Laws in Europe against the use of veil: Western fear towards the Islamic world
Islam and its precepts are an integral part of the Muslim community, however, many of them have put themselves in a fabric in the part of the western world, specifically in the European continent. Over the last years, a great controversy has been unleashed in several European countries – where a considerable amount of Muslim population – regarding the use of female Islamic traditional garments, these states have launched legislative norms that prohibit the use ofcertain garments, such as the veil or the burka.
Ángeles Ramírez Fernández, author of the book “The trap of the veil: the debate on the use of the Muslim scarf ‘, emphasizes how the fear of terrorism has led to the rejection of the Muslim community in the West, where before the desperate attempt to avoid avoidingNew attacks has become the appropriate pretext to impose norms on the Muslim population residing in the European continent. ‘Suddenly, the Hiyab has become an instrument that regulates relationships between Muslims and non -Muslims. This can be very dangerous, ”says Ramírez.
The importance of the analysis of the problem that means the use of religious influence clothing, is evidencegrowing-of Muslims found in their territory.
The objective of this research work is to investigate the political and legislative positions that have adopted various European countries in relation to traditional Islamic clothing within the western territory. Likewise, the argument of Islamic women about their clothing will be pointed out, and what factors influence it to use it. When performing this contrast of ideologies, the true feeling of the West will be reflected towards Islam, and as such feeling has influenced the execution of its policy.
Traditional Islamic dress of women
Since the sixth century, Islam has become one of the world’s main religions. As it has spread to other societies, it has been incorporating some local customs of the use of the veil and influenced by others. To better clarify the situation, it is relevant to clarify that there are different types of Islamic veils:
The Hijab is a name for a variety of scarves, it is the most popular veil used in the west. These veils consist of one or two scarves that cover the head and neck, outside the West, this traditional veil continues to be used by many Muslim women in the Arab world.
The Niqab covers the entire body, head and face;However, an eye opening is left. The two main styles of Niqab are the medium-niqab, which consists of a facial veil and a facial veil that leaves the eyes and part of the forehead and the complete Niqab, which only leaves a close opening for the eyes. The debate in Europe has been mostly due to the use of this type of veil, as several politicians have argued for their prohibition because it interferes with communication, creating security concerns.
The chador is an entire body chal that is kept closed in the neck with the hand or with a pin. It covers the head and body, but the face remains completely visible. Chades are often black and more common in the Middle East, specifically in Iran.
The burka is a full body veil. The whole face and body are covered, and whoever carries it goes through a mesh on the eyes. This type of clothing is more commonly used in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Measures against the use of veil in Europe
European countries have fought, in various ways, with the theme of the Muslim veil, such as Burka and Niqab establishing laws that punish the use of such garments. The Western Debate and the legislative measures that each country has taken have been supported on issues such as the discourse of religious freedom, female equality, secular traditions and, of course, fears towards terrorism;In fact, it should be emphasized that the majority of religious clothing restrictions were introduced after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. The global discourse around the attacks and the subsequent ‘War on terror’, provided several justifications for the restrictions of the religious clothing of Muslim women. Religious clothing was often perceived as a threat to ‘public security’, as well as a sign of ‘oppression’, which accommodated to conclude that Muslim women threatened public safety.
The public exhibition of the differentiated origin, often carried out by “immigrants” women through certain clothing, in particular the various clothes combined with a piece to cover the head, has been interpreted as a threat to cultural purity and theSocial Cohesion of Western Nation States. The dress that these women use, "not only surprises, but annoying, when it does not offend".
For some sectors of European society, the possible fact that the number of women who use the veil increase. In the same way, the handkerchief and its different variants, are linked to the increase in fundamentalist movements, having Islam as an cornering stone and according to Western opinion, that manifests discrimination against Muslim women, as well as their social relegation and their submission tomale power. All these premises have served to justify the legal actions that have implemented most countries in Europe with respect to the Islamic veil.
The legislative measures that have been launched during the last years in different European countries, related to the clothing of Muslim women are briefly explained.
On December 6, 2016, Foreign Minister Angela Merkel said that the use of full -face veils should be prohibited in Germany in ‘wherever possible’. His comments, made at a meeting of his political party (Christian Democratic Union), occurred after the Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere proposed plans to ban the burka, or any full -face veil, in public buildings, in public buildings.
