Bernardi’s burqa bullshit

Cory Bernardi is spouting his particular type of bollocks again, this time saying criminals have hijacked the burqa so we should stop all women from wearing it: Bernardi backing for burqa ban reflects right-wing influence:

THE shadow parliamentary secretary assisting Tony Abbott, Cory Bernardi, has called for Islamic women to be banned from wearing the burqa in a pointer to the growing assertiveness of the party’s conservative wing.

Writing on his blog yesterday, he argued his case on law and order grounds and the basis of respect for women. ”The burqa is no longer simply the symbol of female repression and Islamic culture, it is now emerging as a disguise of bandits and n’er do wells,” he wrote.

Yep, Cory Bernardi who founded an anti-Earth Hour group saying people who care about the environment are communists, and shows his ignorance and xenophobia by “othering” migrants, after pointing out that he is from a nice Italian family, and his wife is from a nice Irish family, but they – They – the asylum seekers, are not: “They seek to use our freedoms, our systems and our tolerance as a means of undermining our values and indulging in behaviour that is anathema to most Australians.” He then blames “race problems” on their children. And Islam. Which is what all this is about.

Anyway, back to Bernardi’s burqa bullshit:

He was responding to a police report describing a hold-up in Sydney by a suspect in a burqa and sunglasses and said the garb could be used as a disguise.

One incident and he wants the burqa banned. I didn’t hear him calling for a ban on spas after that little girl drowned in one in Forster. Or cars. Or cigarettes. Bernardi’s anti-Muslim sentiments are well known. This has nothing to do with women’s oppression – although I note he used the word repression – and everything to do with his campaign against Australian Muslims. It’s “new racism” – rather than being viewed as inferior, ethnic minorities are seen as threats to social cohesion and national unity. (Professor Kevin Dunn has all you need on this.)

Mr Abbott responded by saying: “Senator Bernardi’s call to ban the burqa reflects his personal views rather than Coalition policy. There is understandable concern in the community about what former prime minister John Howard called a ‘confronting’ form of attire.”

And right on cue, Abbott endorses Bernardi’s views (after all, he made him shadow parliamentary secretary for population policy), and gives Howard another public blow job.

Update: My heart rose when I saw this from Victorian Premier John Brumby:

“For those who suggest that this will somehow make Australia safer, I think that’s a nonsense,” he said today.

“Anyone can put a balaclava on their head if they want to cover their face and commit a crime.

“I don’t think it’s helpful, I think it’s actually quite divisive.”

And then sank again when I saw the results of the Herald Sun poll:

48 responses to “Bernardi’s burqa bullshit

  1. Hmm there is so much to comment on here isn’t there – firstly there is white middle class men from the right of politics suddenly pretending to be interested in the plight of women, especially ‘brown’ ones…I think we all know by now that this is about being anti-Muslim rather than pro-wimmin rights. Secondly it is just another whip round of the conservative feral and a populist crap to whip up the pre election frenzy and Bernardi was outcast by Turnbull so he must be thrilled to have the limelight again. Why is a burqa any different as a criminal disguise than a ski mask, a striped suit and a large bag saying ‘swag’? Was the thief a Muslim or just someone finding a sneaky disguise – is their religion/race even relevant here anyway? If Bernardi is so opposed to ‘offensive’ clothing why doesn’t he come out against Tony’s budgie smugglers or bike shorts….quite frankly they offend me, nevertheless I am not calling for a ban on dickstickers or TA holding his press conferences in them. His clothes are his choice and its not my right or anyones to tell him that the clothes that reflect his lifestyle are outlawed. Should we ban cassocks and habits as well?

    • White middle class men wanting to save brown women – sounds like the reason given for invading Afghanistan and Iraq… Bernardi is just looking for any opportunity to spout his anti-Muslim crap. I shudder to think that he could be in charge of shaping population policy.

