“With the return of Taliban, society will be transformed and ruined,” [a young Afghan woman] said. “Women will be sent into hiding, they’ll be forced to wear the burqa to go out of their homes.”

Afghanistan remains one of the worst countries in the world for women, after only Yemen and Syria, according to an index kept by Georgetown University’s Institute for Women, Peace and Security.

It’s definitely been better for women with American troops there, but it was still hideous, and it’s about to become heinous.

‘Pakistani Ambassador Saad Khattak tweeted that a [burqa] ban would hurt the feelings of Muslims. The U.N. special rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, Ahmed Shaheed, tweeted that a ban would be incompatible with international law and the right to free religious expression.’

Not sure what we’re supposed to do with would hurt the feelings.

As for incompatibility with the law, tell that to the 32 (at latest count) countries – possibly including Sri Lanka, which is in the news today – with full or partial burqa bans – and on this list you will find several Muslim nations. That’s a hell of a lot of scofflaws, and I trust Ahmed Shaheed plans to haul the lot of them in front of the international courts, but meanwhile can I say once again the obvious, which is that burqa bans are all the rage all over the world for a perfectly good set of reasons? Reasons endlessly elaborated ‘pon on this blog?

As a defender of burqa bans, UD definitely squirmed when she read that the French Senate just passed a law (it won’t be enacted; it won’t move past the Senate) prohibiting girls under eighteen from wearing hijabs.

Burqa bans, like marijuana, can be gateway drugs; they can lead to more dangerous bans. And while UD agrees that little girls are obviously unable to give consent to the hijab, the more important principle here is one of restraint and religious liberty. For UD, the burqa/hijab difference has to do with a fundamentally uncivil refusal to be visible in the public realm, vs. a visible face, a willingness to be identified as part of a free and equal society. Female-identity-crushing burqas are eccentric to any authentically egalitarian setting, whereas hijabs allow wearers to remain within the democratic orbit.

One thing you can say for burqa bans, burqa restrictions, populations which are … “burqa-aware”…

… is that this sort of social reality tends to make it easier to identify true burqa evil-doers. Like the Montreal father who told his four girls that if they ever took their burqas off he’d kill them. Just for good measure, he beat them all the time anyway. The teacher of one of the girls saw that things weren’t right, and reported the father to the authorities.

He has been found guilty of assault; the daughters, who were in court, are no longer under his authority.


UD thanks David, a reader, for the link to ACTUALITÉ.

‘No one in Switzerland wears a burqa and only around 30 women wear the niqab, the University of Lucerne estimates.’

I love this shit. We estimate: No one! You can go to Google Image and easily find pictures of burqas and niqabs being worn in Swiss cities; you can ask yourself why several cantons already have burqa bans (Psychotic cantons! Seeing things that aren’t there!); you can ask yourself why 65% of Swiss will probably vote for an upcoming national ban (Psychotic Swiss! Bigoted Swiss!).

This article also begins with the Swiss far right’s complaint about the burqa; it doesn’t mention anywhere that there’s some left and plenty of center support and of course plenty of moderate right support as well. The article’s list of other European countries with full or partial bans is curiously incomplete:

France banned wearing a full face veil in public in 2011 and Denmark, Austria the Netherlands and Bulgaria have full or partial bans on wearing face coverings in public.

Tons more than that, mes petites.


UD has long noted the game plan for trying to keep women in burqas:

You dismiss burqa-wearing as in any way a significant social phenomenon.

You dismiss bans as nothing more than far-right bigotry.

You gas on about everyone’s right to appear in public in any way they damn well choose.

You gas on about religious freedom, but fail to take the time to note the history/controversy revolving around the burqa as religious or tribal.

You condemn the bigoted European Court of Human Rights for upholding burqa bans.

You condemn the stupid bigoted super-majorities in country after country that vote in favor of bans.

You never ever calm down, take a deep breath, and spend a few moments considering why so many people – not just Europeans; there are full/partial niqab/burqa bans all over the world – want to ban burqas. You do not take the time to wonder why Morocco, Tunisia, and Algeria all have bans, while Egypt is well on its way to one. One third of the members of the Swiss Socialist party support the ban.

None of this appears in what you write, even though it is exactly what you need to reckon with.


The only truly intelligent response to burqa/niqab bans comes from rich guys who pledge to pay the fines of women penalized for wearing the garment. Go for it, lads.

Burqa Bans: Governments Never Learn.