The ruling coalition formed by the left-wing social democrats and the Austrian party-conservative-conservator, agreed in January 2017 to ban the full-face veils (Niqab and Burka) in public spaces such as courts and schools, and the law entered into force in force inOctober of that same year. The government said at that time that it was considering a more general prohibition of state employees that carried the veil and other religious symbols. The measures were seen as an attempt to counteract the rise of the Freedom Party of the extreme right, which almost won the presidency in December 2016.
The coalition said that the full -face veils in public hindered the ‘open communication’, which was fundamental in an ‘open society’.
On July 13, the French Assembly supported with a total of 335 votes in favor of the law that restricted the use of Burka and Niqab, this initiative had influence in other European countries giving way to a vehement debate about the regulation of the Islamic veil. Thus, on April 11, 2011, France became the first European country to prohibit this garment in public places. Under the prohibition, no woman, French or foreign, could leave her home with a hidden face behind a veil without running the risk of being fined. As president, Nicolas Sarkozy, whose administration imposed the ban, said the veils oppressed women and that for this reason they were not "welcome" in France.
France has about five million Muslims, the largest Muslim minority in Western Europe, but it is believed that only 2,000 women use the full veil. The fine for carrying the veil is equivalent to 150 euros, in addition to an instruction in citizenship. Likewise, anyone who is forcing a woman to cover her face runs the risk of 30 for 30.000 euros. The 2015 data showed that 1,546 fines by law had been imposed.
In July 2011, a law that prohibited the full face veil in Belgium entered into force. The law rejected any clothing that hid the identity of those who carry it in public places. In December 2012, the Constitutional Court of Belgium rejected the appeals to annul the prohibition and ruled that it was not a violation of human rights. The Belgian Law was confirmed by the European Court of Human Rights in 2017. Before the bill was approved, the burka was already prohibited in several districts according to the old local laws originally designed to prevent people from masking their faces completely.
In 2015, the Holland government prohibited the use of veil in public places, in addition to including a fine of 405 euros if any woman used the burka or the Niqab in transport and official buildings. The Executive estimated that few sanctions would be raised since there were few women who carried the burka in the country, the quantitative data of how many use the Niqab is unknown. The Internal Prime Minister of Holland, Ronald Plasterk, said it was important".
The Dutch government is based on the ideal that security is essential in reference to public service, therefore, its citizens must be safe. For his part, the Prime Minister of Netherlands, Mark Rutte, explained during a presentation that the veil is only prohibited in specific situations in which it is essential to be able to see people and that the law has no religious character. As for the public sphere, the police will have the ability to ask a woman to be covered to reveal her face if you are necessary to make an identification. It should be noted that the Dutch government had already made previous efforts -2012- to ban the veil in the streets, however, the criticisms of that time made to force back.
For 2018, the Dutch Senate approved a law that prohibited the burka and other garments that covered the face in public spaces. This law is a prohibition of garments such as the Islamic Niqab, the Burqa, as well as balaclavas and helmets. If said law is not fulfilled, the fine could reach 400 euros. The Interior Minister of the Netherlands, Kajsa Ollongren has defended the idea that the prohibition of these Islamic garments will contribute so that Muslim women access a life in broader society as well as the opportunity for contact, communication and the opportunity to enter theworking market.
In 2011, the prohibition of Burka and Naqib or any other outfit that covered their face,amount of 30 thousand euros in addition to paying penalties up to 12 months in jail.
The Italian law had the unconditional support of Soud Sbau, who is a Moroccan who was part of the conservative party of Prime Minister Silvo Berlusconi. Soud said that it wanted to help Islamic women to integrate it Italian society, in addition to helping them out of submission and giving them voice.
Although there are no plans for a national prohibition in Spain, in 2010, the city of Barcelona announced a prohibition of Islamic veils in some public spaces, such as municipal offices, public markets and libraries. At least two smaller cities in Catalonia, the northeastern region that Barcelona includes, have also imposed prohibitions. For its part, the Barcelona City Council announced that the prohibition in that city was aimed at any clothing that prevented identification, including motorcycles and balaclañas helmets.
