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Thursday, October 28, 2004

Keep This One under Your Hat

More on the odd controversy about Muslim women wearing burqas:

Let’s look at a similar example, in which dress restrictions are imposed only on men: Sikhs. Sikh men are required by their faith not to cut their hair or beard, and to cover their heads. There are no special dress requirements for women. It is therefore necessarily true that only men face social pressures to dress a certain way.

For some reason, however, there is no concern about this supposed trampling on the rights of the men, as there is on the subject of Muslim women. Why the double standard?

Why no outrage about the orthodox Jewish requirement for men to cover their heads and not to cut their hair, at least their forelocks?

Apparently it is only repressive if such things are asked of women. Or by Islam.

For that matter, even in the Catholic Church: it used to be expected that women would cover their heads in church, and men would uncover them, both out of respect. For some reason, the notion that women must cover their heads was found to be oppressive, and has been completely abandoned in practice. But I’d wager any man would be rebuked today if he kept his hat on in church.

Why the double standard?

I see nothing wrong with dress codes per se. Standards of public morality are generally enforced in all countries: in the US recently, a teenaged man who streaked his high school graduation was sentenced to prison. If that is not an infringement on his rights, neither is a stricter regimen as is practiced in, say, Saudi Arabia.

The only issue is that freedom of religion requires that dress codes not ban dress required by a major faith. Therefore, the important right in Afghanistan is that Muslim women be allowed to wear burqas. But if Christian women or atheist women are also required to wear burqas, this is no big deal, no human rights issue. Nobody’s religion prohibits women covering their heads, so even requiring that a burqa be worn is not an infringement of anyone’s basic rights.

It follows that the current law in France, by which Muslim girls are not allowed to cover their heads in classes, is more of an infringement of human rights than the Afghan law on burqas ever was.

The more interesting question is, why has the wearing of the burqa become such a flashpoint among politically-correct types in the West?

Is it hostility to Islam as a highly moralistic religion?

Or is the bottom line that the burqa prevents women from fully advertising their sexual desirability?

Too often, modern concepts of “freedom” seem nothing more noble than a demand for unrestricted sex.

1 comment:

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