There was a discussion on the dreaded Facebook yesterday about banning the wearing of the burka [not sure if the niqab comes under that ban as well] in the UK. As many of you will know it has been banned in France already. Now, I have to say at this point that I totally understand the security based reasons behind this school of thought. However, looking at the bigger picture from a different angle, I am worried that we are picking away at our freedom of choice that we are so famous for as a nation. If we start dictating what people can wear then where will it end?
Historically, I can remember a nurse and a British Airway’s clerk both of whom were banned from wearing a christian cross at work. I wear my crucifix all the time, in fact I rarely take it off. Although wearing a cross or similar is not a security issue, I can see similarities here, and feel an equal amount of injustice at both situations. Again, removing our freedom of choice, and this is supposed to be a christian country first and foremost!!
I know that for those muslim women who choose to wear the burka for the right reasons [i.e. based in faith as an informed choice, not through fear or oppression] being told they can’t wear it in public would cause, at the very least, feelings of distress, anxiety and frustration. They would feel they are compromising their beliefs. Interestingly, part of the discussion produced the comment that ‘they should go to a country that shares their religious views’. Fair point, but that could be tricky if they’re white british. White british muslim converts are often the most devout and passionate about their faith, which has lead to some of them choosing to take the veil. These women belong in the UK regardless of their religion, their lives and families are here. We have a huge, and still growing, muslim convert community here in MK and I think that’s something to celebrate.
So, going back to my initial fears, how free to choose are we really? I’m starting to wonder in this rapidly developing ‘Nanny State’. I used to celebrate and feel lucky at being British and living here. At times now I feel suffocated by, and disappointed at the country I live in and some of the people I have to share it with. I am obviously aware of the terrible extremist based crimes taking place, but in my opinion they have nothing to do with real faith or religion. God/Allah pbuh, does not sanction genocide or terrorism, so no religious label or scripture will ever make that right, no matter how hard they try to justify their crimes under that banner.
I found these quotes last night and they really made me think:~
“Not enough people know or understand just how little freedom we have left.” Korban Blake
“As free as you allow others to be, such freedom you create for yourself.” Bryant McGill
Finally, I found this in an article in The Guardian by Andrew Brown and I wonder if maybe he’s right:~
“The burka debate is not so much about religious obligation, as about the public rejection of the surrounding society, and society’s tolerance for that.”