Be ready for today when failing to show your face could hit your up with a €15,000 fine or jail term. France has followed in Belgium's lead passing legislation by a landslide vote of 246 to 1 against the wearing of burqa in public. Germany, the UK and Spain are likely to follow suit impacting the lives of more than 16 million Muslims in EU member states.
The burqa, a loose garment with a full face veil, has become the focus of a shift in public opinion against Islamic extremism. The fundamental arguments in support of the legislation is the perceived inequality the burqa creates between the sexes.
Yet the trading of compulsions in ‘you must wear this’ to ‘you must not wear this’ comes from a democratic argument that on the surface seems to make sense. Democratic states uphold freedom where every individual voice may be heard. Yet in Australia failing to show at a polling booth on election day will face you with a fine. The argument being that if not every voice is heard; is it a true democracy. This circular argument in the irony of liberty is the philosophy behind the burqa ban. French women are free to wear what they want and live as they like based on their equality to men, yet that freedom is limited if it is perceived to challenge equality.
Following the events of 9/11, terrorism is too close to home for Europeans in the London and Madrid bombings. Anti-terrorism police have since managed to shut down a number of other scheduled events even as Mustaf Jama escaped at Heathrow Airport using his sisters burqa and ID card.
If we are truly to ban the burqa on criminal grounds, we must also ban women’s stockings and sports hoodies which are a much more popular criminal device. If it is on the grounds of gender equality, then we must also start producing high heels for men. The real solution to terrorism is to shut down it’s operators, not its the diversity of fashion and expression.