  2. Well Rudd has already said no to Afghani and Sri Lankan applications anyway!

    • And yet the Government’s official travel advice for Afghanistan is:

      We strongly advise you not to travel to Afghanistan because of the extremely dangerous security situation and the very high threat of terrorist attack.

      And Sri Lanka:

      We advise you to reconsider your need to travel to Sri Lanka at this time because of the volatile security situation. Sri Lanka remains in a State of Emergency.

  3. Hmmm, ain’t it nice, all this sudden concern for women’s rights…

    Oh god! Won’t someone please think of the wimmins! (Unless they want paid maternity leave or other such tripe, in which case you can not only let them whinging bitches wear their damn muslim stuff, but you can gag the cows as well)

    Ugh.

  4. My first concern with Bernardi’s article was his fear of bandits and n’er do wells (which I think is actually ne’er do wells). Where is he living if he is hunted by bandits? And who says “ne’er do wells” anymore?
    My second concern was with the rest of the rubbish he spewed out. The best thing to do is belittle these people. I made an attempt here .

  5. Oh yes it’s only those Other guys who oppress women and not the morally superior white guys.

    And shame on 7pm Project legitimising such utter shite.

  6. I’m surprised that he hasn’t demanded that stockings be banned. Doesn’t he know that pulling a pair of Razzamatazz over your head had been popular with baddies for a long time?

    • And what about those plastic glasses and fake nose disguises? We should ban those too. And plastic surgery, because someone could rob a bank and then change the way they look.

  7. I don’t actually watch it either, but I live with someone who watches Neighbours and so I usually hear the ‘coming up next’ promo for 7pmProject. They were asking “Should the burqa be banned?” in their pseudo-intellectual tone they use, as if it’s a genuine social concern rather than simply the moral panic of the day.

    • Ah, gotcha. I’ve just finished an assignment on whether multiculturalism will force journalists to change their practices, and I argued that there’s no evidence to suggest it’s happening in Australia. Media coverage is a direct contributor to the high levels of intolerance towards Muslims and Islam. It was a very interesting assignment to do – which makes me a dorky mature age student. I’m ok with that.

  8. Yeah I’m the biggest dork in my entire course. The road to uni was long and and winding and full of road blocks for me…I’m gonna enjoy it damnit.

    Last year I did a presentation on the Cronulla Riots and just uncovering the role the media played in that particular shitfest just blew me away…I mean I knew, but once you start taking it apart and examining it…seriously disturbing.

    • But if you try to point that out to journalists, they’ll argue that they’re being fair and balanced and blah blah. I know, because I’m a journalist and I’ve tried to argue all sorts of points in my newsroom and always get shot down as the “bleeding heart” or “politically correct” or “nerdy academic who looks at things that aren’t relevant to real life” journalist. The problem is, sensationalism is now the number one news value, but they don’t want to admit it.

  9. I think anything which covers the face fully should be banned. Motorcycle helmets are practical and essential but we require them to be removed in many situations, and if i saw someone wearing one out of context, i’d be expecting violence and moving away.

    Why do we give a free pass if religion’s involved? We don’t allow members of any other religion to live in a bubble, isolated from our community.

    What is so special about this religion that we will throw away expectations of integration, censor ourselves for fear of offense, censor other (like South Park) because they might not like realising that we DON’T believe what they do and they WILL hurt us if we remind them? I’m not exaggerating that fear, it was articulated by the death threats against the team and by the Comedy Central Channel’s statement that they were censoring because they were afraid of a lethal response.

    Why do we say that oppressing women to the extent where their facial expressions (a major form of communication for humans) are hidden away is ok, because there’s other oppression going on? “it’s only those Other guys who oppress women and not the morally superior white guys.”

    I don’t think objecting to the full-face covering has anything to do with being white or male. The schoolgirls who have acid thrown in their faces aren’t being oppressed by smug white males and their oppression is not comparable to the problems australian women face in unfair pay packets and career opportunities. The burqa is part of a package of cultural/religious package that we don’t have to accept, anymore than we accept female genital mutilation. Or should we allow that as well, for fear of being smug white males unable to embrace the Others?

