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Netherlands to Ban Burqas, Face Coverings

Illustration for article titled Netherlands to Ban Burqas, Face Coverings

The government of The Netherlands has announced plans to ban the wearing of veils that cover the face of the wearer that will take effect within the year, citing the need to see people's faces when greeting them on the streets. The French immediately scoffed at the announcement, as the law is just a French knock-off.

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The Dutch government's trying to pass it off as though ban on face coverings worn in public wasn't expressly designed to target Muslims, that motorcycle helmets in inappropriate contexts will be outlawed under the new rules. Violators will be fined up to 390 Euros (or about US $510).

One government official said that the law was designed to make everything more Dutch. "People should be able to look at each other's faces and recognize each other when they meet," he said.

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Although the government says the ban isn't not designed to target Muslim women, it sort of is. About a million of the country's 17 million people are Muslim, but of that segment of the population, only a tiny number of people— estimates range between 100 and 400— will actually be affected by the law. The Dutch aren't being inundated with a crisis of rampant face-hiding. According to Bloomberg, the ban is just a wee bit of political appeasement,

Geert Wilders' anti-Islam Freedom Party (PVV), which helps give the Liberal-Christian Democrat coalition a majority in parliament, has set considerable political store on getting the so-called burqa ban passed into law.

Phew! Finally, the government's on the cusp of solving the problems of Dutch people who don't like looking at burqas.

The law offers exemptions for people wearing protective clothing, like firemen and hockey players and babies wearing those fleece sleeves on their faces. People are still allowed to wear face coverings on planes or at religious services. Revelers dressed up for the holidays — say, dressed up like Santa or wearing a Halloween costume — are also exempt.

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No word on whether the law applies to people wearing too much makeup, even though it's hard to see someone's face when they're wearing enough foundation to furnish an entire season of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.

Dutch plan ban on Muslim face veils next year [Bloomberg]

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DISCUSSION

tararkoger
annieoakley

EVERY time this comes up — every single time — a piece of my feminist heart breaks. Not for Muslim women, but for the ignorance of non-muslims when they try to talk about Muslim women.

As someone who works every day with Muslim women from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the Gulf, etc., I recognize that I am not entitled to make choices about their rights or to speak for them. And they don't need me to. Just like you don't need me to. They can talk.

Things to Know about "Helping" Muslim Women:

1) It's not okay to assume that a muslim woman wearing a burqa MIGHT be forced unless you would also assume that an American woman wearing jeans might be forced. There is no default assumption of force you need to apply when in countries without governmental implementation.

2) Arabic, Muslim, and Middle-Eastern men aren't inherently doing anything. I work with guys who come to the US as dependents on their wives', financially and in terms of legal status. From KSA. This is incredibly common. They're hear so their wives can get master's degrees; they stay home with the kids.

3) Lots of Muslim women like being covered. They do! As a friend explained, "When I'm covered, I now society recognizes me for my personality, intellect, and behavior, not my body. I'm respected instead of objectified." (And, no, no man made her say that. Dear god, if you knew this woman you'd understand how insulting it is to assume that.)

4) Niqab and face coverings aren't a security threat. Know why? Because a) they still have photo IDs and b) any female can check them. I work with women who wear veils all the time. They have uncovered passport photos. And if security needs to check that? All it takes is a female.

5) Veiled women can't just impersonate each other. They're not that homogenous, guys. If some random person female walked into my class tomorrow and tried to be one of my veiled students, I'd know, because I still know what they look like. In the case of a bank or place where they might not know, see #4.

6) Muslim woman can talk! For themselves! And not for all muslim women — not even they get to do that, because there's lots of variation. Ask them questions! They'll talk. In front of men, too. They'll even mock muslim men to their face. And — shock! — often those muslim men will good-heartedly laugh! Because it's in good spirit! HUMANITY!

And in case you're dying to cite the human rights infractions of these countries or the well-documented treatment of women, no need — we all know. That's irrelevant to the point that when a woman wears something, let her wear it. In what kind of backwards logic should we assume she doesn't want to do what she's doing and needs us to free her? That's cuh-ray-zee!

We, as in everybody, have to stop approaching AAAAAAAALLLLLLLLLLLL topics related to Muslim women with the automatic association/presumption of oppression. It's like assuming that alllllllll black people have experienced poverty.

If a woman eats a cheeseburger, it's probably because she's hungry.

If a muslim woman eats a cheeseburger, it's probably because she's hungry.

If a muslim woman wearing a burqa eats a cheeseburger, it's probably because she's hungry.

See?