They’re always shocked – shocked – when strong majorities favor burqa/niqab bans; and they always say the same thing when warning their populace not to vote for them: So few fully veiled women walk the streets of our cities that it’s silly to legislate against them; only rabid reactionaries favor the bans; most fully veiled women are tourists…

So Switzerland, which has a national referendum on fully veiling coming up in early March, is yet another boringly repetitive example: Almost 65% of Swiss favor the ban; the government is madly lecturing them on how backward they are to support it; the population clearly intends to ignore the lecture. Only hard-right politicians favor it! … Well, okay, some left-wing parties favor it…

And why? For the obvious reason that it oppresses and erases women and by the way can certainly demoralize young girls who go out and see this embodiment of womanhood in their neighborhoods…

And who cares if they’re tourists? The fully veiled woman – a visitor from Saudi Arabia — who took a front row seat at the Opéra Bastille a few years back inspired an instant strike on the part of the performers: They would not sing until she unveiled or left. She left. (France has had a burqa ban for years.)

As to there being only a few full-veilers: Are you kidding me? Rates of full veiling appear to be going up in England, as you might expect when countries normalize the practice.

The main problem the Swiss government will face once the ban happens is the loss of a certain number of incredibly rich tourists. Boohoo. Otherwise, note that burqa bans all over Europe (and other parts of the world) have been imposed with virtually no difficulty.

And you wonder why women wear burqas.

Not that it helps much.

Dutch Burqa Ban: Ho-hum.

In every country that has passed one, ideologues tried frightening people about how destabilizing it would be. Riots street violence blah blah. Country after country has seen calm and orderly implementation of a law that no doubt makes many otherwise swaddled women and children very grateful.

As for the fanatics out there who can’t imagine life unswaddled, or whose husbands threaten them unless they swaddle, there are so few of them that they are, I suspect, simply pitied and accommodated.

If I were anointed the PM for a day, I would put a ban on burqa and hijab for women in the country. … During my posting in Sawai Madhopur, I used to see women draped in burqa walking with four kids in scorching heat with their husband.

It was disgusting to look at their plight as her shameless husband walked along with her with all the unwanted and unnecessary pride. I always used to think if I can ban the burqa for these women

A media executive in India gets it said. There’s no way around the word “disgusting” in regard to such sights, and it’s good to see her use it.

Keep those Chadors, Niqabs, and Burqas Coming!

We’ll boil our women to death yet.

Wait. Burqas DON’T foster trust and community? Who knew?

The unease associated with a concealed face is not an antique prejudice: Just a few years ago, but in what already feels like a bygone era, many European nations, confronted with the Islamic practice of veiling, prohibited face coverings. In 2014 France successfully argued in the European Court of Human Rights that “the voluntary concealment of the face is … incompatible with the fundamental requirements of living together … [and] the minimum requirement of civility that is necessary for social interaction.” … [But now, under threat of the virus,] we are forced to abandon the physical intimacy and openness that normally foster trust and community

Anti-burqa talk, already accepted and routine in European nations, now becomes something you can read in Slate. Expect more American keening, in these plague times, about the terrible damage done to civic life (And hey: Imagine if world governments currently mandated that masks must be worn only by women.) through masking.

“Burqa … is an essential part in Islam which our mothers & sisters wear it by their own concern no one force them.”

Awhile ago, I said on this blog that I wasn’t going to cover the big-ass burqa story going on in India, because so much of it is in fact motivated by bigotry; but I’ll make an exception for this exceptionally stupid statement by an Indian politician. As one of many amused Twitter responders puts it:

If Burqa … is “essential” for Islam, then how can it also be by choice for Muslim women?

American Burqa
Gun rally, Virginia.
More on Teaching and the Burqa.

Jocelyn Maclure and Charles Taylor write:

[A teacher cannot wear the] burqa or niqab in class and still adequately [discharge] her duties as a teacher. On one hand, teaching necessarily entails communication, and covering the face and body does not allow for nonverbal communication. On the other, one of the teacher’s missions is to contribute toward the development of the student’s sociability. It seems reasonable to think that wearing a full veil establishes too much distance between the teacher and her charges. In short pedagogical reasons may be involved to justify the prohibition of the burqa or niqab among teachers.

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.

Milan keeps saying no to the burqa…

… and various Islamic groups keep lazily saying yes. I mean, they don’t even bother arguing the thing, making a case — they just say dude no problem so what’s your problem?

Ali Abu Shwaima, the chairman of the Lombardy Islamic Center, said there has never been a problem due to women wearing a burqa or veil, thus such a ban is pointless. “Everyone should be free to dress as they wish,” he said.

One, no one is allowed to present themselves to any public realm I’m aware of in any way they wish. Two, a logic issue: If there has never been a problem of this sort, why is northern Italy, along with many regions and countries all over the world, passing burqa bans? UD detects a problem. This guy might at least do everyone the favor of offering reasons why banning burqas is a bad idea. As you know if you follow UD on the subject, burqa fans are strikingly lazy (banners are Islamophobes is about as far as many of them think they need to go) in its defense. I’m guessing it’s because it’s hard to defend.

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