    The trouble with blogs is that they attract in-group thinking, where everyone reinforces each others prejudices and wallows in the comfort of only hearing similar point of views. It makes me wonder what will replace old media. When the last newspaper rolls off the presses, will the only voice people listen to is their own reflected back from their in-group?

    • Brett, no one is giving religion a free pass. In fact, Muslims and Islam have had a fucking awful ride in the Western media since the early 1900s. I know this because I’ve just been studying it and can point you in the direction of some great academic studies. Talk about your basic Othering. Which is what you’re doing when you talk about “them” and what “they” do. The Western media has a lot to answer for by constantly associating Muslims and Islam with terrorism, rather than being a religion practiced by a fifth of the world’s population. Yes, some Muslims are involved in terrorism. So are lots of other people who aren’t Muslims. The IRA, for starters. And another problem with Western reporting is demonstrated by your comment: that all Muslims are the same. One big monolithic religion. And then there are cultural practices that have nothing to do with religion. So, when you talk of girls having acid thrown on their faces – which they do, and it’s horrific and should never, ever happen, and the cretins who throw the acid should, in my opinion, have the same done to them – it’s actually a cultural issue, not a religious one.

      You talk about not having to accept other people’s beliefs. That’s the funny thing with racism. The old racism – believing a race is inferior to your own – has been replaced by the new racism of cultural intolerance. It’s the socially-acceptable face of racism. Before you get angry, check out the link I posted to Kevin Dunn’s work. You may find it enlightening. You are, of course, free to ignore it, if you don’t want to have your views challenged.

      The thing is, the burqa is a different issue. I’m not saying that everything is hunky-dory about the way women are treated in the name of Islam. (And I’m sure you know that female genital mutilation is a cultural practice, not a religious one.) What I object to is the idea that forcing women not to wear the burqa is somehow better. It’s not. It’s exactly the same thing as forcing them to wear it. The oppression of women can’t be solved by saying ‘you can’t wear that burqa or niqab’. That’s just laughable and incredibly naive.

      I do wonder, Brett Caton, if you use the oppression of women overseas, female genital mutilation, and acid attacks as a reason to dismiss real equality for women in Australia. Because your comment smacks of “you women should think yourselves lucky you live here”. I hope that is not the case.

  10. So Islam isn’t a monolithic religion but… there’s no muslims in solidarity with the people who draw cartoons that muslims find offensive, who then find themselves targets of violence? Yet there are people outside islam who do believe that you have the right to opinions that are different to theirs. “I may not agree with what you say, but I will fight to the death to defend your right to say it.” ~ Most commonly attributed to Voltaire. If there’s some equivalent stream of Islamic philosophy, it’s awfully quiet.

    The difference between culture and religion is artificial. If people say it’s their religion, it’s their religion. Some muslims say the burka is required by their religion and some don’t.( I have no problem with the ones who don’t.) But it is “laughable and incredibly naive” to say that you know their religious beliefs better than they do.

    I think people who say they are trying to kill me in the name of God are many things, but insincere or mistaken? Perhaps you should explain this to them.

    Maybe Islam has had a rough time. (*cough Judaism cough*) So we should make exemptions to laws that make us secure, that mean we can communicate as fellow citizens? Why, we don’t bend so far to please anyone else? Perhaps we should forbid the use of fire or electricity on the Sabbath? It’s very offensive to Jews, or at least the orthodox variety. What about making homosexuality a crime? There’s a lot of Christians who would cheer! Ban the eating of cows? Hindus would be happy! How shall we appease the human sacrifice sector? Should public funds be spent on the step pyramids used to fling human remains from?

    These suggestions are absurd, because we don’t let religions dictate to us; except for this one.