In January 2010, the then Secretary of State for Children, School and Family, Ed Balls, stressed that he was not ‘British’ telling people what to wear on the street, this happened after the Independence PartyFrom the United Kingdom, all the Muslim veils that covered their face were prohibited. In September 2013, the Minister of the Ministry of Interior, Jeremy Browne, requested a ‘national debate’ on Islamic veils in public places.
For his part, the former leader of the United Kingdom Independence Party, Nigel Farage, said that the complete veils served as a symbol of a ‘Great Britain increasingly divided’, which ‘oppress’ to women and represent a potential threatfor security.
Meaning of her dress for a Muslim woman
Although the use of the veil is not exclusive to Islam, many of the Muslim women use it as part of their usual clothing. Tradition, culture and religion, integrate a vast field of motivations that intermingle with each other. In the Quran you can read verses that suggest a certain way of dressing: ‘Prophet! Tell your wives, your daughters, believing women, who get the veils. That is the simplest way to be recognized and not bothered. God is indulgent, remission.’(Quran 33:59). “Tell the believers to lower their eyes, hide their parts and do not show their ornaments but what is seen. They cover their bosom with the veil! They do not show their ornaments but their husbands, or their children, or (…).”(Quran 24:31).
In 2017, several Muslim women responded to The Beacon the question ‘What does the child mean to you?’, All of them mainly highlighted the importance that their clothing gives them in their daily lives.
A first -year student of Civil Engineering said that girls use the Hijab to preserve their beauty, and personally she felt protected when using said garment, which she considers as part of her own person, because she is linked to her culture and religion. He also expressed his dismay before an unpleasant fact that arose when he was verbally attacked by a subject who shouted “you have to believe in Jesus!”, This made her think of why people would like to force others to profess their religion.
Another primary education student also highlighted the role of religion linked to her clothing, for her, putting a chador means a religious commandment, since God has asked her to do so. Such detail implies recognizing itself as a believer and enhancing the values that she defends as Muslim;Also, this woman also identifies her clothing as an empowerment factor, she feels the right to decide to cover her body. Something interesting of her testimony is that she remembers that she started dressing when she was 6 years old, at that time, it was precisely when the September 11 altercation occurred. That context made him visualize the fear that was for the Muslim elements, because his own mother asked him if he was sure to want to use the chador. When dressing traditionally faced many people who called her as "terrorist", therefore, from a very early age he was aware of the stigma that he had towards his culture.
For Muslim women, using a veil or a head cover is a show of obedience to the Koran and Allah, in addition to being a symbol of modesty and their condition as a woman. Islamic head covers vary stylistically from one culture to another, and each culture interprets the tradition of the Quran in slightly different ways. Either because of the way women place their scarves, the amount of coverage offered. It cannot be denied that there are women who use the hijab because they have no choice: their culture or their family demands it. In many Muslim countries, using the hijab is law. But, often, Muslim women choose to cover their heads and face because they want it. His modesty is an expression of his religious conviction and his devotion to God.
Stereotyped representation of Muslim women
The opposition between the East and the West has historically been one of the representation binomials on which the imperialist discourse of colonial domain of Europe has been based on a good part of Asia and Africa. The cultural conflict between the West and Islam has had clear gender connotations, since the Muslim woman has been located as one of the main objects of cultural differentiation..
The continuous controversies about the Hijab and its presence in public space clearly constitute a conflict generated by these form of stereotyped representation of the other. In fact, the necessary significance of the Islamic veil as a symptom of inequality associated with the culture of origin, has been repeatedly denied by the experience of Muslim women who decide to take it. The veil is ultimately the "paradigm of the non-understanding of otherness". Within the framework of the inability of European countries to understand Muslim culture, it is where the legislatures explained above are developed and it is here that it is worth asking how appropriate it turns out that Westerners decide how far the freedom of expression of the Muslims can gotheir countries.
In the European continent, stereotypes about the situation of Muslim women become a very effective instrument to demonize their societies and very particularly their religion. Although currently in Europe, both academia and civil society pay more and more attention to Islamophobia (discrimination against Muslims) in general, significantly lower attention has been given to the way in which government legislation and policies, in particular the restrictions on religious clothing, discriminate against Muslim women. A possibility of finding a solution to this situation, which hinders the exit of the limits that we impose on the Muslim community, is to give it a voice to allow a self-representation that can counteract the stereotypes of the victim.