Boris and the burqa debate

Boris Johnson's comments likening wearers of the burqa to "letter boxes" and "armed robbers" at least served to demonstrate that freedom needs to cut both ways, writes Christopher Goff.

There is undoubtedly an important discussion to be had around the issue of female religious fanatics who because of their beliefs choose to wear garments which partially or fully covers the wearer, and likewise the male religious fanatics who sometimes force their womenfolk to wear repressive attires because they might say it is a matter of religious 'honour'.

This important discussion has already taken place in a number of European countries and where the outcome has been one of introducing laws to ban the wearing of the burqa, a form of religious dress which fully covers both the body and the face, while the wearing of the hijab is mostly allowed without restriction. The wearing of the burqa is now banned in Austria, Belgium, France, Denmark, Latvia, Bulgaria and The Netherlands, and some might say for good reason.

The French experience is an interesting one not least because the decision of the French government to ban the wearing of the burqa is something which has been tested in the European Court of Human Rights. In 2014, the ECHR upheld the ban accepting the argument of the French government which said the law was based on "a certain idea of living together", a phrase which kind of says that the wearing of the burqa is something that is not compatible with European values, something which in turn raises the rather interesting question of what other religious practices are similarly incompatible with European values but are nevertheless permitted by law in lots of European countries. I am thinking here in particular of the abhorrent practice of religious slaughter, carried out by both Jews and Muslims.

One thing that does need to be got clear is that the comments that Boris Johnson made in the Daily Telegraph (5 August, 2018), where he wrote that women wearing the burqa "look like letter boxes" and compared them to "bank robbers", were most certainly not racist, and this because of course Islam is a religion and not a race. As anyone reading this will know, you get Asian Muslims, African Muslims, Oriental Muslims, just like you also increasingly get European Muslims.

But for me the most interesting aspect of the 'burqa controversy' has been the one of the double standards that the liberal-Establishment likes to work to. In fact, the liberal-Establishment likes nothing more than working to double standards. What I mean here is that you get people – often women, I would add – who on one hand support religious freedom and want to see the wearing of the burqa in public spaces to be allowed to continue, yet it is quite usually exactly these same people who, and sometimes even in the same breath, call for anyone daring to speak out against the wearing of the burqa to face some kind of ban, reprimand or legal consequence for doing so. Really, the chutzpah of these doyennes of the liberal-Establishment is truly breathtaking. I think you might know the types to whom I refer who in one instance might claim to support women's rights, and who will perhaps speak of their desire to see more women on boards or flying aircraft or the like, but who in another instance will invariably choose to remain silent on the matter of young Muslim girls having their genitals cut up with a rusty piece of tin can while on 'holiday' in some armpit area of Africa.

Freedom has to cut both ways for it to work. A society has no credibility if in one instance it chooses to give the freedom to do certain things, act in certain ways or say certain things to 'protected' people, while at exactly the same time it takes away the freedom of others who want to question the giving of those freedoms in the first place, be it on things like the wearing of the burqa, or the slitting of animals throats whilst still conscious to the accompaniment of a prayer and while their heads are aligned in a certain direction, as is the case with dabihah (Islamic) slaughter.

If a society gives controversial freedoms to certain groups of people then it should at the same time allow other groups of people to question the giving of those freedoms. In other words, if people want to dislike and oppose certain religious practices, then in a fair and free society they should be allowed to do so. And not only that, but I also believe that in a fair and free society people should be able to not only dislike certain religious practices, but they should also be free to dislike those crackpot believers in the supernatural who carry out those practices because of course they would never take place in this country were it not for the presence of such people.

Quite why head of the Metropolitan Police, Cressida Dick, thought it necessary to announce to the media that Boris Johnson's comments had not crossed the threshold to warrant the involvement of the police I am really not sure, but as I write this Boris is nevertheless due before a Conservative Party hearing to decide whether his rather tame comments concerning a certain religious practice broke any of the party's guidelines on conduct.

Lastly, one thinks that Donald Trump and his political colleagues might be looking across the water at just what is happening on 'Cuck Island' with a certain amount of incredulity. At this point it might be useful to note that in his article for the Daily Telegraph Boris Johnson did not call for the wearing of the burqa to be banned in the UK at all. Instead, he actually made the case that the recent decision of the Danish government to ban the wearing of the burqa in that country was a wrong one.

Copyright © Christopher Goff
Tag: Religion
Uploaded: 11 August, 2018.