    As for equating the actions of extreme Muslims with the sexist behaviour of Australian men, that’s an impressive feat. Yes, Australian women are bloody lucky to live in a country where they aren’t aborted for being female, where their feet aren’t bound to cripple them, where education is a right and the freedom to do as you please is the greatest it has ever been. Women can vote; a woman has ruled the country, as a Deputy yes, but it’s better than the Americans have managed. Women don’t have it all but they do have a lot, and compared to the countries where Burkas are the norm, I think there’s few women who would say we weren’t better off, male, female and otherwise gendered.

    • No, I said Muslims aren’t a monolithic group defined by their religion. Just as an example, Muslims in Australia come from Turkey, Uzbekistan, Sudan, Bangladesh, Iran, Kosovo, Malaysia, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and of course, Australia.

      Your biggest mistake in both of your comments is assuming that all Muslims are the same. That every single one is a terrorist who loves violence and hates free speech. That’s a pretty huge mistake, and actually pretty childish. Do you also think all men are rapists, just because some are? I doubt it.

      I don’t recall anyone saying they are trying to kill you. And have you ever spoken to a woman in a burqa or niqab? I doubt it since your comment about not being able to communicate with them shows you haven’t. Wearing a face veil does not stop anyone communicating – they’re not gagged, for fuck’s sake. It’s harder to talk to someone in a balaclava – which have been used in robberies, by the way – and I don’t hear anyone saying they should be banned. And we don’t have laws about communicating with each other, so wearing a veil isn’t breaking any laws. It’s about cultural sensitivity. We show cultural sensitivity to Indigenous Australians by running a warning before news stories if they show someone who has died. We show cultural sensitivity towards the haka being performed. So why can’t we show some sensitivity towards others?

      You also make a huge logic error – no one is saying all women in Australia should wear the burqa. What we are saying is that if someone wants to wear it, that’s their right. So your example about banning homosexuality and electricity on the Sabbath is just ridiculous.

      Yes, we are ALL bloody lucky to be living in Australia. But that shouldn’t stop anyone fighting for true equality.

      So, I have one question for you: how will banning the burqa help Muslim women?

      • Just a minor point of order. I think that in the majority of cases women who wear a burqa are effectively gagged especially when it comes to strange men, that’s what it symbolises. The Burqa is not a requirement for adherence to Islam. It’s a cultural throwback from regions which are now predominately muslim. It has nothing to do with Islam at all.
        Otherwise I agree with your point that not all muslims are the same. I found out quite by accident that one of my old Majors was in fact muslim and it really reinforced that fact, because believe it or not Brett he had never attempted to behead me on video or blow up the building.

        • Oh and to state my position I don’t really care if a woman wishes to wear a burqa. It’s a choice and choices are democracy distilled. That would mean they (sorry about my theyism) ARE conforming to Australian ideals by exercising a democratic choice.

        • Didn’t want to behead you or blow someting up? Sheesh, then he wasn’t a real Muslim…

          (I wonder if I need a sarcasm symbol? I’ve not doubt you wonderful commenters know I’m being sarcastic, but there’s that whole thing about assumptions and asses.)

  11. Hi Brett. I welcome alternative opinion and recognise your point about ‘group think’ Having said that, with regards to your references to the Holocaust – I think this emphasises NWN’s point rather than yours. The holocaust was an attempt to eradicate a culture or an ethnicity rather than a prejudice or a dislike of a religion. If you know anything about Jews you will understand the differences between being a practitioner of Judaism and being a Jew. Anti Semites dislikes Jews – based on stereotypes given to Jews over the centuries (actually closer to millennia) greedy, money obsessed, sneaky, untrustworthy etc. Anti-Semitic texts tend to refer to the percieved qualities of the Jewish people and rarely reference the practices of Judaism. Just saying.

    Also if you ban one religious dress you should ban them all, ban the nuns habits cos they cover the entire body, ban a Buddhist monks robes, ban the yarmulke, ban the dog collar etc.

