10 November 2013

Europe and the Ban against Full-Face Veils

Back in September, southern Switzerland moved to ban the Islamic full-face veil. This makes Switzerland the third country to do so, following France and Belgium. Needless to say, this move is condemned by the Muslim community, as well as by Amnesty International, the latter even saying that it is a "black day for human rights". However, personally, as I thought about this whole issue, as it simmered in my head, I actually think that this is a good move, and that it is not violating human rights, if one looks at the big picture.

See, just look at what the full-face veil represents. It represents the oppression of half of the Muslim population. In Islam, women are instructed to cover up, as much as possible, so that men will not be tempted, and so that men will not have impure thoughts. In Islam, it is thought that if a woman shows up a part of her skin or hair, then men who see them will have impure thoughts and sin, and therefore in order to prevent that, women should be the one to cover up. The burden is therefore put on the woman, and so the woman will be in effect sinning, if a man generates impure thoughts because she happens to have flashed her skin.

Is this the type of human rights that Amnesty International is trying to protect?

Sure, freedom of religion is a good concept, in theory. Everyone should be entitled to do whatever they want to believe and do in the name of religion. But is that really a good concept?

If a set of beliefs makes its believers think that they are without question or reason superior over those who do not believe this set of beliefs, then I do not see how that is beneficial for a society. If a set of beliefs compels its believers to kill and murder people who do not believe this set of beliefs, then I do not think why we are even debating or considering on protecting the believers of this set of beliefs. Christianity has used the name of religion to kill thousands of unbelievers during the Crusades and the Inquisition. Now, Islam is using the name of religion to kill unbelievers and oppress half of its believers.

Do we really need to protect the freedom of religion, then?

Hence, I truly believe that society will not progress unless it makes irrational belief outlawed in public space. Hence, I support these bans against the full-face veil in public. People who believe in a religion that dictates that women should wear the full-face veil are free to wear the full-face veil, as long as they are in private space. I do not care whatever you are doing inside your church or your home. But once you are on public space, everyone should be on level ground. If you can see my face, I should be able to see your face.

So, does this make me guilty of Islamophobia? No. Maybe I am guilty of a phobia against religion in general, but I am not singling out Muslims. If Catholics also have the same belief, then I will go against them too. I am against religion, as it takes a hold of people, preventing them from thinking rationally, instead sending people to blind abandon, resulting in behavior due to dogmatic principles. Religion, after all, is infallible. Whatever the Pope says, or the Ayatollah, or even the neighborhood priest, whatever they say is not available for questioning. After all, whoever questions their pronouncements are mere puny human beings, and have no credentials, and therefore doesn't even have the right to think about whether they should question their statements or not. No, religion does not allow you to think for yourself critically. All religion wants from you is your obedience.

Once you realize that that is what religion consists of, then it makes it really hard to be comfortable thinking that we are protecting the rights of these people who blindly obey whatever their priest told them to do. It makes me afraid that some societies actually are not bothered by the fact that some doctors would opt not to treat a patient, because the patient wanted an abortion, and the doctor happens to think that an abortion is against what God wants for humans. The doctor can believe whatever he wants to believe, but he should confine his beliefs to private space. Once he goes to his office and practice medicine, he will be on public space, and whatever he believes should not be a factor on how he conducts his profession.

If I had my way, I would outlaw all forms of religion, whether it is public or private. However, I also recognize that there are times when people actually need religion, as religion gives people an explanation for things otherwise not explained by other rational methods. So I would opt for the weaker stance, that is, banning religion in public. My support for the full-face veil ban is just an extension of this stance.

The sad thing is that sometimes, there are governments who think that we should be practicing the spirit of cultural relativism, and that we should actually embrace diversity when it comes to our society, and allow people who wear the full-face veil to participate in public activities while practicing their religion. But unfortunately, that doesn't work. Ayaan Hirsi Ali already gave a good argument why, and I don't need to repeat it here.

Oh well, I am glad I am not a political scientist. Or else I'd have more headaches to deal with.

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