You know, it’s one thing to have the wingnut congress over at Little Green Footballs bloviating about the sins, real and imagined, of Muslims. But what do you do when an entire government BECOMES a wingnut Islamophobe congress? That’s what apparently is about to happen in the Netherlands, where a Muslim and immigrant-hating minister has introduced legislation to ban the burka:
THE Netherlands is likely to become the first country in Europe to ban the burka, under government proposals that would bring in some of the toughest curbs on Muslim clothing in the world.
The country’s hardline Integration Minister, Rita Verdonk, known as the Iron Lady for her series of tough anti-immigration measures, told Parliament that she was going to investigate where and when the burka should be banned. The burka, traditional clothing in some Islamic societies, covers a woman’s face and body, leaving only a strip of gauze for the eyes.
Mrs Verdonk gave warning that the “time of cosy tea-drinking” with Muslim groups had passed and that natives and immigrants should have the courage to be critical of each other. She recently cancelled a meeting with Muslim leaders who refused to shake her hand because she was a woman.
The proposals are likely to win the support of Parliament because of the expected backing by right-wing parties. But they have caused outrage among Muslim and human rights groups, who say that the Government is pandering to the far Right.
Not content merely to discriminate against Muslim immigrants in terms of immigration policy, Holland also wishes to discriminate against Muslim citizens and legal residents. Though I’m not expert on European law, I’d guess that it would take about five minutes from the moment the legal challenge arrives before the European Court of Human Rights for the law to be dismissed outright. I know judges aren’t supposed to laugh or sneer at the cases brought before them, but it would be hard for any legal scholar not to do so in the face of the following twisted arguments:
Mrs Verdonk admitted that a complete ban on the garment would be legally tricky because of freedom of religion legislation. However, she said that she would prohibit the garments “in specific situations” on grounds of public safety. The ban is likely to be enforced in shops, public buildings, cinemas, train and bus stations and airports, as well as on trains and buses…
Attention has turned to the burka because police authorities have become concerned that a terrorist could use one for concealment.
A government spokesman said: “We want to investigate when, how, in which places the burka should be banned. It is a safety measure — you don’t see who is in it.” The Government cites as a precedent existing football legislation, which bans people from entering football grounds covering their faces in scarves.
The argument is preposterous on its face. Football fans do not normally mask their faces unless they wish to conceal their identity. The only reason someone would want to do this at a football match is because they have plans to engage in rowdy, hooliganish behavior. Of course, the state has an interest in banning such behavior and so a mask ban is legitimate.
But unlike masked football hooligans, all Muslim women who wear the burka do so for religious reasons not to disturb public order. There have been very few incidents in which a Muslim terrorist used a burka in committing a crime. Therefore the government is discriminating against law-abiding Muslim women in the hopes of possibly exposing a single terrorist who might or might not attempt to exploit such a religious custom. This ought to be laughed out of court.
The local Muslim community is suitably outraged by this stupid prejudice:
Yassim Hertog, a vice-president of the Muslim School Boards Union, said: “Can you prohibit someone from wearing a certain type of dress? They are trying to test what a government can forbid, and how far you can go trampling on people’s rights. They want to show all these Dutch citizens who are sick and tired of all these ‘mutant’ citizens, this is where we draw the line — get normal.”
Muslim groups insist that only a few dozen women in the Netherlands wear the burka, and that the ban is a distraction. The Muslims and Government Contact Body said: “Only a handful of Muslims actually wear burkas. Let us focus our energy on what we have in common. This is not a big problem.”
I’d say that Holland will become the laughingstock of Europe if I didn’t already know that political leaders of other nations will probably look admiringly on this xenophobic mess of a piece of legislation.