But rather than argue its case, groups like the Muslim Council of Britain seek to shut down debate altogether. By painting arguments like mine as bigoted and beyond-the-pale, they aim to wrest control of the conversation in favour of another view: that Muslims are perennially demonised and objectified by the very same societies, and media outlets, which allow us to freely express our views.

  Qanta Ahmed

Lord of the Flies…

ladies’ version.

Oh, those girls!

Get longer lashes…

… the sharia way.

Because after all haredi women DO have a function, and IKEA should acknowledge that.

So next year’s IKEA catalogue for this community will not eliminate women in their entirety from its pages, as last year’s did.

Next year’s will feature vaginal canals.

Jessica Darden, a Professor at American University…

…does a much better job than UD (her effort here) responding to a NYT column urging repatriation of ISIS members:

Bryant Neal Viñas writes that the United States should take back “those Western foreign fighters who do not have ‘blood on their hands’ — didn’t kill any coalition forces overseas — and are willing to admit they made mistakes.” This definition of ISIS’s crimes erases women’s participation in this conflict as both victims and victimizers.

By focusing on combat with coalition forces, Mr. Viñas conveniently ignores the kidnapping, rape, torture and enslavement of Iraqi and Syrian women. He also doesn’t acknowledge that both willingly and by force, thousands of women mobilized for ISIS.

Most of these women will not meet the international legal threshold of “foreign fighter,” but they were essential to ISIS’s ideological and operational missions. The women of ISIS served as wives and mothers, yes, but also as propagandists, members of a brutal morality police, slave owners and, toward the end, even combatants.

As ever, The Onion nails it.

“Ms. Muthana is an accomplished ISIS member in her own right, having joined one of the top terrorist organizations in the world at the age of only 20,” said FAIR spokesperson Keith Finneran, explaining how terms like “ISIS bride” and “wife of ISIS soldier,” routinely used to refer to Muthana in news headlines, are derogatory in that they credit the woman’s hard-won contributions to the war on infidels to her husband… [Y]ou shouldn’t refer to Muthana as a “female terrorist” either, because the countless hours she’s allegedly spent online calling for the death of Americans makes her just as much of a terrorist as anyone else.

“Yeah I knew about those things and I was OK with it… From what I heard, Islamic-ally that is all allowed so I was OK with it.”

Show me the way to go home
I’m ISIS and I want to go to bed
And after all Islamic-ally you know
It’s wonderful to cut off people’s heads

I’m a Brit and she’s from Alabam
We find ourselves in something of a jam
So listen while we sing our little song
Show me the way to go home.

Constrained speech in Canada…

… became a thing recently for a lot of people inside and outside that country because of a University of Toronto professor’s refusal to cooperate with a new regime under which his very pronoun use was subject to sanctions.


Now there’s poor Frank Bauer, who comes from the Netherlands, where burqas have of course been banned for years. Head of a refugee assistance group in Alberta, Bauer finds himself part of a strange new world, within whose boundaries even an expression of discomfort with the burqa gets you labeled “racist, Islamophobic and misogynistic.”

What precisely did Bauer write in a social media post?

“I am a strong advocate for being welcoming, inclusive and respecting all cultures and religions, however find full face covering in public a notch too far,” Bauer wrote on Red Deer Local Immigration Partnership’s Facebook page in a discussion about religious accommodation.

“I would not feel comfortable in conversations no matter what the topic is, and believe this is an area where newcomers need to respect and adapt themselves to the Canadian culture and norms.”

Hiding behind a symbolic burqa, anonymous members of the organization’s staff filed a grievance against this bad bad man.

Bauer’s abject apology would have fit right in at a Stalin show trial.

‘As the women pondered on why [people are hostile to the niqab and burqa], [one niqab-wearer] suggested “inadequate education about Islam” was the main cause of such behaviour.’

An article about the niqab assures us that it’s entirely worn by choice, ignoring all sorts of evidence that, as Christopher Hitchens wrote, “goes the other way.” (Let’s not even talk about people who put their eight-year-old daughters under them.) The author goes on to endorse a niqab wearer who tells her that if we only learn more about Islam we’ll see the religious grounding for the garment. But those of us who have learned a bit about Islam know there’s absolutely no grounding for it; indeed, it’s illegal in increasing numbers of Muslim countries. Increasing numbers of imams in Europe and abroad have condemned the burqa/niqab.

The article goes on to condemn every one of the several million people in countries around the world who have supported a ban as racist.

The Niqab-Stomp

Under my foot the veil that once had me down

Under my foot the veil that pushed me around

It’s down to me the difference in the clothes I wear

Down to me the change has come it’s under my foot


‘Parents, Health Workers Collude to Mutilate Girls During School Holidays’

Sometimes a headline gives you special access to the lives of girls all over the world.

“[S]ocial media users took to Instagram and Facebook to share their dismay over the advert’s insinuation that the niqab and hijab are restrictive and oppressive.”

How dare anyone insinuate that the niqab is restrictive and oppressive. What nonsense!


The racist political ads the article goes on to describe are disgusting. But they have nothing to do with clothing commercials using the hideous niqab as a way to make an obvious point about preferring self-expression to self-erasure.

This is a man’s man’s man’s man’s …


But it wouldn’t be nothing – nothing! – without a woman or a girl to abuse.

There’s Oxford professor in good standing Tariq Ramadan, lying through his teeth as long as he possibly could about his apparent rapes and now ah shit okay I did those two… But they were begging for it… There’s Yale professor in good standing Michael Simons who okay yes I was a bad boy but I’m suing you for a trillion dollars for taking away my named chair

Behind every great man is a great man; Ramadan has his powerful male supporters; and then there’s Robert “Two Chairs” Alpern.

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