Ban the Burqa? No thanks.
by ray goodlass
Today’s news about burqa wearers being banished to glassed in galleries in Parliament House reminds me of a Letter to the Editor in response to my recent Op Ed piece in the Daily Advertiser in which I argued that we should not ban the burqa. The letter writer claimed that we should ban them because weapons could be hidden under them. What nonsense he was writing, as suicide vests can easily be hidden under shirts, and bombs successfully concealed in shoes. Go figure.
Blogging this entry reminds me that I haven’t been posting my op Ed pieces in the (Wagga) Daily Advertiser in my blog, so I’ll start with my burqa piece of 16 September, and then post all the pieces every day or so since my Op Ed writing started.
Ban the Burqu a political stunt?
Temping though it was to comment on Captain Abbott’s latest attempts to inspire “fear and loathing” in Team Australia by ramping up real and imagined terrorist threats in order to build electoral support, this past week my attention was taken by a smaller story that essentially did the same thing.
For once again we find Christian Democratic Party leader Fred Nile putting sectarian politics above the Christian charity he makes so much a fuss about by his latest attempt to ban the burqa across NSW, which has been has been branded anti-Islamic and a political stunt.
Mr Nile’s private member’s bill, introduced in state parliament on Thursday, would prohibit the wearing of the burqa and other face coverings in public.
Under Mr Nile’s plan, a person who covers their face in public would face a $550 fine and a person who forces someone else to cover their face would be hit with a $1100 penalty.
It follows similar bans in Belgium and France, and comes after his failed attempt at blacklisting face coverings in 2010.
He says the measures come at an “opportune” time after Wednesday’s arrest in Queensland of two men allegedly linked to terrorist groups in Syria (Daily Advertiser and Sydney Morning Herald 11 September).
Indeed, “Opportune” is the operative word.
“We also face the new Islamic State (IS) terrorist threat, whose black uniforms for both men and women include face coverings to prevent identification,” he told the upper house.
Labor MP Amanda Fazio said the measures were “anti-Islamic” and had more to do with Mr Nile’s bid for re-election at the forthcoming state election in March.
“These measures are the opposite of everything we’re trying to achieve in Australia in terms of being inclusive and having a harmonious society where we respect difference,” she told AAP.
Silma Ihram, from Australian Muslim Women’s Association, branded the move as “unfortunate”.
“(This) is only going to further traumatise members of the (Muslim) community who are absolutely innocent and have every right to wear the fashion of their choice,” she said.
Greens NSW MP and spokesperson for Multiculturalism and the Status of Women Dr Mehreen Faruqi has condemned the Reverend Fred Nile introducing this proposed legislation.
“Whether it’s the right to abortion or wearing clothing of their choice, Reverend Nile seems obsessed with what women do with their bodies,” Dr Faruqi said in a media release.
“We live in a society where people have the right to wear what they want. “Muslim women have the right to freedom of choice, just like every other Australian”.
Indeed they do –or should have.