Recently, the people of Belgium decided to ban one of the worst symbols of religious intolerance, sexism, and objectification of women in the world, the burka. I, for one, think that this is completely proper, and a step towards religious inclusion and tolerance. The burka is out of place in a secular, progressive and liberal environment – an environment which all nations of the world must strive towards. Given the European struggle against the influence of the tyranny of the Catholic Church, it also makes sense that the Europeans would not stand for Islamic extremists attempting to throw Europe back to the Dark Ages, any more than they’d tolerate dark and sinister forces like Opus Dei who try to do the same. In fact, I might go so far as to saying that the European Union needs to ban public display of organized religion altogether.
I am not for closing off Europe to the world. Indeed, just as I’d warmly welcome immigrants who enrich the savory melting pot of America into my nation, I would hope that the Europeans would too. Immigration should never – and I emphasize never – be about “race” or the color of one’s skin, but the desire to live among equals in a liberal democracy.
What is truly ironic is that Islamic extremists will say that this is a violation of personal freedoms. Belgium, which ranks among the most free nations in the world according to many illustrious organizations such as Freedom House and Amnesty International, is actually the place where Muslim women have the most freedom. A Muslim woman in Belgium has the right to live without fear, is entitled to gender equality, can take a job, is free to wear anything from a bikini to a business suit, and can openly announce apostasy. She can drive her own car, get a divorce if she pleases, or become a Marxist because of the political freedoms that Belgium gives her. None of this is possible in places like Saudi Arabia or Iran, where women are beaten for dressing ‘inappropriately,’ consigned to being housewives, murdered for apostasy, or executed for sympathizing with worker’s rights.
As I illuminate in my previous article, it is society itself which determines the rules of society, and society is greater than the individual. Do those clerics who insist on the oppression of women truly with to bring out the consciousness of humanity as a whole, which includes all humans, and place restrictions in its interpretation? When we live in a society we make our own rules and abide by them first and then to realize god we practice religion which again is realizing other humans, animals and existence in general. If we are against the same society of which we are a product of what does it show? Ultimately, one has to learn to live in tune with society and so when the legislation has been passed one has to learn to adjust wih that instead of bringing out personal religious practices outside the self as every self has their own religions.
The burka is a symbol of mysogynistic oppression against females. It symbolizes that a woman’s body is somehow sinful and evil; and that they must hide it so they do not corrupt the men, who just cannot help themselves. In other words, women are responsible for making men sin. These ideas violate the very idea of gender equality. So, the burka cannot be about freedom. It’s about fighting backwards religious mysogyny and gender discrimination by people who are hiding behind freedom as an excuse to oppress others. Justifying the burka as freedom would be like re-implementing slavery in America on the basis of so-called “property rights”.
Every decent person should be applauding Belgium for standing up for women’s rights, and the right of all people to be free from religion. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter if that religion is Christianity or Islam; if religion is a personal choice it belongs in the home, not on public streets or walkways.
What the Islamofascists should realize is that, instead of controlling others, they need to work towards the collective interests of humankind – towards enlightenment of all people that we are all committed towards by virtue of existence.
Below, I’ve linked to an article by the excellent French philosopher, Bernard-Henri Lévy, who does a great job of explaining the situation. In case you’re wondering who Dr. Lévy is, I’ve also included a blurb about him:
About Mr. Levy
After attending the Lycée Louis-le-Grand in Paris, Lévy enrolled in the elite and highly selective École Normale Supérieure in 1968, from which he graduated with a degree in philosophy. Some of his professors there included prominent French intellectuals and philosophers Jacques Derrida and Louis Althusser. Lévy is also a pre-eminent journalist, having started his career as a war reporter for Combat, the famous underground newspaper founded by Camus during the Nazi occupation of France.
Returning to Paris, Lévy became famous as the young founder of the New Philosophers (Nouveaux Philosophes) school which advocated some reforms for Marxism and Socialism. He is also a signatory to the Manifesto: Together Facing the New Totalitarianism, along with other prominent figures like Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Irshad Manji, Caroline Fourest,