Algeria, Morocco…

What’ll they think of next?

It could be worse.

Read this.


As sexual violence against American women grabs the headlines, it’s important to remember what much of the rest of the world looks like.

[Mona] Eltahawy … attributes [violent hatred of women in the Muslim world] to “a toxic mix of religion and culture”. And to this I would add the political oppression and stasis that enabled these structures to become de facto governance, where entrenched tribal allegiances, pre-Islamic mores and social tradition trumped weak political culture. A general retardation that extends not just to women but to every aspect of personal freedom and civic rights.

That benighted world is watching, which makes it all the more important that women here shed light on what happened to them when they became a focus of male hatred.

“Voters in St. Gallen on Sunday approved by a two-thirds majority a ban on facial coverings such as the burqa, becoming the second Swiss canton to do so.”

There will be a national referendum on the question as well. Expect the Swiss to vote in favor of a country-wide ban by a similarly comfortable margin.

“I’m with you and screw all the customs that have deprived us of freedom.”

Taraf Alasiri kicks off a now-viral facial equality movement in Saudi Arabia. Much like Iran’s My Stealthy Freedom, Solidarity with Taraf features Saudi women photographing themselves unveiled and writing about personal freedom.

In Snits at the Ritz

Two women in burqas who were refused entry to London’s Ritz hotel expressed serious annoyance.

But the hotel has a dress code and the code includes people who refuse to show their faces. End of story.

Polly Toynbee on the Burqa

The top-to-toe burka, with its sinister, airless little grille, is more than an instrument of persecution, it is a public tarring and feathering of female sexuality. It transforms any woman into an object of defilement too untouchably disgusting to be seen. It is a garment of lurid sexual suggestiveness: what rampant desire and desirability lurks and leers beneath its dark mysteries? In its objectifying of women, it turns them into cowering creatures demanding and expecting violence and victimisation. Forget cultural sensibilities.

More moderate versions of the garb – the dull, uniform coat to the ground and the plain headscarf – have much the same effect, inspiring the lascivious thoughts they are designed to stifle. What is it about a woman that is so repellently sexual that she must diminish herself into drab uniformity while strolling down Oxford Street one step behind a husband who is kitted out in razor-sharp Armani and gold, pomaded hair and tight bum exposed to lustful eyes? (No letters please from British women who have taken the veil and claim it’s liberating. It is their right in a tolerant society to wear anything including rubber fetishes – but that has nothing to do with the systematic cultural oppression of women with no choice.)

The reference to rubber fetishes in connnection with the burqa is interesting. UD will admit to wondering about the darker jouissance (presumably having to do, as rubber fetishes do, with full-body constraints) possibly in play for some burqa wearers…. As in that “demanding and expecting violence” thing Toynbee touches on…

Slowly but surely, our major news outlets – like the Washington Post – begin to write neutrally and seriously about the burqa.

Until today’s article by Rebecca Tan, the Post‘s coverage was typical of mainstream Western journalism – burqa bans were pathetic and retrograde and after all almost no one in Europe wears the full veil. All reasonable people support freedom of religious expression, and that’s all the burqa is.

Yet the world of reality has been falling down hard around pro-burqers (if I may), and we begin to see more willingness to acknowledge that most Europeans are ignoring the tsk-tsking of the other side and going ahead and banning this grotesque garment.

[P]olicies governing head veils are likely to grow more prevalent … Countries having nationwide or partial bans are France, Belgium, Bulgaria, Austria, Denmark and the Netherlands. Spain and Italy have some local bans in cities or towns. Legislation is pending for local or national bans in Germany, Latvia, Finland, Switzerland and Luxembourg… [G]overnments in Europe now feel like they have license to take such steps because of the legal precedents set by their neighbours.

Blanketing (if I may) the continent, aren’t we? Most of the British would like to ban it, but the moral scolds running the place think the people’s naughtiness needs to be reined in by their betters. Closer to home, Canadians by a large margin want to ban it, but ditto on the moral scolds.

The Post writer still has a little trouble believing you’d ban burqas for reasons other than bigotry or cynical political calculation, but you can see she’s beginning to kind of try to perceive morally legitimate arguments in favor of the ban.


