Countries That Have Banned the Burka
A burka (also spelled ‘burqa’) is a long garment, usually black, that covers the body from head to toe, leaving a small slit for the eyes to look through. It is worn by Muslim/Islamic women, often (but not always) due to pressure from society or from the families of the women. The burka is often a representation of extremists in religion when the wearer is not residing in a country where the garment is necessary by law. Women are required to wear the burka in some countries, such as Pakistan, as a sign of modesty and subservience. Normally the religious garment is not made necessary until a girl hits puberty, but many young girls can be found wearing a burka well before the teenage years.
Many countries have found the burka to be distasteful and have gone as far as banning it. Turkey and Eqypt are two such countries that have banned the burka, and other countries look to be following the same path. The idea of the ban stems from a variety of issues, from security threats to feminist beliefs, as well the idea for equality around the world. Many people believe that the burka is a sign of oppression and that women have the right to freedom. The Qur’an (Koran) calls for modesty from Muslim/Islamic citizens, and some say that such modesty has been taken too far with the burka. Other people will argue that the burka is a sign of allegiance to each woman’s individual beliefs, and that to interfere with such religious practices contradicts fundamental rights and freedoms.
France has currently made a movement toward a partial ban on the burka, saying that they will allow the hajib, but not the full garment. Canada has moved to ban any face coverings during polls, elections, and court testimonials. As said above, Turkey and Egypt have already banned the burka.
The Canadian government has responded to the call for banning the burka in Canada by saying that they do not wish to approach the issue. Several arguments have indicated that the government does not believe that a democratic country has the right to ban religious garments, or to even broach the subject of forcing immigrants to follow Canada’s customs. This stance on religious issues can be seen where Canada allowed turbans to be worn in place of the traditional Stetson in the RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police).
Should the burka be banned in North America? Many would answer yes to this question. President Obama set a fantastic example of blending in to another country’s customs during his controversial visit to Japan, when he bowed to the Japanese emperor. If North Americans are to follow the customs of other countries when visiting, should North Americans not expect the same of immigrants and visitors from other parts of the world?
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