    Also your argument about banning cows or banning gays also backs up NWN’s point. you don’t just ban something cos you disagree with it, do not practice it or do not understand it. You don’t ban gays cos you are not gay or cos you don’t like or don’t understand homosexuality. So I am not sure what your point was there. Australian Muslims are just one (small) aspect of Australian society and I am still uncertain how you feel that them observing their own religious practice affects you. It doesn’t. They are not forcing you or your wife to wear a burqa or eat halal meat…..why do you care if they do. Don’t tell me it is cos you fear for the oppression of women because I am not buying it…I think you just don’t like Muslims.

  12. NWN
    you cite the telephone but it is in fact a very bad reference because when communicating by phone both parties are unable to see each others face and there is an equality between interlocutors , when one person has their face covered it is a very uneven situation and one that quite naturally creates suspicion about the person covering their face.

    • Why? Why do you need to see someone’s face to be able to communicate with them? I’ve spoken to several women who wear the niqab and there was no problem communicating with them at all.

  13. Communication is not just about words it is about facial expressions and body language we need to have all aspects of tat if we are to have a truly meaningful interaction with other human beings. It is how we judge the veracity of what we are told and the way that what we are saying is being received.
    I would suggest that your political ideology encourages you to make the effort and to suppress the natural unease at talking to the disguised, But you try talking to a bloke wearing a motorcycle helmet like Top Gear’s ” Stig” and then see how comfortable you are with speaking with someone who is faceless.

    The Burka is a profoundly misogynistic instrument of oppression that alienates some Muslim women not only from men (its stated aim) but also from non-Muslim women. I have no problem with any sort of religious attire until it covers the face.

    • Actually, only some communication is about those things. Written communication is not. Talking to someone on the phone is not (one of my best mates doesn’t live in Sydney, yet we still have meaningful conversations on the phone). Even talking to someone while walking down the street with them – both looking at where you are going and not each other – is not.

      And your point about the Stig is misleading, because none of his face can be seen, and his voice would be muffled behind that massive helmet. Not the case with a niqab, which is a flimsy bit of fabric and the eyes are visible.

      But I think you’re spot on with your next point – that it’s about feeling comfortable. We’ve been trained to think that someone wearing a motorbike helmet while not on a motorbike is up to no good. And because we know little about Islam, we feel uncomforable around such an obvious symbol of the religion. But when’s the last time you saw someone in a burqa or niqab in Australia? There’s a great study by Rane & Abdalla (2008) showing that the majority of Australians get their information about Muslims and Islam from tv news and current affairs, and the more tv news and current affairs they watch, the less they actually know about Islam and the less likely they are to interact with Muslims.

      I’m not saying that I agree with the burqa and niqab. I think there are issues with oppression and misogyny there. Absolutely. But the point of my post is that banning the handful of women from wearing them doesn’t solve anything. Forcing women to do something does not give them freedom. If they are in a situation where they are forced to wear the niqab when they leave the house, do you honestly think the person forcing them to wear it is going to let them leave the house without it? Of course not. This ban will just take away their freedom.

      Talk of banning the niqab and burqa are about people being fearful of Muslims – because the media always portrays them as violent, and I can point you in the direction of some great studies in this area. And it’s almost always Muslim men portrayed as violent terrorists, so how is it fair, or right, to rant about how women shouldn’t cover their faces?

  14. I can’t help but think that people who claim not to be able to “communicate” with women wearing a burqa or niqab have never spoken to a woman wearing a burqa or niqab.

    And if I was speaking to a guy wearing a motorcycle helmet and he wouldn’t take it off I would be all “Ummm what the fuck” whereas if I was talking to a woman wearing a burqa or niquab I would not expect them to take it off because it’s umm…how do I put this….completely fucking different to a motorcycle helmet.

