Ali Bulac of Turkey: The ban on face-covering veils from the West to the East

Analysis, posted 09.06.2010, from Turkey, in:

Certain countries in Europe have started to talk about banning face-covering veils. In France, where the ban is fiercely defended, it was approved by the French Parliament with a vote of 336 to one. The ban will take effect in September.

France previously imposed a headscarf ban on high school students in 2004. According to some reports, there are around 2,000 Muslim women in France who cover their face with a veil when they leave their homes. Other countries are laying the social and psychological groundwork for similar bans. For example, British MP Philip Hollobone wants Britain to ban the face-covering veil as well.

Those who defend the ban say the veil makes a woman’s face unrecognizable in public spaces. Of course, this is an “understandable” reason. Islamic law permits women to uncover their face when engaging social and economic relations that involve rights and obligations or in cases where there is suspicion of a crime. For example, even according to classical Islamic jurists, when a business owner is accepting a return he has the right to ask a woman to lift her veil in order to avoid accepting a return from someone he never sold anything to. But this does not require a general ban on face-covering veils.

The excuses that people who defend the ban put forward are all artificial and lack legal basis. These people have other hidden reasons. Generally and categorically, those in favor of the ban do not want to accept that Muslims, and particularly Muslim women who adhere to the veil obligation, have a basic right or acceptable freedom to express themselves according to their own traditions in Western social and public life. But neither official muftis nor the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) can decide if a burqa or face-covering veil is a religious obligation. It is up to the woman who believes with all her heart that the burqa or veil is a part of her religion. Apologetically, official muftis and the OIC secretary-general want to remove the face-covering veil, the chador and the burqa from religion.

The reason behind this is that, according to the established definition of a person in the cultural subconscious of the West, a woman cannot participate in social life if she covers herself, especially her face, and if she wears a burqa or chador like women in Afghanistan then there is absolutely no way that can be considered an approved freedom.

An important indication that the excuses for the ban are bogus is a report prepared in the midst of these debates by Germany’s intelligence agency, the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, which is seeking to ban the half-century-old Islamic Community of the National Vision (IGMG).

In its 2009 report, the agency describes the IGMG as an organization that is against the integration of immigrants into western democracies.

The annual report discusses the activities of groups that are believed to be in favor of violence and against the German constitution. The IGMG is assessed broadly in the report every year.

In this year’s report, the agency notes that the ICMG observes a broad and legal strategy but uses this to create living spaces in Germany that are appropriate for Islamic law. According to the report, the ICMG could in this way encourage the formation of parallel societies that live separately from German society and start a process of radicalization (Taraf daily, June 22, 2010). Basically what the report is saying is that even if the IGMG is functioning legally it should be banned because it does not conform to German values and lifestyles.

That is where the problem stems from. The western mentality cannot accept people and lifestyles that are different from its concept of human nature and its lifestyle. It tries to assimilate all differences by way of social assimilation (assimilation, modernization, westernization, etc.) and political projects and tries to get rid of groups that resist assimilation either by alienating or banning them. In France, some people even want the Quran banned on grounds that it has precepts that are against the values of the republic. There is an alarming “enmity against Islam” hidden in the subconscious of the West. Recall that when Serbs were slaughtering Muslims Jean Baudrillard had said that if one day Europe came to the conviction that it could not assimilate the Muslims living in Europe, then the world could see the same kind of carnage on the streets of Paris or London as well.