One suggestion for Tan, by the way: Throughout the article, she talks about the number of “women” who wear the burqa. All writers who want to enter the fray on this one need to realize that girls are typically smothered under burqas at a very young age: ten, eleven. An age when there’s absolutely no choice involved in the matter.

UD has often wondered why pro-burqers routinely fail to mention this as they sneer about how psycho we are to care about the very very few women who wear the burqa. She has wondered why they don’t ask themselves: What’s it like to be in a supermarket or a post office or a classroom and see a little girl lost inside a burqa? If they would just ask themselves that question – put themselves in the position of Europeans who witness this sort of thing – they might have less trouble understanding the enormous and growing popularity across Europe and many other regions of burqa bans.

Boris’s No Apologies Tour

As UD always says, when it comes to the burqa, don’t go there.

If you’re one of the few remaining countries in Europe that don’t ban it – if you’re England – and you don’t want it to be banned (“you” here is your political establishment), do not make an issue of it. Because making an issue of the burqa will immediately uncover the fact that significant majorities in your country would like it banned.

Making an issue of it will encourage citizens to look at neighboring countries, where orderly and effective bans have been implemented.

If you keep it quiet, if you don’t talk about it, the burqa will be an irritant; it will be intimidating; it will be an upsetting sign of the erasure of women within a culture that thinks of itself as liberal and egalitarian… it will be many things, but it will not be front and center, because there are other things to think about.

If on the other hand you allow the provocative language of Boris Johnson, who wrote a recent opinion piece saying juvenile things about burqas, to provoke you, then you’ve fallen into a very bad trap. Your loud and insistent offense-taking will accomplish one thing: It will move efforts to ban the burqa in your country forward.


The irony of course is that along with his juvenile remarks Johnson came out against a burqa ban; but rather than quietly count him among their (childish) allies, the anti-banners have reviled him as an enemy of all right-thinking people and demanded an apology, a shunning, a banishment, blah blah.

And see what happens when you do that? When you make a big deal of the burqa? When you hurl ridicule of it out of polite society?

The Burka Looks Ridiculous,
and Those Who Defend it Do
Muslim Women Like Me No Favours

headlines a Telegraph article in which Suad Farah responds to Johnson not with rage and condemnation, but with gratitude for his having brought the burqa to commentary-central:

[T]he growth of young women wearing it in the UK is concerning, and it’s something we all need to talk about.

Oh right – even though all anti-banners begin all of their articles by noting the absurdly, vanishingly, small number of women who wear the burqa, their numbers are actually growing, aren’t they… I forgot about that…

This naive notion that, if we just leave the burqa alone, a natural evolution toward democratic values will occur among burqa-wearers, reminds UD of poor David Ben-Gurion’s confident prediction “that the ultra-Orthodox community of Israel would slowly disappear…, melding into the assertively modern Zionist project. The opposite … has happened.”


[T]he temperature around this issue is rising and if anything the debate has to go far deeper. There are plenty of people who are very angry about these issues and that could have been mitigated if there had been more public debate.


The burqa is an obvious symbolic and real burden on free societies, and if you let the burden sit quietly and simply bother you occasionally, you can ignore it for a long time. If, on the other hand, you let provocateurs like Boris Johnson force you into language that suggests you’re fine with erased women on your streets, I promise you all hell’s gonna break loose, and you’re going to find yourself with a ban before you know it.

The more honest route, since burqa bans, UD believes, are the wave of the future all over Europe (and all over Canada), the route that doesn’t exhibit bad faith, is simply to state what you quite legitimately believe and act on it: The woman-erasing burqa is a bridge too far for any self-respecting democracy. Ban it.

The Dutch: The next vile, discriminatory people to outlaw the burqa.

What a rogue’s gallery. Quebec Province, France, Denmark, Netherlands, Spain, Italy, Norway, Belgium, Turkey: All have total or partial burqa bans. Germany and England will probably have them soon. And now the Dutch are on the verge of a partial ban.


Free Women Make Iran and Saudi Arabia Isolated Pawns.

Yet another chess champion says you can take your compulsory veiling and stick it up your clerical ass.


From Left to Right, Norway’s Political Spectrum Votes Virtually in Unison for a Burqa Ban in All Educational Institutions.


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