  15. Boganette
    it is the same thing except you have a desire to be “politically correct” and not offend any follower of Islam. If you worked in a bank or a convenience store You would not be so sanguine about a guy in a full-face helmet with a dark visor.
    Covering of the face in public is a profoundly antisocial thing to do and there is no reason to make exceptions for people who do it for religious reasons .

    • Sorry Iain, back that assumption truck up, waaay back. I can’t speak for Boganette, but I don’t “desire” to be politically correct. I just don’t fear Muslims. And you can’t ban things because you happen to think they are anti-social.

  16. Give me a break Iain – I’m a militant Atheist who dislikes all religions equally. I don’t wear a burqa or niquab because I’m not a Muslim. I don’t like the idea of the burqa or niquab either. But forcing a woman to not wear one is no different to forcing a woman to wear one. Chances are these women are going to be unable to leave the house at all if they impose these kinds of reactionary crazed rules. How is that fair?

    And I’m kind of stumped as to how you don’t get the purpose of a motorcycle helmet. Let me explain it to you – motorcycle helmets are worn when you’re riding a motorcycle. The clue is in the name. If you wear a motorcycle helmet into a bank and you’re not riding a motorcycle there is something up.

    A burqa or niquab are worn ALL THE TIME in public. Muslim women don’t only wear them in a bank or when they’re walking down lanes but not avenues. See the difference?

    I also think iPods are really anti-social. When people walk around with iPods blasting I feel like I can’t randomly come up to them and start conversations about how much I like Meatloaf and how my feet are sore and I really want a smoke. So I feel your pain about having all these Muslim women around who won’t let you have conversations with them because they’re sooo anti-social what with their ummm funny veil things *rolls eyes*.

    Come on dude you don’t work in a bank (not that I have ever read anywhere of a Muslim woman robbing a bank in Australia or NZ) and you don’t talk to Muslim women so WHY DO YOU CARE?

  17. AND for the record a lot of the Muslim women I have spoken to who wear a burqa do so by choice – as part of their religion. So enough with the pretend feminist crap Iain. There aint nothing feminist-like about you telling women what they can and can’t wear according to what offends you.

    • Boganette

      Give me a break Iain – I’m a militant Atheist who dislikes all religions equally. I don’t wear a burqa or niquab because I’m not a Muslim. I don’t like the idea of the burqa or niquab either. But forcing a woman to not wear one is no different to forcing a woman to wear one. Chances are these women are going to be unable to leave the house at all if they impose these kinds of reactionary crazed rules. How is that fair?

      If you dislike all religions equally why are you so willing to make concessions to Muslims when they want to do something that is entirely contrary to the social norms of s secular society?

      And I’m kind of stumped as to how you don’t get the purpose of a motorcycle helmet. Let me explain it to you – motorcycle helmets are worn when you’re riding a motorcycle. The clue is in the name. If you wear a motorcycle helmet into a bank and you’re not riding a motorcycle there is something up.

      I have ridden motorcycles for thirty years and I know very well just how intimidated people are when you don’t take your helmet off before talking to them, their whole body language changes when you lift up the visor or take off the lid. all of our social niceties are predicated on eye contact, Facial expression cues like a smile a frown If Muslim women want to be accepted the price is not wearing the burqa.

      A burqa or niquab are worn ALL THE TIME in public. Muslim women don’t only wear them in a bank or when they’re walking down lanes but not avenues. See the difference?

      Functionally there is no difference and in fact it is the “ALL THE TIME” thing that is the problem.

      I also think iPods are really anti-social. When people walk around with iPods blasting I feel like I can’t randomly come up to them and start conversations about how much I like Meatloaf and how my feet a sore and I really want a smoke. So I feel your pain about having all these Muslim women around who won’t let you have conversations with them because they’re sooo anti-social what with their ummm funny veil things *rolls eyes*.

