Sadiyya Sheik
Sadiyya Sheik

Burqa ban, just another form of oppression

Speaking about the ban on the burqa, Denis Ducarme, a Belgian Liberal Party MP said: “We are the first country to break through the chain that has kept countless women enslaved.” As noble as this may sound, I cannot say that I agree with his statement.

First, how exactly does one go about liberating women who are not exactly enslaved? Though it may be true that some Muslim women are forced by their family, husbands or even society into wearing the burqa, there are many women for whom wearing a burqa is a choice. A means of practising their religion, identifying themselves as Muslim and also as a means of integrating into society under the protection of the burqa. How can one argue that a ban preventing a person from dressing in a way that they choose is less restrictive or oppressive than forcing a person to dress in a particular way? If the Belgian Liberal Party members who proposed and voted on this ban were concerned about the women being coerced into wearing a burqa, why then do they propose a ban which prevents those women who choose to wear a burqa from doing so? Is that not also oppression?

Is it really women’s rights that we’re concerned about or is this another example of Islamophobia? One Liberal Party MP said: “We cannot allow someone to claim the right to look at others without being seen.” This statement alone reveals that not much is understood about Muslim women and the reasons they choose to wear a burqa. For many women, a burqa allows them to be functioning members of “Western” ie non-Islamic society without compromising on their religious and personal beliefs. That been said, I think it is quite evident that a ban on the burqa most definitely negates religious freedom.