      And your point is ??? 🙄

      Come on dude you don’t work in a bank (not that I have ever read anywhere of a Muslim woman robbing a bank in Australia or NZ) and you don’t talk to Muslim women so WHY DO YOU CARE?
      #

      Please don’t call me dude 😉 But there have been instances where individuals have used the Burqu as a disguise for criminal activity including the incident which inspired the senator to write about this issue

      AND for the record a lot of the Muslim women I have spoken to who wear a burqa do so by choice – as part of their religion. So enough with the pretend feminist crap Iain. There aint nothing feminist-like about you telling women what they can and can’t wear according to what offends you.

      I don’t care what anyone choses to wear but the consequences for anyone who choses to cover their face in public is going to be that they will be treated with suspicion and that they should be asked to remove their face covering when they go into banks, shops or service stations just as we Bikers have been for years. Religion or no religion.

      • Iain, how is wearing a burqa contrary to the norms of a secular society? Secularism is just a separation between churches and the government. It’s about religious beliefs being kept out of politics (hello Tony Abbott as health minister).

        And perhaps your experience wearing a motorbike helmet has more to do with you being a big burly bloke.

        And there has been ONE incidence of someone using a burqa as a criminal disguise. One.

        • NWN

          And there has been ONE incidence of someone using a burqa as a criminal disguise. One.

          Yes in this country but overseas there have been instances of a male terrorist using a Burqa to flee apprehension , a female suicide bomber wore one when she blew a wedding party in Jordon there are many examples .
          I have noticed the same effect with very dark or wraparound sunglasses there is just something innate in human beings that wants to see the face and the eyes when we talk to someone.

          • BAN DARK SUNGLASSES!

          • Sorry Iain, you can’t use a handful of examples from countries very different to ours to justify banning the burqa in Australia. It’s just illogical. And your argument about wanting to see the eyes of the person you are talking to gives you away – you CAN see the eyes of someone wearing a burqa or niqab.

  18. If you dislike all religions equally why are you so willing to make concessions to Muslims when they want to do something that is entirely contrary to the social norms of s secular society?

    What concessions? I’m not making any concessions to anyone. I’m not bothered by Muslim women because I’m not afraid of them. I’m not afraid of Christian women either. Or Hindu women. Or any other religion.
    They can wear whatever they want. I don’t care.

    And your comment: “If Muslim women want to be accepted the price is not wearing the burqa.” makes me just not want to engage with you anymore.

    I really don’t think Muslim women give two shits about whether a guy who doesn’t know the difference between a motorcycle helmet and a burqa accepts them.

    • Boganette

      What concessions? I’m not making any concessions to anyone. I’m not bothered by Muslim women because I’m not afraid of them. I’m not afraid of Christian women either. Or Hindu women. Or any other religion.
      They can wear whatever they want. I don’t care.

      Oh I am not afraid of anyone or their fashion choices but I have been around teh block often enough to realise that the nature of our public image has an effect on how we are perceived and subsequently how we will be treated.

      And your comment: “If Muslim women want to be accepted the price is not wearing the burqa.” makes me just not want to engage with you anymore.

      Please, I am not trying to be at all prescriptive here I am stating a fact. This country is very accepting of difference as I see every time I go into town to shop and Its great that we are so accommodating but covering the face is just not good for creating social harmony and don’t we want to have a society that is greater than the sum of its parts?

      I really don’t think Muslim women give two shits about whether a guy who doesn’t know the difference between a motorcycle helmet and a burqa accepts them.

      I am a migrant myself Boganette and one of the things that you learn as a newcomer to this country is that you have to be prepared to learn the ways of the new country and to make an effort to fit in and your life will be great here. I have been critical of multiculturalism for many reasons but largely because I don’t think that it means that we can’t be critical of any cultural practices from any immigrant group Muslim women are not likely to be forbidden from wearing any thing they like in Australia but there is no reason that those who choose to do so should be any more immune from criticism than say the people who wear pants that hang precariously and display the wearer’s undies,

  19. I would certainly say that covering the face is not good for social harmony. It is a clear indicator that the person so covered does not want to communicate in any way, shape or from with those that they encounter.

    There is one of those individuals in my town, not a centimeter of skin shows. Don’t know if it is female or male, old or young, happy , sad, angry, sick, battered and bruised. I find it an affront to my senses. Sure I could make an effort to communicate but that person is making it clear that they do not want it.

    I do have worries about banning the burka and niqab as it would only be a short step to banning the high heels I love. So I think we have to use a different method and maybe educate the males that control those extreme women so they understand the depth of abhorrence their misogyny causes.

    • Hi Jayne, welcome to the News with Nipples. I feel your comment address two issues, so I’ll start with the bad one first. I find it offensive that you’ve called a person an “it”. That’s a pretty horrible thing to say about someone you’ve never spoken to. My understanding – and please, someone correct me if I’m wrong – is that a Muslim woman who chooses to cover up (and most don’t) do so to protect themselves from the male glance/leer. Which means you shouldn’t take it personally. Perhaps you should say hello to her? Maybe politely ask her about why she covers herself. Because she can tell you more about it than anyone else can.

      One of the great things about Australia is how multicultural we are. And I think this makes us mature enough as a nation to accept people who might not do things the way we do them. If you want to talk about senses being afronted, some would say it’s more confronting to see semi-nudity at the beach than to see someone with their face covered.

      Your point about social harmony is interesting. Don’t we – and I’m making an assumption about your whiteness based on your email address – as the majority culture, as the host culture, have a responsibility to include others?

      Now, the second bit (and please, I’ve had a few ciders at this point so am a little pissy and perhaps not very coherent). I don’t get the link between the heels and the niqab. Please, tell me more.

  20. all of this debate is interesting (if a little weird calling a woman in a burqa an ‘it’ – you know its a woman that’s the point ofthe burqa and actually the basis of this whole thread so pull your head in Jayne… that is offensive) but it seems to have moved away from one of the issues of this burqa banning debate which is….its the women being punished again. Western nations fear islam and so take it out on the women and their clothing. cos women are an easy target. They are not banning the top knot or the long robes/suits that Muslim men wear ( apologies for my ignorance not knowing the name). personally the thought of being told I had to wear a burqa is affronting to me…but then again I am not a Muslim women and I may well feel v different if I were. Of course then beign told I couldn’t wear one (by a non muslim in fact) when actually I liked wearing one and it gave me a sense of comfort is just as bad (Muslim women I know say that feel happy and secure when wearing their scarves or other apparel). Imagine if you were used to be covered and then one day you couldnt be – I suspect you would feel like you were walking round Coles in your underwear and how is that a nice or liberating feeling for a woman. Its none of our business what a woman wears for religion or fashion so the ban is ridiculous from any angle

    • Lexy, that’s how I feel about it too: that it’s wrong to force women to wear – or not to wear – something. Yes, of course there are issues around the treatment of women in the name of Islam, but forcing women not to wear something isn’t a very good demonstration of our supposedly liberal democracy where women have rights.

  21. I think you don´t understand well the historical background of the Islam and the way this religion want to expand across all the world. Maybe you must begin to read something about the muslim expansion and cruelty in Africa and ancient Europe. Maybe you must read something about comtemporary muslims slave traders and the way this religion want expands in Europe. They say: “The belly of our women conquers the world”.
    The burka is only a symbol, but What a symbol!. A symbol of obscurantism, tiranny and opression. It´s not a question of the right of some women to wear this portable-jail, it´s about symbols. What if you want to wear a t-shirt with a big svastica print in it? It´s this ok for you?

    • Schtroumpf, I think you can say that about Christianity too – it hardly has a noble past. My issue with banning the burqa in Western societies is that it doesn’t do anything except punish the women who are being forced to wear it. It takes away what little freedom they have.

      Don’t get me wrong – I think any religion that oppresses women is wrong. And Islam certainly doesn’t have a monopoly on that.

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